The Battle of Kinston

March 8, 1865 – In North Carolina, General Braxton Bragg’s Confederates attempted to halt Major General John M. Schofield’s Federal advance into North Carolina by attacking a portion of his forces en route to New Bern.

General Braxton Bragg | Image Credit: Wikispaces.com

General Braxton Bragg | Image Credit: Wikispaces.com

On March 6, Bragg observed Major General Jacob D. Cox’s 13,000 Federals (under Schofield) guarding the railroad between New Bern and Goldsboro. Bragg reported to General Joseph E. Johnston, commanding all Confederates in the region, that Schofield’s XXIII Corps was approaching Kinston “in heavy force and moving in confidence. A few hours would suffice to unite the forces (of Johnston) at Smithfield with mine and ensure a victory.” In response, Johnston sent 2,000 Confederates under General D.H. Hill to reinforce Bragg.[1]

The next day, Bragg entrenched his 6,000 men on the west bank of Southwest Creek, an important position connecting the waterway to the Neuse River and all road and railroad crossings near Kinston. Cox responded by positioning his 13,000 Federals on the other side of the creek between Kinston and New Bern. Meanwhile, the rest of Schofield’s Federal corps reached New Bern and established a supply base for future operations, and Major General William T. Sherman’s Federals invaded North Carolina from the south.[2]

After receiving D.H. Hill’s reinforcements, Bragg attacked Cox’s Federals on the 8th. Major General Robert Hoke’s Confederate division pushed back the Federal left and captured the 27th Massachusetts Infantry, while Hill attacked the Federal right and captured the 15th Connecticut. Bragg then ordered Hill to break off from the fight and move north, inadvertently allowing the Federals to build entrenchments and prevent a rout. From their stronger positions, the Federals repulsed various Confederate probes.[3]

Fighting continued the next day near the important Atlantic & North Carolina Railroad, but Bragg could not break through the Federal lines as Cox brought up all his reinforcements. The battle resumed on the 10th when the Federals quickly repulsed Confederate attacks on their left and right. Bragg’s opportunity to destroy Cox while separated from Schofield was lost. With Federal reinforcements arriving, Bragg withdrew across the Neuse River, burning bridges behind him. The Confederates camped near Kinston that evening before moving on to Smithfield by train.[4]

The Confederates lost 134 men killed, wounded, or missing. Cox’s Federals suffered 1,257 casualties, most of them captured. While this battle delayed Schofield’s ultimate goal of linking with Sherman at Goldsboro, it did not stop the Federal invasion of North Carolina.[5]

—–

  • [1] Korn, Jerry, Pursuit to Appomattox: The Last Battles (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 64-65
  • [2] Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011-01-26), Kindle Locations 17189-17199; Korn, Jerry, Pursuit to Appomattox: The Last Battles (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 65; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 648; Pollard, Edward A., Southern History of the War (New York: The Fairfax Press, 1990), p. 452
  • [3] Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011-01-26), Kindle Locations 17237-17247; Korn, Jerry, Pursuit to Appomattox: The Last Battles (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 65-66;
  • [4] Korn, Jerry, Pursuit to Appomattox: The Last Battles (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 67-68; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011-01-26), Kindle Locations 17236-17256; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 650
  • [5] Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011-01-26), Kindle Locations 17236-17256; Korn, Jerry, Pursuit to Appomattox: The Last Battles (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 67; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 648-49
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3 thoughts on “The Battle of Kinston

  1. […] resumed in North Carolina around Kinston, as Confederate General Braxton Bragg continued probing for a weak spot in the Federal lines. […]

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  2. […] Also on March 12, a steamer arrived up the Cape Fear River from Wilmington to deliver mail to Sherman’s troops, giving them knowledge of the “outside world” for the first time since leaving Savannah, Georgia in January. Meanwhile, a small Confederate force under General William Hardee fought a delaying action while retreating from Fayetteville. This gave Johnston more time to concentrate his main force at Smithfield while awaiting the arrival of General Braxton Bragg’s troops withdrawing from Kinston after last week’s fight there.[5] […]

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  3. […] through harsh terrain and foul weather, crossed high rivers and deep swamps, and won battles at Kinston, Averasboro, and Bentonville. Federal forces now dominated North […]

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