The Battle of White Hall, also called the Battle of White Hall Ferry, took place on December 15–16, 1862, in Wayne County, North Carolina, as part of the Union expedition to Goldsboro, North Carolina, during the American Civil War.
Battle[edit | edit source]
On December 15, Brig. Gen. John G. Foster's Union troops reached White Hall where Brig. Gen. Beverly Robertson had taken command of Confederate militia holding the north bank of the Neuse River. There was some skirmishing as the Federals set up several artillery units on a hill overlooking the town and Confederate defenses.
According to the report of the Union commanders, the Federals demonstrated against the Confederates for much of the day on December 16, attempting to fix the Confederates in position, while the main Union column continued toward the railroad.
Local historians dispute this account, claiming that one of the Union objectives of the Goldsboro Campaign (also known as Foster's Raid) was to destroy an ironclad ramming boat that the Confederates were building on the north bank of the Neuse river at that location. This boat (CSS Neuse) was one of several identical boats that were being built in upriver locations throughout the South, their purpose being to break the Union naval blockade. Only one of these boats (CSS Albermarle) was completed in time to be useful, and succeeded in sinking several Union ships at New Bern, North Carolina, and opening that port to Confederate shipping.
The Union plan was to take the bridge at Whitehall (present-day Seven Springs), destroy the CSS Neuse, and proceed by shorter route to destroy the rail line at Goldsboro. The Confederates had superior defensive position, and they burned the bridge to prevent the Union forces from crossing. The Federals spent most of the day of December 16 bombarding the town with artillery fire to destroy the Confederate defenses and to attempt to destroy the boat. Meanwhile Union riflemen aimed sniping fire at the Confederate forces defending the boat. The boat was damaged and the town was leveled.
Near the end of the day on December 16—perhaps fearing, if they continued the engagement, that they would be caught between Confederate forces from Kinston and other Confederate forces from Goldsboro—the Federals abandoned their attempt to cross the river at Whitehall and withdrew to the west. They crossed the Neuse River between Whitehall and Mount Olive, and continued on to the engagement at Goldsboro.
Aftermath[edit | edit source]
Both sides claimed victory. The New York Herald newspaper published banner headlines touting the victory, as several New York regiments were involved. The Federals felt that they had won because they inflicted substantial damage on the CSS Neuse. The Confederates felt that they won because they inflicted much heavier casualties upon the Union than were suffered by Confederate forces, stopped the Federals from crossing the river, and prevented the boat from being destroyed.
The CSS Neuse was eventually completed near the end of the war, but got stuck on a sandbar before reaching the coast, and had to be scuttled.
References[edit | edit source]