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[9] showed an open plain, varying from a mile to two miles in breadth, Teaching to Brice's creek — this very deep, and about eighty yards wide, with marshy banks, the timber upon which had been cut down. A temporary bridge; on the east bank a block-house and breast-works, behind which a camp; at confluence of creek with Trent river, one thousand yards distant, a field-work mounting ten (10) guns; three hundred yards east another work with eight (8) guns; one-half or three-quarters of a mile east, near railroad bridge, and about one mile from Brice's creek bridge, another very large work; south, on Neuse river, about two miles from Brice's creek bridge, a very large fort for land and river defence; a line of breastworks extending from this west to Brice's creek, and terminating in a field-work one mile above the bridge; other works of less importance covering the plain and connecting the forts; on north side of Trent — here seven hundred yards wide--two field-works commanding those on south side.

The plan of operations required me to gain the south bank of Trent river, which was thought to be unprotected by fortifications, in order that my guns planted there should take in reverse the enemy's works between the rivers. Before starting upon the expedition I had made every exertion consistent with secrecy to arrive at accurate information as to this part of the enemy's position, having entertained doubts as to its not being fortified. Scouts and spies, deemed reliable, had been examined, and reported that there were no works there; one in particular, as surveyor of the county, and maker of the sketches and maps of the vicinity upon which we relied, was sent to ascertain the facts. He returned three days before the movement and reported that his maps were correct, that there were no other fortifications than those abandoned by our troops at the capture of Newbern, and that these were constructed to meet an advance from the east and south. Brice's creek was also represented by him not to exceed ninety feet in breadth. I was therefore unprepared to encounter obstacles so serious and was forced to the conviction that they were insurmountable by any means at my disposal.

Had it even been practicable to carry the fortifications on the south side of Trent, the possession of them would have been useless for the accomplishment of our object. In this opinion the brigade commanders fully coincided. It still remained practicable to make a detour by Evan's mill to cross Brice's creek, but this route would have brought me in front of the same and other fortifications. It had been determined in case of a failure in the attack on the south, that my forces should be withdrawn to join General Pickett, and assault on the west. I was already, by the nearest practicable route, (24) twenty-four miles

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Trent (North Carolina, United States) (2)
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