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The firing upon our front was sustained until the return of the Seventeenth Corps to its place in line, when it subsided into desultory skirmishing.

At night all the wounded that could bear transportation had been removed; so that we had no object for remaining in a position made very hazardous by the stream behind us, rendered unfordable by recent rain. The army was therefore ordered to cross Mill Creek by the bridge1 at Bentonville before daybreak of the 22d. About eight o'clock they were halted beyond the stream, two miles north of Mill Creek. Soon after Maj.-Gen. Wheeler had posted his rear-guard on our bank of the stream to hold the bridge, the leading Federal troops appeared on the other. They made repeated attempts to force the passage, but failed in all, after brave efforts, in which three color-bearers fell within fifty feet of the Confederate rear-guard.2

At noon the march was resumed, and the troops bivouacked in the evening near Smithfield, but south of the Neuse.

In the action of the 19th, the Confederate force engaged was about fourteen thousand one hundred infantry and artillery. Butler's division of cavalry was employed in observing General Sherman's right column; and Wheeler's, coming from the direction of Averysboroa, approached on the north side of Mill Creek, which recent rains had made impassable, so that he could not join in the action as expected, by falling upon the left flank of the enemy. The Federal army exceeded seventy thousand men; about

1 The only one.

2 General Wheeler's report.

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