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what destruction she might cause among a fleet of transports. The duty of providing for the preservation of our fleet and our army must be committed to no inferior. Flag Officer Goldsborough accordingly left the waters of North Carolina, and did not appear in that quarter again during the war. He had cordially coöperated with General Burnside while the two officers were together, and had rendered most efficient service to the country. His administration of naval affairs had been judicious, and he had acted the part of a gallant and patriotic sailor. He had been especially fortunate in his subordinates, chief among whom Commander Rowan and Lieutenant Flusser had already given promise of the distinction which they afterwards acquired. Commander Rowan was left in command of the coöperative fleet.
Before proceeding to Newbern, General Burnside had made himself somewhat acquainted with the enemy's force and means of defence. His scouts had visited the town and the fortifications, and had brought back full reports. It was known that the enemy had batteries planted along the west bank of the Neuse, and that extensive fortifications were built upon or near the railroad connecting Beaufort with Newbern, a mile or two south of the Trent river, and extending west from the Neuse a distance of three miles. On the river bank, a large fort was constructed, mounting thirteen guns, and completely commanding the river channel on the one side and the line of works on the other. From this fort, the works extended to the centre, defended by a moat in front, and terminating in a bastion. Beyond was the railroad, which was itself fortified, and beyond that was a sytem of redoubts, thirteen in number and a mile in length, erected upon six little mounds or hills which rose conveniently to the main work, furnishing admirable sites for defensive works.* Along this fortified line were mounted forty-six guns of different calibres, some of which were field
* These last named works, however, were not known to the scouts or to our officers. They were doubtless hastily thrown up in the interval between the report of the scouting party and the day of battle.
artillery. Three miles below these works was a shore battery, Fort Ellis, mounting eight guns, and two miles below this was Fort Dixie, garrisoned by light artillery. From these two works extended lines of defences running across the road and into the country in the rear. About three miles in the rear of the main line ran the river Trent, spanned by a railroad and a turnpike bridge, of seven hundred feet or more in length, which connected the adjacent country with the city of Newbern. General Burnside's scouts had at one time attempted to burn these bridges, but with indifferent success. Against the formidable works of the enemy, garrisoned by eight thousand men, under the command of General L. O'B. Branch, General Burnside was to lead his infantry regiments, supported only by eight small naval howitzers for artillery, and by the gunboats in the river.
On the morning of March 12th, the fleet of transports, escorted by a fleet of fourteen gunboats under the command of Commander S. C. Rowan,* got under way from Hatteras and sailed across the placid waters of Pamlico Sound, heading for the mouth of the Neuse river. The Sound was as smooth as a mirror. Scarcely a ripple stole over its bosom. The light winds that were blowing from the North could barely flutter the ensigns and pennants. The sun was shining, and the command was hopeful of victory. At noon, the sky began to be clouded, and when the fleet, after pushing up the Neuse, anchored at nightfall off the mouth of Slocum's Creek, about fifteen miles below Newbern, the heavens were dark with portents of rain and storm. The signs were not deceptive, and the next morning opened cheerless and rainy enough to dispirit men of ordinary courage. But at eight o'clock, the clouds broke, the sun shone out once more, and the troops in high spirits prepared to
* The naval vessels in this expedition were the Philadelphia, Stars and Stripes, Louisiana, Hetzel, Delaware, Commodore Perry, Valley City, Underwriter, Commodore Barney, Hunchback, Southfield, Morse, Brinker, and Lockwood. They were commanded by the same officers as when in the movement against Roanoke Island, with the exception of the Underwriter, which was now under the command of Lieutenant A. Hopkins.
disembark. At nine o'clock, they were in the launches, and soon after, the flag was planted on the shore by a detail of a sergeant and three men belonging to the 51st New York regiment. The boats, obeying the signal, dashed away for the landing. Unfortunately, the water was very shallow, and the men were obliged to wade a considerable distance to the firm earth. The sun was again shut in, and the rain began to fall. But wet as the troops were, they commenced their march with undiminished vigor, and fully merited the confidence which General Burnside had already expressed. It was a long, wearisome, and muddy march, through sand, through mud and water, over fallow land, along forest paths. The gunboats flanked the column, maintaining a position a little in advance, shelling the shore to disperse any hostile force that might be disposed to dispute our progress. The men trudged on along the muddy roads, cheering each other with joke and song and laugh, as best they could. A few officers were mounted, but most were on foot, sharing the labors of the men. Each carried his own baggage. The gunboats had furnished a battery of six howitzers, each of which was dragged by twelve sailors, commanded by naval officers detailed for the purpose, and led by Lieutenant R. S. McCook, of the gunboat Stars and Stripes. Two Wiard 12pounders, manned by sailors from the transports, were commanded by Captains Bennett, of the Cossack, and Dayton, of the Highlander. The skirmishers of the 24th Massachusetts led the advance, and the 11th Connecticut brought up the rear. Through the afternoon the troops toiled forward, and soon after dusk, bivouacked at a point nine miles distant from the landing, and about a mile from the enemy's defences. Nothing of great interest had happened during the march, except the discovery that the enemy had abandoned the two lower lines of earthworks and camps. General Reno's brigade marched along the railroad; the other troops occupied the county or turnpike road. One prisoner was captured, who communicated the welcome intelligence of the evacuation of Manassas and the advance of General McClellan from around the fortifica