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[616] of the country, where the potato, which matures at this season, is found in great abundance, and where every farm-house is well stocked with pork and beef, were to make up for the insufficiency of provisions if the expedition should be prolonged for a longer time.

The task of defending North Carolina had been entrusted by the Confederate government to General Gustavus Smith, a distinguished officer, who, it will be remembered, commanded the Southern army at the battle of Fair Oaks after Johnston had been wounded. He had under his command the few Confederate troops stationed in that State, and the local militia enlisted in the particular service of the authorities of Raleigh. His forces consisted of Pettigrew's brigade, which Foster had encountered the month previous during his march upon Tarboroa, and two other brigades, commanded by Generals Robertson and Evans. At the first news of the movement of the Federals, Smith, hastening to Goldsboroa, had sent Evans to meet the enemy in order to delay his march as long as possible. On the 12th, Foster's scouts met those of the Confederates, and captured a few prisoners. The next day there was a more marked resistance. Four hundred infantry and three field-pieces were awaiting the Federals behind the deep stream of South-west Creek, the bridge of which had been destroyed; but the Confederates, having no knowledge of the strength of the enemy they had to contend with, allowed themselves to be beguiled by fruitless skirmishing, whilst several regiments turned their position; and being attacked both in front and in flank at the same time, they soon dispersed, leaving one of their guns behind.

On the 14th, whilst his cavalry was pushing some reconnaissances far in a westerly direction, Foster turned toward the north in order to reach the railroad bridge on the Neuse, situated at two or three kilometres south of Kingston. Evans with his brigade, numbering about two thousand men, was awaiting him at this place. He had taken a good position in front of the bridge, across the road and along the edge of a wood which crowned the summit of a steep acclivity; his left rested on the Neuse, and his right on an impassable swamp. Unable to deploy his forces within the narrow space where they were confined, Foster tried to

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