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[395] the music of the axes was soon heard. At times the working party was fired upon, but no material damage was done. The obstructions being removed, the regiment dashed along in fine style, the men full of ardor and enthusiasm.

At eleven o'clock A. M., the village of Trenton (on the Trent) was reached, the inhabitants therein, with a few exceptions, fleeing the town. Trenton is a village of eight hundred inhabitants, with about seventy houses. It has the usual appendages of a small town — has a dilapidated appearance. It is the county-seat of Jones County. The natives that were left when our troops entered, said their confreres had “gone up country,” (to Dixie.) The Registrar of the county, a fellow of corpulent dimensions and a jolly red nose, received our troops, acknowledged himself a “secesh,” deprecated the war, and swore like a trooper. He was too old for consideration, and his carcass not worth the expense or trouble of making him a prisoner.

I should have stated, that before reaching Trenton, a body of rebel cavalry was seen by our advanced-guard. On observing our troops, they cut the mill-dam, which flowed into the road this side of Trenton. The water rose to about two feet, but this did not impede the advance of our troops. The rebel force, observed at this point, consisted of two companies of cavalry and one of infantry. These rebels got behind one of the blockades near Trenton, but when the howitzer-battery of the cavalry commenced playing upon them, they retreated pell mell. They did not appear to relish the grape and canister compliments.

The rebels burned the bridge across the Trent River, to impede our advance. This bridge was about one hundred feet long. Colonel Mix again ordered the contraband pioneers to the front, planted his howitzers so as to command their operations, and the rebuilding of time bridge was commenced. The bridge completed, the troops crossed, and followed the road leading to Whitehall, distant from Trenton about seven miles. The route was through a dense wood, at times flanked by swamps. They then came up to another bride, which the rebel runaways had just commenced to destroy. The last rebel, while attempting to move one of the planks of the bridge, was shot dead by one of our carbineers. The attempted destruction of the bridge by the rebels was a failure; it was a success when our troops fired it. This being completed, our troops pursued their route to a point within seventeen miles of Kenansville, on the Wilmington and Goldsboro Railroad, but learning that the enemy were in force at that town, changed our course to a more southerly or circuitous route. The road leading to Kenansville was heavily blockaded with felled timber. The regiment was then countermarched, and returned to Trenton, where it encamped for the night.

The night previous was cold, damp, and chilly. The troops bivouacked in the open air, but not a murmur was heard in the whole command — officers and men sharing the same exposure. The command left Trenton at daylight, proceeding en route of march back to within four miles of Pollocksville, the same road the regiment passed over the day previous. From this point they made a detour to another road, marched eight miles, and again reached Young's Cross-Roads, seventeen miles from Irenton. The country in this vicinity was well scoured, farm-houses and barns searched, but nothing in the shape of armed rebels were found. The houses were nearly all deserted, and here and there were observed the ruins of houses destroyed by rebel hands. A bridge, laid down in the military map as crossing a creek was sought, but nothing but ruins were discovered. The regiment having marched thirty-five miles, the Colonel ordered a halt. The troops bivouacked in a lovely piece of woods, and the men, as they discussed their improvised evening meal, forgot the fatigue of the day and made no murmurs, except their regrets for not getting “a fair show at the rebs.” On reaching this point, and before coming to a halt, six rebel cavalrymen were discovered, but they retreated on observing our advance. At Young's Cross-Roads the bridge crossing the stream to Onslow Court-House, or Jacksonville, was found destroyed. It was forty feet long, over a deep, rapid stream. On the opposite side the river bank was heavily stockaded and pierced for rifles. On this point the howitzer-battery was brought into use, and for five minutes a brisk interchange of shots was had ; but the grape from the battery of the Third regiment soon drove the rebels. At this point the rebel officer in command was shot dead at the first discharge. His body was pierced in three places. During the night the bridge across this stream was partially rebuilt, and was continued until eleven o'clock A. M. the next day, when it was completed.

At eleven o'clock in the forenoon the regiment crossed the bridge, and started in the direction of Onslow Court-House, twenty-five miles distant from Young's. They had proceeded but five miles when they came upon a rebel cavalry camp. It was in plain sight before the rebels were aware of our approach. Major Cole, of the Third battalion, was in advance, and at once ordered a charge on the rebels, which he did with his squadron, the troops moving at a gallop. The rebels were on the alert and scrambled to their saddles. The charge was amusing. From the first time they saw our troops to the time when we reached the rebel camp, the rebels commenced throwing away their arms, equipments, guns, sabres, haversacks, coats, hats, etc. It was a regular John Gilpin chase, the rebels being the fleetest of foot. In the chase the rebels were fired upon whenever the nature of the ground would permit, at times emptying saddles. When our troops reached a point about six miles from the place where the chase commenced, numerous rebel wagons, loaded with forage and army stores, were overtaken and their contents captured. The rebels attempted to empty the wagons and escape with them, but in this they were frustrated. Our troops next reached a gorge heavily wooded on both sides, a creek running through

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