War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0226 OPERATIONS IN NORTH CAROLINA. Chapter XX.

Search Civil War Official Records

the road to bring up the rest of his brigade, but just at this time a tremendous fire of musketry and artillery was opened from the redans, hitherto unseen, and which were nine in number, extending from the railroad more than a mile to the right into the forest.

The general, being now obliged to devote his attention to the enemy in front of his brigade, ordered the left wing of the Twenty-first, under command of Major Rice, not to cross the railroad, but to continue firing upon the rebel infantry in the first two redans, with whom they were already engaged. These consisted of the Thirty-third North Carolina and the Sixteenth North Carolina Regiments, and were the best-armed and fought the most gallantly of any of the enemy's forces. Their position was almost impregnable so long as their left flank, resting on the railroad, was defended, and they kept up a incessant fire for three hours, until their ammunition was exhausted and the remainder of the rebel forces had retreated from that portion of their works lying between the river and the railroad.

Having been ordered into the brick-yard and left there with my colors and the four companies above named, and finding it impossible to remain there without being cut to pieces, I was compelled either to charge upon Captain Brem's battery of flying artillery or to retreat without having accomplished anything to compensate for the terrible loss sustained in reaching this point. Accordingly I formed my handful of men, about 200 in number, in line, the right resting on the breastwork of the enemy, and commenced firing upon the men and horses of the first piece. Three men and two horses having fallen, and the other gunners showing signs of uneasiness, I gave the command, "Charge bayonets," and went in to the first gun. Reaching it I had the pleasure of mounting upon the first of the New Berne guns surrendered to the "Yankees." It was a 6-pounder field piece, brought from Fort Macon, and marked U. S. Leaving this in the hands of Captain Walcott and Private John Dunn, of Company B, who cut away the horses and attempted to load and turn it upon the enemy, I proceeded to the second gun, some 300 paces from the brick-yard.

By this time the three regiments of rebel infantry, who had retreated from the breastwork to a ravine in the rear when we entered the brick-yard, seeing that we were so few and received no support, rallied and advanced upon us. The Thirty-fifth and Thirty-seventh North Carolina Regiments, supported by the Seventh North Carolina, came up from the ravine in splendid style with their muskets on the right shoulder and halted. Most fortunately, or rather providentially, for us, they remained undecided for a minute or two, and then resolved on a movement which saved us from destruction. Instead of giving us a volley at once, they first hesitated and then charged upon us without firing. I instantly commanded my men to spring over the parapet and ditch in front and retreat to the railroad, keeping as close as possible to the ditch. As the enemy could not fire upon us to any advantage until they reached the parapet, nearly all of those who obeyed my order escaped unharmed, though thousands of bullets whistled over us. On the railroad I found Colonel Rodman, with the Fourth Rhode Island, waiting for orders, and informed him of the situation of things in the intrenchments of the enemy, and urged him to advance at once and charge upon their flank, as I had done. Soon after Colonel Harland, with the Eighth Connecticut, came up, and then the two regiments advanced along the railroad to the brick-yard and charged by wing. As soon as the enemy saw them within their lines they instantly retired again to the ravine without firing a gun. It is some satisfaction