HYDE COUNTY CAVALRY RAID - MARCH 1 - 6, 1863
Co. F, 3rd NY Cavalry
Co. G, 1st NC Union Volunteers
Swindell's Company of Partisan Rangers
New Berne, N.C., March 6, 1863.
Colonel, I have the honor to report that I left this place Sunday: March 1, at 5 p.m., on board the steamer Escort with my company (F Third New York Cavalry) and the first howitzer of the battery attached to the same regiment, also Company G, First North Carolina Volunteers, and proceeded to Rose Bay Bridge, not, however, without a great deal of delay for the want of a pilot, as there was no one on either of the two boats who was sufficiently acquainted with the place. I then ordered Captain Brinkerhoff to make a reconnaissance with his boat North State, who after a delay of four hours reported that he had found the bridge. I ordered the scow alongside and disembarked the infantry and howitzer and a portion of the cavalry, placing Lieutenant Joy in command until my arrival.
On arriving with the balance and having resumed the command I ordered a small guard on board the North State, with orders to the captain of the same to destroy the bridge; I in the mean time proceeded along the north side of the lake for a distance of about 5 miles. With much difficulty and delay we marched, the crossings of the road having been torn up by the negroes, under the orders of one Henry Cradle (whom I have brought back a prisoner), and having a protection from Governor Stanly. I encamped for the night at the cross-roads.
Next morning at daybreak I resumed my march, encountering and driving in the enemy's pickets. About 3 miles from Fairfield we drove more of the enemy, and on arriving at the place I found it nearly deserted. I passed on about 2 miles farther, when I discovered a boat on the lake; hailed it, but no attention was paid to the hail. I ordered Lieutenant Burke to throw a shell across the bow of the boat, which brought it to shore. I found in the boat two men without protections, whom I ordered out of the boat, and placed in it a squad of infantry under charge of a non-commissioned officer, to sail around to Lake Landing, with orders to save the bridge if possible. I then moved on and encamped for the night 9 miles from Lake Landing.
The next morning (Wednesday) I resumed the march. After moving about 5 miles I was fired upon by guerrillas from some houses on the right of the road. Our men drove them from the houses into the woods. I then deployed the infantry to the right and threw out cavalry skirmishers in front and rear and covered the infantry with the howitzer, shelling the woods and dispersing the enemy in all directions. Having rallied my command, I moved on toward Lake Landing, leaving Lieutenant Morse, with a party of cavalry, to burn their headquarters. I proceeded without further interruption until arriving at the bridge, which I found destroyed. I ordered the fences to be torn down and used to rebuild the bridge. I then moved on and drove in mounted pickets during the whole march from Lake Landing to within about 1½ miles of Swan Quarter, when I was attacked from the swamp on the right et the road in front and rear by about 80 guerrillas and ordered to surrender. A deep canal about 8 feet wide ran between me and the attacking party. As my vedettes were passing, the guerrillas fired one shot. Lieutenant Benson immediately charged with the first platoon of cavalry and received a volley, killing 3 of my men and wounding the lieutenant and several others. Six horses were killed and many wounded. I ordered the infantry to deploy into the woods as skirmishers, not, however, without some difficulty, and ordered Lieutenant Burke to unlimber his piece and give the enemy a few rounds of canister, supported by the second platoon of cavalry. Here Lieutenant Burke was wounded in the face, breast, and hand. The remainder of the enemy were dispersed and fled, having sustained a loss of many of their number, among whom was their captain killed and a lieutenant taken prisoner. 1 After having my killed and wounded taken care of and placed in wagons and carts which I had captured, I moved on to Swan Quarter, and having learned that a force of' 250 or 300 guerrillas was lying in ambush about 3 miles from Swan Quarter, on the road to Rose Bay, and deeming it inexpedient to encounter it with my weakened force I dispatched Corporal Kent, Company F, Third New York Cavalry, and 3 men to sail in a small boat to the gunboat North State, ordering Captain Brinkerhoff to steam around to Swan Quarter Landing. The next morning, he having arrived, I embarked on board the steamer Escort, which had accompanied the gunboat. I arrived here at 4 p.m. to-day.
I beg leave to make honorable mention of Luther H. Farnsworth, Company I, Fifth Massachusetts Volunteers, who accompanied the infantry. He was cool and courageous, jumping through the canal and taking the extreme right, leading the platoon of infantry into the right; also Lieutenant Morse, of the Third New York Cavalry, who was of great service in the rear; returning the fire of the enemy with effect and holding them in check.
My loss is as follows: Killed, 3; wounded, 2 lieutenants (Benson and Burke) and 12 men of my company and 1 of the First North Carolina Volunteers. One sergeant of my company has since died of his wounds.
I am, sir, respectfully, yours,
Capt. Company F, Third New York Car., Comdg. Expedition.
Lieut. Col. Southard Hoffman,
Assistant Adjutant- general.
“The War of Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Series I, Volume XVIII, pp. 157-158.
PROVOST DUTY IN NEW BERNE, N.C.
(45th Reg't. Massachusetts Infantry)
[p. 219] Our cavalry were kept busy in these days scouting, for the woods and swamps just outside the city swarmed with guerillas. The cavalrymen hated them cordially, and were disposed to show them but little mercy. The camp guard of the Ninety-Second New York on the other side of the Neuse was frequently fired upon on dark and foggy nights, by these guerillas. They dressed in citizen’s clothes, and shot our men in cold blood, whenever opportunity offered. When they saw a considerable body of our men approaching, they were unionist, neutrals, or “know nothings,” as they chose. One scouting party went up as far as Matrimeskut (sic) in Hyde County. The day they arrived there, they had a skirmish with a band of guerillas, and it is said killed ten of them. The captain of the guerilla band sent a challenge to the officer of the scouting party to fight him the next day, giving him the choice of place. The Union officer replied that he should fight him whenever and wherever he found him.
The next day as the Union troops were riding through the woods, a cavalryman happened to espy a guerilla behind a tree, taking aim at some one. The cavalryman fired at him, and this was the signal for the fight to begin. The rebels fired a volley. To dislodge them was difficult, for there was a deep and wide ditch on either side of the road, which our men must cross in the face of rebel bullets. The little howitzer was ordered up, and a hot fire of grape and canister poured into the woods, causing the rebels to flee in hot haste, and thus the trap to catch and massacre our troops was avoided. In the skirmish four non-commissioned officers were killed, and thirteen men wounded. A number of prisoners were taken, and we saw them as they passed through New Berne on the way to jail. Some of them were recognized as having been in the city only a few days previous and as trading under a permit from Governor Stanley. One prisoner was marched through the city with a woman’s skirt on, [p. 220] and on his back a placard with the words, “guerilla caught dressed in woman’s clothes, with a protection in his pocket from Governor Stanley.” [Henry Cradle?] The cavalryman asserted that he had a commission from Jeff Davis in the other pocket.
“History of the Forty-Fifth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, The Cadet Regiment,” Compiled by Albert W. Mann; pp. 219-220.
1. I have found information for only five men from Swindell's Partisan Rangers who were killed in the skirmish of March 4, 1863 or died from wounds received then. Anyone having information on any others who were killed, wounded or captured, please contact me. The five who were killed were:
JARVIS, Levy Leonadas, Private. b. 1822. d. March 4, 1863. f. Sylvester Selby Jarvis. m. Annis Gibbs; Married 1856 Rhoda Farrow. Receipt rolls remark "Killed in action March 4, 1863".
JONES, Peledge W., Private. b. 1815. w. Rose Mary __________. Receipt rolls remark "Killed in action March 4, 1863".
SANDERSON, Thomas H., Private. b. March 6, 1836, d. March 5, 1863. f. Vincent W. Sanderson, m. Mrs. Ella Cahoon Gibbs. Married 1859 Mrs. Emiline Jones Benson. Receipt rolls remark “Captured and murdered March 5, 1863”.
SELBY, David P., Private. b. 1827. m. Pembrook Selby. Receipt rolls remark “Killed in action March 4, 1863”.
SWINDELL, William Redden, Private. Receipt roll remark “Wounded and died from wound March 12, 1863.”
“Hyde County History,” Hyde County Bicentennial Committee; Hyde County Historical Society.
“North Carolina Troops 1861-1865, A Roster,” Manarin, Louis H. and Weymouth T. Jordan, Jr. (eds.)
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