Fiver Miles from Averasborough, on Averasborough and Smithfield Road, March 17, 1865 - 1 a. m.
GENERAL: There was little important fighting after my dispatch to you of 4. 30 p. m. 16th instant. My loss is between 400 and 500. Among the missing is Colonel Rhett, commanding brigade, and among thr killed Lieutenant Colonel Robert De Treville. Enemy's loss not known but believed to be heavy. Two pieces of artillery were abandoned, the limber of one being blown off and the horses of noth killed. Your dispatch of 4 p. m m., coutermanding the movement to Smithfield upon certain conditions, was received at 11 p. m., too late to arrest the movement. My trains had gone on to Elevation. I can, however, if your think it best, moved from that point to Raleigh.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. J. HARDEE,
NEAR BLACK RIVER,
March 17, 1865 - 4. 30 a. m.
GENERAL: Your dispatch of 10 p. m. just received. The enemy has crossed Black River just above Mingo Creek, and at all, or nearly all, the crossings below. General Hampton says all the army has crossed except the Fourteenth Corps and one division of the Twentieth Corps, which were on the plank road, and which we fought yesterday. General Hampton promised to send you direct all the information of the enemy, else I would have been more particular. General Wheelercame to my assistance late yesterday afternoon and rendered valuable service. He is now in my rear with 500 or 600 men, and will ascertain whether the force on the plank road goes to Raleigh or crosses Black River. I hope to get my command to Elevation by 12 o'clock. The roads are almost impassable. At 1 o'clock Wheeler writes the enemy had not discovered my movement, but were busily egaged fortifying.
W. J. HARDEE,
Smithfield, March 17, 1865 - 6 a. m.
Your dispatch of 1 a. m. received. If the enemy is moving on Raleigh I wish you to take the best and nearest route you can to that point. The troops here will join you on it, as far from Raleigh as practicable; so let us know your route as quickly as possible. Ascertain if there are bridges upon the road you take over three large creeks, Black, Middle, and Swift, the two last especially, which can only be crossed on bridges. If the enemy has not moved on Raleigh, but on Goldsborough or this place, then continue in this direction.
Very truly, your obedient servant,
J. E. JOHNSTON.
89 R R - VOL XLVII, PT II