Friday, September 21, 2012

Great Battle in North Carolina!


Newbern Taken!


BALTIMORE, March 18. – The steamer Commodore arrived this morning direct from the Burnside expedition, and reports the capture of Newbern, North Carolina, the defeat of the enemy, and the capture of a large quantity of artillery, after a hard fought battle.

Our loss at Newbern is about 90 killed and 400 wounded.  Our men displayed great bravery.

A bearer of dispatches from Gen. Burnside left immediately for Washington.

It is reported that we took 300 prisoners.

Some reports make our loss 50 or 60 and 250 to 300 wounded.

The fight too place on Friday last.

There are rumors that one of our Brigadier Generals was killed – considered unreliable.

(Special to N. Y. Times.)

BALTIMORE, March 18. – The enemy’s works, six miles below Newbern, were attacked on Friday morning last.  They were defended by a force of ten thousand, having twenty-one guns posted behind formidable batteries, over two miles long.  The fight was one of the most desperate of the war.  Our troops behaved with great steadiness and courage, and after nearly all their positions, capturing three light batteries of field artillery, forty-six heavy siege guns, large stores of field ammunition, 3,000 stand of small arms, and 200 prisoners, including one Colonel, three Captains, and four Lieutenants.  The enemy left a large number of dead on the field.  They escaped by cars to Goldsborough, burning the bridges over the Trent and Clermont, and fired the city of Newbern.  No extensive damage was done to the place.

We lost about one hundred killed, and four hundred wounded, mostly of the New England regiments.

Rev. O. M. Benton was among the killed, and Major Legifidel, 51st N. Y. volunteers, mortally wounded.  Lieut. Col. Morrill of the 23rd Massachusetts, and Adjutant Faustens of the 21st Massachusetts Infantry were also killed.

Sergt. Major D. H. Johnson of the 23rd Massachusetts regiment, came as passenger by steamer Commodore, and from him we gather the following interesting particulars:

Our troops under Gen. Burnside, landed on Thursday evening near the mouth of Swan Creek, on the west side of the Neuse River, fifteen miles below Newbern.  Owing to a dense fog, the vessels did not participate in the fight.

Early on Friday morning the fight commenced.  Our troops advanced along the country road running paralleled with the Neuse river, but a mile or two in the rear, the road was skirted on the west side by a railroad and dense swamp.  All along the riverside were a series of batteries which were taken by our troops one after another, after some bloody hand to hand contests.

Our troops were divided into three brigades, under Generals Reno, Foster and Parks.

Gradually the enemy deserted their guns until we reached a line of earth works running across the road from the river to the swamp on the west, a distance of some two miles.  These earth works were very strong.  They were located about two miles south of Newbern, and below them and the city ran the river.  The country roads and the Railroad both passed through these works, and crossed the Neuse by a bridge.  In front of these works the rebels had felled a large number of trees, forming an almost impenetrable abattis, where the flying rebels were ready to make for a while a desperate stand.

Our men fought until their ammunition was spent, when an order to charge bayonet was given.  The works were finally taken at the point of the bayonet, the enemy flying and leaving everything behind.  In their retreat the rebels burnt the bridges over the Neuse, connecting with both the country road and R. R.

As they had their trains of cars in their rear, just across the bridges, they, of course, were able to carry off their wounded and dead.  Their loss is therefore, not certainly known, but it must have been considerable.

It was in front of the last fortification that our greatest loss was sustained.  The force of the rebels is supposed to have been about 8,000 – we captured a number of prisoners, including Col. Avery, who cursed his soldiers as cowards.

Just as the battle terminated the fog lifted and enabled our gunboats, which had been waiting for an opportunity to participate in the fight to come up the river, and our troops were furnished with means of transportation across the Trent to Newbern.  The rebels attempted to fire the town in their retreat, but were prevented by the citizens, who extinguished the flames as fast as they were started by the soldiers. – None of our Generals or staff officers were killed or wounded.  We captured from thirty to fifty cannon.  Officers of the rebels left their baggage behind and the men threw away everything.  The fight terminated at three p.m., on Friday, when our troops remained masters of the field.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, March 22, 1862, p. 4

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