For nearly 6 hours on March 14, 1862, 11,000 Union forces and 4,500 inexperienced and ill-equipped Confederate troops battled for control of New Bern, NC. Eventually the Confederate line broke, and Union troops pushed through forcing a retreat of the Confederate troops.
This fierce battle in the swamps along the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad five miles south of New Bern, proved a major victory for the Union and led to the ensuing occupation of New Bern for the remainder of the Civil War. The Union’s presence in New Bern required the Confederacy to divert troops to the defense of the railroad that might have otherwise been used in the critical battles of Virginia, making New Bern’s occupation of critical importance to the North.
The battle and many other aspects of the war will be explored in Thunder in the East: The Civil War in Eastern North Carolina. A Sesquicentennial Symposium Presented by the New Bern Historical Society in Partnership with Tryon Palace on March 9th and 10th. The Symposium begins with an evening reception, Friday, March 9, 7:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m., where symposium registrants have an opportunity to meet the speakers. A rare collection of Civil War weapons and clothing, that includes many North Carolina artifacts, will be displayed at the reception. The reception is ticketed as part of the Symposium and will be held at the historic Attmore-Oliver House.
Thunder in the East: The Civil War in Eastern North Carolina. A Sesquicentennial Symposium, a ticketed educational program, begins at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 10 and concludes at 6:00 p.m. It will be held at Cullman Performance Hall at the North Carolina History Center. Nationally acclaimed Civil War experts will be speaking on the Civil War in Eastern North Carolina and its aftermath:
• Ed Bearrs, Keynote Speaker, Noted Civil War Historian, The Civil War in North Carolina
• Richard Sauers, Noted author, The Burnside Expedition with an Emphasis on New Bern
• Mark Bradley, Noted author, Reconstruction in North Carolina
• Hari Jones, Curator of the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum, Washington, DC, US Colored Troops, Glorious March to Liberty: African Descent Soldiers in North Carolina
• Josh Howard, Research Historian with the Office of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina Soldiers Killed During the Civil War
• Chris Fonvielle, Associate Professor, History, UNC Wilmington, Wilmington and the Blockade Runners
Tickets, which include the Friday night reception and lunch on Saturday, are $85 and can be purchased at the New Bern Historical Society at 511 Broad St. in New Bern, online at www.NewBernHistorical.org or by calling 252-638-8558.
The following day, Sunday, March 11, there will be a Memorial Service at the New Bern Battlefield Park at 8:30a.m., commemorating those who fought in the Battle of New Bern with the NC 26th standing guard. After the service a number of New Bern’s Civil War venues will be open to the public including the Attmore-Oliver House Civil War display, New Bern Academy, large living history encampments at the battlefield and New Bern Academy green, tours of the battlefield, and docent led tours of First Presbyterian Church. Tryon Palace will also be offering special programming as part of their tour ticket.
Submitted by: Kathy Morrison for the New Bern Historical Society