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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Speaking on May 21

* I have been invited to talk about the Battle of Newport Barracks as part of the grand opening of the Fort Benjamin Park in Newport. This will take place on Saturday May 21 from 10am to 1pm at the park site. The park which is the newest of the recreation facilities in Carteret County rests on a portion of the battlefield in Newport over which the 42nd North Carolina advanced on the afternoon of February 2, 1864. I will have a few artifacts on display and will be on site to discuss the battle and any questions the public might have.

* Things have been fairly busy for me the past two months between work with the publishing company I co-own, speaking engagements, and the research and writing for my upcoming book on the 26th North Carolina. I hope within the next month to add more content to the blog so be on the look out for that.

* I will be announcing shortly my next book which will be available in April of 2011, this is a project which I am very excited about. Of course this does not delay at all the release of the 26th North Carolina book which will be in June of 2013.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Updates and Upcoming Speaking Engagements

  • I will be posting my thoughts and pictures from the February 2, 2011 ceremony commemorating the 147th anniversary of the Battle of Newport Barracks very soon. I was very pleased with the turnout and I hope this can develop into an annual event as we move towards the 150th anniversary of the battle in 2014, as well as the 150th anniversary of the charting of Newport in 2016.
  • I have two upcoming speaking engagements in Carteret County in April. On Tuesday, April 12 I will be speaking on the 26th North Carolina Infantry at Gettysburg to the local Sons of Confederate Veterans camp starting at 6:30pm. Later that month on Tuesday, April 26, I will be speaking on the Battle of Newport Barracks to the Fort Macon Civil War Round Table at 7pm. Both events are held at Carteret Community College in the Student Union Building. The location does have some Civil War connections as it was the location of Carolina City during the war, and on the site was Camp Vance which was one of the locations where the 26th North Carolina camped for a portion of their time in Carteret County during 1861-62.
  • Work is progressing well on my next book entitled The 26th North Carolina Infantry, 1861-1865. So far I have 465 letters and diary entries from the men of the regiment during the war. I still have a few more sites to visit in the course of the research, but the writing has begun. I am shooting for a June 2013 release date to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the start of the Gettysburg Campaign.
  • Sales continue to be steady on Fight As Long As Possible: The Battle of Newport Barracks, North Carolina, February 2, 1864. I want to say thank you to everyone who has bought a copy and the retailers who carry it. If you have not yet bought a copy you can purchase one through (the link to the book is on the main page of the blog) or you can email me and I can sent you a personalized autographed copy.
  • Once again if you are interested in me speaking to your group, feel free to contact me via email.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The 147th Anniversary of the Battle of Newport Barracks

At 8am 147 years ago Confederate Cavalry consisting of Co. E of the 5th North Carolina Cavalry and Co. K of the 5th South Carolina Cavalry attacked a portion of the 23rd New York Cavalry and the series of military actions that made up the Battle of Newport Barracks began. Today we will take a moment to remember those who fought in and around Newport on that February day in 1864. While at times a mere footnote in history there was still a very real human cost and the impact on the families who suffered a loss here was every bit as tragic as a loss in battles more well known to history. One of the main reasons I wrote the book on the battle was to give attention to the men of both sides who struggled here and in some cases made the final sacrifice during the battle. So today I hope you can join me at 3pm at the Civil War Trails Marker in Newport located at the corner of Main and East Railroad Streets as we remember the men from Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia who fought on February 2, 1864.

Also today on the anniversary of the battle, I am pleased to announce that efforts are being made to create a Battlefield Park in Newport to honor the events of February 2, 1864 and the Union and Confederate soldiers who spent time in the town during the war. I will have more details in the future, but this along with the assurances of the landowner of the Newport Barracks site that a portion will be set aside and interpreted alongside the future development near the site is certainly wonderful news and has the potential to make Newport Barracks one of the best interpreted sites and battles in Eastern North Carolina. Certainly a most fitting tribute.

I want to repost an 2009 article that I wrote on the Battle of Newport Barracks so give a brief overview of what happened in the Newport area on February 2, 1864:

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.”

Friday, January 28, 2011

Commemoration of the 147th Anniversary of the Battle of Newport Barracks

Wanted to give this reminder about the ceremony to be held in Newport on February 2. It will take place at the Civil War Trails marker in Newport located at the corner of Main and East Railroad Streets. The purpose of the ceremony is to honor the men of both sides who took part in the largest and bloodiest battle of the Civil War in Carteret County. It will consist of a prayer, a brief program on the battle, the reading of the casualties from the battle, and a wreath laying. It should last no more than 30 to 45 minutes. It is my hope this can become an annual event to honor the sacrifices made in Newport on February 2, 1864. If you can attend please do.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Various notes and updates

  • I am pleased to announce that on February 2, 2011, I will be leading a ceremony to honor the 147th anniversary of the Battle of Newport Barracks. The ceremony will begin at 3pm at the Civil War Trails Marker at the corner of East Railroad and Main Street in Newport. I am hoping this can become an annual event in the town to honor the sacrifices of the men on both sides who fought on February 2, 1864.

  • On January 20, 2011, I had the honor to be invited to speak to the Hershey Civil War Round Table. My topic for the evening was The 26th North Carolina Infantry at Gettysburg. The presentation was around an hour and a half and was attended by over 30 people, despite the threat of snow that evening. It was truly a wonderful evening and I want to thank the Hershey Civil War Round Table for inviting me and being very hospitable hosts. I recorded on video my presentation and I hope to add those clips on the blog in the very near future. I am still booking speaking engagements for 2011 and 2012 so if you are a part of a group or know of one who might be interested in having me speak please feel free to contact me.

  • I want to also officially announce the title and expected release date of my next book. It is entitled The 26th North Carolina Infantry, 1861-1865 and the expected release date is June 2013. It will be a socio-military profile of the 26th North Carolina along with being a full regimental history of their role in the Civil War. So far the research has progressed wonderfully and I am well into the writing process. While the 26th was composed of men from the Piedmont and Mountains of North Carolina the first assignment of the war for the regiment was in Carteret County from September of 1861-February 1862. During this period they spent time on Bogue Banks helping to support the garrison of Fort Macon and their winter camp was in Carolina City (what is today Carteret Community College).