War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0221 Chapter XX. BATTLE OF NEW BERNE, N. C.

Search Civil War Official Records

Creek, some 16 miles from New Berne, and proceeded at once to advance toward the railroad, where we expected first to meet the rebels. After a march of about 4 miles we arrived at a long line of deserted intrenchments, the rebels having abandoned them shortly before. Here I met General Foster, and, agreeably to the general commanding's orders, we awaited the arrival of the rest of the division. The general, soon coming up, ordered me to follow the railroad toward New Berne. The advance was continued until about 8 p. m., when the troops were ordered to bivouac. I was ordered by the general commanding to advance at daylight and attack the right of the rebel lines, but owing to the severe rain of the previous night I found that many of the muskets would not fire, so I ordered that all should discharge their load, drawing such as would not fire. After this my brigade moved forward along the railroad in the following order: Twenty-first Massachusetts, Fifty-first New York, Ninth New Jersey, and Fifty-first Pennsylvania. At about a quarter before 8 a. m. I heard General Foster's brigade hotly engaged, and in a few minutes I saw a large number of the enemy's apparently engaged in getting a gun to bear on the railroad. I ordered the skirmishers to fire upon them, at the same time ordering the Twenty-first Massachusetts forward into line. The enemy now opened a brisk fire upon us from near the railroad, the skirmishers in advance replying briskly, and as soon as the right wing of the Twenty-first Massachusetts got into line I ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Clark to charge and take the brick-kiln, which was gallantly executed.

In the mean time I ordered my aides to bring up the balance of my brigade and form in line to the left of the Twenty-first Massachusetts, placing the Fifty-first Pennsylvania in reserve, supporting the extreme left of my line. Owing to the thick fog it was almost impossible to see the rebels, and not knowing that their line extended beyond the railroad to bring up the rest of my brigade to his support, but finding the left wing of the Twenty-first Massachusetts and the Fifty-first New York hotly engaged in front and the enemy's lines extending far beyond my extreme left, I found it necessary to attack them in front, and as the ground was quite uneven I directed the regiments to advance as near as possible under cover of the ridges and pick off the enemy whenever their heads appeared above their line of intrenchments.

In the mean time the Ninth New Jersey also came into line and opened a well-directed fire upon a two-gun battery only some 200 yards in front of them, and so accurate was their fire that the enemy could only occasionally fire their guns. The battle now became general along our whole line, and raged fiercely for about three and a half hours. The Fifty-first Pennsylvania was held in reserve during this time, and although exposed to a severe fire, Colonel Hartranft did not allow a single shot to be fired, but directed the men to lie down, and thus saved them from much loss.

It having been reported to me that the regiments engaged had expended nearly all their ammunition, I ordered Colonel Hartranft to send one wing of his regiment to relive the Fifty-first New York, which had suffered very severely. As soon as they arrived I ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Bell to pass the Fifty-first New York, deliver one volley, and then charge upon the enemy's intrenchments. At the same time I sent orders to the Ninth New Jersey and the remainder of the Fifty-first Pennsylvania to charge. All this was gallantly executed, and the rebels fled precipitately from all their intrenchments. Some 50 prisoners