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[383] General Cox, with his other two brigades and General Ames' division, started around the swamp covering the enemy's right, to strike the Wilmington road in rear of Fort Anderson. The distance to be travelled was about fifteen miles. The enemy, warned by his cavalry of General Cox's movement, hastily abandoned his works on both sides of the river during the night of February nineteenth, and fell back behind Town creek on the west, and to a corresponding position, covered by swamps, on the east. We thus gained possession of the main defences of Cape Fear river and of Wilmington, with ten pieces of heavy ordnance and a large amount of ammunition. Our loss was but trifling.

On the following day General Cox pursued the enemy to Town creek, behind which he was found intrenched, and had destroyed the only bridge. General Terry also encountered the enemy in his new postion, and in force superior to General Terry's. General Ames' division was recrossed to the east bank and joined General Terry on the night of the nineteenth.

On the twentieth General Cox crossed Town creek below the enemy's position, by the use of a single flat boat found in the stream, and by wading through swamps reached the enemy's flank and rear, attacked and routed him, capturing two pieces of artillery, three hundred and seventy-five prisoners, besides the killed and wounded, and dispersed the remainder. During the night General Cox rebuilt the bridge, crossed his artillery, and the next morning pushed on toward Wilmington without opposition.

General Terry was unable to make any further advance, but occupied the attention of all of Hoke's force, so that he could not send any to replace that which Cox had destroyed. On the twenty-first General Cox secured a portion of the enemy's pontoon bridge across Brunswick river, which he had attempted to destroy, put a portion of his troops on to Eagle Island, and threatened to cross the Cape Fear above Wilmington. The enemy at once set fire to his steamers, cotton, and military and naval stores, and abandoned the town. Our troops entered without opposition early on the morning of February twenty-second, and General Terry pursued the enemy across North-east river.

Our total loss in the operations from February eleventh to the capture of Wilmington was about two hundred officers and men killed and wounded. That of the enemy was not less than one thousand killed, wounded, and prisoners; fifty-one pieces of heavy ordnance, fifteen light pieces, and a large amount of ammunition fell into our hands.

It affords me pleasure to acknowledge the cordial and constant cooperation of the naval squadron under Rear-Admiral Porter, so far as the nature of the operations would admit.

Having no rolling stock at Wilmington, and being nearly destitute of wagon transportation, I was compelled to operate from Newbern alone for the capture of Goldsboro. I had already sent to Newbern about five thousand troops belonging to the various corps of your amy, and directed Brigadier-General I. M. Palmer to move, with as little delay as practicable, with all his available force toward Kinston, to cover the workmen engaged in repairing the railroad. As soon as Wilmington was secured, I also sent General Ruger's division, Twenty-third Army Corps, which was then arriving at Cape Fear inlet by sea, to Morehead City, to reinforce the column moving from Newbern. On the twenty-fifth, finding that General Palmer had not moved, as was expected, I sent Major-General Cox to take command at Newbern and push forward at once.

General Couch's division, which had nearly completed its debarkation when Wilmington was captured, was brought to that place, and that division, with General Cox's, temporarily commanded by Brigadier-General Reilly, was prepared as rapidly as possible to join the column moving from Newbern by a land march. These arrangements were made because of the scarcity of both land and sea transportation. It was not until March sixth that I was able to obtain wagons enough, including those belonging to General Terry's command, to move the two divisions from Wilmington to Kinston.

On the sixth, General Couch started with the two divisions, Second and Third of the Twenty-third corps, and marched, via Onslow and Richland's, for Kinston. On the same day I went by sea to Morehead City, and joined General Cox beyond Newbern on the eighth. General Cox had advanced to Wise's forks, about one and a half miles below South-west creek, and the railroad was in rapid process of reconstruction.

The force in front of General Cox, which appeared to consist of Hoke's division and a small body of reserves, had fallen back behind Southwest creek, and General Cox had sent two regiments, under Colonel Upham, Fifteenth Connecticut infantry, to secure the crossing of the creek on the Dover road. The enemy, having been reinforced by a portion of the old Army of Tennessee, recrossed the creek some distance above the Dover road, came down in rear of Colonel Upham's position, and surprised and captured nearly his entire command, about seven hundred men.

The enemy then advanced and endeavored to penetrate between General Carter's and General Palmer's divisions, occupying the Dover road and the railroad respectively, but was checked by General Ruger's division, which was just arriving upon the field. There was no engagement during the day beyond light skirmishing, and the loss on either. side, with the exception of the prisoners captured from Colonel Upham, was insignificant.

It being evident that the enemy's force was at least equal to that of General Cox, and that

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