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March 20, 1862—pg. 1
Tuesday, March 18, 1862.
5 O’CLOCK P. M.
BURNSIDE AGAIN VICTORIOUS.
Newbern, N.C., Captured after a Desper-
MASSACHUSETTS TROOPS COVERED WITH
OUR LOSS 100 KILLED AND 400 WOUNDED.
Adjutant F. A. Stearns, son of President
Stearns of Amherst College, amoung
ALL THE REBEL ARMS AND STORES IN OUR
The enemy’s works six miles below Newbern, N.C., were attacked on Friday last, by Gen Burnside. They were defended by a force of 10,000 strong, having 21 guns posted behind formidable batteries over two miles long. The fight was one of the most desperate of the war. Our troops behaved with the steadiness and courage of veterans, and after nearly four hours’ hard fighting drove the rebels out of all their positions, capturing three light batteries of field artillery, forty-six heavy siege guns, large stores of fixed ammunition, three thousand stand of small arms, and two hundred prisoners, including one colonel, three captains and four lieutenants. The enemy left a large number of dead on the field. They escaped by cars to Goldsboro, burning the bridges over the Trent and Claremont rivers, and firing the city of Newbern. No extensive damage was done to the place. We lost about 100 killed and 400 wounded, mostly of New England regiments. Rev O. S. N. Benton is among the killed. Major Legendere of the New York 51st regiment was mortally wounded. Lieut Col Merritt of the 23d Massachusetts, and Adjutant F. A. Stearns of the 21st Massachusetts regiment, from Amherst, were killed, and their bodies are on the way home.
PARTICULARS OF THE FIGHT.
Sergeant Major D. H. Johnson of the 23d Massachusetts regiment came passenger to Baltimore, on the steamer Commodore, in charge of the bodies of Lieut Col Merritt and Adjutant Stearns, who bravely fell while leading on their regiments in the attack on the enemy’s batteries. Major Johnson who was in the fight gives the following interesting particulars:
Our troops under Gen Burnside, landed Thursday evening near the mouth of Swan Creek, the west side of the Neuse river, fifteen miles below Newbern. Owing to the dense fog the naval vessels did not participate in the fight. Early Friday morning the fight commenced. Our troops advanced along the country road running parallel with the Neuse river, but a mile or two in the rear. The road is skirted on the west side by the railroad and a dense swamp. All along the river side were series of batteries, which were taken by our troops one after another. After some bloody hand to hand contests our troops were divided into three brigades under Gens Reno, Foster and Parks.
We advanced gradually, the enemy deserting their guns, until we reached a line of earthworks extending across the road from the river to the swamp on the west, a distance of some two miles. These earthworks were very strong. They were located about two miles south of Newbern, and between there and the city runs the Trent river. The country road and railroad both passed through these works, and crossed into the city by Bridges. In front of these works the rebels had felled a large number of trees, forming an almost impenetrable abattis. Here the flying rebels were rallied, and made for awhile a desperate stand. Our brave fellows fought until all their ammunition was spent, when an order to charge bayonets was given, and the works were finally taken at the point of the bayonet. The enemy fled like frightened sheep, leaving everything behind them. In their retreat they burned the bridges communicating with the town over both the country road and railroad. As they had trains of cars in their rear, just across the bridges, they of course were able to carry off their wounded and dead. Their loss is therefore not certainly known but must have been pretty severe. Before our troops reached this last work, they encountered another, which had been deserted. It was in front of the last fortification that the greatest loss was sustained.
Our entire loss is estimated at 90 killed and 400 wounded and missing. The force of the rebels is supposed to have been about 8000. We captured a number of prisoners, including Col Avory, who cursed his soldiers as cowards. As the battle terminated, the fog lifted and enabled our gunboats, which had been impatiently waiting for an opportunity to participate in the fight, to come up the river, and our troops were furnished with the means of transportation across the Trent river to Newbern. The rebels attempted to fire the town on their retreat, but were prevented by the citizens, who extinguished the flames as fast as they were started by the soldiers.
None of our generals nor any staff officers were either killed or wounded. We captured from thirty to fifty cannon. The officers of the rebels left their private traps behind in their final retreat, and the men threw away everything. The fight terminated at 8 o’clock Friday afternoon, when our troops remained masters of the position.