The above map of the Battle of Newport Barracks was drawn by Josiah O. Livingston of the 9th Vermont. Livingston was one of three members of the 9th Vermont to later win the Medal of Honor for their actions during the February 2, 1864 battle.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Meeting tonight to determine the fate of the Newport Barracks!

Tonight if you are able please attend the meeting of the Newport Town Council, if you cannot please urge anyone who can to attend. The meeting will take place at 6pm at the Newport Town Hall. If you cannot attend, you can always call the Newport Town Hall and ask to speak with the mayor or manager to express your concerns over the threat of development to the site at 252-223-4749.

If unchecked development is to take place, we will lose this site forever. Please do what you can to help, every bit helps!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My thoughts on the request to rezone the Newport Barracks site and the potential development there

Before I go further with my thoughts on this matter, I would like to state that the purpose of this blog has never been, nor will it ever, be political in nature. The purpose of this site was, is, and will continue to be a place where information, primarily on the Battle of Newport Barracks, can be shared in hopes that it can shed light on the events that took place in and around Newport during the Civil War. This is an emotional issue for me in that I feel a strong connection to the site and to those men who struggled there 145 years ago. For a number of years researching the various aspects of the battle and the site has been a passion and a labor of love for me, so clearly I do have a biased opinion on this, but I hope that it is not viewed as a political position as I feel this issue transcends political ideology.

On Friday, October 30, I was informed about the public hearing taking place in regards to the request for rezoning of the 44 acres that includes the site of the Newport Barracks, as well as the location of the final phase of the February 2, 1864 battle there. My initial reaction was one of sadness at the prospect that a historical site that is very close to me personally will begin to feel the pressures of development that have long threatened other historical sites in the last 30 years.

I expect that the motion requesting to rezone the area will be approved, thus paving the way for a future development on the site. While no actual plan for development has appeared, the approval of the motion will undoubtedly put that process in motion. You do not put on a football helmet unless you are going in to play in the field, and you do not rezone an area to residential unless you have options or a plan in mind. With that said I do not believe that this request or any future development at the site is malicious in nature, nor do I feel the people involved harbor such feelings. What I am concerned about is the lack of concern or consideration of the site and the events that took place there. It has been stated that now is not the time to look into that and once a plan is in place it should be considered. I personally feel that is a narrow-minded and short-sighted means of going about this. The time to consider this is now, and the more time in discussion and deliberation can only be beneficial in the long run.

Now in a perfect world the best case scenario for this site would be for it to be preserved and interpreted correctly for future generations of visitors. At the end of the day this is what I would like to see done, but I also understand that politics, practicality, and the power of the all mighty dollar come into play. I am not, nor was I, anti-growth during my time on the council and I was always a proponent of smart growth. I often said there was a way for the town of Newport to grow in a manner that was beneficial to the citizens, as well as preserving the identity and heritage of the community. Now, more than ever, local governments are feeling the crunch of the current economy on their budgets, and any chance to increase the tax base and revenue should be considered. Also for consideration should be the impact that the growth will have.

I hope that any decisions that are made are not made in haste, but after a deliberate and thorough period of consideration. Any plan for development should look at including provisions for adequate archaeological study of the area, in addition to
a plan of historical interpretation of the site. Often politics is a study in compromise, and I am open for such on this issue. I believe that ultimately there is a way to have smart development in a way that can still preserve the historic nature of the site and allow for a proper interpretation that would educate and enrich the lives of not just citizens, but visitors to the site.

Carteret County is a county that lives and dies on tourism money, but Newport sees but a fraction of the overall money spent by visitors to the county during the year. By interpreting this site it will create an immediate draw for people to come into the town of the Newport and hopefully spend money in the community. Historical tourism is a big, and lucrative, business. Beaufort and New Bern are perfect examples of this, and while Newport would never receive the same amount of that proverbial pie, it still does not mean they should not at least sit at the table.

I am more than willing to help the town, and any developers of this site, in any way I can to insure that a proper plan of development is implemented. I would also be happy to develop a plan of interpretation for the site, and I would do so free of charge and I sincerely hope the town might consider me for such.

In the end the men who fought, and in some cases died, at Newport Barracks deserve to have their story told and remembered in a way befitting their memory. Simply paving over the site and throwing up houses does not honor or remember them, and in some ways is a desecration of their memory. I know that the people of Newport, and the government that represents them, values the history and heritage of the town. Those are two of the many qualities that make Newport special. While I no longer live in Newport, I still consider it home and consider the site of the Newport Barracks sacred ground, and I am convinced that a plan can be put in place that can be beneficial to all and insure that the most historic location in Newport is not simply bulldozed over and forgotten.

Carteret News-Times article on the rezoning request effecting the Newport Barracks site

  • I will be writing more on this subject later in the day, but I wanted to share the article that appeared in the Sunday, November 1 edition of the Carteret News-Times. Already the site visits to the blog has jumped since the publication of the article online, so I welcome all first time visitors to the site and I hope that your visit here helps to educate and enlighten you on the events that took place in and around Newport during the Civil War.

Civil War site targeted for rezoning
Published: Sunday, November 1, 2009 1:06 AM EST

NEWPORT — Town council will consider Tuesday night a rezoning request that involves a Civil War site here.

The board is set to meet at 6 p.m. at the town hall. Two opportunities for public comment are on the agenda in addition to two public hearings for rezoning requests, which will be held soon after the start of the meeting.

Ballou Enterprises of Morehead City seeks to change various zoning classifications now in place for property it owns at the end of Fort Benjamin Road, off East Chatham Street near Newport Middle School to an all-encompassing R-20 residential classification. That would allow for development of home sites of about a half-acre each.

The site and the battle that took place there are the subject of an historical marker on East Chatham Street (Old Highway 70) and also described on a state Civil War Trails marker at the corner of Main Street and East Railroad Boulevard.

The roughly 44-acre parcel currently falls into a “mixed bag” of zoning classifications including R-20, R-15 and industrial warehouse, Town Manager Dick Casey said Friday.

Mr. Casey said he was unaware of any expressed concerns regarding the significance of the site or any town policy in place for handling historic preservation concerns.

“I don’t think we have a specific procedure for that but it would be part of the whole review process,” said Mr. Casey.

John Davis, chairman of the town planning board, which already reviewed the request, said the potential historic significance was discussed but, so far, no subdivision plans have been submitted.

“But we really didn’t have any discussion of what the impact would be,” he said. “It would become an issue once a subdivision request is submitted.”

According to, Confederate soldiers built the barracks here early in the war but they were occupied by Union forces during the Fort Macon operations in 1862. A battle here in early February 1864 resulted in a short-lived Confederate re-occupation of the area.

Former Newport Councilman Eric Lindblade, now living and working at the Gettysburg, Va., historic site and set to release a book on the battle of Newport later this month, said any development of the site would be a tragic loss.

“It’s a pretty significant historic site in that not only were three Union regiments at that site through the duration of the war but it was also the scene of the battle of Newport Barracks,” Mr. Lindblade said.

He said Carteret County has already lost many of its Civil War sites to development, such as the site of the Bogue Sound Blockhouse now part of Brandywine Bay near the corner of McCabe Road and Highway 24. That site is also marked on a Civil War Trails marker at Gethsemane Cemetery.

“If a subdivision comes in, you’ll lose an entire battlefield in Newport,” he said. “The site, there is obviously not much out there now and I’ve never heard of any efforts to preserve it, but this is a battle site where three members of the 9th Vermont won the medal of honor. Nowhere else in Carteret County can make that claim and there’s a chance Confederate soldiers are still buried on that site.”

Mr. Lindblade’s book is based on years of research of the Newport battle. He also recently purchased a U.S. flag that was flown over Newport Barracks by the 9th Vermont. He has posted photos of that flag on Facebook and on his Civil War blog site at

Calls made Friday to Ballou Enterprises’ listed phone number were not answered.

The other rezoning public hearing on the agenda concerns a request for a townhome development just off Roberts Road. That request relates to a subdivision zoning nuance few other than bank loan officers would appreciate. But it does reflect the current state of the residential lending market.

Developer Kim Willis, a former member of the County Board of Education, plans to build townhomes on the sites of two former mobile home parks, which have since been cleared, in the town’s one-mile extra-territorial jurisdiction outside the corporate limits. Town building inspector Bob Chambers described those parks at “substandard.” Although there will be no difference regarding the construction, a zoning change is needed to allow the units to be sold as townhomes with the developer’s desired layout.

Originally planned as duplex apartments to be sold as condominiums, Mrs. Willis was previously granted a special-use permit to build four duplexes on the north side of Oscar Hill Road and three on the south side. Two units have since been built, along with a common sewer system and well to accommodate four buildings and a paved driveway on the north side of the property. But the economic downturn made financing condos “impossible,” according to Mr. Chambers’ report to town council.

“She now wants to convert the whole project to townhomes,” Mr. Chambers said.

That’s because banks are more willing to make loans for townhomes, he said.

“A condominium is an ownership concept only and has nothing to do with the construction or type of building,” Mr. Chambers said, adding that the buildings in place are “structurally independent.”

The only zoning classification that would allow the type ownership and site plan desired is a planned unit development (PUD).

PUD approval is a multi-step process, beginning with the council’s approval of a sketch plan. Then, a hearing must be held for the PUD zoning amendment and conditional use permit. The town planning board must review the preliminary plat prior to that hearing. The preliminary plat will be presented to the public at the hearing.

At the close of the hearing and after council deliberates, there is a three-part process for PUD approval, including a vote to approve the zoning amendment for Phase 1 on the north side of Oscar Hill Road and Phase 2 on the south side; a vote to approve the conditional-use permit for phases 1 and 2 and requirement of organization of a homeowners association; and a vote to consider the plat on the north side of the road as “Phase 1 final,” which will allow conveyance of the two buildings (four units), which are ready for occupancy.

The Phase 2 final plat for the south side of the road will be presented for council approval at a later date.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Flag of the 9th Vermont

I wanted to share some pictures of the flag of t
he 9th Vermont that I now own. These were the National Colors that the regiment carried,along with the state flag of Vermont, from 1863 through at least mid to late 1864. This flag was also carried at the Battle of Newport Barracks, and is one of the few artifacts that can be connected to that battle with any level of certainty. This is not the only connection the flag has to the battle.

General Theodore Peck was
presented the flag in 1907 by the veterans of the regiment, and it was at the Battle of Newport Barracks that Peck (then a lieutenant) would win the Medal of Honor for his actions in the rear-guard action of the 9th Vermont. There is the slight chance that this flag was also with the regiment when they entered Richmond in April of 1865 as one of the first Union troops to enter the fallen Confederate capital city.

I hope at some point to bring the fla
g with me on one of my trips home to Newport, which will be the first time in 145 years that this flag was in Newport.

I am grateful to my friend Erik Dorr, who is the owner
and curator of The Gettysburg Museum of History, for letting me keep the flag in his museum for the public to see. I will be making a long overdue post on his museum very soon. It is in my opinion the best museum in Gettysburg and even better it has free admission.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Update on what I have been doing and working on

  • The biggest news is that my book Fight As Long As Possible: The Battle of Newport Barracks, February 2, 1864 is finished other than the final editing and formatting process. Expect to see it out in early to mid November. The reason for this is that it will be the last release of the year for my publishing company, Ten Roads Publishing, and we have an upcoming title that we would like to get out before mine.
  • My next projects are in the works as well and they all center on North Carolina soldiers in the Gettysburg Campaign. The first is a comprehensive roster of North Carolina soldiers who were casualties at the Battle of Gettysburg. This roster will include those killed, wounded, and captured during the July 1-3, 1863 battle. The second is a spin off project from my overall study of North Carolina soldiers in the Gettysburg Campaign and that will be a brigade study of Iverson's Brigade. Lastly my third project is the overall study of North Carolina soldiers, and admittedly it is a gigantic task that is at least five years from being complete, but the first two projects will aid greatly in it.
  • The company I co-own, Ten Roads Publishing, is also taking up a great bit of my time but it is truly a labor of love and I am very excited about the authors and books that we have released and will be releasing soon. One great honor is that we will be publishing The Gettysburg Bicentennial Album by William A. Frassanito. Ever since I read Bill's book Gettysburg: A Journey in Time when I was in the sixth grade, he has been one of my favorite authors and I am lucky to have gotten to know him well since my move to Gettysburg. I could never have imagined when I was 11 that one day I would be working with him to publish one of his books. The conversations I have had with him have been one of the great experiences I have had in Gettysburg and are a major influence on me in my continuing development as a historian.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Update on the Newport Barracks book

I wanted to give a quick update on the status of my book Fight as long as possible: The Battle of Newport Barracks. It should be ready by the end of October or early November. It is finished, just minor reworking of text, adding maps and pictures at this point. It will be published by the company I co-own Ten Roads Publishing and I am
very excited to be this close to a completed product.

I am also in the process of looking at my calender and starting to schedule book signings and lectures, so if you are interested feel free to contact me at and we can set up a time.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Our Company Blog

Just wanted to let everyone know that the company I co-own now has a blog, so feel free to check it out.

On it there is also information on to our company website, Twitter, and Facebook pages. Any support and help in getting the word out about us would be greatly appreciated.

Ten Roads Publishing Blog

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Back in the Old North State for the week

I am home for the week in Newport and it is nice to be back. I will be finished up some work for the Newport Barracks book, in addition to the continued book on North Carolinians at Gettysburg. While I am home if anyone would like a tour of the battle sites feel free to shoot me an email and we can set something up.

This week I will put up some posts here on a few topics of interest including information of a Carteret County soldier killed in Iverson's brigade on July 1st at Gettysburg.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A long overdue post

It has been quite some time since I last made a post on the blog so one is most overdue. The fault solely rests on yours truly as the last three months have been pretty hectic for me. Things have settled down for a bit so I promise to be more attentive to the blog than I have been. So the natural question then to me is “well what has been going on?”

The major news is along with my friend Jim Glessner, we have started our own publishing company, Ten Roads Publishing, LLC. We are based here in Gettysburg and will focus primarily on Civil War titles. We are shaping up to have a very good lineup of titles and authors and we are both quite excited about it. Our company website is so feel free to check it out, currently there is not much up on the site but that will soon be changing. As for the name, it is a reference to the ten roads that converged at Gettysburg during the time of the battle in 1863.

As for my book projects they are coming along quite well. The Newport Barracks book is almost finished and I am in the process of doing the final drafts and edits on the text. In addition, I am putting together the maps and pictures that will be included in the book. The book will be for sale this fall and will be published by our publishing company.

With the Newport Barracks book drawing to a close (I must say it will never fully draw to a complete close as I am always in search of new information on it) my next project on North Carolina soldiers at Gettysburg is advancing along. I am almost finished compiling a list of all known North Carolina soldiers killed during the battle. This data will be included into a fully searchable database I am creating of all known North Carolina casualties (killed, wounded, and captured). I did not intend to originally create such an extensive database and it has almost evolved into a project on its own. I am also still compiling contemporary first-hand accounts from North Carolina soldiers during the campaign. There is a true wealth of information out there and the research itself to this point has been a wonderful experience.

With all this going on I am taking a much deserved and needed break with a trip home to North Carolina on Saturday. I will be doing some research but mostly will be spending time with family and catching up with friends.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Update on my next book project

The original plan for my next book project after the Newport Barracks book, was to be on the 43rd North Carolina during the Gettysburg Campaign. Well I have revised that a bit and have expanded my scope. The plan now is to use letters and diaries from North Carolina soldiers to tell the story of the states involvement in the campaign and battle. My focus will begin with letters and diaries written after the Battle of Chancellorsville and end around early August of 1863 when the Army of Northern Virginia was back across the Potomac River in Virginia.

The major reason for the change due to the lack of good primary sources for the 43rd in the campaign, but also because in the course of research I was finding letters and diary entries from other regiments that I was finding to be quite compelling. I know there will be the natural reaction to say "oh great another Gettysburg book," but I feel this will give a different perspective of the campaign. Another hope is that it will give attention to portions of the fighting that are often overlooked such as the attacks on Oak Ridge and the final attack on Seminary Ridge on July 1, 1863.

I do hope to revisit the 43rd North Carolina in the future, but I am excited about the prospects for this project. So if anyone has any letters or diaries from North Carolina troops during the Gettysburg campaign or know of any particular ones please email or contact me through the blog.

12th New York Cavalry Letter from Newport and other items

While looking up some information on the 23rd New York Cavalry I found a great site for information on New York troops in the war, but also a letter written by a member of the 12th New York Cavalry while stationed at Newport Barracks. The letter is part of an online project of the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center, you can read the entire letter here: Letter From the Twelfth New York Cavalry.
The 23rd New York Cavalry, who fought at Newport Barracks, was often attached to the 12th New York during their service in the New Bern area. I have quoted the section that discusses Newport from the letter dated July 10, 1863:

We are stationed at a small place known by the name of Newport, (it should have been called No-port, for hang me if I can see anything that entitles it to such a name,) on the military railway that runs from Newbern to Morehead. In the beginning of the war our camp ground was occupied by the 7th N. C, (rebel) regiment, who erected log barracks as much for the accommodation of their invaders as themselves. We find our log houses much preferable to the crowded tents in which we lately took shelter, and half bless the labors of the defeated enemy for the comfort they afford us. Two companies of the 98th N. Y. Volunteer Infantry, with an excellent staff of officers, are companions of ours in camp, and all do duty together—our pickets doing the outside guard some six or eight miles from camp, in woods and swamps as dreary as any ever pictured by the romance writers of ancient times. Lonely occupation is this picket work, I assure you, and as dangerous as one can imagine. No sleepy heads are wanted in our army, and I am somewhat pleased to relate that the Erie county boys are careful upon their posts and can be depended upon in every time of danger. A great many incidents, as laughable as they are ludicrous, might be related in regard to some of our midnight picket duty, when the more superstitious among the men fancy approaching rebels in the sonorous squeaking of reptiles, and the short spasmodic grouts of hogs, half wild, around them. And no wonder, for, I believe, there is not in the world such a swarm of loathsome reptiles, from alligators down to ants, as is to be seen and heard here. Confound their noise; they make one wish that some St. Patrick would visit us in mercy and give us rest from such a provoking plague.

You can search for any New York unit here: New York Civil War Regiments.

  • I also want to mention that the blog now has over 1000 views and I want to thank everyone who has visited here since I have started posting. I plan to keep updating the blog even after I am finished with the book on Newport Barracks so please keep checking back.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A 103rd Pennsylvania connection to Newport Barracks

  • I want to first apologize for the delay in posting for the past few weeks. Between writing, working, and researching I have just not had as much time as I would like, but I hope to be back posting regularly for the foreseeable future.

  • Quick update on the book I am about two months away from having it finished, then comes the edit and revision process, and finally laying it out to publish. Once I have a clear date on when I will have copies I will let everyone know.

In a copy of a speech from March 13, 1906 by Carry Augusta Leazar, given to the Battle of Bentonville Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Morrisville, North Carolina, outlining the service of her father Lieutenant Augustus Leazar there was an interesting description of the aftermath of the Battle of Newport Barracks. Augustus Leazar, from Rowan County, enlisted in the Company G of the 42nd North Carolina on March, 15, 1862 at the age of nineteen and on the same day was given a commision as a first lieutenant in the regiment. At the time of the battle Leazar was twenty years old.

In her speech Carry Leazar, who at the time was the historian of the North Carolina Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, states that Lieutenant Leazar was able to capture a sack of coffee, which he sent to his mother in Rowan County who was roasting rye and chipped sweet potatoes as a substitute for regular coffee. But a more interesting piece of information comes from another item that Leazar captured from the Union camp at Newport, Carry Leazar writes:

Another trophy of this field is a volume of Blackstone now in our library, inscribed with the name of "John M. Laughlin, 1st Lieut. Co. A., 103 Penna. Regiment, Penna. Vols."

The volume was most likely a copy of Sir William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England.

The original owner John M. Laughlin was a member of the 103rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Laughlin enlisted on May 1, 1862 and, like Leazar, was promoted to lieutenant. We are able to have a general idea when Laughlin might have first come into possession of the book by the inscription. It was on January 25, 1863 when he was promoted to first lieutenant, so it had to be after this time that he inscribed his copy. The 103rd was part of heavy fighting during the Seven Day's Campaign outside of Richmond in 1862 and later sent to eastern North Carolina, where they spent considerable time in New Bern. It is most likely that Lieutenant Laughlin loaned the copy to another officer in the 9th Vermont and that is probably how the copy ended up at Newport Barracks before the battle.

Lieutenant Laughlin would be captured, along with 455 men of his regiment, at the Battle of Plymouth on April 20, 1864. He would be sent to prisoner of war camp for officers near Florance, South Carolina. In December of that year, Laughlin would attempt to escape but was unsuccessful. He would be paroled on March 1, 1865.

Augustus Leazar would serve until the end of the war with the 42nd. It was said "with bitterness of soul he took parole at Bush Hill, Randolph County, May 2, 1865, and faced reconstruction." Leazar would go on to become an influential political figure in North Carolina after the war serving in 1889 as Speaker of the House for the North Carolina General Assembly. During his time in the legislature be was influential on agricultural and educational issues in the state. After the war Leazar was described as "an efficient officer, is one of the most prominent men of his section of the State. He has served in the Legislature, and as superintendent of the State Penitentiary." Governor Thomas Jarvis in discussing Leazar was quoted as saying:

He could have attained higher positions in the State had be yielded his convictions and accepted the situation. No temptation, no flattery, no threat could move him from the path of duty and of right as he saw it. He loved his State and he loved to serve it. He was ambitious, but his was an ambition to do the right thing and to do it in the service of his State, his fellowmen and his God. He was able and wise. He had himself written, "Whatever his profession, every man is a citizen and owes a duty to the State as he does to his God, for the State is his ordinance for the good of society." He met defeats, but he believed "the essential to success is character, loyalty to the right, loyalty to God. Without it there is no real success, with it there is no failure."

One of Leazar's last statements before his death was to a young legislator who had come to visit him. He simply said "it pays better- in the long run- to be on the right side." He would pass away on February 18, 1905 at the age of 61.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Canady's Mill

As promised I wanted to share some of what I found last week at Canady's Mill on March 12. I created a map to outline what the site looks like today (Jedediah Hotchkiss, I am clearly not!) and also put up a few pictures of the earthworks that remain. In mid-February I went out to the site to do some field research only to find that the area around th
e earthworks was heavily overgrown. The overgrowth concealed a great portion of the earthworks, but I was able to still see the remains of part of the main fortifications, as well as a line of rifle pits. Luckily, there was a controlled burn on the site last week and almost all of the overgrowth was burned away.

On the morning of February 2
, 1864, Company E of the 9th Vermont was on picket duty at Canady's Mill. Company E was under the command of newly promoted Captain Elisha M. Quimby. Quimby replaced Amasa Bartlett, who was promoted to the rank of major after the death of Charles Jarvis. Artillery was also present in support of Company E.

Canady's Mill, along with Company E, would not see any
fighting during the Battle of Newport Barracks. Around 11am on February 2, Company E was ordered to return to Newport Barracks after the attack on the Gales Creek Blockhouse. It is unclear the route they took back to Newport, but they appear to have returned after Lieutenant Colonel Barney and the rest of the 9th had moved out to meet Brigadier General Martin and his Confederate forces. Company E would not join the rest of the 9th until after the retreat across the bridges over the Newport River.

The picture below gives an idea of what the site looked like when I visited it in mid-February. It is quite clear the extent of the overgrowth over the earthworks.

From period maps one of the flanks of the fort rested on the Canady Mill Road (Now Roberts Road). You can still see the rough outline of the fort starting from the road, although I am not sure how much of the fort was destroyed during the subsequent widening and paving of the road over the years. The yellow outline in the picture shows the top of the earthworks.

The following is the map I created to give an idea of what the site looks like today.

David Burnette, who accompanied me to the site last week, located what appears to be a small path with rounding on each side, which seems to indicate some level of fortification. This path connected the advance entrenchments and rifle pits to the main fort. It is interesting to note that the path extends a good ways past the earth works and cuts though the fort as diagrammed on the map. The main earthworks at the fort were much more extensive and intricate than previously thought. The main fort is one continuous earthwork that parallels Nine Mile Road before angling back about forty yards and then parallels again with Nine Mile Road. There are still the rough outline of where artillery was placed at the fort, and the advance entrenchments seem to show a fairly strong position. If facing the fort from Nine Mile Road the Newport River is on the left of the position (there is also about a twenty foot drop from the area where the fort is to the river). The pictures that follow show the site on from my visit last week. There is unfortunately little contrast in the pictures, but one can still make out the remains of the fortifications.

The first picture is of the path that David Burnette found on the site. This picture was taken looking towards Nine Mile Road and the path is in the middle of the picture.

The next three pictures are just of the main earthworks at the fort. In the first picture you can see Roberts Road in the background and the earthworks are to the right. The second picture shows more of the works. The lightly colored tree that has fallen is a good marker in this picture, as well as the third.

It was a very productive trip out to the site and the burning that took place really shows the features of the site quite well. Thanks again to David Burnette for emailing me about the burn and accompanying me to the site last Thursday.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Update on the book and other things

  • At the moment I am finished with the first two chapters of the book, or finished to the extent I am ready for them to be edited. This puts me right on track with my time table to have the manuscript finished.
  • Yesterday I had the chance to go out again to the fortifications at Canady's Mill near Newport. I did some field research in that area about a month ago and found it to be very overgrown with brush. I was only able to discern a few parts of the fort and rifle pits. This week I received an email from David Burnette who let me know that a controlled burn had taken away most of the brush around the fort. He also accompanied me to the site and we were both surprised at what the fire had uncovered. The fortifications were much more expansive and intricate than we, and possibly anyone before, had thought. I hope to post fairly soon what we found along with pictures. Thanks again to David Burnette for letting me know about the controlled burn and accompanying me out to the site yesterday.
  • Even though I am well into writing I thought I would just mention that it is never to late for me to incorporate new sources into the book. If anyone has any sources on the 17th or 42nd North Carolina they would be especially helpful. My hope is to find more primary source material on them so if anyone has any information it would be a great help. The same goes for any of the units involved at Newport Barracks.
  • Lastly, I have also started some preliminary research for my next book that will be on the 43rd North Carolina at Gettysburg. As with the Newport Barracks project, if anyone has any information or source material on the 43rd I would love to see it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Death of Noah F. Muse

I am still in North Carolina, but I wanted to get back to updating the blog since I have missed a few days (All blame can rest with the wonderful weather, Eastern North Carolina BBQ, and the playoff push of the Carolina Hurricanes). I was going through my notes and wanted to share the accounts (or this case accounts) of the death of First Lieutenant Noah F. Muse of Company E of the 5th North Carolina Cavalry. Before I go on with the accounts I wanted to give a little background on Muse.

Muse was born in 1834, but the location is not fully clear. One source states he was born in Moore County, North Carolina; yet in North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865, A Roster, Vol II Cavalry it lists the place of birth as being Chatham County, North Carolina. Considering that Moore and Chatham share a border the confusion is to be somewhat expected. In November 1850 Muse is stated as being 16 years old and attending school. He would enlist as a private in Company E of the 5th North Carolina Cavalry on August 3, 1862. Muse would not remain a private for long, as he quickly advanced in rank. By September 18, 1862 he would be promoted to Second Lieutenant and again on October 16, 1862 to First Lieutenant.

The following is from the Service Records of the 5th North Carolina Cavalry Co. E: "The company formed a part of the force which attacked and captured Shepardsville on the 2nd. First Lieutenant N.F. Muse of this company was killed in the charge on the enemy."

The change that was referred to was the opening shots of the attack on the Gales Creek Blockhouse.

Moore's History of North Carolina describes the attack:

At 10 o'clock A.M. of the 30th of January (Moore is incorrect on the date as the attack was on February 2, 1864) the enemy's cavalry pickets, five miles from Shepherdsville were stampeded, and in the desperate race which ensued Lieutenant Muse of Chatham North Carolina, was shot by one of the flying pickets and instantly killed.

The death of Lieutenant Muse was also mentioned in the The Wilmington Journal on February 11, 1864:
On nearing the first pickets of the enemy and discovering them on the alert, the cavalry dashed furiously forward, and the Yankee pickets (twenty-five or thirty in number) retreated as fast as their horses would carry them. The road over which pursuers and pursued had to pass was through a swamp, and full of deep holes overflowing with mud and water. But on they sped- some of the Yankee horses and their riders turning somersets in the mud, and ours running over them, inflicting many bruises upon men and horses (breaking the neck of one of the latter) but doing no serious damage to the riders. It was at this point that Lieut. Muse, of Harris' cavalry, while gallantly leading the charge, fell mortally wounded by a pistol shot from a Yankee who was being hotly pursued. Having captured a portion and dispersed the rest of these outpost pickets, the column moved forward and soon came to a trading post of the yankees - but the enemy had fled in the direction of a block house some half mile distant.

This account was also carried in the Fayetteville Observer on February 15, 1864 and The Southerner from Tarboro, North Carolina on March 5, 1864.

From the accounts we have we can gather that the troops Muse and Co.E of the 5th North Carolina Cavalry encountered were from the 23rd New York Cavalry. We know they were in the area and it would make sense for them to be advance pickets in a position such as the Gales Creek Blockhouse.

Brigadier General James G. Martin in his report on the Battle of Newport Barracks also mentions Muse and the attack on the pickets:

About 12 o'clock the advance came on the enemy's pickets and immediately charged them over a most dreadful piece of road, killing and capturing, I believe, the whole picket. In this charge Lieutenant Muse, of Captain Harris' company (cavalry), was killed just as he was in the act of striking his enemy. His blow fell, wounding the enemy, apparently, after he had been himself killed.

From these accounts it would seem that Lieutenant Muse was killed during the charge on the enemy pickets, possibly wounding one of those pickets. The next account from George Benedict's Vermont in the Civil War seems to corroborate the Confederate accounts to a certain extent, but at the same time offering a slightly different take on the death of Muse. The Union troops at Gales Creek were Company H of the 9th Vermont. Benedict writes on the attack:

Colonel Ripley was absent, having gone to Fortress Monroe with some prisoners and dispatches, leaving Lieut. Colonel Barney in command of the Post, and Captain Kelley in command of the regiment. Company B (commanded for the time being by Lieutenant Ballard), occupied the block-house on Bogue Sound, and company H, Captain Gorham, was doing out-post duty at Gale's Creek, with a cavalry picket out
beyond. The first appearance of the enemy was at the latter point. About nine o'clock in the morning of the 2d the cavalry picket came in in a hurry, the lieutenant in command of it showing a sabre-cut in his shoulder. The infantry pickets next came in, less a dozen of their number who had been cut off and captured; but not without having inflicted some loss upon the enemy. One of the new recruits, Oberon Payne by name, shot a mounted man, supposed to be an officer, from his horse, and the animal, keeping on, came within reach of the pickets and was brought in with the empty saddle.

The lieutenant mentioned with the sabre cut might have received that cut from Muse in the attack, but of course we will never fully know. When looking over casualty reports for the 23rd New York Cavalry there is no mention of any lieutenant in the 23rd receiving such a wound though, but there is the chance it was never reported or considered that serious.

Another interesting aspect of this account is in regards to Oberon Payne. Payne was indeed a brand new recruit to the 9th Vermont having enlisted on January 2, 1864 (one month before the Battle of Newport Barracks) and mustered into service on January 5, 1864. What Benedict writes seems to match up with Lieutenant Muse when one considers that Muse was the only casualty reported by his unit in the engagement, also the fact that he was an officer.

Confederate accounts seem to indicate that Muse went down very early in the fight, while Benedict gives the possibility that Muse was mortally wounded closer to the blockhouse. Either way, we will probably never knew the exact details of the death of Lieutenant Muse, but this is one of the view incidents from the engagement where the Confederate accounts are in as much detail as that of their Union counterparts.

Unfortunately, the death of Noah F. Muse was not the only tragedy to befall the Muse family during the war as two of Muse's younger brothers would die as well in the war. Ashley Muse was a private in Company H of the 26th North Carolina and was killed in action on July 1, 1863 at Gettysburg. George Muse would die of disease while a prisoner of war at Elmira, New York on May 11, 1865.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Heading South

I am going to be leaving shortly and heading to North Carolina for the week. I hope to do some more field research, in addition to getting some writing in as well. I still expect to update the blog often during the week.

Also, I have added the blog of Michael Hardy to the Blogs of Interest section, it is worth a visit for sure.

The link is here: North Carolina and the Civil War

Friday, March 6, 2009

Various Things

  • I have added TOCWOC- A Civil War Blog to the Blogs of Interest section on the left hand side of the site. They were kind enough to link to this blog so I wanted to return the favor. There is a lot of good information there and it is certainly worth the time to check it out, so please do. You can go to it by either clicking the link here in the post or the link in the Blogs of Interest section. In case you are wondering TOCWOC stands for "The Order of Civil War Obsessively Compulsed."
  • I just saw this morning that there has been over 400 views of this blog in less than a week. Thanks to everyone who has visited over the past couple of days and I hope it has been informative for you. I especially want to thank those who have emailed this blog to others or linked it to their blogs. As always feel free to comment on any posts here or email me anytime.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Views of Newport during the Civil War

One of the more interesting parts of my research has been the information I have come across in terms of what the town looked like during the war, as well as the accounts from soldiers of the people living in the area. I wanted to share a few of those, but I must say the accounts of the people of Newport by the members of the 9th Vermont are not very flattering. Officially at the time of the war Newport was known as Shepardsville, but most of the Union accounts from the time refer to it as Newport. Southern accounts often refer to Shepardsville though. As best I can gather both names were used almost interchangeably. In 1866, the General Assembly of North Carolina would grant a charter for the town as we know it with the name Newport.

While not an actual account from soldiers stationed in Newport, George Benedict from his 1888 book Vermont in the Civil War describes Newport as follows:

The village of Newport was on the north side of the Newport river, a
deep, unfordable stream emptying into the Neuse. The barracks were on the
opposite side of the river, half a mile from the village, and midway between
the bridge by which the “county Road, Va." or highway between New Berne
and Morehead City crossed the river and the railroad bridge half a mile
farther down. The main defence of the camp was a redoubt armed with a 32-
pound gun and three 12-pounders. On the coast road, leading along the shore
of Bogue Sound, at a point about three miles from the barracks, was a blockhouse,
and the picket line extended from this to a point on Gale's Creek,
seven miles west of the barracks, and thence to the swamps bordering the
river—a circuit of twelve or fifteen miles. The position was guarded by
about a thousand men, comprising besides the Ninth, four companies of
Massachusetts and Rhode Island heavy artillery, four companies of New
York and Wisconsin infantry and three squadrons of New York cavalry. The
nearest hostile force was a Confederate cavalry out-post at Onslow Court
House, twenty-five miles to the west. The country around Newport was a
level stretch of sandy pine land, intersected by numerous country roads and
interspersed with morasses. The moss-hung sycamore trees, the alligators
and moccasin and copperhead snakes, the snuff-dipping natives, and the
hunting of possums, gave new scenes and occupations to the Vermonters.

A member of the 9th Vermont describes the town as a "collection of a dozen buildings and not very impressive."

Lieutenant Colonel Valentine Barney in writing to this wife Maria will say that "This is a great country for a poor man to live in. Wood costs nothing, Houses but little, Clothing but little & game of all kinds is plenty. Oysters & fish in abundance." Barney would clarify though that "I would not after all exchange old Vermont for any place I have seen yet."

One of the areas that the men of the 9th Vermont seemed to spend a lot of time was in describing the people of the area. As I said earlier these views are not very flattering, and one has to wonder if some of it might be a slight exaggeration.

Captain Edwin Kilbourne, soon after arriving in Newport, would give his impressions as the following:

I haven't seen but 2 natives since landing here and they are fine specimens of the genus homo. Fine types of the poorer class of people which live and inhabit this southern clime. They are much below the African in intelligence and native wit and powers. In fact they are not to be put on the level with a good intelligent horse.

An unnamed writer would continue in this vain by saying: "The men are lean, sallow complexioned, stoop-shouldered and indolent. The women are slovenly and grossly addicted to snuff dipping, and all alike, men, women and children are ignorant and contented."

Captain Linus Sherman, in similar sentiments, would write: "Did I tell you all the women around here chew snuff? Well they do and suck a rag on the end of a stick too. They are lax in their style of dress, lax in housekeeping & loose in morals and everything else."

First Lieutenant Alfred Ballard gives an interesting view of Newport in light of the fact that Newport has long been strong connected to agricultural pursuits. Ballard would write:

This is not a good farming country. It is very level and sandy. Not a hill can be seen; nothing but the omnipresent pitch pines, which the people call "Turpentine Orchards," and which are the chief source of revenue. Sweet potatoes will grow here, a little cotton and corn and now and then a few peanuts. There is but little fruit here, not even a blackberry, though the soldiers do raise now and then a few apples, at seven dollars a barrel. Sweet potatoes are quite an item in the domestic economy of this section, as will appear from the following fact. The Captain and myself made an evening call not long since, at the house of one of the "F.F.N.C'S," (First Families of North Carolina) and after roasting some of the potatoes in the fireplace, they peeled them, and passed them round, all hot and smoking and soft and sticky. We took each out potato in our fingers and gnaws them with becoming grace. I am told the common way of waiting on people is to poke them potatoes out of the ashes with the toes of the boot, kick them towards you, and say, "help yourself"; but the Captain and I were evidently more refined people.

While many of the Vermont soldiers were less than complimentary to say the least in their letters, for the most part relations between the occupying troops and the citizens of Newport seems to be fairly civil. Unfortunately we do not have any accounts from the citizens of Newport with their impressions of the Vermont troops, but one may assume what might have been said.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Updates to Casualty Roster

I have added 15 names to the Casualty Roster for Newport Barracks. Ten of those names come from the 23rd New York Cavalry and five from Company D of the 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. These names were listed in the Adjutant General Reports in New York and Massachusetts as being prisoners of war captured at Newport Barracks on February 2, 1864. With this addition the confirmed Union casualties I have for the battle stands at 5 killed, 13 wounded, and 64 captured. A link to the roster is here: Roster of Newport Barracks Casualties.

The names are as follows (the * denotes they died in prison):

Private Julius Geschwind - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. B
Private Simon Muller - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. B
Private Domnic Schneider - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. B
Private Conrad Waltz - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. B *
Corporal William Boller - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. A *
Private John Dean - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. B*
Corporal Charles Chappell - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. A
Corporal Jefferson Moore - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. A
Private Walter Ross - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. A *
Private Johnnes Leutzinger - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. B *
Private Abel J. Collins - 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Co. D *
Private Michael Flavin - 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Co. D *
Private Patrick Fraher - 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Co. D *
Private Mark Nalor - 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Co. D *
Private William A. Snow - 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Co. D *

I would like to thanks Hawk Hibbs Jr. for the email that helped to put me on the path to finding these names. It was a tremendous help.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Currently Reading

From time to time I am going to post what I am currently reading, or in this case rereading. This time I am rereading A Strange and Blighted Land Gettysburg: The Aftermath of a Battle by Gregory A. Coco.

So often books on the Civil War focus mostly on battles, leaders, or politics of the era but, rarely if ever, on the human cost of war. I can think of few books that do a better job of giving the reader a sense of the horror and destruction that was left in the wake of Civil War battles than this one. It also sheds light on the unsung heroes of the war such as the civilians and medical staffs, who were tasked with the enormous job of cleaning up the battlefield and caring for the dying and wounded. Most importantly it helps to remind us of the terrible and horrific cost of battle on all those it impacts. I highly recommend it.

Blogs of Interest

I have added a section to include blogs of interest. The first blog is Civil War Books and Authors, which is a great resource for reviews and information on Civil War writng. The second blog is Civil War Navy, the History Profession, and Other Historical Musings by Andrew Duppstadt, who I had the chance to meet briefly when working at Fort Macon in 2007. Please check out both blogs if you get a chance and I have included the links here. The links will also be under the Blogs of Interest section on the left hand side of the page.

Civil War Books and Authors
Civil War Navy, the History Profession, and Other Historical Musings

I hope to keep adding to the list in the future so if you know of a blog or have one yourself that you would like added just email me.

Book Update

I am well in the process of writing and as of now the working title of the book will be Fight as long as possible : The Battle of Newport Barracks, February 2, 1864. Right now the size will be anywhere between 100-150 pages. After crunching some numbers I believe I am going to look at self publishing first, unless I get a better deal through a publisher. Once I get closer to finishing the manuscript I will begin to take pre-orders for the book. So that is where the project stands at this moment. My expectation is to be finished with the manuscript in 2-3 months if all goes well.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Roster of Newport Barracks Casualties

As the previous post stated this is far from a complete work, but it is based on as many sources as possible. I am only listing those who were killed, wounded, captured, or absent wounded (keep in mind those listed as such might or might not have been wounded during fighting on February 2.) . When more information becomes available I will update the list.

Confederate Killed in Action

First Lieutenant Noah F. Muse- 5th North Carolina Cavalry Co. E
Captain James J. Leith- 17th North Carolina Co. B
Sergeant Joseph G. Elliot- 17th North Carolina Co. L
Private James W. Coley- 42nd North Carolina Co. C
Private John Poplin Jr.- 42nd North Carolina Co. C
Private William H. Leazer- 42nd North Carolina Co. G

Confederate Wounded

Private William Thomas Weathersbee- 17th North Carolina Co. C
Corporal Cameron N. Oakley- 17th North Carolina Co. F
Private James L.G. Davis- 17th North Carolina Co. G
Private Robert H. Carney- 17th North Carolina Co. K
Private Paul Barnheart- 17th North Carolina Co. L

Confederate Absent Wounded for Jan.-Feb. 1864

Second Lieutenant Jesse A.B. Thorne- 17th North Carolina Co. I
Sergeant Julius Smith- 42nd North Carolina Co. B
Private William Parnell- 42nd North Carolina Co. B

Union Killed in Action

Sergeant William Piper- 9th Vermont Co. D
Private Joseph Osier- 9th Vermont Co. C
Private Peter Osier- 9th Vermont Co. C (Died of Wounds)
Private Matthew Riley- 9th Vermont Co. G (Died of Wounds)
Private Nathan C. Smith- 9th Vermont Co. D

Union Wounded

Adjutant Josiah Livingston- 9th Vermont
First Lieutenant James F. Bolton- 9th Vermont Co. C
Private Stephen Burrows- 9th Vermont Co. H
Private Nathan Deforge- 9th Vermont Co. B
Private George F. Durkee- 9th Vermont Co. B
Private Thomas P. Garry- 9th Vermont Co. D
Private Thomas E. Marcy- 9th Vermont Co. K
Private Peter Osier- 9th Vermont Co. C (Died of Wounds)
Private William P. Smith- 9th Vermont Co. B
Private Charles W. Stoddard- 9th Vermont Co. K
Private Charles Van Steenburg- 9th Vermont Co. C
Private Guy B. Walker- 9th Vermont Co. D
Private Alfred Tatro- 9th Vermont Co. F

Captured * Denotes Died in Prison

Private Franklin Averill- 9th Vermont Co. I *
Private Olcott M. Bacon- 9th Vermont Co. G *
Private Peter Barton- 9th Vermont Co. C *
Private Washington Beede- 9th Vermont Co. I *
Private Henry A. Beedle- 9th Vermont Co. C *
Private Charles Bennett- 9th Vermont Co. C *
Corporal Alson H. Blake- 9th Vermont Co. F
Private Joseph Bohonan- 9th Vermont Co. I *
Private Franklin Caswell- 9th Vermont Co. B *
Private John K. Clark- 9th Vermont Co. F
Private Burchard Clough- 9th Vermont Co. A *
Private Henry Cobb- 9th Vermont Co. D
Private Oscar Davis- 9th Vermont Co. A *
Private James N. Downer- 9th Vermont Co. C
Private Philip Duphiney- 9th Vermont Co. D
Private John D. Finegan- 9th Vermont Co. H
Private Henry Fletcher- 9th Vermont Co. B
Private Charles E. Freeman- 9th Vermont Co. H *
Private Charles S. George- 9th Vermont Co. I
Private John Grant- 9th Vermont Co. B
Private Thomas Griswold- 9th Vermont Co. K
Private Edward W. Havens- 9th Vermont Co. H *
Private Wayne Hazen- 9th Vermont Co. H *
First Lieutenant William C. Holman- 9th Vermont Co. G
Private Franklin Ives- 9th Vermont Co. B *
Private Henry Jackson- 9th Vermont Co. H
Private William B. Jenks- 9th Vermont Co. B
Private George W. Loud- 9th Vermont Co. A *
Private Patrick Manion- 9th Vermont Co. D *
Private Patrick McGovern- 9th Vermont Co. H
Private George H. Pearsons- 9th Vermont Co. D *
Private Thomas H. Pettit- 9th Vermont Co. H *
Private Herman W. Phelps- 9th Vermont Co. H *
Private Zara Potter Proud- 9th Vermont Co. A *
Private Lewis Raymore- 9th Vermont Co. G *
Private Thomas Ripley- 9th Vermont Co. B *
Private Elbridge G. Rounsevel- 9th Vermont Co. D *
Private Thomas Rudd- 9th Vermont Co. B
Private Benjamin M. Smith- 9th Vermont Co. H *
Private Harlow C. Smith- 9th Vermont Co. A *
Private Nelson Stinehowe- 9th Vermont Co. C
Private Alfred Tatro- 9th Vermont Co. F * (Wounded)
Private Milo Tucker- 9th Vermont Co. G *
Private Jason Vosburgh- 9th Vermont Co. H
Private David Weller- 9th Vermont Co. B *
Private Abel D. Whitney- 9th Vermont Co. D *
Private William Melcher- 9th Vermont Co. F *
Private Henry P. Chase- 9th Vermont Co. H
Private Alvin H. Cole- 9th Vermont Co. H *
Private Julius Geschwind - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. B
Private Simon Muller - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. B
Private Domnic Schneider - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. B
Private Conrad Waltz - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. B *
Corporal William Boller - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. A *
Private John Dean - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. B*
Private Johnnes Leutzinger - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. B *
Corporal Charles Chappell - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. A
Corporal Jefferson Moore - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. A
Private Walter Ross - 23rd New York Cavalry Co. A *

Private Abel J. Collins - 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Co. D *
Private Michael Flavin - 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Co. D *
Private Patrick Fraher - 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Co. D *
Private Mark Nalor - 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Co. D *
Private William A. Snow - 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Co. D

-Updated March 3, 2009

9th Vermont graves in the New Bern National Cemetery

Since my post on the casualties from Newport Barracks, I wanted to share some pictures that I took at the New Bern National Cemetery in New Bern, North Carolina. The pictures are of the graves from four of the five members of the 9th Vermont killed in action on February 2nd, 1864. They were taken on February 17, 2009. Information on each solider is from the books The Ninth Vermont Infantry: A History and Roster by Paul G. Zeller and "We are Coming Father Abra'am" The History of the 9th Vermont Volunteer Infantry 1862-1865 by Don Wickman.

The first picture is the grave of Private Nathan C. Smith, 27, from Company D of the 9th Vermont. Smith was a farmer from Brookfield, Vermont and enlisted on December 23, 1863. He was mustered into service on January 2, 1864, exactly one month before he was killed in action at Newport Barracks. He was killed instantly after being stuck by a minie ball. At the time of his death all he had to his name was a watch and $13.00 (Zeller 137).

The second picture is the grave of
Sergeant William Piper,25, from Company D of the 9th Vermont. He left behind his wife Augusta Glynn, 24, and their two year old child Francis.

The third picture is the grave of Private Matthew Riley, 28, from Company G of the 9th Vermont. Riley was a farmer from Randolph, Vermont. Riley was struck in in the left thigh by a shell fragment. His comrades helped him back to Beaufort on the retreat on the night of February 2, but he died on February 6 at Hammond General Hospital in Beaufort (Zeller 135)

The forth picture i
s the grave of Private Joseph Osier, 18, from Company C of the 9th Vermont. Joseph enlisted two days after his brother Peter on December 23, 1863. Joseph Osier was described as "a fine looking little fellow only 18 years old, and a new recruit. He died fighting bravely (Zeller 135)." He had picked up a rifle for the first time in his short service that morning (Wickman 285). Peter Osier was also wounded during the battle and was captured by the Confederates. Peter would be paroled from captivity on December 6, 1864 only to die nine days later of his wounds. He is buried in the Annapolis National Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland.

Casualties at the Battle of Newport Barracks

One of the more interesting, yet frustrating, parts of my research has been trying to get a close count of the number of casualties from the fighting on February 2. I have been able to create a general roster of those men who were killed, wounded, or captured during the battle. I used a number of different sources to develop this list including sources such as the Official Reports, Supplement to the Official Reports, the North Carolina Roster of Troops, Service Records, as well as letters and memoirs.

Admittedly this is not a complete listing. Luckily the 9th Vermont kept fairly accurate records of the losses sustained so I feel pretty confident in the accuracy of the numbers I have for that regiment. But, from there comes the frustrating part. The records for the Confederate units engaged are far from complete in terms of detail. The same can be said for the 23rd New York Cavalry and Company D of the 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. By my best estimate I have a roster that includes 60 to 80% of those who were casualties that day.

To further complicate matters is the reported losses that were given in the official reports by both Union and Confederate commanders. This is understandable though as one would expect a certain "flexibility," if you will, with the numbers. The rules seems to be to overstate enemy losses and understate your own losses. The following examples from the official reports of Brigadier General James G. Martin (in command of Confederate forces) and Lieutenant Colonel Valentine Barney (in command of Union forces) give us some idea into this:

Confederate Casualties:

Martin: 2 officers, and 5 enlisted men killed. 14 wounded.
Barney: 3 officers and 15 men killed. As many as 30 wounded.

From my research I have been able to find recorded six Confederates killed with seven wounded. There are also the listing of three men who are reported absent wounded but the service records do not indicate when or where the wounds took place. In Clark's Regiments there is a mention of two members from Company A of the 3rd Battalion North Carolina Light Artillery. In the report of Barney he also mentions 2 Confederate soldiers being left behind and wounded at Newport Barracks. I have not been able to track down the names of the soldiers, but the report is verified by the account of a nurse who treated the two in the Mansfield Hospital in Morehead City.

Union Casualties

Martin: 20 killed, 40-50 wounded, 74 men captured (with 4 men paroled due to wounds).
Barney: 3 men killed, 1 officer and 12 men wounded, and 50 men missing.

In addition to the official reports from each commander Frederick Dyer in his Compendium of the War of the Rebellion lists the total casualties for the Union forces at 77 (4 killed, 11 wounded, and 62 captured). In the Supplement to the Official Reports for the 23rd New York Cavalry reports three men captured, but no mention of their names. From my research in the roster of the 9th Vermont the losses suffered by that regiment seem to be 5 killed, 13 wounded, with 49 captured (31 of the 49 would die in Confederate prisons) for a total of 67. In addition to that the Death Roster from Andersonville shows four members of the 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery and six members of the 23rd New York Cavalry. If these numbers are correct, then that places the total number at 77, which would equal that as reported by Dyer.

In the end it will be difficult, in my opinion, to develop to complete roster in terms of the casualties, due to the discrepancies in the total from the various sources and the lack of solid records from the Confederate forces. In a day or two I hope to post the roster I have compiled so far, but first I wanted to explain the overall numbers and the problems I have encountered with them.

Newport Voice Article

This is a copy of the article I wrote for the Newport Voice in the February 2009 issue.It gives a brief overview of the operations that took place to help give more background to the project.

The Battle of Newport Barracks: February 2, 1864

On December 20, 1863 General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, would write to Confederate President Jefferson Davis recommending the recapture of New Bern, North Carolina. Such an operation would help to relieve pressure on the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad (a major supply line for Lee and his army in Virginia) and to push Union troops from key strategic points in Eastern North Carolina (areas occupied since early to mid-1862). He hoped this would force the relocation of Union forces from the main theater of war in Virginia back to North Carolina and would help to lessen the expected Union forces Lee would have to face that spring. General Lee stated that he could provide troops for such an operation until the spring of 1864. President Davis would approve the plan and as a result Lee would send troops from the Army of Northern Virginia under the command of Major General George Pickett to Eastern North Carolina.

The major military thrust would come from Pickett and the battle-hardened veterans under his command against New Bern, but one major point of concern remained: the strong Union force near the railroad trestle over the Newport River located at Sheppardsville (now Newport).

General Lee directed that a diversionary attack be carried out by Confederate troops located in Wilmington, North Carolina. Major General William H.C. Whiting, commander of Confederate forces in the Wilmington area, ordered Brigadier General James G. Martin to lead the attack. General Martin would have under his command two infantry regiments from his brigade (the 17th and 42nd North Carolina) along with attached companies of cavalry and three batteries of artillery. General Martin and his combined force of over 2,000 troops would march from Wilmington on January 28, 1864. By the evening of February 1 Martin and his troops would be within ten miles from Newport. General Martin planned to launch his attacks on the Union forces the next morning. The hard hand of war was about to visit Newport.

On February 2, 1864 the main body of the Union forces defending the railroad trestle was located at the Newport Barracks just across the river from Newport. The barracks were a series of soldier’s quarters, store houses, and earthworks located between the railroad trestle and the Old County Road (roughly modern Old Hwy 70 and Chatham Street).The 9th Vermont Infantry garrisoned the barracks along with two blockhouses located near Gales Creek and Bogue Sound. Supporting the 9th was Company D of the 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery which provided troops to man the artillery at Newport Barracks. Along with the 23rd New York Cavalry, the total number of Union troops facing Martin’s attack was around 800. Many of the soldiers at Newport Barracks would be considered green in terms of experience, but by the end of February 2nd could justly call themselves veterans.

About 8am on February 2nd a detachment of the 23rd New York Cavalry on picket duty near the Gales Creek Blockhouse was driven back by advance elements of Martin’s force. By 9am Martin ordered the advance elements of his force to deploy in line of battle to assault the blockhouse. Company H of the 9th Vermont was on duty at the blockhouse when the attack occurred and they fired one volley at the advancing Confederates before falling back to the Bogue Sound Blockhouse. Their line of retreat and that of the advancing Confederates was roughly the route of modern Highway 24. By 10am Lieutenant Colonel Valentine Barney, commanding officer at Newport Barracks, learned of the attack on the Gales Creek Blockhouse and met with the commander of the Beaufort Sub-District Colonel James Jourdan, who orders Barney and his troops to fight as long as possible.

Soon after, Martin and his troops attack the Bogue Sound Block House (near Gethsemane Cemetery on Highway 24) around 11am and soon a sharp fight followed. It would take close to two hours for the Confederates to dislodge the Union defenders, who retreated back to Morehead City. After successful attacks on both blockhouses the Confederates turned down the Old Country Road with their next target being the Newport Barracks. Barney and the troops at the barracks heard the sounds of fighting at the Bogue Sound Blockhouse and as a result Barney ordered the remaining troops of the 9th Vermont to form in line of march.

Barney advanced his force down the Old Country Road to meet the oncoming Confederates. The plan Barney devised was to form a skirmish line with his troops to slow down the advancing Confederates while orderly withdrawing back to the barracks. Once at the barracks the 9th was to make a stand behind the earthworks and rifle pits with the support of the artillery. Barney felt that between the strong fortifications and the artillery, his force had a good chance to hold off Martin and his attackers. Around 2:45 that afternoon the main body of the 9th Vermont opened with a volley on the 17th and 42nd North Carolina infantry regiments and fighting raged for 30 minutes before the 9th Vermont fell back.

Martin deployed the 17th North Carolina on the right side of the Old Country Road and the 42nd North Carolina to the left with artillery support between the two regiments. The 9th Vermont fought quite well, only stubbornly giving up each inch of ground as it fought back to the main earthwork defenses at Newport Barracks. The Union plan seemed to be working in good order until the 9th reached the barracks. To the shock of the 9th Vermont, the men of the 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery without orders had spiked the artillery defending Newport Barracks and retreated back into the town. Without the artillery support Barney realized his force could no longer defend the barracks and so he orders his troops to retreat across the Old Country Road and the railroad trestle. The Union troops barely made it across thanks in large part to a courageous rear guard action by elements of the 9th Vermont. Three members of the 9th Vermont (Adjutant Josiah Livingston, Lt. Erastus Jewett, and Lt. Theodore Peck) would be awarded the Medal of Honor in 1891 for their actions in the rear guard action at Newport Barracks.

Once across Barney ordered both the trestle and the bridge over the Newport River burned, placing the river between his command and Martin’s troops. Now safely across the river, the Union defenders of Newport Barracks marched twenty-three miles through the night, down what is today Mill Creek Road and Highway 101, to Beaufort. Martin and his Confederates captured the barracks and the town and would remain in Newport until February 4 before withdrawing back to Wilmington after the unsuccessful attempt by Pickett to recapture New Bern. The next day the 9th Vermont recaptured the town and barracks without a fight.

After the battle Union forces would report 3 men killed, 13 wounded (two would later die of their wounds), and 49 captured. 31 of the 49 captured would later die in Confederate prison camps. Martin and his Confederates would report that 2 officers and 5 enlisted men were killed with 14 wounded.

Today a Civil War Trails marker at the corner of Main Street and East Railroad Boulevard commemorates the battle and those who fought. February 2, 2009 marked the 145th anniversary of the Battle of Newport Barracks and while those who took part have long since passed on, the record of their courage and sacrifice remains. Those who fought at Newport Barracks are certainly among those, in the words of President Abraham Lincoln, “who gave the last full measure of devotion.”

Saturday, February 28, 2009

So why write about the Battle of Newport Barracks?

Bull Run, Shiloh, Antietam, Gettysburg, and....... Newport Barracks.

If one was to compile a list of the great battles of the Civil War I can pretty much bet my life on the fact that the Battle of Newport Barracks would not even come close to making that list. While in terms of numbers engaged and casualties it ranks pretty low when viewed in the context of the war in general, not to mention it is a battle that very few have even heard of. So with that said why in the world is a book needed on the subject? Before I answer that let me just give a bit of background on how this project came about.

When I was in kindergarten (the 5-year-old version of me looked much like Opie from the Andy Griffith Show, but that is another story altogether) I had a moment that would play a major role in my life and 20 years later put me on track to write my first book. I cannot remember the actual date for the life of me, but one February day my teacher Mrs. Quick told me about the Civil War and a great battle that was fought at Gettysburg. This immediately gained my attention for some reason, so on a family trip to Maine that summer we passed by Gettysburg. I asked my parents if it would be possible for us to stop and luckily for me they said yes. I am sure in their mind they thought we would have lunch, buy a toy cannon for me, and most likely never see Gettysburg again. We did have lunch, and I still have the toy cannon from that day, but from that point on Gettysburg and the Civil War would fascinate and captivate me for the rest of my life.

Fast forward to the summer after my freshman year of high school. Both my parents are Methodist ministers so from time to time as the bishop felt necessary we moved. At the time we were living in Stedman, North Carolina (a small town 10 miles east of Fayetteville) but soon we would be moving to Newport, North Carolina (5 miles west of Morehead City). Now I am pretty good with geography and especially that of North Carolina, but for the life of me I had no clue where Newport was. In all honesty I did not want to move at all, but as life is apt to do sometimes, the thing we least want is something that in the end works out for the best. So in June of 1998 we packed up and moved to Newport.

Once we moved, word got around that I was interested in the Civil War. So as a result I received all kinds of information on the war, especially the war in Carteret County. At the time I did not put as much thought into it as I later did, but always in the back of my mind I remembered the stories on "Fort Benjamin" and the railroad trestle. Little did I know that ten years later I would be writing a book on those very subjects. Over time I was getting asked questions about the war in Newport so I decided to look a little more into it, but never to the level I would eventually. I was able to get the basic idea of what happened and from there I sort of put it on the back burner. I always told myself one day I might write a brief description of the battle and history of the town during the war, but as with things, never got around to it. I would research here and there, but I was far from diligent in my research.

That would change in 2007 when I was hired as a seasonal historian at Fort Macon State Park. One day I was looking through the books in the parks collection and saw a title that caught my eye. It was a book on the Civil War in Newport by a local named Bill Poheresky. I had read it soon after I moved to Newport in 1998, but wanted to give it another read so I borrowed the copy. It is a very short book so it took me little time to read it, but when I finished I had more questions and my interest was much higher that it was in 1998. I kept asking myself, could it be as simple and straight forward as the book made it out to be? Honestly, war and battles never are, so I decided to once again look more into the battle, but this time with a serious determination to find out as much as I possibly could on what happened. And thus the birth of this book project took place.

Now that was a long and convoluted explanation of personal history as it relates to the subject, and yes I will finally address the main question as to why write about it. As I said, I just could not accept the standard version of what happened and in all honesty the book I read on the matter was almost 30 years old. In my mind I wondered what a fresh set of eyes, with the benefit of the advances in research, might bring. The more research I did I began to find that my initial questions had some traction and that indeed there was more to the story. Through long forgotten letters and diaries, books, and other sources I began to discover a battle that was much more complex and fascinating than I had ever imagined.

Often we view war and battles from an almost impersonal level. Certainly the scope and sheer size of a conflict like the Civil War can do that. It is difficult to understand the truly national tragedy that was the American Civil War. It is quite trying to wrap one’s mind around the human cost of the war, not just to those who fought, but those on the home front as well. While strategically not as important as larger battles, the Battle of Newport Barracks was still important. While not as costly by comparison to other battles, there was still a cost to the Battle of Newport Barracks. The pain and suffering by those who were involved and those effected by the outcome is very much real. To me it is the more personal look at a battle that draws me to the subject. We see any number of traits and emotions that are common in battle: courage and cowardice, bravery and fear, brutality and compassion, victory and defeat, jubilation and despair. In the process we begin to view our subject, as not just a footnote in history, but with a new sense of humanity. We see a commonality among the combatants, but also a great level of difference. We learn of their lives and that of their families, we attempt to comprehend what they experienced despite the fact that we will never truly be able to fully understand. Ultimately we place ourselves on that line and ask how might we react?

Sacrifices were made on that February day in 1864 and all of those who experienced it were changed in some way. One simply cannot experience war and battle at its worst and not. Some would die what might be deemed a "glorious death" on the field of battle and others eventually wasted away in the truly hellish conditions that were Civil War prison camps such as, Andersonville or Salisbury. We see those who fought with great bravery and those who did not. We see those who walked away unscathed and those who bore the scars of battle for the rest of their lives.

History is composed of events ranging from the momentous to the mundane, and without an understanding of each we never fully see the entire picture. I feel an obligation to make sure the story of that day is told and my sincerest hope is that somehow I can do so in a manner befitting those who were there. In the end that is why I feel the need to write this book.

So in the coming days, weeks, and months I will try to convey the work that goes into the writing of this book and also try to share some information that will eventually end up there.

First Post (how is that for a catchy title!)

My hope with this blog is to give updates on the progress of my book on the Battle of Newport Barracks, as well as a place for my thoughts on the Civil War in general or any other random thoughts that might come to mind. More to come soon.