NEW BERN, NC, The New Bern Historical Society was pleased to learn that their New Bern Battlefield Park has been singled out by Preservation North Carolina to receive a Gertrude S. Carraway Award. The Gertrude S. Carraway Awards of Merit are named in honor of the late Dr. Gertrude S. Carraway, a noted New Bern historian and preservationist. According to Preservation NC, “The Awards of Merit give deserved recognition to individuals or organizations that have demonstrated a genuine commitment to historic preservation through extraordinary leadership, research, philanthropy, promotion, and/or significant participation in preservation.” The award was presented at the Preservation North Carolina’s recent Annual Conference in Wilmington.
Located five miles outside the city at the entrance to a residential development, the New Bern Battlefield Park is a reality due to the New Bern Historical Society’s dedication and tireless work. This preservation project, is now a major attraction in Craven County and a catalyst for expanding Civil War tourism in Eastern North Carolina.
The New Bern Battlefield Park is open to the public from sunrise to sunset daily. It is located at the entrance to the Taberna subdivision off Highway 70 at 300 Battlefield Trail New Bern NC 28560.
Prior to the New Bern Historical Society’s acquisition of the New Bern Battlefield tract, it was an overgrown, long forgotten 24 acre site of a fierce battle between Union and Confederate forces that took place on March 14, 1862 and ended in a major victory for the Federal Army and New Bern’s occupation for the duration of the Civil War.
Although much of the original battlefield was privately owned and developed, the Battle of New Bern breastworks, the original earthen redans occupied by the 26th and 33rd North Carolina Regiment were in pristine condition within the heavily overgrown wooded 24 tract owned by the Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company. In mid-summer 1993, three Society members armed with resolutions of support to preserve the site attended the Civil War Advisory Commission’s public hearing in Wilmington, North Carolina. As a result, the New Bern Battlefield was included on the list of 383 endangered Civil War sites in the Commission’s report to the Secretary of the Interior, July 30, 1993. In 1996, the Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company deeded the 24-acre tract to the Civil War Trust which in turn deeded the tract to the New Bern Historical Society in January 2000.
The Historical Society continued to work, establishing trails that allow access to view the battlefield. In August 2004, Pat Hart (Landscape Architect, Kimley-Horn and Associates), working with the Civil War Battlefield Committee, completed the New Bern Battlefield Park Master Plan and schematic designs. Funding was provided solely through grants and private donations.
In the fall of 2015, a History Walk was completed to include 35 interpretive panels placing the battle in its historical context and relating the battlefield to other New Bern and regional Civil War sites. A new Gateway Plaza at the trailhead provides seating for interpretive talks and serves to orient visitors with a 20 foot in diameter concrete color-coded ground map and signage providing an overview of the entire battle and a starting point for the guided and self-guided tours.
The mission of the New Bern Historical Society is to celebrate and promote New Bern and its heritage through events and education. Offices are located in the historic Attmore-Oliver House at 511 Broad Street in New Bern. For more information, call 252-638-8558 or go NewBernHistorical.org or Facebook.com/NewBernHistoricalSociety.
Submitted by: Kathy Morrison, Public Relations, New Bern Historical Society