These pages are dedicated to the memory of all the men from North Carolina that fought in the Civil War.
Newburn North Carolina Standard Raleigh April 9, 1862 The different accounts of the Battle of Newburn have not mentioned an officer who distinguished himself in that affair for determined bravery and gallant conduct—Major W. Gaston Lewis of the 33rd N.C. Troops ( Avery’s Regiment). Major Lewis had a separate command during the battle consisting of four companies, the left wing of the regiment. The right of his command rested on the railroad. The left was entirely unprotected by the retreat of the militia and Col. Sinclair’s regiment—there being a distance of 400 yards between Lewis’ left and Col. Campbell’s regiment. The enemy poured into this gap and turned Lewis’ left flank whereupon he changed his front and three separate times drove them from the railroad embankment where they had taken position. Each time they returned with heavy reinforcements and attacked him by front and flank. After all on the left had retreated—after his command had been exposed to a most severe fire for three and a half hours without cessation—after having been enfiladed on both flanks for nearly an hour—seeing a Yankee regiment forming in line of battle in his rear, Major Lewis ordered his men to our on the advancing foe a long volley and retreat. Though his four companies lost as many killed and wounded as any regiment engaged (about 25 known to be killed) he brought off his men in good order, behaving with the same coolness and bravery which he exhibited when fighting as a lieutenant in the Edgecombe Guards in the Battle of Bethel. It is difficult to get reliable information from Newbern. A rumor prevails that General Burnside had left Newburn with most of his troops, leaving only 4,000 at that place. We do not, however, endorse the rumor. Various accounts are given of the conduct of the Yankees at Newbern but we have no means of ascertaining the truth of them. We learn that 27 of our wounded have been removed to Washington and to be carried up to Tarboro. Whether this is all our killed or wounded we cannot say. We also hear of about 40 or our men being killed. We learn that Capt. Rand is uninjured and that he has written to his wife giving the following account of the killed and wounded and prisoners in his company: Killed: J.W. Pope Wounded: Silas Holeman, Simeon Austin, W.H. Smith, Paschal Burt Prisoners: Capt. O.(?) R. Rand and J.W. Vinson W.C. Booker D.G. Beckwith W.H. Boothe Paschal Gower Simeon Austin Henry Booker N.F. Bryan R.Q. Burt Dallas Crawford W.Carroll William Champion Perrin Gower W.R. Gower H. Gilbert George Griffis S. Williams J. Womble S. Young Thomas Hunter Reuben Hunter Silas Holleman E. Holt J. Harvall W.C. Hicks Sidney Jones H.L. Johnson W.W. Langston W.B. Norris Paschal Seagraves Wesley Seagraves J.A. Stevens J.F. Stevens Thomas Stevens W.H. Smith J.W.T. Utley F. Whitaker Ham. Whitaker From the Hillsborough Recorder Camp of the 19th Regiment N.C.T. Lenoir County March 29, 1862 Various unfavorable reports have been spreading through the state concerning the behavior of the 19th N.C.T. (2nd Cavalry) in the battle near Newbern on the 14th inst. I deem it a duty I owe to the men I commanded on that day to pronounce all such reports as regards them false. Captain Turner was absent, having been detailed to purchase horses for the company and that the command devolved upon me as next in rank. About 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, 13th, Company A (Captain Hayes) and K (Orange County) by orders of General Branch, were dismounted and ordered to report to Colonel Vance (26th N.C.). The reason assigned for dismounting us was that we were armed with long range guns, Company A having Mississippi rifles and Company K, Hall’s carbines. We were placed by Colonel Vance on the extreme right with Captain McRae’s independent company of infantry. A section of Captain Brem’s battery under Lt. Williams was also posted here that night and Company E, 19th N.C.T. (Captain Thomas) next morning. On Friday, 14th, my company was removed about 50 yards to the left on the right of the 26th Regiment by Lt. Colonel Burgwyn, who commanded the right wing of the 26th and all detached companies on the right. About 7:30, the engagement commenced a half mile or more to our left. About 11:00 I sent Private William Rhew to have the horses moved from the place where we had left them about a mile to our left, the day before, and to place them in our rear. About 12:00 I saw Lt. Col. Burgwyn approaching with the wing of the 26th. I met him and asked for orders. He said we were out flanked on the left and must retreat. I returned to my company, conducted it to the road about 50 yards to our right and told the men to get their horses and mount, supposing Rhew had brought them to this point; but not a horse was to be found, they had ridden off before Rhew reached them some way by the militia, others, by men in uniform. I do not know who rode them but the men came off on foot with me and we found the horses in Kinston on our arrival there Sunday morning. Not being able to find our horses, I ordered a halt and placed my men with Lt. Col. Burgwyn’s command. We retreated towards Newbern but on arriving in the old field near Col. Lee’s camp, we discovered both the railroad and the county road bridge to be on fire. We then turned to the left and reaching Brice’s Creek on Henry Bryan’s plantation, were delayed some time in crossing not being able to find the boats. We finally found the boars and succeeded in getting over all the men, about 700 by sunset. Across the creek we joined Colonel Vance with the rest of the 26th and Lt. Col. Hoke with a portion of the 33rd. We retreated by way of Trenton to Kinston where we arrived Sunday morning, 16th inst., Col. Vance being in command of all the troops as senior officer. Lt. Col. Burgwyn deserves much praise for the manner in which he conducted the retreat from the fortifications to the creek, suppressing everything like panic and showing himself to be a soldier and a commander capable of leading his fellow soldiers under any circumstances. Lt. John P. Lockhart was the only commissioned officer with him. He behaved well and assisted me in keeping the men together, remaining behind with those who were unable to keep up with the main body in the retreat. Lt. J.V. Moore was sick at home and Corp. James R. Harris acted as 2nd Lt. Our company was not in the engagement at all though among the rest to leave the field. If opportunity had offered, I think our friends would not have been ashamed of the Orange Cavalry. Pte. Jeff Teasley, one of our wagoners, saved most of the baggage though ordered several times by an officer to cut his mules out and leave the wagons. He refused to do so saying that “the wagons, wagoners, and mules went together.” The men lost everything and have received nothing yet except what our friends in Orange County and the “Soldier’s Aid Society” at Hillsborough have sent them for which they will please accept our grateful thanks. Very Respectfully, William A. Graham, Jr. 1st Lt. Commanding Company K, 19th N.C.T. North Carolina Standard Raleigh July 23, 1862 Colonel Vance’s Official Report Regarding Newbern Headquarters, 26th Regiment, N.C.V. Kinston, N.C. March 17, 1862 General L. O’B. Branch Commanding, District of Pamlico General: I have to report in accordance with military usage the share of my command in the operations of last Friday. While in the temporary command of the post at Newbern on Thursday, my regiment was ordered to Croatan Works under the command of Lt. Col. Burgwyn, to assist Col. Sinclair’s regiment should the enemy land below these works. Learning soon afterwards that Col. Campbell was at his post, I instantly transferred him to my temporary command and proceeded to Croatan to assume command of my regiment. When near there, I met Col. Sinclair, retreating, who informed me that the enemy were landing in force at Fisher’s Landing and nearer still to the works I met Col. Campbell who had just ordered my regiment to take the cars and return to Ft. Thompson. Before my return they had been posted by Lt. Col. Burgwyn in the series of redoubts constructed by me on the right of the railroad in the rear of Bullen’s Branch, extending from the railroad to the swamp about 500 yards from the road by Weathersby’s. At this road, you will remember, I had constructed the night before a breastwork commanding the passage of a swamp, with the assistance of Mr. Hawks, a young man whose skill in engineering, untiring energy and zeal I take pleasure in noting favorably. There was placed a section of Captain Brem’s artillery, Lt. Williams commanding. Captain McRae’s company of infantry with a portion of the companies of Hays and Thomas, 2nd Cavalry, dismounted. About 2:00 Friday morning, in compliance with orders received, I pushed Companies E, K. and B of my right wing across the small swamp alluded to so as to make my extreme right wing rest on the battery at the Wethersby Road. This was our position on Friday morning which remained unchanged during the day except that two companies of the 33rd Regiment under Lt. Col. Hoke came to my assistance about 9:00 who were placed in the redans vacated by my right companies, who were thrown beyond the swamp. You will perceive that my forces covered almost as much ground as all the rest of our companies together. Taking my own position a little nearer to the right under Lt. Col. Burgwyn, about whose position I was uneasy, owing to the unfinished state of our works there, I placed the left under the command of Major Carmichael and awaited the engagement. It began on my left wing about 7:50, extending towards my right six degrees until about 8:30 when all the troops in my command were engaged so far as the swamp alluded to. The severest fighting was on my extreme left, the enemy advancing under shelter of the woods to within easy range of our lines. Whenever they reached the woods and entered among the fallen timbers of the swamp in our front they were driven back in confusion by the most deadly and well directed fire from our lines who with the greatest coolness watched for their appearance. The fight was kept up until about noon, when information was brought to me by Capt. J.T. Young, my quartermaster, who barely escaped with his life in getting to me, told me that the enemy in great force had turned my left by the railroad tracks at Woods’ Brick yard, had pillaged my camp, were fighting in reverse on my left wing and were several hundred yards up the railroad between me and Newbern; also that all the troops in the field were in full retreat except for my command. This being so, there was no alternative left to me but to order an immediate retreat or be completely surrounded by overwhelming forces. Without hesitation, I gave the order. My men jumped out of the trenches, rallied, and formed in the woods without panic or confusion; and having first sent a message with an orderly to Lt. Burgwyn to follow with the forces on the right, we struck across the Weatherby Road for Brice’s Creek with the intention of getting on to the Pollacksville Road. On arriving at the creek, we found only one small boat capable of carrying only three men. The creek here is too deep to ford and about 75 yards wide. Some plunged in and swam over and swimming over myself, I rode over to Captain Whitford’s house on the Trent and through the kindness of Mr. Kit Foy, a citizen, procured three more small boats, carrying one on each shoulder from the Trent with which we hurried to the crossing. In the meantime, Lt. Col. Burgwyn arrived with the forces of the right wing in excellent condition and assisted me with the greatest coolness and efficiency in getting the troops across which, after four hours of hard labor, and the greatest anxiety, we succeeded in doing. Lt. Col. Burgwyn saw the last man over before he entered the boat. I regret to say that three men were drowned in the crossing. I must here mention favorably the good conduct of the troops under these circumstances; a large Yankee force being drawn up in view of our scouts about one mile away and their skirmishers appearing just as the rear got over. Musician B.F. Johnson, Company B, deserves particular mention, for his exertions, having ferried over the greater part of the troops himself. Once over, we were joined by Lt. Col. Hoke, 33rd Regiment, with a large portion of his command and took the road for Trenton. We marched night and day, stopping at no time for rest or sleep more than four hours. We arrived at this place safely on the 16th at noon. I regret to say that many of our men, despairing of the boats at the creek and determined not to be taken, threw away their guns to swim over; a serious loss to our government but scarcely blamable under the circumstances. The number of men killed and wounded has not yet been ascertained. Our baggage, of course, was lost but our sick were safely brought away. It remains for many to speak of the noble dead we left on the field. Major A.B. Carmichael fell about 11:00 A.M. by a hot through the head while gallantly holding his position on the left under a galling fire. A braver, nobler soldier never fell on the field of battle. Generous and open hearted as he was brave and chivalrous—he was endeared to the whole regiment. Soon after this, Captain W.P. Martin of Company H fell near the regimental colors. Highly respected as a man, brave and determined as a soldier—he was equally regretted by his command and all who knew him. The 26th Regiment are justly proud of their glorious fall. The fate of Col. Rand of Company D is as yet unknown. When last seen, he was almost surrounded by an enemy force but disdaining to fly or surrender, he was fighting desperately with Lt. Vinson and a large portion of his company who refused to leave him. Lt. Porter of Company A was also left behind, wounded. Captain A.E. McMillan was badly wounded but got away safely. I cannot conclude this report without mentioning in terms of highest praise the spirit of determination and power of endurance evinced by the troops during the hardships and sufferings of our march. Drenched with rain, blistered feet, without sleep, many sick and wounded, and almost naked, they toiled on through the day and all the weary watches of the night without murmuring, cheerfully evincing most thoroughly those high qualities in adversity the military men learn to value more than courage on the field. I have the honor to be Most Respectfully, Your Obedient Servant Z.B. Vance Colonel Commanding, 26th Regiment