War of the Rebellion: Serial 026 Page 0115 Chapter XXX. NEW BERNE TO GOLDSBOROUGH.

Search Civil War Official Records


FAYETTEVILLE, N. C., February 20, 1863.

GENERAL: Confinement to my bed for the last two months will, I trust, by apology sufficient for the delay in reporting to you the part taken by command in the battle near Kinston, on Sunday, December 14,[1862.]

I arrived at Kinston by railroad Sunday morning at 7 o'clock and immediately reported to and was ordered by you to take position with my battalion (consisting of 19 officers and 460 men) in the rifle-pits on the east bank of Neuse River to support a South Carolina battery commanding the county bridge.

At 8.30 we were in position, and in a few moments musketry firing commenced on the left of the line of battle, which was formed on the west side of the river, and at 9 o'clock the first gun was fired by the artillery.

At 9.15 I received an order through one of your aides to march at double-quick across the bridge. Having crossed, I met you on the west side directing men pouring spirits of turpentine on cotton placed upon the bridge. Your ordered me to take my command through the field on the right of the White Hall road and engage the enemy. We passed through the field under a fire of shell from the enemy (losing 1 man) to the distance of a quarter of a mile to a fence on the edge of a swamp, on the other side of which the enemy appeared to be in force. Here we engaged the enemy for some time, but the principal point of attack appeared to be the church known as Harriet's Chapel, on my left, where was stationed a section of Starr's battery supported by the Sixty- first Regiment North Carolina Troops, under Colonel Radcliffe. At length the firing upon my part of the line ceased almost entirely. Being anxious to charge the enemy and drive him back, I sent Lieutenant Little to the section of artillery on my left to ascertain the real position of the enemy and of our forces, it being impossible to charge through the swamp in my front. About the time of Lieutenant Little's return (without any accurate information) I received by courier a written order from you, as follows:

COLONEL: Let me know if the enemy are in your front. If not, join me at the bridge.

At this time, there being no indication of the enemy in front, I drew off in good order and returned to the bridge, but to my surprise you were absent, leaving no order or instructions for me. Observing that the South Carolina battery commanding the bridge had been removed and the bridge apparently deserted, I concluded you were waiting for me on the east side, and retreating toward Kinston I proceeded across the bridge. In a few moments after crossing, I was met by an officer of your staff with orders to go back. This order I promptly obeyed, marching again at a double-quick through the same field to my former position under a heavy fire of the enemy's artillery, and was almost immediately hotly engaged with his infantry. In about an hour I was re-enforced with 90 to 100 men from the Sixty-first North Carolina, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel [W. S.] Devane, who took position on my right. The enemy made a vigorous charge at this time on my left, and was as vigorously repulsed. Old veterans could not have met the foe with more coolness and determination than these newly-tried men. He appeared determined to force his way through my lines. At the church I ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Devane to re-enforce my left. He took his position promptly and did good service, and I here take pleasure in testifying to