SIR: I have the honor to report that since my last dispatch one of General Parke's regiments, the Eighth Connecticut, has been transferred to this place from Beaufort, and I shall at once order up the Fourth Rhode Island, leaving the Fifth Rhode Island Battalion at Beaufort and Fort Macon as garrison.
From information obtained through our spies I am satisfied that the force in the neighborhood of Kinston and Goldsborough is diminishing rather than increasing, and had we to-day a cavalry regiment and two batteries of artillery, and the locomotives, cars, and wagons required for, I should initiate a movement in that direction. We are expecting them hourly, and are convinced that nothing but the heavy requisitions upon the different Departments has necessarily delayed their arrival.
General Ransom, formerly of the United States Cavalry, is posted 6 miles this side of Kinston with two regiments of infantry, two of cavalry, and one or two batteries of artillery of six pieces each, with no intrenchments other than abatis. General Branch is posted at Kinston and its neighborhood with four re, merits of infantry and one or two batteries of artillery; he and Ransom together having just three batteries of artillery, but we have not been able to ascertain positively which has the two batteries.
General Holmes, late of the U.S. Army, commands the department, and has his headquarters at Goldsborough. The force in that neighborhood is variously estimated at from 5,000 to 15,000. I am satisfied that the lower number is the nearest to the absolute fact.
The possession of Beaufort Harbor renders the transportation of troops to this department very easy, and if a movement in force into the interior, with a view to occupying Goldsborough and Raleigh and thereby cutting off the retreat of the rebels, who will in all probability be dispersed by General McClellan, be desirable, the necessary force can easily be brought to this point, and I am not sure that the object cannot be accomplished with the re-enforcements of cavalry and artillery already ordered to this point; but I shall make no hazardous movement until I hear more definitely from the Department or of the result of the movement before Yorktown.
Your kind letter of the 25th ultimo warrants me in remaining on the defensive until such time as I think that my force here can be used as an auxiliary or a diversion. In the mean time I would be glad to receive any re-enforcements that it may be found for the interests of the service <ar9_385> to send me, in order that I may carry out more active field operations. I am becoming more convinced every day of the importance of occupying Goldsborough and Raleigh; you will readily see the reason for this conviction; but I would not, if I could, disturb the organization of the forces of the different columns now moving upon the enemy, unless it was for the interest of the public service.
In the first part of my dispatch I stated that I believed that the force in front of us was diminishing rather than increasing. My reason for coming to this conclusion is that one of our spies informed me this evening that General Branch was to leave with a considerable portion of his brigade for Virginia. If this statement should be confirmed and the cavalry and artillery should arrive I may make a movement in that direction, and I hope that whatever the result may be the Department will not consider that I am transcending my orders.
Another mail will leave here to-morrow, by which I will send a dispatch.
We are very much in need of the locomotives, cars, and wagons required for, all of which can now be sent to Beaufort Harbor in heavy-draught vessels.
Should it be deemed advisable to send re-enforcements to this department I hope it will be done with a view to leaving Generals Foster, Reno, and Parke in command of divisions. By their untiring industry and gallantry they deserve to remain as permanent commanders in this department; without them the work that has been done here could not have been accomplished. I have already recommended them to the Department for promotion, and hope it may be found for the interest of the public service to grant the request.
I have authorized the organization of the First North Carolina Union Volunteers. The movement was initiated by the Union men in and about Washington, and I have encouraged it to the extent of feeding, clothing, and arming the ———. vicinity, and have promised to recommend to the Department that they be mustered and paid. Captain Potter, General Foster's chief commissary, has been appointed colonel, and Mr. Respess, whose father was mayor of Washington and is now in prison in Richmond, has been appointed lieutenant- colonel. I hope that the regiment will be filled up within a very short time, but would not for a moment try to impress the Department with the idea that it will be done. I shall do all in my power to accomplish it, and trust my action will meet with the approval of the Government.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
A. E. BURNSIDE,
Major-General, Commanding Department of North Carolina.
Secretary of War, Washington.