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[608] most frequented by trading-vessels before the war. It was protected by Fort Macon, which the Federals had captured in April. At a short distance from this fort, but on the mainland, stood, on the two sides of a small bay, the towns of Beaufort and Moore-head City. A railroad connects the latter with the town of Goldsboroa and with all the railway lines of North Carolina.

This was the junction of railway lines that Burnside was charged to break up after the capture of Newberne—an operation which might have had a great bearing upon the whole system of Confederate defences, but which he was obliged to forego in consequence of the reverse sustained by the Federal troops before Richmond. In fact, Virginia was only connected with the other Southern States by three lines of railway. To the west there was the Richmond, Lynchburg, Knoxville and Chattanooga line, which the Federals menaced every time they advanced either from Nashville or Kentucky toward East Tennessee. The other two lines placed Virginia in communication with the other States bordering the Atlantic, the two Carolinas and Georgia, whence Lee's army derived part of its supplies. These two lines, composed of several branches constructed at different periods, described many zigzags through the country which they traversed. One, in the vicinity of the mountains, had been considerably shortened at the end of 1861 by the completion of the Danville and Greensboroa section, which avoided the circuitous route of Raleigh. The other runs southward, in an almost direct line from Richmond to Wilmington, along Cape Fear River, thence proceeding westward toward South Carolina. This line crosses the Roanoke at Weldon, and the Neuse at Goldsboroa. If Burnside had been able to strike the railroad near one of these two points, he would have caused serious trouble to the Confederates. But when he left the waters of the Neuse for those of James River, with a division composed of his best troops, his successor, far from being able to resume such projects, was afraid lest the enemy might come to dispute the posts of which he was already in possession. In fact, General Foster, the successor above mentioned, had only one brigade with him, and a few gun-boats commanded by Captain Davenport. To avoid seeing his troops surprised and crushed in detail, he massed them at those points

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