a distance of about thirteen miles, has been totally destroyed, the ties having been burned and the rails carried, off, the road bed being used as turnpike road by the rebels for a year or more past. Colonel Wright, chief engineer, cannot promise to build more than from one mile to one and a half per day or this road, and has on hand only six miles of iron. He, however, expects a full supply before this will be laid. The forces in the vicinity of Kinston are reported about 1,500 strong, with a tete-de-pont on this side of theriver in which are several pieces of artillery, variously reported from four to eight. The rebel troops are not of the most reliable character, being many of them Junior Reserves, &c. Their gun-boat or ram is reported to be anchored just under the railroad bridge preparatory to blowing up her and the bridge together if forced to evacuate. This vessel is believed to draw too much water to move away from her moorings except in a freshet. I have not reckoned her as an item of any consequence in the present problem, though if she be worth anything the present great rise of water in the river gives them an opportunity to show it. By the time you could reach Kinston, according to the tenor of your dispatch of the 2nd, I should, even if obliged to confine myself closely to the railroad, be closely investing that place and able to open communication with you whenever you reach the vicinity, for there are at present no indication of the enemy's operating in any force on this side the Neuse. I am having obstructions removed from the Neuse near New Berne in order to run up some light boats and flats, with a view to ferry a portion of the command over the river below Kinston and push at once for that place in rear. I shall do this within three days unless I get information proving it entirely impracticable. My hope is that I shall in this way take the town, and possibly be able to supply myself during the high water by the river from New Berne. While this is progressing I shall push a sufficient force as close up to Kinston as they can be supplied, and shall use a portion of the cavalry battalion to reconnoiter as far to the left as possible, so as to meet the head of your column at the earliest day and hour. The roads from Kinston in the direction of Kenansville are reported good and dry. Those from New Berne to Kinston are now almost completely under water. There are numerous points above Kinston where a pontoon bridge could be very easily laid if you should be able to move the train with you. The troops were all in the various garrisons of the district on my arrival at New Berne, and as they had been in barracks for about two years I found many inevitable delays in getting them into the field. I however, to keep the railroad men fully employed without delaying them to wait for troops to move by pushing detachments out in advance. I assure you that nothing which energy and industry can accomplish shall be left undone, and I have strong hopes of being able to solve the supply question by the river route just as soon as the river obstructions can be got out of the way.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. D. COX,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF BEAUFORT,
Batchelder's Creek, N. C., March 4, 1865.
Colonel CHARLES H. STEWART,
Third New York Volunteer Artillery:
SIR: The commanding general directs me to say that paragraph I, General Orders, Numbers 5, from these headquarters, will not be interpreted