War of the Rebellion: Serial 080 Page 0815 Chapter LII. EXPEDITION FROM BATCHELDER'S CREEK, N. C.

Search Civil War Official Records

retreat it could be done either by the Dover or Trent road without confusion or loss, other than through regular action, but the enemy knew better than to leave its strong works beyond Southwest Creek immediately in front of the Kinston bridge. After this disposition being made, Colonel Upham, with some cavalry and eight companies of his own regiment, was directed to advance, which was done promptly and very spiritedly, the enemy being scattered all along the road in the woods. After a short time I went forward in person and joined Colonel Upham about three-quarters of a mile this side of Southwest Creek. Not knowing that Captain Green was holding this point, I directed Lieutenant Gill, who ably commanded the advance, to test this question at all hazards, which, after exchanging some challenging calls, it was ascertained to be occupied by Captain Green and his command. It was getting to be daybreak now, and after so severe a march at this season of the year, I saw the necessity of either finishing up to a safe resting-place or to fall back to it. I directed Lieutenant Gill, with his advance, to feel the enemy on the other side of Southwest Creek, and found that the enemy had concentrated some force intended for Wilmington; also that I would have to cross a wide bridge, besides dislodging the enemy from strong intrenchments, with two siege guns facing and covering the road of approach. Kinston had on this (south) side of the Neuse but one road of approach which faces the bridge. This road is fortified in the shape of a half circle, and can be held against a large force by but a few determined men. The enemy had besides twelve pieces of field artillery, with some infantry and cavalry, which after looking to my rear, made it impossible to cope with, because the moment that I crossed the mill-dam and Southwest Creek bridge I would have been liable to be cut off, unless I could leave a sufficient force to hold those two bridges in my immediate rear, as well as to hold the approaches of the different roads at Wise's Forks. This my small force did not permit me to do; hence, after a second reconnaissance toward Kinston bridge, and under its protection, I ordered the captured works to be evacuated, and, upon the return of the reconnoitering party, they to destroy the bridges, all of which was done, retiring with the main column by the Trent road, Lieutenant-Colonel Hitchcock and his command retiring by the Dover road.

The country above Core Creek up to Wise's Forks is a perfect wilderness, barren of all subsistence for either man or beast. Water cannot be got except such as collects near and in the swamps, and it speaks well for the men of the One hundred and thirty-second New York and Fifteenth Connecticut that they marched and fought from 5 a. m. June 21, 1864, till 5 a. m. June 23, 1864, when these headquarters were reached again, they having marched a distance of over sixty-five miles under a scorching sun, building bridges to cross over, and fighting, capturing, and driving a foe who showed a determination worthy a better cause, contesting every step of their outposts, and when driven they scattered into the woods and swamps. The great difficulty in operating against Kinston is, that the roads are, most of them, only about ten feet wide, and the innumerable cross-roads and by-roads make it exceedingly dangerous, because so many creeks and little streams running from swamps cross these roads, and requiring bridges, are easily torn up in your rear by a mere handful of men, who seek protection in the woods and swamps, thereby giving you all the annoyance and loss without being able to punish them; but the very celerity of my movements, with a good cavalry force ahead and rear, foiled the enemy to retard or injure me in my retreat, and the men not straggling at all gave no chance to pick up.