War of the Rebellion: Serial 026 Page 0193 Chapter XXX. ATTACK ON NEW BERNE, N. C.

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of New Berne. The first part of this programme was excellently well carried out; 3 of the enemy's pickets were captured; the bridges within the enemy's lines were repaired. At 400 yards we came for the first time in view of the work. The result of what I had heard of the character of the work and learned from my reconnaissance of the previous day, and from what I now saw before me, was as follows:

It was a simple pan coupe,situated on a slight elevation, the height of the interior crest being 8 or 9 feet and the ditch in front 6 by 8 feet. It was flanked by a swamp of 3 or 4 miles on the right and a swampy creek on the left, so that it could only be approached in front. The road ran down to its center and then along the ditch of the left half. The garrison was composed of a two-years' regiment, about 250 or 300 strong.

It was now broad daylight. The presumption was the garrison would fire one round, costing us 50 or 100 men. I therefore decided to display my force, demoralize them by a heavy fire, and demand a surrender, thus saving my own men and not unnecessarily killing theirs. The light batteries deployed finely into battery at 400 yards from the work and opened upon it a rapid and well-directed fire. After a few minutes I demanded a surrender by Lieutenant [Louis G.] Young, my aide-de-camp. This was a mistake on my part and a I regret it very much, but it had no effect upon the principal object of the movement. They declined surrendering without consulting General Foster, &c. The firing was then recommenced. I now devoted my attention to the 20-pounders. I regret to say that their performance was execrable-fully as bad as the experiments at Goldsborough led us to fear. A gunboat lay opposite us at the wharf in New Berne, about 1 1/2 miles distant, getting up steam and firing upon us, in which she was aided by field guns, probably Whitworths from the sound of the missiles. Half of the shells from the 20-pounders burst just outside of the guns. They turned over in the air and were perfectly harmless to the enemy. At length the axle of one of these guns broke and it became unserviceable. Then another burst, wounding 3 men, 1 of them mortally. These four 20-pounders were our sole agents for accomplishing the object of the expedition. It was now painfully evident that they were worse than useless. Of the six guns composing the battery two had burst at Fredericksburg, one here, a fourth was disabled by the breaking of an axle-tree. The ammunition was fully as bad as the guns. The light guns would have been effective against gunboats in an ordinary sized river, but the Neuse at New Berne is so wide as to enable them to remove a mile or two distant. Other boats with heavy guns were coming round from the Trent. The principal object of the expedition having then utterly failed it seemed to me folly longer to expose the men and material of the artillery. The only question was whether I should carry the work before withdrawing. The Twenty-sixth had been in waiting ever since daylight and would have done it in five minutes. The advantage of so doing would have been the capture of some 300 two-years' men, with their arms. The work we could not hold. The disadvantage was the probable loss of a certain number of men 60 miles from our hospitals. I decided against it. It cost me a struggle, after so much labor and endurance to give up the eclat, but I felt that my duty to the country required me to save my men for some operation in which sacrifices would be followed by consequences, not in capturing two-years' men and holding temporary possession of breastworks, however brilliant the operation might be. I therefore withdrew the whole command except the Twenty-sixth Regi-