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[10] from General Pickett. This detour by Evan's Mill, while it added nothing to our chance of success, added also eleven (11) miles to the distance between us. I, immediately on arriving in front of the works of Newbern, advanced my line of skirmishers close to Brice's Creek.

The enemy opened and kept up a fire upon them during the whole of the 1st and 2d instant from the works and field batteries. The resistance offered to General Pickett's advance seemed to be so obstinate, as indicated by long continuance of firing in the same direction, that I deemed it advisable to make a diversion in his favor, and accordingly opened with six (6) rifles upon the block-house and contiguous forts.

Having accomplished this object the pieces were withdrawn; the enemy seemed to have suffered much by this fire. He endeavored to throw a force across Brice's creek, but it was driven back by the line of skirmishers. Colonel Baker returned at midday on the 1st, having failed to effect a passage across the swamp, assigning the incompetency of his guide and the difficulties of his route, enhanced by the rain and the darkness of the night, as his reasons therefor. He again made the attempt on thenight of the 1st with like result and for the same reasons. On the night of the 2d, with a small party dismounted, he succeeded after very great labor in reaching the railroad and telegraph lines, which he broke up. Lieutenant-Colonel Kennedy on the morning of the 1st ambuscaded a body of the enemy's cavalry, killed one, wounded several, and took five prisoners. On the 2d he drove in the enemy's picket, near Evan's, killing one and taking one prisoner. Immediately after reconnoitering the enemy's position, I despatched several messengers, scouts and couriers to General Pickett informing him of the posture of affairs and asking instructions, and also endeavored to open communication with him by means of signals. I received no communication from him until the evening of the second (2d), when he directed me to join him for the purpose of making an assault on his front. I at once proceeded to do so. Having reached Pollocksville, twelve miles on my route, he directed me to fall back to Kinston, which was accordingly done. My casualties amount to one killed and four wounded, whose names will be forwarded as soon as received.

I have been delayed in forwarding this report awaiting those of brigade commanders, only one of which, herewith enclosed, has yet reached me. The press and common rumor have been busy casting censure upon my course. If my superiors entertain similar opinions, I request that a court of inquiry becalled to investigate the matter.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. M. Barton, Brigadier-General. Major C. Pickett, Assistant Adjutant-General.

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