First Battle of Kinston
North Carolina and the Civil War
|Route to Goldsboro
On the 4th of December 1862, Wessells' Brigade was ordered to go to New Bern, NC, to reinforce General John
G. Foster. Foster was organizing his forces to go to Goldsboro, NC, as a diversion to help General Burnside at Fredericksburg,
VA. Wessells' Brigade left Suffolk, marching to the Chowan River near Gatesville, where they boarded ships. They proceeded
down the Chowan River into the Albemarle Sound, past Roanoke Island, and then up the Neuse River arriving at New Bern on the
9th. On the 11th, Wessells' Brigade, along with Gen. Foster's 12,000 troops, began their march towards Kinston, NC, en route
|Map of North Carolina Civil War Battles
|Map of North Carolina Civil War Battlefields
|Kinston, North Carolina
|(Civil War History)
Wessells took the advance and encountered some of the enemy's cavalry,
with only light skirmishing taking place. However, a large number of Confederates were encountered on the evening of the 13th.
Wessells' Brigade drove them across West Creek and captured two artillery pieces. Lt. Col. Armor was accidentally injured
and sent back, with Major Alexander William Taylor assuming command of the 101st. The following morning, the Confederate forces
were located along the south side of the Neuse River near the Kinston Bridge heading into town, located on the north side
of the river. The pickets of the 101st PA advanced from their position at sunrise and engaged the Confederates.
The Confederates retreated across the bridge into town and began
to burn the bridge to prevent access to the town. However, the fire was extinguished and the Union troops pushed forward as the enemy retreated out of town on the north
side of the Neuse. Foster's troops, in control of the evacuated town, helped themselves to many supplies including a large
lot of Rebel clothing. The following day, they crossed Kinston Bridge, back to the south side of the Neuse, burned the bridge
and continued on their way to Goldsboro.
Credit: 101st Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry History by
Edward Boots, President and 101st PA Historian for the Civil War Plymouth Pilgrims Descendants Society.
Recommended Reading: The Civil War in the Carolinas
(Hardcover). Description: Dan Morrill relates the experience
of two quite different states bound together in the defense of the Confederacy, using letters, diaries, memoirs, and reports.
He shows how the innovative operations of the Union army and navy along the coast and
in the bays and rivers of the Carolinas affected the general course of the war as well as
the daily lives of all Carolinians. He demonstrates the "total war" for North
Carolina's vital coastal railroads and ports. In the latter part of the war, he describes
how Sherman's operation cut out the heart of the last stronghold
of the South. Continued below...
offers fascinating sketches of major and minor personalities, including the new president and state governors, Generals Lee,
Beauregard, Pickett, Sherman, D.H. Hill, and Joseph E. Johnston. Rebels and abolitionists, pacifists and unionists, slaves
and freed men and women, all influential, all placed in their context with clear-eyed precision. If he were wielding a needle
instead of a pen, his tapestry would offer us a complete picture of a people at war. Midwest Book Review: The Civil War in the Carolinas by civil war expert and historian
Dan Morrill (History Department, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historical
Society) is a dramatically presented and extensively researched survey and analysis of the impact the American Civil War had
upon the states of North Carolina and South Carolina, and the people who called these states their home. A meticulous, scholarly,
and thoroughly engaging examination of the details of history and the sweeping change that the war wrought for everyone, The
Civil War In The Carolinas is a welcome and informative addition to American Civil War Studies reference collections.
Recommended Reading: Ironclads and Columbiads: The Coast
(The Civil War in North Carolina) (456 pages). Description: Ironclads and Columbiads covers some of the most
important battles and campaigns in the state. In January 1862, Union forces began in earnest to occupy crucial points on the
North Carolina coast. Within six months, Union army and
naval forces effectively controlled coastal North Carolina from the Virginia
line south to present-day Morehead City.
Union setbacks in Virginia, however, led to the withdrawal of many federal soldiers from North Carolina, leaving only enough
Union troops to hold a few coastal strongholds—the vital ports and railroad junctions. The South during the Civil War,
moreover, hotly contested the North’s ability to maintain its grip on these key coastal strongholds.
Recommended Reading: The
Civil War in Coastal North Carolina (175 pages) (North Carolina Division of Archives and History). Description: From the drama of blockade-running to graphic descriptions of battles
on the state's islands and sounds, this book portrays the explosive events that took place in North Carolina's
coastal region during the Civil War. Topics discussed include the strategic importance of coastal North Carolina, Federal occupation of coastal areas, blockade-running, and the impact of
war on civilians along the Tar Heel coast.
Recommended Reading: Storm
over Carolina: The Confederate Navy's Struggle for Eastern North Carolina. Description: The struggle for control of the eastern
waters of North Carolina during the War Between the States
was a bitter, painful, and sometimes humiliating one for the Confederate navy. No better example exists of the classic adage,
"Too little, too late." Burdened by the lack of adequate warships, construction facilities, and even ammunition, the
South's naval arm fought bravely and even recklessly to stem the tide of the Federal invasion of North
Carolina from the raging Atlantic. Storm
Over Carolina is the account of the Southern navy's struggle in North
Carolina waters and it is a saga of crushing defeats interspersed with moments of brilliant and even
spectacular victories. It is also the story of dogged Southern determination and incredible perseverance in the face
of overwhelming odds. Continued below...
For most of
the Civil War, the navigable portions of the Roanoke, Tar, Neuse,
Chowan, and Pasquotank rivers were occupied by Federal forces. The Albemarle and Pamlico sounds, as well as most of the coastal
towns and counties, were also under Union control. With the building of the river ironclads, the Confederate navy at last
could strike a telling blow against the invaders, but they were slowly overtaken by events elsewhere. With the war grinding
to a close, the last Confederate vessel in North Carolina
waters was destroyed. William T. Sherman was approaching from the south, Wilmington
was lost, and the Confederacy reeled as if from a mortal blow. For the Confederate navy, and even more so for the besieged
citizens of eastern North Carolina, these were stormy days
indeed. Storm Over Carolina describes their story, their struggle, their
Recommended Reading: The Civil War
on the Outer Banks: A History of the Late Rebellion Along the Coast of North Carolina from Carteret to Currituck With Comments
on Prewar Conditions and an Account of (251 pages). Description: The ports at Beaufort, Wilmington, New Bern and Ocracoke, part of the Outer Banks (a chain of barrier
islands that sweeps down the North Carolina coast from the Virginia Capes to Oregon Inlet), were strategically vital
for the import of war materiel and the export of cash producing crops. From official records, contemporary newspaper accounts,
personal journals of the soldiers, and many unpublished manuscripts and memoirs, this
is a full accounting of the Civil War along the North Carolina