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[262] busy, and would send the expedition to Richmond, to Weldon, to Goldsboro, to Wilmington, to Charleston, and even to Texas, but no one believed, while all retailed or invented such gossip.

The morning of Thursday, December eleventh, 1862, broke clear and cool, and beheld a fine array of infantry, cavalry, and artillery, taking up their line of march, by the Trent road, from Newbern. The sight was magnificent, as the long lines of infantry with their polished arms, and the cavalry and artillery, slowly but cheerfully, with an elasticity of step and a merry hum of voices, that unmistakably showed how high the spirit and expectations of all were aroused, and that it required but an able general to lead such an army on from victory to victory.

As we advanced into the country, the evidences of former strife everywhere met the eye, in the desolated plantations, houses burned to the ground or partially destroyed, and an air of ruin and loneliness pervading all. After a march of about fourteen miles, the army bivouacked for the night on a plantation which seemed more fortunate than many others we passed. But its time had come; and as regiment after regiment arrived and stacked arms, it was a curious study to watch the rush they made for the nearest fence, the eager scramble for rails, and the disappearance of the fences, as if by magic. As night darkened over the scene, the countless bivouac fires rose in all directions, casting a lurid glare up to the sky, and forming about as picturesque a scene as could possibly be imagined. And the sounds of voices, and laughter, and the neighing of horses, and unearthly braying of mules, all combined to render that bivouac a something to be remembered forever.

Beyond where we encamped Thursday evening, the rebels, having notice of our approach, had blockaded the road for two miles, by felling trees across; but the pioneers had been busy removing them during the night, and when the army resumed its march in the morning the way was cleared, and we passed on.

About ten A. M. on Friday a skirmish occurred, near Trenton, between our advanced-guard of cavalry and some rebel cavalry and infantry, in which the latter were routed with the loss of three or four killed and several wounded and taken prisoners.

Our advance reached South-west Creek about noon on Saturday, and the enemy, about two thousand strong, were posted beyond, with a battery commanding the road.

The Ninth New-Jersey and Morrison's battery were sent forward to feel their position, and a smart cannonading of some two hours duration took place, when the Ninth New-Jersey made a detour through the woods and captured the battery, putting the rebels to flight. They made another stand about four miles this side of Kinston, when the same force pushed after them and engaged them for about half an hour, when the rebels again fell back. The army then bivouacked for the night. I stated that the men were to carry three days rations in their haversacks; but soldiers, like sailors, are given to think of little but their immediate wants, and in this case their three days rations were nearly all consumed by the evening of the second day, so that during Saturday many of them felt the pangs of actual hunger.

It will not be surprising, then, if it were told, that no sooner were they encamped for the night than foraging parties stole silently away, and soon returned with carcasses of fresh beef and pork, and an abundance of sweet potatoes, and if they encamped upon that field as hungry a set of men as you ever saw, I'll venture to say not one went to sleep hungry, but with stomach well lined with substantial food.

“Apple-jack,” too, (something better than good cider, and not quite so palatable as good wine,) was then first tasted by many; but it could not be had in sufficient abundance to produce intoxication on any. This liquor, together with cider, whisky, and peach brandy, is common to most houses of any pretensions at the South, and kept by all in greater or less abundance.

Pigs and poultry in great numbers surround every farm-house, and the way these have been dealt with by our hungry men must be a matter of wonder and regret to many of our secession enemies. As to sweet potatoes — an excellent and highly nutritious article of food, requiring but simple preparations to render them fit for eating — they have been completely demolished wherever our army passed through. Honey, too, shared the same fate, and many a farmer and planter will mourn the loss of his bees the coming season.

On Sunday morning, fourteenth, the army again took up its line of march, and about nine o'clock our advance — consisting of the Ninth New-Jersey and Morrison's battery — came up with the enemy, who was advantageously posted in a swamp and on a rising ground beyond, about a mile from the bridge leading across the river to Kinston.

A sharp action commenced, which was sustained with spirit by our advance, until the main body coming up, the action became more earnest and terrible, and as battery after battery arrived in position, and opened its fire on the enemy, the ground fairly shook with their repeated reverberations, while the sharp roll of musketry — whole battalions delivering their fire at once — filled up the intervals. The rebel position was well chosen, under cover of a dense undergrowth of wood, their foreground protected by groves of pines, which, however, offered no impediment to our artillery, which mowed them down like grass. The rebels had about seven thousand men, but, in choosing their position, forgot to protect their left flank, and this being discovered, a column of infantry and a battery were sent round, which completely flanked them, and being at the same time charged with vigor by the Ninety-sixth and Ninety-second New-York, and the Forty-fifth Massachusetts, they gave way and fled in confusion across the bridge, which they fired in three

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T. W. Morrison (2)
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December 11th, 1862 AD (1)
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