HDQRS. FIFTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT, PA. VOLS., U. S. A.,
Camp Batchelder's Station, January 13, 1863.
Lieutenant Colonel SOUTHARD HOFFMAN,
SIR: I have the honor to report that while examining in person yesterday the position at Tuscarora Station I discovered a small party of rebel guerrillas in the neighborhood. As soon as practicable I sent one of my companies (K, under Lieutenant Clay) with orders to move in the woods to the rear of the enemy and punish them for their audacity. Unfortunately my men were discovered too soon, upon which the guerrillas formed (to the number of about 50), but broke and ran before Lieutenant Clay could approach nearer than a quarter of a mile. It being almost dusk, pursuit through the woods was impracticable.
On the facts being reported to me I ordered two companies to be ready to move at 2 p. m. (when the moon would be up) and a third company at 4 a. m. The former (Companies B and I, Captains Metcalf and Buyers) were directed to move through the woods, a half mile on the flank of the railroad, some 5 or 6 miles, until in the rear of the position where the rebels were probably bivouacked, then to sweep the woods backwards to that position. The other company (A, Captain Brown) was directed to take post near the station, so as to intercept fugitives seeking the Tuscarora road. The officers were also directed in case the guerrillas should be seen anywhere to follow them rapidly as far as Core Creek.
My men have not yet returned, but having no guide and being obliged to move by the compass, their success in catching those perfectly acquainted with the country is doubtful.
At dusk and until about 10 p. m. there was a large fire on the railroad at some miles distance beyond Tuscarora; whether a signal or the burning of a culvert I have no means as yet of detecting.
In connection with my duties here I also report that on examination and inquiry I find the Trent road good and likely to continue practicable for transportation. Also that I could post another infantry regiment advantageously on that line, not only on account of the importance of the line itself but also in order to allow me gradually to cover the country in my front and encourage and protect the transportation of turpentine to and within our lines. With the same view I propose as soon as practicable to rebuild the bridge on the Neuse road, over Batchelder's Creek, stationing there a strong infantry picket.
On the whole I think a few days will suffice to teach the enemy that they have no business east of Core Creek, and cannot safely venture across.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. RICHTER JONES,
Colonel Fifty-eighth Regiment Pa. Vols., Commanding Picket Line, &c.
HDQRS. EIGHTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Numbers 13.
New Berne, January 13, 1863.
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XX. General Ferry, commanding division, will take the necessary steps to have the brigade of Colonel Osborn prepared to move. The brigade will proceed to Beaufort, N. C., by rail, and will there be em-