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[268] succeed in the attempt, we find has been entirely destroyed by our own troops, and Kinston evacuated. Indeed, this we expected, and had heard of before from two companies of our regiment (E and K) who were left behind to patrol the town, and were the last to leave, burning the bridge on their departure, and rejoining the regiment in camp, late on the night of the fifteenth, the day after the battle.

Homeward bound from Kinston, we take the Neuse road, said to be some thirteen miles nearer than the Trent road by which we came. The rebels appear to have expected us this way from Newbern, as we find breastworks thrown up commanding the road, trees felled, and many deserted camps. An old miller, whom we met on the way, told us that up to Friday before the Sunday of the fight these camps were all occupied. At that time they all moved into town. He estimated that there were from six to seven thousand rebel troops in Kinston on the day of the fight. We passed during the day two or three dead rebels lying by the side of the road, supposed to have been pickets killed in skirmishes with our cavalry.

Nothing of interest occurred on the twentieth, save that we marched some twenty miles, which brought us to within six or eight miles of our barracks at Newbern.

On the twenty-first, started at six o'clock, and at half-past 10 o'clock marched into our old camp to the dear old tune of “Home, sweet home” from the band.

Glad enough were we, poor, weary, foot-sore soldiers, to get back, I can assure you. Not, however, but that we would have endured twice as much, had it been possible, and the cause demanded it.

To sum up briefly the time of the expedition from leaving Newbern was ten and a half days. In that period but little less than two hundred miles were marched, over the worst of roads. Out of that time, about a day and a half was occupied in fighting. The Forty-fifth was probably eight hours altogether, in action and under fire.

One word in regard to the officers of our regiment. I know how little flattering words cost, and how often they are used in the connection in which I am about to write, without a shadow of truth, but I feel certain that when I say that each and all of them have doubled the high estimate in which they were held by the regiment previous to the starting of the expedition, I do but make an assertion which will be met by a hearty amen in the Forty-fifth. If any fault were to be found, it would be of recklessness in some cases.

Dr. Kneeland and the Rev. Dr. Stone were in the thickest of the fight, and often in great danger, attending to the wants of the wounded, in which duty they were ably seconded by the band of the regiment, acting as an ambulance corps.

It may be supposed that one who was in the expedition would be likely to know something of the whys and wherefores of its origin and its effects; but those matters I leave for others. I simply know that I went with my regiment, which was one of probably some twenty or more others. There was fighting at Kinston, Whitehall and Goldsboro, and after that we came home. I heard of bridges and railroads being destroyed between Goldsboro and Wilmington by our troops. It is said that the movement was quite successful. I trust it was equal to the sacrifice of life and limb involved. If so, amen to the mud, fatigue, short rations, and every thing else endured to secure the result.

There are many incidents and accidents remaining in my memory which I could not find room for in this letter, but will try to make the subject of another at some future time.


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