previous next

[316] were weighing upon him. In the excitement of the advance upon the enemy his cheerfulness returned, and all through the fight he kept at the head of his company, cheering his men, and setting them the example of unflinching courage. He was a fine officer of a fine regiment, and is deeply regretted by the officers and men of his regiment. Capt. William S. Chase, of company E, severely wounded in the cheek and neck, but for whose recovery hopes are entertained, is also a fine officer and genial companion. When he was struck he was waving his sword over his head and calling to his men to follow him. Of the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts, Major Robert B. Stevenson was wounded in the thigh, but made so light of the matter, that when he turned to Capt. Pratt, of company C, who was lying beside him and said he was wounded, the Captain thought he was joking. Adjutant William L. Horton, one of the most gallant fellows in the division, is severely if not mortally wounded, a grape-shot having passed through his left shoulder, shattering the bones. Major Charles W. Le Gendre, of the Fifty-first New-York, mortally wounded, was shot in the swamp, in the attack on the redans. Capt. D. R. Johnson, of the same regiment, a most intrepid officer, and one who distinguished himself at Roanoke, was shot in the swamp at about the same time as Major Le Gendre, the ball entering his stomach and passing through his body. He remarked to-day that he would willingly die if it could be the means of suppressing this wicked rebellion and restoring peace to his country.

I regret that my memoranda of the casualties in the First brigade should be so meagre, but it has been impossible for any one man to collate all the details of so desperate a battle as this in the few hours at his disposal before the sailing of the despatch-boat.

The approaches to Newbern were defended by a line of water-batteries or forts communicating with field fortifications of the most extensive nature. The lower fort is about six miles from the city; the next communicates with the unfinished batteries and breastworks passed on our march, and the others distributed at about equal distances along the shore. The line of fortifications attacked and stormed in the brilliant engagement of yesterday was some three miles in extent. At the river-bank a hexagonal fort, or water-battery, with a large bomb-proof and thirteen heavy guns, commanded not only the river approach, but by means of pivot-carriages the cannon could be turned upon an advancing land-force, and even to sweep the line of breastworks itself in case the garrison should be driven out. The fire of this fort would have proved very destructive to us after the batteries were stormed if the gunners had not deserted their pieces. From the fort to the centre of the line, a well-made breastwork extended, with a deep moat in front. At the centre was a bastion and sally-port, after which the breastwork was continued to the railroad embankment, which was itself made to contribute a means of defence. Beyond the railroad, but completely protecting the right flank of the main battery, was a small battery of irregular shape, communicating with a system of thirteen redans, or rifle-pits, each pair of which were constructed on a knoll rising between ravines, the conformation of the ground furnishing in itself a most admirable basis for field-works. The locality was chosen with rare judgment, and all that engineering skill could devise was done to make these fortifications an impassable barrier to our troops. From the railroad westward, a swift, deep brook with muddy bottom, and a wide border of swamp on both sides, ran in front of the redans, and on our side of approach, the timber was so very heavy that, when felled, it presented a barricade which would seem enough of itself to stop an army of French Zouaves. On the brow of each mound brushwood had been piled with regularity to the height of four feet in front of the redans, to make it extremely difficult to take them by assault from the front. The redans were constructed of heavy timbers covered with at least five feet thickness of earth, while an interior ditch of say three feet in depth gave complete protection to the garrison from volleys of musketry, or discharges of grape or canister-shot.

Inside, the battery presented a most revolting appearance. Beneath the parapet, in the ditch, on the open ground, under the gun-carriages, lay the dead bodies of rebels, some mangled in the most shocking manner. On every side were the bleeding carcasses of artillery-horses, all, so far as I noticed, killed by musket or rifle-balls. Here and there a broken gun-carriage, or caisson, lay tilted into the mud. Stores of all kinds were scattered over the ground or trampled in the black mire. Muskets with broken stocks or bent barrels thrown about in every direction. Pools of blood where the wounded had lain, and stripes of it along the ground in the direction in which they had been carried; but it is as distasteful as it is unnecessary to paint the horrors of a battlefield, and I forbear.

We did not know with certainty that there was not another battery as formidable as this still further up the road, but thinking it best to feed the panic which had seized upon the enemy, Gen. Burnside ordered an advance. Gen. Foster immediately sent forward the Twenty-fourth, Twenty-fifth, Twenty — seventh, and the whole brigade by the straight road. In the charge on the rifle-pit battery, about one hundred rebels, among them the Colonel of the Thirty-third North-Carolina, and a number of commissioned officers, were captured. When these were secured in an old brick-kiln and placed under guard, Gens. Reno and Parke removed their brigades after Gen. Foster's, the former going before up the railroad-track, and the latter by the country road. The march to Newbern was quite unobstructed, the enemy having apparently all he could do to get away from us, and early in the afternoon our forces reached the bank of the river, immediately opposite the city. Long before we came in sight of it, however, dense volumes of smoke were seen rising in that direction, and the suspicion that

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
New Bern (North Carolina, United States) (2)
Roanoke (United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: