The Battles for New Berne reenactment weekend is being sponsored by the Rains Brothers Camp 1370 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in New Bern, NC. The reenactment will consist of two battles, one on Saturday (the Battle of New Berne) and one on Sunday (the Battle of Batchelder’s Creek). The Battle of New Berne took place March 14, 1862, and the Battle of Batchelder’s Creek took place February 1, 1864.
The reenactment is held on Historic Belair Plantation, eight miles west of New Bern. It is the last and largest brick plantation country house of the 18th century in North Carolina. It was built about 1772 and is a majestic three-story brick building, reached by a long drive, lined by lavish old cedars. Belair was spared during the Civil War by General Burnside who was a Mason, as was the owner of the plantation. The written order to spare the plantation, dated March 20, 1862, still hangs on the wall at Bellair. The purpose of this event is to educate the public:
- That North Carolinans(Tar Heels) came in defense of the Old North State at New Berne against the invading Federal army during the First Battle of New Berne;
- That more than one battle was held in Craven County during the War Between the States;
- That while the Confederate battle flag was not flow at the first Battle of New Berne, it was flown at other battles in Craven County during the War; and
- That the Battle of Batchelder’s (Batchelor’s) Creek was very important in its attempt to retake New Berne in 1864.
The Battle of New Berne – Saturday, March 5th The Battle of New Berne was fought about 5 miles south of New Bern along Highway 70, March 14, 1862. It was part of General Burnside’s Expedition to eastern North Carolina where his goal was to capture the coastal areas of North Carolina including the Outer Banks, Roanoke Island, New Berne, and Fort Macon. After capturing Roanoke Island, his forces headed to New Berne, which was the second largest port in North Carolina. The capture of New Berne would provide Burnside with a base to operate throughout eastern North Carolina for further attacks on Washington, Plymouth, and Kinston. In addition, it would provide a coaling station for the Federal blockade fleet patrolling off the coast of North Carolina. The Battle of New Berne was a great victory for the Federals with the citizens of New Berne fleeing the town with food left on the tables and parts of the town in flames. Children’s Battle – 4:30pm: An opportunity for children to participate in a mock battle. They may purchase wooden rifles at the site and working with a number of re-enactors, recreate a mock battle.
Speakers and Events
9:30am – The Battle of New Berne – Grover Godwin
10:15am – The Kinston Hangings – Dennis Jones
11:00am – Battle of Newport Barracks – Eric A. Lindblade The
Battle of New Berne Scenario (2:30pm): This scenario will outline the battle of New Berne on Saturday so you will know what is happening throughout the battle.
- Federal Cavalry Scouts arrives on scene checking for Confederate forces.
- Confederate artillery (Latham’s Battery) opens fire on Federal Cavalry Scouts
- Federal Cavalry Scouts retreat
- Federal forces move up Old Beaufort Road to approach Latham’s Battery
- Confederate artillery (entire) fire on the Federal forces until the Federals began to get close.
- The Confederate Infantry and artillery, except for the 26th North Carolina, now fire on the Federal forces in front of them.
- The Federal forces begin to fire in response.
- The Federal forces begin to close in on the Confederate forces.
- The 7th North Carolina Infantry leads a bayonet charge against the Federal forces in front
- The Federal forces on the Federal Left begin to march down the railroad tracts towards the Confederate right. (towards the 26th NC and Harding’s Battery)
- The Confederate right opens fire upon the Federals as soon as the Federals get close enough
- Shortly after the Confederates on the right open fire on the Federal forces, the Militia retreat in disarray, in panic.
- There is a general (Branch) on horseback in the rear of the Confederate forces who attempts to hold the Confederates at bay to no avail. (behind 35th NC)
- The Confederate forces in the center began to fall apart, break up, and begin to retreat in a disorderly manner.
- General Branch orders a general retreat.
- The Federal forces began to storm the trenches in the center of the battlefield with the Confederate forces on the left and right continuing to fight.
- The Confederate forces on the Confederate left at Fort Thompson retreat in an orderly manner
- Federal forces overrun Fort Thompson and places its flag atop the bulwark of the fort.
- Confederate forces to the Confederate right began to retreat rapidly (26th NC)
- Federal forces take over the Brickyard and place a Federal flag atop the brickyard as well, and take over the Confederate breastworks.
- Confederate forces retreat from the battlefield
- Taps are played and the battle comes to an end.
Things to see while at the reenactment
- Be sure to visit the suttlers who sell period clothing, games, books, and other items of the Civil War.
- Be sure to visit the Confederate camp off to the right of the suttlers where you can see soldiers in authentic clothing living as the soldiers did in 1862.
- You also want to visit the Federal camp which is located just behind the suttlers, where they portray Federal soldiers of the period. Both groups will be cooking and living as soldiers did in 1862.
Submitted by: Jim White, Battles of New Berne Reenactment