End of Foster's Raid
— Foster's Raid —
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 Reuse 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,640 cavalry, and 40 cannons.
The Wilmington and Weldon Railroad Bridge stood one-half mile to your front, three miles from Goldsboro. Supplies transported by railfrom the port at Wilmington hadto cross the bridge on the way tothe Army of Northern Virginia, making the bridge and the city of Goldsboro vital links in the Confederate supply chain. Foster's command reached this area on the morning of December 17, after engagements at Kinston and Whitehall.
A small Confederate force under Generals Gustavus W. Smith, Thomas L. Clingman, and Nathan G. Evans defended the bridge. Foster's men attacked from the other side of the railroad to yourright and, after pushing back the Confederates, succeeded in setting the bridge on fire.The Federal artillery then bombarded the burning structure to preventthe Confederates from extinguishing the blaze, while infantrymendestroyed the railroad tracks atopthe embankment to your right.
Late that afternoon, as Foster marched back to New Bern, Confederate forces crossed these fieldsand attacked the Federal rear guardon the other side of the railroadto your right, but were repulsed bya heavy fire of small arms and artillery. The Confederates suffered about 150 killed, wounded, and missing during the battle, while Unionlosses were fewer than 100. The Confederates repaired the bridge within a few weeks.