HDQRS. FIFTY-EIGHTH Regiment PENNSYLVANIA VOLS.,
Camp at Batchelder's Creek, N. C., May 1, 1863.
SIR: In reference to the reconnaissance ordered by General Palmer yesterday on the Neuse road in front of Core Creek I have the honor to report:
I proceeded with Companies-and G, Third New York Cavalry, commanded by Captain Pond, in the aggregate about 90 men, toward the Neuse, making a long detour in order to get into the rear of and surprise the cavalry picket at Biddle's, about 6 miles beyond Core Creek. The picket was not there, having been withdrawn on Tuesday evening on the news of the fight on the Dover road. Being unsuccessful in this collateral affair, I moved forward on the Neuse road toward Moseley's Creek. According to the information obtained at Biddle's there was a brigade of infantry, with artillery, at Moseley's Creek, but as I advanced the number reported continually decreased until, about a mile this side, I was told that the enemy had retired entirely after the fight of Tuesday. Advancing cautiously, with part of the cavalry dismounted and deployed as skirmishers, I verified the report and found the position abandoned. The position at Moseley's Creek is naturally strong, there being two branches of the creek, about 50 yards apart, and the works which I found there are two lines of breastworks, one behind each branch. The first line, about 400 feet long, is in part a heavy earthwork with an embrasure, covering the road, but principally a lighter work, good only against musketry, but with a deep rifle-pit in the rear; it has also flanking and enfilading faces. The second work is much heavier; has tow embrasures; more flanking fire; broad and deeper water in front, and is altogether a formidable defense. In the rear of the works I found three separate camps, which I burned and destroyed. From the information I received it seems that the enemy (a brigade of infantry without artillery) retired precipitately on Wednesday evening. As my arrangements to return the same day did not allow me to follow the fugitives, I was obliged to rest satisfied with the reports of the people in the neighborhood that there were no regular posts of the enemy short of Kinston, and that Kinston itself was 7 or 8 miles distant. From the trepidation everywhere apparent I have no doubt of my having been able to advance within sight of that place without opposition, and I would have done so if other circumstances had allowed. On my route the inhabitants expressed their opinion freely that the Southern troops had abandoned them, and generally they asked me for written protection.
Having accomplished fully the object of the reconnaissance I returned and reached the bivouac, behind Core Creek, about 9 p. m.
The cavalry are entitled to great praise for this arduous march of 36 miles through a country supposed to be filled with enemies and affording continual opportunities for ambuscade, and with the prospect of ultimately confronting a brigade. They did their duty unflinchingly, and the admirable arrangements made by Captain Pond prevented the scattered guerrillas whom we saw occasionally from using the advantages of the swamps and thickets against us.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. RICHTER JONES,
Colonel Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers.
23 R R-VOL XVIII