First Battle of Kinston

First Battle of Kinston (HMFNU)

Location: Kinston, NC 28504 Lenoir County
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Country: United States of America
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N 35° 14.539', W 77° 35.275'

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Harriet's Chapel

— Foster's Raid —

The yellow sidebar in the upper left provides a brief background: Late in 1862, Union Gen. John G. Foster's garrison was well entrenched in New Bern and made several incursions into the countryside. On December 11, Foster led a raid from New Bern to burn the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad Bridge over the Neuse River at Goldsboro and to demonstrate in support of Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside's attack at Fredericksburg, Virginia. Foster's force consisted of 10,000 infantry, 650 cavalry, and 40 cannons.

As Foster approached Kinston on December 13, he encountered Confederate defensive forces under Gen. Nathan G. Evans six miles southwest of here at Woodington on the Wilmington Road (present-day U.S. Route 258). After a fierce fight, Evans strategically withdrew to earthworks here and prepared for Foster's second attack, which came about 9 a.m. on December 14.

Evans entrenched about 2,000 North Carolinians and South Carolinians here in a semi-circle extending about a mile from the river on your right to a swamp across Wilmington Road to your left. About 800 feet of the earthworks survive nearby. You are standing near the site of Harriet's Chapel in the center of the Confederate line, where a section of Starr's Battery and Col. James D. Radcliffe's 61st North Carolina Infantry stood. Because Harriet's Chapel was a prominent feature on the landscape, it became "the principal point of attack" for Foster's troops as they advanced across the ground behind you. Supported by heavy artillery fire, the Federals broke through the Confederate left flank. Evans ordered a retreat to Kinston across the Jones bridge (which stood just downstream from the modern one) and fired the span. After a brief stand on the north side of Kinston, Evans withdrew his troops. Foster and his men spent the night of December 14 in Kinston and left for Goldsboro the next morning, destroying the remains of the bridge.

"At about 8 o'clock that night [December 13] we quietly stole away through swamp, mud, and water to Harriet's Chapel. It was a bitter cold night and all the boys were half frozen, hungry, and worn out, and yet no word of complaint was murmured through the lines of these splendid Tar Heel heroes. When we bivouacked we were in hearing of the enemy, and we had no campfires till past midnight." - Col. Peter Mallett, N.C. Battalion, postwar reminiscence
Series This marker is part of the North Carolina Civil War Trails series
Placed ByNorth Carolina Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, September 26th, 2014 at 7:51am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 264519 N 3902985
Decimal Degrees35.24231667, -77.58791667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 35° 14.539', W 77° 35.275'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds35° 14' 32.34" N, 77° 35' 16.50" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)252
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1433 Hwy 258, Kinston NC 28504, US
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