Union Army and Battle of Kinston
2nd Battle of Kinston, North Carolina (AKA Battle of Wyse Fork): Union Account
Kinston, N. C.
March 8-10, 1865
23d Army Corps and Provisional
Division, District of Beaufort.
Wilmington was occupied by the Union troops under Gen. Schofield
on Feb. 22, and
steps were immediately taken to open railroad
communications between the seacoast and Goldsboro, in order to
to Sherman's army.
It was soon discovered, however, that communications could be
more easily established from New
Berne and the base of
operations was transferred to that point.
On Feb. 26, Maj.-Gen. J. D. Cox was ordered to
assume command of
the movement. Cox reached New Berne on the last day of
February, organized his forces into two divisions,
Brig.-Gens. I. N. Palmer and S. P. Carter, and at once commenced
the work of repairing the railroad.
little later he was joined by Ruger's division of the 23d
corps. The first opposition was met near Kinston, about 30
from New Berne.
About 3 miles from Kinston is a stream called Southwest creek,
along the banks of which some skirmishing
occurred on March 7,
and the enemy was found to be in greater force than had been
anticipated. Several roads leading
to Kinston crossed Southwest
Near the mouth of the stream was the Neuse road, running almost
to the river of that name Between Kinston and Southwest
creek two roads - the Upper Trent and Dover - branched off from
the Neuse road and followed a general southeasterly direction.
On the east side of the creek, and nearly parallel
to it, was
the British road, while the Lower Trent road left the Neuse road
a short distance east of the creek and
ran for some distance
nearly due south, crossing the British and Dover roads a little
way south of the railroad.
crossing of the British and Dover roads was known as ''Wise's
After the skirmishing on the 7th along Southwest
creek (q. v.)
Cox placed Upham's brigade of Carter's division at this point to
cover the left of the Federal position,
a strong picket line was
pushed up to the bank of the creek, and Ruger's division was
stationed at Gum swamp, where
it could move to the support of
any part of the line at short notice.
Cox had received information that Hoke's
division was at
Kinston, and that a Confederate ironclad was lying in the Neuse
in front of the town. He did not know,
however that Gen. J. E.
Johnston, who had just been assigned to the command of the
Confederate forces in North Carolina,
had ordered Gen. Braxton
Bragg to move with his command from Goldsboro, unite with the
remnant of Hood's army, under
Gens. Clayton and D. H. Hill, at
Smithfield, and strike a decisive blow at the Union column
coming up from New Berne,
in the hope of cutting off Sherman's
supplies, after which his intention was to concentrate the
entire force at some
available point to prevent Sherman from
forming a junction with Schofield.
On the morning of the 8th, while Schofield and Cox were in
consultation as to what course was best to
pursue, the enemy
suddenly appeared in force between Upham and the rest of the
Upham's troops were
principally new recruits and could not be
rallied after the first attack in time to meet the second. The
that three-fourths of the brigade were captured.
Ruger was hurried to Carter's support and the two divisions,
by a light breastwork, held their position against the
repeated assaults of the Confederates. In order to create a
Palmer was ordered to make a vigorous demonstration in
his front, as though he intended to force a crossing.
a few prisoners were taken, from whom it was learned that
at least three divisions of the enemy were engaged at Wise's
Forks, and that Bragg was in command.
Upon receiving this information Schofield directed Cox to act on
defensive, holding his position if possible, until the
remainder of the 23d corps could be brought up.
was kept up during the 9th, but no serious attack
was made on any part of the Union lines.
A short time before
noon on the 10th Hoke's division made a
desperate assault on Cox's left. McQuiston's brigade of Ruger's
moved on the double-quick to Carter's left, and at
the same time both Carter's and Ruger's batteries began pouring
perfect shower of shrapnel and canister into the Confederate
After an hour they broke and fled, closely
pursued by McQuiston
until the latter was recalled to support the center, where the
line was too thin to successfully
resist an attack should one
At 3:45 p. m. Bragg sent the following dispatch to Johnston:
is strongly intrenched in the position to which we
drove him. Yesterday and today we have moved on his flanks, but
gaining any decided advantage.
His line is extensive, and prisoners report large
reinforcements. Under these conditions
I deem it best, with the
information you give, to join you, which I shall proceed to do,
unless otherwise directed.''
night the ironclad was burned and sunk, and Bragg moved to
Goldsboro to effect a junction with the main body of Johnston's
army. Kinston was occupied by the Federal forces on the 14th.
The Union losses in the several engagements about
65 killed, 319 wounded and 953 captured, most of the last being
members of Upham's brigade, which was
surprised on the morning
of the 8th.
No detailed report of the Confederate casualties was made. The
of prisoners taken was 266, and as the enemy was the
attacking party it is quite probable that their loss in killed
wounded was equal to or greater than that of the Union army.
Source: The Union Army, Vol.6, p. 541
Reading: Sherman's March Through the Carolinas. Description: In retrospect, General William Tecumseh Sherman considered his march
through the Carolinas the greatest of his military feats, greater even than the Georgia
campaign. When he set out northward from Savannah with 60,000
veteran soldiers in January 1865, he was more convinced than ever that the bold application of his ideas of total war could
speedily end the conflict. Continued below…
story of what happened in the three months that followed is based on printed memoirs and documentary records of those who
fought and of the civilians who lived in the path of Sherman's onslaught. The burning of Columbia, the battle
of Bentonville, and Joseph E. Johnston's surrender nine days after Appomattox are at the center of the story, but Barrett
also focuses on other aspects of the campaign, such as the undisciplined pillaging of the 'bummers,' and on its effects on
local populations. About the Author: John G. Barrett is professor emeritus of history at the Virginia Military Institute.
He is author of several books, including The Civil War in North Carolina,
and coeditor of North Carolina Civil War Documentary.
Reading: Southern Storm: Sherman's March to the Sea, by Noah Andre Trudeau (Hardcover). From Publishers Weekly: Starred
Review. Trudeau, a prize-winning Civil War historian (Gettysburg),
addresses William T. Sherman's march to the sea in the autumn of 1864. Sherman's
inclusion of civilian and commercial property on the list of military objectives was not a harbinger of total war, says Trudeau.
Rather, its purpose was to demonstrate to the Confederacy that there was no place in the South safe from Union troops. Continued
levels of destruction and pillage were limited even by Civil War standards, Trudeau says; they only seemed shocking to Georgians
previously spared a home invasion on a grand scale. Confederate resistance was limited as well. Trudeau praises Sherman's
generalship, always better at operational than tactical levels. He presents the inner dynamics of one of the finest armies
the U.S. has ever fielded: veteran troops from Massachusetts
to Minnesota, under proven officers, consistently able to
make the difficult seem routine. And Trudeau acknowledges the often-overlooked contributions of the slaves who provided their
liberators invaluable information and labor. The march to the sea was in many ways the day of jubilo, and in Trudeau it has
found its Xenophon. 16 pages of b&w photos, 36 maps.
Viewing: The History Channel Presents Sherman's
March (2007). Description: “The story
of General William Tecumseh Sherman who helped devastate the South's army at the end of the Civil War is told here via vivid
reconstructions of his actions.” This is a great reenactment, presentation. It's not dull like some documentaries that
just continually talk with the same guy for an hour. This includes several individuals that are extremely knowledgeable in
their respective fields--be it civilian or military historian. Also, it includes many re-enactors that portray “Sherman as well as his entire command.” It literally takes the
viewer back to 1864 to experience it firsthand.
Reading: Sherman's March: The First Full-Length Narrative of General William T. Sherman's Devastating March through Georgia and the Carolinas. Description: Sherman's March is the vivid narrative
of General William T. Sherman's devastating sweep through Georgia and the
Carolinas in the closing days of the Civil War. Weaving together hundreds of eyewitness stories,
Burke Davis graphically brings to life the dramatic experiences of the 65,000 Federal troops who plundered their way through
the South and those of the anguished -- and often defiant -- Confederate women and men who sought to protect themselves and
their family treasures, usually in vain. Dominating these events is the general himself -- "Uncle Billy" to his troops, the
devil incarnate to the Southerners he encountered.
Reading: The March to the Sea and Beyond: Sherman's Troops in the Savannah
and Carolinas Campaigns. Description: This book contains an examination of the army that General William Tecumseh Sherman commanded through
Georgia and the Carolinas, in late 1864
and early 1865. Instead of being just another narrative of the March to the Sea and Carolina Campaigns, however, Glatthaar's
book is a look at the individuals that composed the army. He examines the social and ideological backgrounds of the men in
Sherman's army, and evaluates how they felt about various
factors of the war--slavery, the union, and, most significantly, the campaign in which they were participating. Continued
is a fascinating look at Sherman's campaigns through the eyes of the everyday soldier. Glatthaar makes the army come
alive, and shows the men not as heartless animals who delighted in wanton destruction, not as mechanized marching machines
who could perform the most difficult marches without even flinching, but instead as real human beings, complete with sore
feet, empty stomachs, and minds engaged in contemplation over the ethical ramifications of what they were doing to the people
of the South. This book is a refreshing change from the norm in Civil War history. The book’s great value is its ability
to assist the reader in understanding that the war was fought by individuals--not masses of blue and gray--and what these
individuals felt, thought, and believed during America’s
most trying era.
Reading: The Battle Of Bentonville: Last Stand
In The Carolinas, by Mark L. Bradley (Hardcover). Description: Mark L. Bradley's book could not have come at a more proper time. The
terrible fighting that took place in the fields of North Carolina
in March of 1865 has been long forgotten; thankfully, Mr. Bradley has reminded us of the sacrifices that our ancestors endured
on that sacred ground. Bentonville is a stirring reminder of the American spirit...something that was exhibited on both sides
of the lines during those fateful three days in March. Mr. Bradley has written a stirring tribute to the two armies that fought
in this last great battle that pitted the forces of "Uncle Billy" Sherman, against his old
nemesis "Old Joe" Johnston. Continued below…
has written an outstanding account of the soldiers who fought this landmark battle in the waning days of the war, and he has
given us a thorough look at what was going on in the minds of the Generals who led their soldiers to the killing fields of
Bentonville. Bradley has also included an outstanding photo collection of the battlefield as it appears today, something that
is rarely added to most of the narratives on Civil War battles. These photos give us an understanding of the terrain that
each man, Union
or Confederate, faced on those days in March 1865. I heartily recommend this narrative to all students of the Civil War. The
Battle of Bentonville has been neglected too long. Thankfully, Mr. Bradley has corrected that mistake, and he has provided
us buffs with a truly compelling story. Special appreciation is due to Mark A. Moore. Mr. Moore's maps of the campaign are
outstanding, and they help the reader understand and comprehend the many troop movements of this last major battle of the
Civil War in the Eastern Theater.