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[611] soldiers who were not in the hospitals felt the enervating influence of the climate, being hardly strong enough to defend the positions entrusted to them.

The Confederates took advantage of this condition of things to make an effort to crush them in detail, and determined to gain possession of the entrance of the two principal rivers which empty into the inland sea by attacking at the same time Plymouth, on the right border of the Roanoke, and Washington, on the left bank of the Tar. With regard to the town of Newberne, which is the key of the Neuse, it was too well defended for them to entertain any hope of surprising it. On the 2d of September the Confederate colonel Garrett approached the little town of Plymouth with about one thousand men, half cavalry and half infantry. As it was already broad daylight, he bivouacked in the forest, not intending to attack the enemy before twilight on the following day, when he was discovered by a Union farmer, who made known his presence to the Federals. The latter numbered about six hundred, but more than one-half of them were laid up with fever in the hospital, so that when the roll was called there were only three hundred able-bodied men present, and one sergeant to command them. Without allowing himself to be disconcerted by the numerical weakness of his troops, Sergeant Green led them against the enemy. Turning the tables, he suddenly fell upon the Confederates, routed them, killed about thirty men, and triumphantly brought back forty prisoners, among whom was Colonel Garrett.

The attack against Washington was more serious. This village was occupied by a field-battery of six pieces, five squadrons of cavalry and four companies of infantry. The gun-boats Pickett and Louisiana were at anchor in the river fronting the village. The talk of the inhabitants, who were known to be in sympathy with the enemy, had roused the suspicion of the Federals, and on the morning of September 6th the cavalry, with two pieces of cannon, went out on a reconnaissance along the Plymouth road. Three or four hundred Confederate infantry, with about one hundred horse, were at the same time approaching the village from another direction. A thick fog concealed their movements, enabling them to take the Federal garrison completely

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