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Doc. 181.-reconnoissance to Swansboro, N. C.

Newbern progress narrative.

Newbern, N. C., August 21, 1862.
A reconnoissance in force to the town of Swansboro set out from Newbern on Wednesday, thirteenth August, under the command of Col. Stevenson, commanding Second brigade, First division. It consisted of a portion of the Twenty-fourth regiment Massachusetts volunteers, under Lieut.-Col. Osborn, a detachment of the marine artillery, under Lieut.-Colonel Manchester, and a company of the Third New-York artillery.

On that day the transports Pilot Boy, Ocean Queen, Massasoit, Wilson, and Union--carrying a portion of the troops — proceeded through Core Sound to Beaufort, where they were joined by the others, who had come down by rail. Thursday was passed in providing the vessels with coal and water, and on Friday the expedition proceeded on its route.

The Union, together with the Wilson and the launches of the marine artillery, went by way of Bogue Sound, while the other transports, accompanied by the gunboat Ellis, Lieutenant Porter, pushed out past Fort Macon into the ocean, and followed the coast to Bogue Inlet. The wind, which was light at daybreak, blew hard by afternoon, and it was with some difficulty that the vessels passed through the narrow, winding inlet, among the breakers. Within was still water, and a broad creek with meadow-lands on either side.

The boats anchored at its mouth, and waited for the arrival of the Union and the Wilson. Swansboro was seen in the distance, and very soon after their arrival a large white flag was seen to wave from a high brick building. A launch of the artillery was at once sent forward, and its men landed. At nightfall the Wilson arrived, bearing Col. Stevenson and staff, and proceeded immediately to the town. By this time it was quite dark, and all the vessels lay quietly at anchor during the night. In the morning the Union arrived. She had gone aground several times.

The vessels then proceeded up to Swansboro. It is a small village, built on a slope of land rising slightly from the marshes around. But few inhabitants [579] came out of the score of poorly-built, tumbled-down old houses. Many, doubtless, had left the town. Some time ago it was the Headquarters of the rebel cavalry in this vicinity, and up to the time of the arrival of our troops some force had always been kept there. None, however, were to be seen then. A small portion of the troops landed and went a short distance beyond the town, but no enemy was discovered. A private of the cavalry — a small young fellow — who by some chance was just returning on furlough, was captured, with the usual double-barreled shot-gun and old-fashioned sword. The rebels had evidently determined to make no resistance whatever.

On the seventeenth a body of troops were landed, and after marching about four miles, arrived at several large salt works, belonging to rebels of the names of Hawkins, Burnam, and Saunders. These were destroyed. In a clump of trees on the marsh, facing the creek, were a deserted battery and wooden barracks, once furnished with four guns. These had been taken for the defence of Newbern, and were captured by our troops here. The battery, together with the barracks, was destroyed. Several other reconnoissances were made in other directions, but the enemy kept themselves at safe distances, and could not be found.

On Tuesday the expedition, having accomplished its object, returned to Beaufort.

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A. Stevenson (2)
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W. D. Porter (1)
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