Civil War in NE North Carolina

Burnside's Expedition and beyond

There is an error in the Henningsen report on the Battle of Elizabeth City

Colonel Charles F. Henningsen took temporary command of the Wise Legion artillery late in January 1862. He sent six pieces of artillery, five 6-pdr smoothbore brass cannons and one iron 3-inch rifled gun, to Elizabeth City, NC, His February 12th report states:

"Finding at Currituck Court House that provision and forage could not be obtained to proceed to Powell's Point , or even to remain at the Albemarle & Chesapeake Canal any nearer than Elizabeth City, marched there on the 3d with artillery of Wise's Legion and remained there till 7th, breaking horses to fire and harness while waiting orders from General Wise."

Only six of the battery's guns had been broken to harness None had been broken to fire.

Companies B (McComas'), C (Lowry's), and D (Turner's) accompanied the guns. None of the guns saw action in the battle at Elizabeth City. Four guns backed up the four 32-pdrs at Cobb's Point below the town; two of the four field artillery pieces protected against an expected flank attack from the southwest. Two more remained in Elizabeth City with the forge wagon and the baggage wagon.

The Union flotilla failed to stop and reduce the battery at Cobb's Point as anticipated, running past and engaging the seriously outgunned North Carolina Squadron and attacking the fort from the rear instead. Upon the ships passing the 32-pdrs, Henningson ordered a retreat to town. Union ships beat the limbered-up guns to the docks.

The battery continued to retreat out of town via the Edenton Road (modern US 17 South), continuing until they reached Newby's Bridge in the Belvidere area of Perquimans County. Here the account published in the Official Records of the Armies makes an error that has confused me for years. It states that the artillerists took the Desert Road to Winton, North Carolina.

Anyone familiar with the Desert Road knows it runs towards Parksville, not Winton. Going to Winton would entail crossing the Chowan River, too wide and too deep to ford. I found the original copy of Henningsen's report in the Library of Virginia and examined the inside address. "HINTON"S 3 miles from South Mills", not Winton, was where they camped and met up with the members of the 17th NC that escaped from Fort Forrest on the mainland side of Croatan Sound on the 8th of February following the Battle of Roanoke Island. Taking the Desert Road through Parksville and on to Hinton's Crossroads (a couple of miles south of Morgan's Corner) makes sense. from the crossroads, the road led on to River Bridge and Canal Bridge, crossing the Pasquotank River and the Turner's Cut portion of the Dismal Swamp Canal. From there they could follow the turnpike to Great Bridge on the Albemarle & Chesapeake Canal.

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