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Battle of New Bern fought 150 years ago today

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(Credit: LAUREN CARROLL/JOURNAL)

NEW BERN, N.C. — The Battle of New Bern pitted about 11,000 Union troops against 4,500 Confederate soldiers, all from North Carolina, in a bloody conflict 150 years ago today.

Union forces won the battle and blocked the railroad line that supplied the Confederate Army in Virginia for the rest of the war. The victory also established New Bern as a coastal haven for runaway slaves who gained a measure of freedom in the Union-controlled section of the state.

In 1860, New Bern, at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers, had a population of 5,432 and was the state’s second-largest city, according to the book “The Battle of New Bern and Related Sites in Craven County, N.C. 1861-1865.”

North Carolina was one of the last states to join the Confederacy in May 1861. It sent troops to fight in the Confederate victory in the Battle of Bull Run in July 1861 and prepared to repulse any Union attack on its coast.

The small contingent of Confederate troops set up trenches 6 miles south of the city along the Neuse to defend against the advance of Union troops.

The Confederate force included the 26th N.C. Infantry Regiment that had 68 soldiers from Ashe County and 70 men from Wilkes County in its ranks, said Eric Lindblade of Gettysburg, Pa., a Civil War historian and a native of Carteret County.

This article was written by John Hinton and originally published by The Winston-Salem Journal. Click here to read more.