Foster’s Raid, Part Two

On December 15, 1862, federal and Confederate forces clashed at what’s today known as Seven Springs, but was then called Whitehall.

Part of Union General John G. Foster’s raid from New Bern to Goldsboro in late 1862, Foster’s contingent of three companies of cavalry and several pieces of artillery entered Whitehall hoping to capture or destroy the railroad bridge.

They found the bridge burned by the Confederates to protect the ironclad CSS Neuse, which was being built on the other side of the river, where several regiments of Confederate troops under Brigadier General B. H. Robertson were stationed.

Foster. Image from the Library of Congress.

When the battle ended the next day, the dense woods along the bank were cut down for a quarter of a mile back from the river from federal artillery fire, and the construction materials for the Neuse were damaged or destroyed, though the damage was minimal.

Federal causalities were heavy because Foster placed troops in exposed locations along the river bank, while the Confederate casualties were low since geographical restrictions on the river at the site of the conflict allowed only one regiment at a time to engage Union troops.

In recent years questions have arisen about the Whitehall battle, with speculation that many of the Union casualties were the result of friendly fire and that body counts were purposefully under-reported by the federal government.

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