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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Battle of New Bern

Federal gunboats
150 years ago today Burnside's expedition captured the Confederate position at New Bern, North Carolina. Roanoke Island fell in early February, and Burnside planned to move on to New Bern, the most important city in the area. New Bern was commanded by General Lawrence Branch, and he had only 4000 men to resist the Federal invasion. Burnside had 11,000 men accompanied by a fleet of gunboats. The Confederates took up there defense along a line of breastworks six miles below the town, with their left at Fort Thompson on the Neuse River, and their right on a road. Before reaching the Confederate position Burnside's men would have to cross a swamp and cross obstacles such as felled trees. Burnside's line moved forward against the Federal position on the morning of March 14th.
Battle Map
Unfortunately for the Confederates, there was a serious problem in their line. At the railroad in the center of the line there was a gap into which the Union troops charged. They broke several regiments by attacking their flanks, but their attacks stalled and Branch brought up reinforcements to plug the gap. Burnside ordered his reserves forward, and the entire Confederate line broke. Branch's men abandoned New Bern and continued to retreat and could not be stopped until they reached Kinston, 35 miles from the battlefield. In this battle the Confederates suffered 64 killed, 101 wounded and 413 captured, the Federals 90 killed, 390 wounded and 1 missing.

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