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Battle of New Berne, North Carolina
in the American Civil War

Union Battle Summary

New Berne, N.C., March 14, 1862. Expedition under Maj.-Gen. A. E. Burnside. The brigades of Brig.-Gens. John G. Foster, Jesse L. Reno and JOhn G. Parke and the unattached commands of the 1st N.Y. Marine artillery and Co. B, 99th N.Y. infantry, all of the department of North Carolina under Maj.-Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, embarked on transports at Roanoke island on the morning of the 11th and at daybreak on the morning of the 13th landed at the mouth of Slocum's creek on the Neuse river. By the time the last of the troops were disembarked the head of the column had reached Otter creek, where it was discovered the Confederates had deserted their intrenchment. From this point Foster proceeded up the main county road and Reno up the railroad toward New Berne, while Parke followed Foster as a reserve. At 8 p.m. the troops bivouacked in the order of march and during the night some more of the Federal artillery was landed. At daylight on the 14th Capt. Robert S. Williamson of the topographical engineers was sent forward with an escort to reconnioter the Confederate position, while the brigades formed for battle. Foster, with Parke in his rear as a reserve, was to attack the enemy's front and left from the county road, and Reno was to attempt to turn the enemy's right from the railroad. The heads of the columns had gone but a short distance before they were within range of the Confederate artillery. Foster immediately placed the 24th and 25th Mass. on the right of the road, 6 navy boat howitzers and 2 other naval batteries on the road, and the 23rd and 27th Mass. on the left. Reno, on arriving near the line of intrenchments, ordered a charge up the railroad on a brick-kiln well within the enemy's line. The move was successfully executed y part of the 21st Mass., but the Confederate right extended some three-quarters of a mile beyond the railroad, so that Reno was kept busy and was unable to send support to the advanced detachment of the 21st, which was obliged to fall back to the main line of the brigade, now disposed with the remainder of the 21st Mass., the 51st N.Y. and the 9th N.J., on the left of the railroad and the 51st Pa. in reserve. By this time the engagement had become general. Parke was ordered across the railroad to strike the extreme Confederate right from a strip of timber. While he was crossing the railroad he was met by Lieut.-Col. William S. Clark with the detachment of the 21st Mass. which had been compelled to fall back and was informed that by regaining possession of the brick-kiln with a sufficient force the Confederate rear could be gained. Parke immediately ordered a charge, which was made by the 4th R.I., supported by his whole brigade, and the Union colors were planted on the parapet. The column then turned to the right and while it was thus fighting the enemy behind his own intrenchments Foster charged, clearing the whole line of the breastworks from the railroad to the river of Confederates. Parke then reversed his command and a similar movement was executed on the left of the railroad, Reno charging in front while Parke attacked the enemy behind his works. By the time this coup was completed Foster had succeeded in getting one regiment to the Confederate rear, cutting off the retreat of 200 men who surrendered unconditionally. Burnside then quietly took possession of the city. His loss was 90 killed, 380 wounded and 1 captured or missing, while the Confederates suffered casualties to the extent of 64 killed, 101 wounded and 413 captured or missing.

Source: The Union Army, Volume 6, Cyclopedia of Battles, 1908


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