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[539] their columns in the passage of the Cape Fear River, when the other was not in supporting distance, was unhappily disappointed.

On March 6th, near Kinston, General Bragg with a reenforcement of less than two thousand men attacked and routed three divisions of the enemy under Major General Cox, capturing fifteen hundred prisoners and three field-pieces, and inflicting heavy loss in killed and wounded. This success, though inspiring, was on too small a scale to produce important results. During the march from the Catawba to the Cape Fear several brilliant cavalry affairs took place, in which our troops displayed their wonted energy and dash. Among these the most conspicuous were General Butler's at Mount Elon, where he defeated a detachment sent to tear up the railroad at Florence; General Wheeler's attack and repulse of the left flank of the enemy at Hornesboro, March 4th; a similar exploit by the same officer at Rockingham on the 7th; the attack and defeat by General Hampton of a detachment on the 8th; the surprise and capture of General Kilpatrick's camp by General Hampton on the morning of the 10th, driving the enemy into an adjoining swamp, and taking possession of his artillery and wagon train, and the complete rout of a large Federal party by General Hampton with an inferior force at Fayetteville on the 11th.

As it was doubtful whether General Sherman's advance from Fayetteville would be directed to Goldsboro or Raleigh, General Johnston took position with a portion of his command at Smithfield, which is nearly equidistant from each of those places, leaving General Hardee to follow the road from Fayetteville to Raleigh, which for several miles is also the direct road from Fayetteville to Smithfield, and posted one division of his cavalry on the Raleigh road, and another on that to Goldsboro. On March 16th General Hardee was attacked by two corps of the enemy, a few miles south of Averysboro, a place nearly half-way between Fayetteville and Raleigh. Falling back a few hundred yards to a stronger position, he easily repelled the repeated attacks of these two corps during the day, and, learning in the evening that the enemy's corps were moving to turn his left, he withdrew in the night toward Smithfield.

Early in the morning of the 18th General Johnston obtained definite information that General Sherman was marching on Goldsboro, the right wing of his army being about a day's march distant from the left. General Johnston took immediate steps to attack the head of the left wing on the morning of the 19th, and ordered the troops at Smithfield and General Hardee's command to march at once to Bentonville and

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