12/10/10 — Battle of Goldsborough re-enactment this weekend

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Battle of Goldsborough re-enactment this weekend

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 10, 2010 1:46 PM

Area residents have the opportunity this weekend to step back 148 years in history as the re-enactment of the Civil War Battle of Goldsborough Bridge unfolds.

A highlight of the two-day event will include the dedication of the site's first permanent monument at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The Confederate and Union camps will open to the public from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Sunday. Battle re-enactments will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.

The battlefield site is located just south of Goldsboro on the Old Mount Olive Highway, about a quarter of a mile east of its intersection with U.S. 117. Admission and parking are free.

The battlefield re-enactment offers a unique opportunity for the re-enactors and the public -- it takes place on the actual site of the battle. Most battlefields are either state or national parks and as such the actual sites cannot be used for the re-enactments, said Randy Sauls of the Goldsborough Bridge Battlefield Association. The 32-acre Goldsborough Bridge site is owned by Wayne County.

"We will be on one of the most hotly contested areas of the battlefield," Sauls said.

The actual battle covered several hundred acres and Sauls said he hopes more land can be added.

The site remains farmland, just as it was during the war. Its location in the Neuse River flood plain has prevented development in the area, Sauls pointed out.

"It is a good opportunity to see just what it might have looked like 148 years ago," Sauls said. "You can hear the cannon and see and smell the smoke and what it might have been like. You can see and smell all kinds of interesting things in the camps.

"We hope the folks will come out support us and just enjoy it."

Sauls has been researching the battle for 25 years and was responsible for wording on the monument. One side has the narrative of the battle and the other the order of battle of all of the Confederate and Union units that fought in the battle.

Also new at the site are five interpretive markers, snake rail fencing and a renovated 4,000-square-foot barn.

Sutlers and food vendors will be on site as well, be selling everything from uniforms to trinkets to wooden toys.

The battle re-enactments will last about 30 to 45 minutes, Sauls said.

There will be a special presentation of a Civil War-era hospital following Saturday's battle. The hospital presentation is expected to start about 3:15 p.m.

Sauls said he has seen the presentation before and that because of its realism it is not for the squeamish.

The Battle for the Goldsborough Bridge was fought Dec.. 17, 1862, at the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad Bridge over the Neuse River -- a vital bridge for the movement of Confederate troops and supplies.

Union forces under the command of Gen. John G. Foster left New Bern on Dec. 11, defeating small Confederate forces at Southwest Creek, Kinston and Whitehall (Seven Springs) before reaching Goldsboro. His forces arrived at the railroad bridge on the morning of Dec. 17.

The bridge was defended by a small force of less than 2,000 Confederates. Foster's troops burned the bridge and destroyed several miles of track before retreating to New Bern.

However, because of its importance, the bridge was rebuilt in a matter of weeks.

For more information Sauls (919) 736-4423 visit www.goldsboroughbridge.com.