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poor persons who had no visible means of support, and a thousand other matters of greater or less importance, which required perpetual attention. The Department had been constituted upon the arrival of the expedition at Hatteras Inlet. While it included within its boundaries only Hatteras Inlet and its neighborhood, its civic duties were not arduous. But as its limits enlarged, its labors increased. It had been supposed that North Carolina was a State which had been reluctantly dragged out of the Union. There must be a strong loyal sentiment somewhere latent among the people. It was not the least of General Burnside's duties to seek, to find and to develope this sentiment. Could it be done best by diplomacy or by arms? General Burnside did not think that, while the rebels had a large army in the field, any State could be allured from its subjection to the rebel government. It would be useless for any number of people to declare themselves independent of the authority at Richmond, while that authority could command the arms of half a million of soldiers. A State must be conquered, or its professed allegiance was of small value. It was the duty of the Commander of a Department to show to all the people within the boundaries of his authority, that the government which he served was more powerful than the usurping government, and that he had ample means for protecting those persons who would renounce their allegiance to the enemy and declare themselves loyal to the Union. The policy of the United States was not only to conciliate, but to subdue and to defend. If there should be any considerable numbers of loyal persons on the shores of North Carolina, it would be cruel to leave them exposed to the hatred and hostility of their enemies. As a military movement, it was also necessary to hold certain points upon the coast, to manifest the supreme authority of the government of the United States, and to prove that the attempts making to restore that authority all over the South were made earnestly and with an eye to
With some such object in view, General Burnside sent out
detachments of his troops to visit, examine, and, if thought necessary, to occupy certain portions of the coast. While General Parke's brigade was busy at Beaufort and Fort Macon, the command at Newbern was not suffered to lack employment. Colonel Hartranft, with the 51st Pennsylvania Regiment, made a reconnaissance into the interior of the coast counties, acquiring considerable valuable information, and picking up a few prisoners.
A somewhat important expedition, under the command of General Foster, was sent to Washington, at the head of the Pamlico river. On the 19th of March, eight companies of the 24th Massachusetts, under Colonel Stevenson, were embarked on board the steam transport Guide, and on the 20th, they sailed, under convoy of the gunboats Louisiana, Delaware, and Commodore Perry. The steamers anchored in the Pamlico river the same night, and on the 21st, proceeded up the river. At a distance of five miles below the place, obstructions were found in the channel, to prevent the ingress of any hostile force. One or two deserted batteries were observed upon the shore. The gunboats broke through the obstructions, but owing to the shallowness of the water, the transport could not approach the town. Two companies were transferred to a boat of lighter draft, were landed, and marched into the place without hindrance.
An account of the occupation given by the correspondent of the Boston Journal, presents a very good view of the expedition and its results: "Washington is a village of twenty-five hundred inhabitants, some two-thirds of whom have seen fit to leave for the interior. It is a pleasant, inviting locality. Our troops landed at a wharf, and visited the village about two o'clock in the afternoon, where they were received by the remaining inhabitants with every expression of welcome. In passing through the streets, one lady appeared at her door and displayed the stars and stripes, which she had long kept secreted from the rebels. She seemed overjoyed at the sight of our troops. The line of march extended to the Court House, where was a flag staff,
and upon this was run up the national flag. The people gathered wonderingly about, and seemed to enjoy the sight, though they refrained from any strong expression of their feelings. It was ascertained that the principal portion of the rebel force here had left immediately after Newbern was taken, and that. a squad of cavalry, which lingered behind, had recently left the place." Our naval forces found that two gunboats had been building at this place. One of them, pierced for six guns, was launched and carried up the river a short time before the arrival of our forces. It was burnt on the night of the 20th, by the enemy's hands. The other boat was not yet completed, and was destroyed by our seamen, assisted by some of the inhabitants of the town. After a short stay, our troops were reëmbarked, and on the next day returned to Newbern. Other small bodies of troops were sent into the country upon reconnoitering expeditions. They returned with reports of a not very encouraging nature. The loyal sentiment of the people of North Carolina was not so strong as had been supposed. The people had at first, doubtless, beeen overawed by the superior power of the rebel government. But they had also, to a very great extent, willingly entered into the war against the Federal Government. North Carolina had also profited largely, and was destined to profit still more by the blockade-running, for which Wilmington afforded unusual facilities. The people were not yet ready to break away from the yoke of the insurgent power. They had not felt its heavy burden as they were destined to feel it a later period. Still, our own government did not despair of bringing the State back to its allegiance.
Roanoke Island was also the base of some operations which kept the troops employed, though they accomplished no extraordinary results. Before the army had started for Newbern, on the 8th of March, a force of six companies of the 6th New Hampshire had been sent to Columbia in search of a regiment of rebels which was said to be gathering recruits at that place. General Foster led the expedition. The troops landed, marched into the village, but could find no enemy. The pop
ulation of that section of the State was so sparse, that the game was not worth the candle. The village was very small, and the inhabitants of slight account as to either character or courage. Nothing more formidable than the public whipping post was found, and that was speedily destroyed.
A rather more brilliant affair was conducted by Lieutenant Colonel Griffin of the 6th New Hampshire with four companies of his own regiment and two companies of the 9th New Jersey, about six hundred men in all. Receiving information that a rebel camp was pitched for recruiting purposes near Elizabeth City, Colonel Griffin proceeded thither under convoy of the gunboats Virginia, Ceres, General Putnam, Commodore Perry, and Stars and Stripes, on the night of the 7th of April. Colonel Griffin landed his forces the next morning near the designated place. The two companies of the 9th New Jersey disembarked at Elizabeth. The 6th New Hampshire proceeded about three miles above the city to cut off the enemy's retreat. The attack was gallantly made. The camp was surprised, one of the enemy killed, two wounded and seventy-four captured. The remainder took to the woods, leaving three wounded and fifty stands of arms and a considerable quantity of ammunition and public stores to fall into the hands of our victorious troops. The command returned to Roanoke Island without loss.
An expedition on a somewhat larger scale than any that had yet been undertaken, was sent to Camden County for the purpose of ascertaining what force of the enemy, if any there were, had become established in the neighborhood of the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, and what opportunity existed for obstructing the canal itself. The troops engaged in the enterprise were the 21st Massachusetts, Lieutenant Colonel Clark, 51st Pennsylvania, Major Schall, the 9th New York, Lieutenant Colonel Kimball, 89th New York, Colonel H. S. Fairchild, and 6th New Hampshire, Lieutenant Colonel Griffin. The 9th New York had with them two howitzers, and two other pieces of artillery manned by the Marines and commanded by Colonel Howard, accompanied the expedition: The first two
regiments and Colonel Howard's command were from Newbern and formed a brigade under Lieutenant Colonel Bell. The remainder of the troops were from Roanoke Island and formed a brigade under Colonel Hawkins. The gunboats Commodore Perry, Delaware, Lockwood, Picket, Southfield, Stars and Stripes, Underwriter, General Putnam and Whitehead escorted the expedition. The land forces were under the command of General Reno. The work of disembarkation at a point about four miles below Elizabeth City commenced about midnight of the 18th of April. Colonel Hawkins had his command landed about two o'clock A. M. on the 19th. The other troops were delayed by the transports getting aground and did not reach the shore until about seven o'clock. Colonel Hawkins was ordered to march his brigade to South Mills, where was a bridge which the enemy would be obliged to cross in retreating. The guides which he had were either incompetent or treacherous, and led him in a long, circuitous march through the country, but not into the enemy's rear. He came out upon the road upon which General Reno was leading the remainder of the command, about twelve miles from the landing place, and there about noon the two columns made a junction. This was not precisely according to General Reno's instructions and somewhat disturbed his arrangements. The only thing to be done, however, was to push forward as rapidly as possible.
The march had told very severely upon all the troops, particularly upon Colonel Hawkins's brigade. The day was very hot; the roads were very dry and dusty. The men had had little or no experience in marching and sensibly felt the debilitating influence of the weather. Many suffered from slight sun strokes and fell out from the line of march exhausted by the unaccustomed hardship. The surgeons and chaplains in the rear were obliged to impress wagons and other vehicles, with mules and horses that were found in the barns along the road, to relieve the weary soldiers.
About three o'clock in the afternoon, at a point near Camden, about twenty miles distant from the landing, the enemy