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Trail of History Last Updated: Mar 9, 2012 - 9:52:52 AM

Trail of History for Week of March 8, 2012
Mar 9, 2012 - 9:52:09 AM

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    April 1, 1862 Lewisburg CHRONICLE, Linn Rifles at New Bern, Camp Burnside, on the Neuse Mar. 19, 1862. (Parts of this article weren’t legible anymore)

    We are now in the late Rebel barracks, about a mile and a half below New Bern, they are built in a cleared field on a bluff near by where there was a four gun battery, the magazine of which the Rebels blew up before they abandoned it-partly of log huts, and partly of tents with the never failing wooden chimney, but let me tell of how we got here.
    Tuesday, Mar 11th, weighed anchor at Roanoke Island and stood south under steam and sail. It had rained but cleared off cool and bright with a strong S.W. breeze. We passed the points we had watched with such interest a month ago, as we moved up slowly to where we knew there would be a severe battle-Stumpy point, Long Shoal buoy- I could not help thinking of those who saw these places, not knowing they would never see them again. Under our thorough going Captain and careful pilot, Mr. Walton, we arrived among the first transports at Hatteras. Mr. Walton ensured himself our more earnest thanks by coming in with a immense mail bag, which intercepted us here. Many received letters, in the last ____.
    Wednesday, 12th was a most delightful day. We woke to see our whole fleet gathered around us. We had left the NY aground on the shoal near Croatan Sound, and the Admiral just below. It was one of the pleasant rides I ever had, the air clear and bracing. The sun shining bright, the water gleaming in it, it was a luxury to be on deck all day. We stayed there until darkness closed around us, and anchored about half past seven, in the Neuse River, 16 miles below New Berne, opposite the mouth of the Slocum Creek. We could see Ocracoke Inlet, as we came down and its (to us) harmless port, Shell Island light house, Brant’s Island shoals- but for a long while, we did not know whether we were going up the Pamlico or Neuse. The pilot told us when we entered the Neuse, but still even when we anchored there were boats that we were in the Pamlico. When we came into the mouth of the Neuse, we saw Rebel signal fires start up, one after another,and keep ahead of us all the way- the last one, with high-pointed flame, bursting up on the left of us, on a bluff opposite where we landed.
    There was a most interesting chase, by the Picket, after two small sail boats that were scudding along the shore. It was very amusing to see how quick they brail’d up, as she threw a shot across their bows. I have seen many sunsets in these waters, but none that was equal in the splendor of their beauty to this one. Many thousand men gathered up the decks to watch its quiet beauty, and as the bands of each regiment played national airs, and those that we have heard so often by our fire sides sung by our sisters and friends- in which we have so often joined ourselves at social gatherings- each one of us had enough to do to fathom his own thoughts. We had left our surgeon sick on Roanoke Island and Dr. Clark, of Mass. was detailed to our regiment. The hospital store was in our saloon and his quiet arrangement of certain kinds of medicine, in the pack that the hospital nurse carries on his back was rather cooler than agreeable. Then, too, his instructions to band who are men who carry off the wounded during the battle, a dangerous and honorable duty, how to lift them, how to place them on a stretcher, were horribly disagreeable. I have faced the music of bullets twice, I’d prefer to face them fifty times, stretchers once. They are worse than the wounded and dead. They make my flesh creep whenever I see them. You can appreciate it somewhat, if you ever went to get teeth pulled and saw the dentist whistle and handle his forceps merrily. Well, we all quietly wrote up our journals, packed our trunks, fixed everything as we would have it were anything, gave our last directions, they were few, and cheer- fully said- and went to bed.
    Thursday was dark and lowering. Capt. Bennet had permission to take a picked crew, and one of our Wiard guns weighing some 1,600 pounds, into the battle. We were amused, yesterday when the captain drew them up in line, each armed with cutlass and canvass haversack, to his dress parade, as we called it, on the quarter deck and told them that if any wished not to go, he wouldn’t ask them. There wasn’t a quiver. Little George, the Captain’s son, 13 years old stood at their head, with an American flag. Could one describe the course of that gallant little band during the next two days, it would be one of the most thrilling episodes of war I have never read anything equal to it, even in Abbot’s history of Napoleon. I can see them stand there now. I can see Wilson as they put the gun into the launch; heave heavey ho, as he tugged at the ropes. The gun-goats shelled the woods just opposite where we were. It was awful to hear the reports of the pieces, to hear the crash and roar of bursting shell and falling tree.
    Then they moved further up, some two miles, and were cannonading there for a long while. We knew there must be a rat’s nest there, or they would not be at it so long. The launches with the howitzer moved off first to the picket, near to shore. The Pautuxent and other boats took the troops the gunboats belching over their heads where they were landing. Then the piles across the mouth of Slocum’s Creek were knocked out, and the Alice Price ran up the creek and landed the troops. Col. Hartranft with three companies landed first. We landed under Lieut. Col. Belland reached an open field where five out of each company were detained to assist Capt. Bennet. Here were barracks for Calvary but they had evidently left in haste. We had come one mile along the sandy shore, which was very trying. We were well blown before we reached the field. But it was nothing to what was to come. We passed a little field with a cable, and were greeted with the sight of a peach tree ripe in full bloom. Next for five miles we went through a marshy wood. It began to rain. Six heavy howitzers, and Capt. Bennet’s Wiard. Whew, what a time. Once we came to a ravine. The howitzers were locked and dragged down. Along came Capt. Bennett. Some one suggested locking. Stroud, captain of the gun, former boutswain shouted to Wilson to let her rip. Some one said she would overset, It can’t go over, we can go under, says Stroud, and away they went. A half dozen contrabands had hold. The mud hole at the bottom was nearly waist deep. Away they went, the mud flew, the men yelled “souse” into it, buried up to the (?), two of the contrabands disappeared, but, after the piece had passed, came rooting out like alligators, we nearly split down with laughter. Stroud with his red cap and shirt looked like the devil. They got her through and we pushed on. Half the time we were knee deep in mud. We thought it tough but tougher was to come yet. After five miles of such work, we got on to the main road which was solid, and we thought times would be easier. Capt. Bennet, ploughing through the mud, would say to our boys, whenever they were in a tough place, “Boys, if you want my heart to break, leave me.” His heart wasn’t broke, they stuck to him.
    We were met by an aid, who told us the Rebels had abandoned the first entrenchments. Here’s where the gun boats were prinking too long. We came up with the marine howitzer battery, and also with orders for our Regiment to pull the guns, one had a yoke of oxen to them. The rest were dragged by men. These poor oxen will be famous as long as the battle of Woods’ brickyard lives in history, if their story is told. I will try and tell it. We came along to the Rebel entrenchment. We were amazed at its extent and character. At the road was a fortification for guns- but they had not been mounted or were taken away. For nearly three miles an embankment at least five feet high, and a ditch as deep extended. We had never seen anything like it. We thought if they abandoned that, where would they stand? But we had not yet known how much labor had been expended. Here the howitzer battery had to be manned by a new relief, and Comp. H took hold. I have only to say that the labor was beyond description. Sixty rounds of ammunition a blanket and we were all wet. Perhaps it was 7 o’clock when we were ordered to fall in. I could not get my bones in order (more to this I did not get).

© Copyright 2012 by Mifflinburg Telegraph Weekly Newspaper

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