Foster’s Raid to Goldsboro

Union commander general John G. Foster lead an expedition from occupied New Bern N.C. into the North Carolina interior with an aim of cutting railroad lines at Goldsborough, N.C. Timed to coincide with the Fredericksburg campaign in Virginia, the thought was that Foster’s men could best assist the Union advance in Virginia by pinning Confederate forces in North Carolina while at the same time striking at valuable rail connections.
The expedition unfolded over ten days, December 10-21, 1862. Union forces met stiff resistance from Confederate forces at Kinston [Kingston], Whitehall and Goldsboro [Goldsborough], N.C. Foster’s stated goal of the destruction of the rail line near Goldsboro was partially met. The fighting at the three cities and the passing of forces through the area devastated the surrounding country but Union forces managed only superficial damage to the rail line – even including the burning of a rail bridge at the Neuse river the damage was easily repaired by Confederate forces once the Union expedition returned to New Bern. The rail line was in operation again before the turn of the New Year.
Rowland M. Hall, a soldier in the 3rd New York Cavalry volunteers, took part in the Foster expedition. Rowland’s letter home details his experiences in the part of the expedition that included the 3rd New York Cavalry volunteers. Hall’s letter is also a wonderful example of crosshatching – the technique of turning a letter sideways and writing across the previously written page in order to conserve paper.

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