8th Connecticut , Co.C., Pvt. Cyrus B. Harrington, writes about battle of New Berne, NC.

8th Connecticut Infantry, Company C., Pvt. Cyrus B. Harrington of Canton, CT., served from Sept of ’61 to his death on April 9, 1865.

The Connecticut Historical Society has numerous letters from other 8th CT soldiers on their web site; including the following from Company C: Andrew Byrne, Noah Ives, and Michael Kelley.

Harrington captures in great detail the Battle of New Bern, March of 1862.

Newbern , North Carolina
Mar 15th 1862

Dear Brother

I had a few leisure moments to myself I thought I would write and let you know that we have made another successful attact at Newberne which we done in bold and brave courage. The fight commenced on Friday morning about 7 miles below New at the mouth of the Neuse River an lasted until about sundown. Our troops were landed at the mouth of the river and the gunboats proceeded up the river. The first fire was shot from the rebels about [?] mile from where our troops were landed. There they had four large heavy guns bearing upon us but a few shells from our gunboats soon silenced that one which the rebels left and proceeded up the river to another battery mounted with 12 guns where they again opened fire but when our old gunboats got along up broadside they soon cooled down and started on still further up the river. From the east side about two thirds the way across where they had another strong battery mounted with 11 guns but they hadn’t time to do much before our boats was close upon them.

They fired a few shots and started for the City and our boats [ ? ] on after them. They had a telegraph dispatch from Richmond early in the morning to burn the railroad bridge and city if they could not hold it. The bridge is half mile long and it was so splendid a piece of work but they set fire to it and its all burnt to ashes. It cost 15 hundred thousand dollars. They had a number of pitch and tar pits in and around the city which they set fire to. That was their principal business making turpentine tar & resin in Newbern but the fire did not spread much around the city. The rebels took the cars and started for Beaufort. They got away before our troops got up their. They had one breastwork thrown up to the City a mile long with fourteen guns strung along about equally distance apart for a mile. When our troops came upon them where they slide shell & shot upon our troops. The 8th was the first in the battle in which they fought bravely [ unable to make out several words] The 24th Mass flanked in on the [ ] side of us and made a charge into the Battery but was driven back again by the rebels. Upon that Gen Burnside came along up side of our Regt an order us to charge on them in which we did in double quick time in which they fired upon us killing 8 wounding several. It was a bold attempt but we won the victory driving the rebels in every direction.

We planted the stars & stripes on the battery of the [ ] rebels soil of North Carolina. The other Rmgts following on after the [ ] in which they succeeded in capturing several hundred but I don’t know how many their was [ ] [ ] of them but I suppose the most of them got away on the cars stood ready to take them on board before our troops got near enough to stop them. But they left everything behind all their armes and equipments with [ ] trunks packed full of clothes everything to make ourselves comfortable provisions of all kinds and enough of it all that the boats took 7 large schooners and two small steamers loaded down with flour & cotton. But we don’t expect to remain here long. We should soon push on to Beaufort from there Goldsborough where we make good success their we should be all right. Our next from their will be to Norfolk where we shall be on one side and Gen McClellan on the other. Where we expect to have something to do as it is strongly fortified with 30 to 40 thousand troops but it won’t take long to silence them. Gen Burnside on one side and McClellan on the other side we will soon quell them down. We soon shall see the soil of Old Conn. I expect to see it myself before the fourth of July. But I shall have to draw my letter to a close for I think I have wrote you a long letter for the times down here. I am well & hope you are the same. Write soon as you get this and let me know how you are all getting along and all the particulars. Yours in the mind.


Cyrus B. Harrington

Newbern North Carolina

Source: item purchased by The Center for the Study of the American Civil War, February 2005, Used with Permission

March 14, 1862
Federals capture New Madrid, Missouri, and New Berne, North Carolina.

After the Federal capture of Roanoke Island, Burnside, with some 11,000 men, moved on to the important old community of New Berne, N.C. He captured it after some fighting, driving back the Confederates of about 4000 under L. O. B. Branch. The attack began on the thirteenth and worked its way up to the right, or the west bank of the Neuse River through rain and over muddy roads. Casualties were 471 for the Federals an, including 90 killed, to nearly 600 for the Confederates, most of them captured or missing, with 64 killed. Another serviceable base had been established for Federal inland expeditions and a new vantage point gained for cultivating the considerable pro-Union elements of North Carolina. [pages 184-85] The Civil War Day-by-Day, E.B. Long


According to the official regimental history (see full copy below):

After a month’s stay at Roanoke Island, Burnside’s forces moved toward Newbern, by transports to Slocum’s Creek (about eighteen miles below the city), thence marching up the south bank of the Neuse to the city’s line of defense.

The attack upon the defenses of Newbern (March 14th) was made at an early hour, and the Eighth assisted in the capture of about five hundred Confederate troops. This was the regiment’s first baptism of blood. Its killed were privates Phelps of Company B and Patterson of Company I, with four wounded. The personal bravery of Colonel Harland amid the whistling bullets at Newbern, together with his skill and cool-headedness as a tactician, and his evident desire to shield his men from harm whenever possible, gave them a confidence in him which was never afterward shaken.

Jesse Reno


Letters of the Garrigus Brothers (Horace & Jacob Henry) Company E – 8th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry

Horace Garrigus enlisted on Sept. 23, 1861 from his home at Waterbury, CT. He was 18 years old and had been a farmer. He was wounded severely in the hip at Antietam, but recovered and re-enlisted on Dec. 24, 1863. He was wounded again in the head at the Battle of Walthall Junction. Horace was promoted to Corporal on May 1, 1865. Jacob Henry Garrigus enlisted at the same time as his brother, in Waterbury, CT. He was a Joiner by trade and was age 23. He was promoted to Corporal on July 1, 1862, and to Sergeant on July 1, 1865.

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One comment

  1. Great letter – I really enjoyed it. However, there are a couple of thing that make me wonder if Harrington was really on the front lines that day. He writes: “They fired a few shots and started for the City and our boats [ ? ] on after them.” The Federals had to charge the Confederate works three times before driving the Southerners off, and the battle last most of the day. The second part is: “The rebels took the cars and started for Beaufort.” Considering that the Confederates would have had to pass through the Federal lines to get to Beaufort, well, that’s just a problem. The Confederates actually retreated to the north, towards Kinston. Anyway, great letter. Thanks for sharing.

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