Battle of New Bern
of New Bern
Other Names: New Berne
Location: Craven County, North Carolina
Campaign: Burnside's North Carolina Expedition (February-June 1862)
Date(s): March 14, 1862
Principal Commanders: Brig. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside [US]; Brig.
Gen. Lawrence O’B. Branch [CS]
Forces Engaged: Expeditionary Force and Foster’s, Reno’s,
and Parke’s Brigades [US]; 5 regiments, militia [CS]
Estimated Casualties: 1,080 total
Result(s): Union victory
|Civil War Battle of New Bern, North Carolina
|(New Berne, NC)
|Battle of New Bern
|Artwork depicting Battle of New Bern
(Right) Titled "Passing the barricade, the gunboats are advancing the river to New Berne."
March 14, 1862. NPS.
Summary: On March 11, 1862, Brig. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside’s
command embarked from Roanoke Island to rendezvous with Union gunboats at Hatteras Inlet for an expedition against New Bern. On March
13, the fleet sailed up the Neuse River and disembarked infantry on the river’s south bank to approach the New Bern
defenses. The Confederate defense was commanded by Brig. Gen. Lawrence Branch. On March 14, John G. Foster’s, Jesse Reno’s, and John G. Parke’s brigades attacked along the railroad
and after four hours of fighting drove the Confederates out of their fortifications. The Federals captured nine forts and
41 heavy guns and occupied a base which they would hold to the end of the war, in spite
of several Confederate attempts to recover the town. The capture
of New Bern was another accomplishment towards the fulfillment
of General Winfield Scott's "Anaconda Plan."
|Forts protecting Wilmington Weldon Railroad
|New Bern, North Carolina was a vital Southern port city during the Civil War
History: Occupation of the coastal city
of New Bern, North Carolina, by Union troops would essentially cut off rail and naval
supply lines to the north, separating and isolating the Confederate forces in Virginia.
in 1710, New Bern is the second-oldest city in the Old North
State, founded by German and Swiss adventurers. Prior to the American Revolution, Royal Gov. William Tryon made this
seaport his colonial capitol and commissioned the construction of Tryon Palace
By August 1861, the Union army had secured the Pamlico Sound inlets after defeating the Confederate forces and capturing Forts Clark and Hatteras. By winter 1862, Gen. A. E. Burnside and Commodore L. M. Goldsborough had seized the Confederate positions on Roanoke Island and New Bern. Union control of the inner coastal position now tightened the blockade of the North
Carolina coast, but the state didn't capitulate until April 26, 1865, when Gen. Joseph Johnston surrendered the
last major Confederate army to Gen. William T. Sherman near Durham, North Carolina.
Battle of New Bern was contested on March 14, 1862, near the city of New Bern, as
part of Burnside's North Carolina Expedition. On March 11, Brig. Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s command launched from Roanoke
Island to rendezvous with Union gunboats at Hatteras Inlet for a joint Army Navy attack on New Bern. The defending Confederate
commander was Brig. Gen. Lawrence Branch. On March 13, the Federal fleet progressed the
and disembarked on the river's south bank only a few miles from the city's defenses. On March 14, three brigades under
John G. Foster, Jesse L. Reno and John G. Parke attacked along the railroad and drove the Confederates out of their fortifications.
The Federals captured nine forts and 41 heavy guns, and despite several Confederate attempts to retake the town, it remained
a Union occupied base until the end of the war. The ensuing occupation of the city of New
Bern essentially cut off rail and naval supply lines to the north, isolating the Confederate Army of
New Bern National Cemetery was officially established shortly after
the war, Feb. 1, 1867, and many of the burials at New Bern are reinterments of remains from the surrounding area, including
Beaufort, Hatteras and locations along the coast. Lacking dog tags and personal information at the time of burial were
just a few of the factors that contributed to the numerous mass graves of the conflict. Over 1,000 unknowns
are buried in a separate section at this national cemetery. New Bern National Cemetery was listed on the National Register
of Historic Places in 1997.
|Civil War Battle of New Bern Map
|Battle of New Bern, North Carolina
New Bern National Cemetery
was officially established shortly after the war, Feb. 1, 1867, and many of the burials at New Bern are reinterments
of remains from the surrounding area, including Beaufort, Hatteras and locations along the coast. Lacking dog tags and personal
information at the time of burial were just a few of the factors that contributed to the numerous mass graves
of the conflict. Over 1,000 unknowns are buried in a separate section at this national cemetery. New Bern National Cemetery
was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
Park Service; Fort Raleigh National Historic Site; Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; U.S. Department
of Veterans Affairs; North Carolina Civil War
Tourism Council, Inc; New Bern Historical Society; North Carolina Museum
Recommended Reading: The Civil War in the Carolinas
(Hardcover). Description: Dan Morrill relates the experience
of two quite different states bound together in the defense of the Confederacy, using letters, diaries, memoirs, and reports.
He shows how the innovative operations of the Union army and navy along the coast and
in the bays and rivers of the Carolinas affected the general course of the war as well as
the daily lives of all Carolinians. He demonstrates the "total war" for North
Carolina's vital coastal railroads and ports. In the latter part of the war, he describes
how Sherman's operation cut out the heart of the last stronghold
of the South. Continued below...
offers fascinating sketches of major and minor personalities, including the new president and state governors, Generals Lee,
Beauregard, Pickett, Sherman, D.H. Hill, and Joseph E. Johnston. Rebels and abolitionists, pacifists and unionists, slaves
and freed men and women, all influential, all placed in their context with clear-eyed precision. If he were wielding a needle
instead of a pen, his tapestry would offer us a complete picture of a people at war. Midwest Book Review: The Civil War in the Carolinas by civil war expert and historian
Dan Morrill (History Department, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historical
Society) is a dramatically presented and extensively researched survey and analysis of the impact the American Civil War had
upon the states of North Carolina and South Carolina, and the people who called these states their home. A meticulous, scholarly,
and thoroughly engaging examination of the details of history and the sweeping change that the war wrought for everyone, The
Civil War In The Carolinas is a welcome and informative addition to American Civil War Studies reference collections.
Recommended Reading: The
Civil War on the Outer Banks: A History of the Late Rebellion Along the Coast of North Carolina from Carteret to Currituck
With Comments on Prewar Conditions and an Account of (251 pages). Description: The ports at Beaufort, Wilmington, New Bern and Ocracoke, part of the Outer Banks (a chain
of barrier islands that sweeps down the North Carolina coast from the Virginia Capes to Oregon Inlet), were strategically
vital for the import of war materiel and the export of cash producing crops. From official records, contemporary newspaper
accounts, personal journals of the soldiers, and many unpublished manuscripts and memoirs, this
is a full accounting of the Civil War along the North Carolina
Recommended Reading: Ironclads and Columbiads: The Coast
(The Civil War in North Carolina) (456 pages). Description: Ironclads and Columbiads covers some of the most
important battles and campaigns in the state. In January 1862, Union forces began in earnest to occupy crucial points on the
North Carolina coast. Within six months, Union army and
naval forces effectively controlled coastal North Carolina from the Virginia
line south to present-day Morehead City.
Union setbacks in Virginia, however, led to the withdrawal of many federal soldiers from North Carolina, leaving only enough
Union troops to hold a few coastal strongholds—the vital ports and railroad junctions. The South during the Civil War,
moreover, hotly contested the North’s ability to maintain its grip on these key coastal strongholds.
Recommended Reading: The
Civil War in Coastal North Carolina (175 pages) (North Carolina Division of Archives and History). Description: From the drama of blockade-running to graphic descriptions of battles
on the state's islands and sounds, this book portrays the explosive events that took place in North Carolina's
coastal region during the Civil War. Topics discussed include the strategic importance of coastal North Carolina, Federal occupation of coastal areas, blockade-running, and the impact of
war on civilians along the Tar Heel coast.
Recommended Reading: Storm
over Carolina: The Confederate Navy's Struggle for Eastern North Carolina. Description: The struggle for control of the eastern
waters of North Carolina during the War Between the States
was a bitter, painful, and sometimes humiliating one for the Confederate navy. No better example exists of the classic adage,
"Too little, too late." Burdened by the lack of adequate warships, construction facilities, and even ammunition, the
South's naval arm fought bravely and even recklessly to stem the tide of the Federal invasion of North
Carolina from the raging Atlantic. Storm
Over Carolina is the account of the Southern navy's struggle in North
Carolina waters and it is a saga of crushing defeats interspersed with moments of brilliant and even
spectacular victories. It is also the story of dogged Southern determination and incredible perseverance in the face
of overwhelming odds. Continued below...
For most of
the Civil War, the navigable portions of the Roanoke, Tar, Neuse, Chowan, and Pasquotank rivers were
occupied by Federal forces. The Albemarle and Pamlico sounds, as well as most of the coastal towns and counties, were also
under Union control. With the building of the river ironclads, the Confederate navy at last could strike a telling blow against
the invaders, but they were slowly overtaken by events elsewhere. With the war grinding to a close, the last Confederate vessel
in North Carolina waters was destroyed. William T. Sherman
was approaching from the south, Wilmington was lost, and the
Confederacy reeled as if from a mortal blow. For the Confederate navy, and even more so for the besieged citizens of eastern
North Carolina, these were stormy days indeed. Storm Over Carolina describes their story, their struggle, their history.