Friday 8 March 2024

Battle of New Bern: North Carolina 14th March 1862

 This article is my personal interpretation of the battle. Any mistakes are my own.

By now the War was being waged in deadly earnest.. The Confederacy needed much of its supplies and weapons bought from countries abroad. The main currency used for purchase was cotton which had to be shipped out. In addition, the Confederate Government were sending out Commerce Raiders to attack any Union Merchant ships. 

 Lacking the large industrial capacity of the Union, this was the only way that the Confederate States could supplement the material needed to maintain their forces.

Previously, as the Civil War commenced, a Union General by the name of Winfield Scott came up with the  “ Anaconda Plan”. This was a strategic plan which involved expanding the Navy to blockade Confederate ports and, with the help of the army to attack enemy ports and river defences.

Along with the coastal attacks the plan also involved wresting control of the Mississippi River in order to cut the Confederacy in half. Five days before this battle, the Naval history of the world had been transformed when the first two opposing Ironclads had slugged it out in Hampton Roads making the wooden warship obsolete.

As part of the Anaconda plan and influenced by the historic naval battle that had taken place, the Union Government embarked on a major expansion of the Navy. This involved building armoured ships and “90 day gunboats”, so called because they were built that quickly.

In the meantime, the Union Navy was using any paddle steamers and screw powered vessels that could float in order to enforce the blockade and attack Confederate bases. New Bern on the Neuse river had lost its prestige as a major port. However it was still important in the protection of the railroad.

The line that ran through New Bern, went onto Goldsboro where it connected to the Wilmington Railroad, a major supply line to the  Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. 

 The Union General Ambrose Burnside commanded a Division of troops. With the help of The Atlantic Blockading Squadron, his troops had already taken Confederate forts on Hatteras and Roanoke Islands. These advances gave the Union Flotilla access to Pamlico Sound and Burnside was determined to take New Bern. The first step was to land troops just north of Slocums Creek.

Lawrence Branch, the Confederate General commanding at New Bern knew he had a tough job on his hands. His best troops had been pulled from the line to reinforce the Army of Northern Virginia. 

The remaining troops were not as well trained. Having pulled the remaining troops from a defence line closer to Slocums Creek, the line anchored on Fort Thompson was reinforced. It was here that the Confederates awaited the Union attack,.which soon materialised…


11,000 = 11points x 4 = 44 points.

C-in-C Ambrose Burnside  @ 1 point.


General Foster @ 1 point.

10th Connecticut: 1 stand @ 3 points.

23rd Massachusetts:  1 stand  @ 3 points.

24th Massachusetts:  1 stand  @ 3 points.

25th Massachusetts: 1 stand  @ 3 points.

27th Massachusetts: 1 stand  @ 3 points.


General Reno  @  1 point.

51st New York:  1 stand  @  3 points.

9th New Jersey: 1 stand  @  2 points.

51st Pennsylvania:  1 stand  @ 3 points.

21st Massachusetts:  1 stand @ 3 points.


General Parke  @ 1 point.

8th Connecticut: 1 stand @ 3 points

11th Connecticut: 1 stand @ 3 points.

4th Rhode Island: 1 stand  @ 3 points.

5th Rhode Island:  1 stand  @ 3 points.

1st New York Marine Artillery Detachment:

2 stands of Light Foot Artillery @ 1pt = 2 points.


14 Gunboats each with 50 crewmen = 700 men = 0.700 pts x 4 = 2.8 or 3 points r/u.

3 Gunboat models, each @ 1 point = 3 points.

THE CONFEDERATE ARMY: 6,000 = 6pts x 4 = 24 points.

C-in-C: Lawrence Branch  @ 1 point.

26th North Carolina Infantry = 2 stands @ 1 point = 2 points.

33rd North Carolina Infantry = 2 stands @ 1 point = 2 points.

35th North Carolina Infantry = 1 stand @ 2 points.

7th North Carolina Infantry = 1 stand @ 2 points.

The Special Battalion ( a group of infantry scrapped together from other formations armed with shotguns and fowling pieces.) 1 stand @ 1 point.

27th North Carolina = 1 stand @ 2 points.

2nd North Carolina Cavalry = 2 stands @ 1 point = 2 points.


6 Field Batteries = 24 Guns x 50 gunners = 1,200 gunners:

1.200 x 4 = 4.8 or 5pts r/u = 5 stands of Light Artillery @ 1pt = 5 points.

24 Static Artillery Pieces ( mostly at Fort Thompson.) and Fort Ellis.

24 x 50 gunners = 1,200 gunners.x 4 = 4.8 or 5pts r/u = 2 stands of Heavy Artillery @ 2pts ( Fort Thompson) and 1 stand @1 point at Fort Ellis.

Note: Due to a shortage of labour some of the battery positions never got completed, therefore I’ve only included Fort Ellis. Fort Thompson was fully established.


This is a tough fight for the Confederates. Unless the Union player is very unlucky, it would be hard to loose. Therefore, the Confederate player can draw the battle.

* Game-Turns and dicing for the the Initiative Point are carried out as stated in the normal rules.

* The Confederate Player can move the guns normally in the defense works to the right of the line, but the guns within the forts cannot be moved.

* All the field cannon move at 2 squares movement in any direction.

*  All Infantry apart from the Dismounted Cavalry and the Special Battalion are Line Infantry. Therefore they can only be moved through the face of a square not a diagonal. The Light Field Guns, dismounted Cavalrymen and Special Battalion can move in any direction 

* The Cavalry are classed as Light Cavalry. They can move in any direction. Dismounted Cavalry are always 1 point less than their mounted selves. Therefore if the mounted Cavalry are 1 point, the dismounted Cavalry are zero points so just a basic die is rolled for the stand.

* The abatis in front of the Confederate lines is counted as” Trench” during Firing and Close Combat.

* The Union Infantry stands can be moved in The Creek, but only one square per move. They can still fire after moving whilst in The Creek. In the actual battle the Union troops pierced the Confederate lines via this creek.

* I don’t know if the Senior Officers on the Union side had horses but I have portrayed the Generals as such. However, the Generals can only move at two squares. The roads do not give any extra movement. The weather had been bad so the roads had turned to mud.


The river flotilla was commanded by Stephen C. Rowan ( not represented ). The river had been rigged with obstacles including a line of hulks to force any ships into range of the guns.

* The hulks cannot be moved. The paddle steamers move at 2 squares speed ( measured from the front of the ship.) The ships guns have a range of 4 squares.

* To make things basic, both the forts guns and the paddle steamers can take two hits The ship or a fortress gun will take a hit on any low score. On the second hit the gun or the paddle steamer causes complete destruction.


The Confederates must stay in place for four Game-Turns. From the 5th Game-Turn onward the Confederates can retreat. They can only leave the table via the road junction marked ( TO NEW BERN) .

This is the spot where the bridge crosses the Neuse river. If 8 Confederate infantry stands manage to leave the board by Game-Turn 8  AND/ OR BEFORE ONE Gunboat makes it ( completely intact ) to the Confederate baseline the  battle is a draw.

Historical note: The Confederates were putting up a good fight. However when the Union Infantry penetrated the middle part of the line via the creek, some of the Confederate infantry panicked which triggered a general retreat. The cannon in Fort Thompson and Fort Ellis were spiked by the garrison troops before they left but the Union troops still captured a number of field pieces.


All the figures are a mixture of Miniature Figurines and Peter Pig. The wagon and tent line models are from Peter Pig. The Fortress guns are also Peter Pig.

Fort Thompson was scratchbuilt from foam board and cardboard ( originally for an 18th century scenario). Fort Ellis is represented by a shop-bought enclosure purchased many years ago. The walls and hedgerow are from the Pendraken 10mm range of scenery..

The farm buildings were scratchbuilt from cardboard. The green scenery bases are from S and A Scenics. The hill sections: some were produced by Brian at Essex Miniatures and some were homemade from cork tiles. The railway track and bridge are scratchbuilt from cardboard and cocktail sticks. The trees are from various manufacturers.

The abatis was scratchbuilt from pan scrubbers cardboard and plasticine.

The plastic explosion markers are from Litco. The smoke markers are cotton wool.

The paddle steamers and hulks were made from card and foamboard. The paddle sections were two halves of a fruit juice carton lid. The stern of the boats are a piece of milk bottle top. The guns were made from plastic paint brush tubing and a berry pin. The supports  are made from cardboard stuck to a coin.

The Gunboat crew figures are from the Peter Pig Colonial range which also includes a ships wheel. The Naval Gun Crew figures are from the Peter Pig ACW range. All the flags are from the Peter Pig range.

The roads and rivers are cut from thin cardboard. The round MDF bases are from Minibits. The square stands are cut from picture-framing cardboard. The battle was fought on a 3 foot (90cm) x 2 foot (60cm) board marked out in 2 inch squares.


  1. Superb will finish reading after work!

  2. Thanks very much for your positive comment Dimitri. It is much appreciated 👍.