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OUR ENTRANCE INTO NEWBERN.
Foster's brigade starts up the railroad for town, leaving Reno's and Parke's brigades to take care of the field. Cautiously we moved along, thinking, perhaps, the enemy may have formed a second line and are awaiting our approach. It soon became apparent, however, that they were making the distance between them and us as long as possible. We then hurried along, arriving at the river where the railroad bridge was burned which crossed into town. The view from here was an appalling one. The railroad bridge, a fine structure upwards of 1500 feet in length, was in ruins and the town was on fire in several places. Dense clouds of smoke of inky blackness settled like a pall over the town, while every few moments the lurid flames, with their forked tongues, would leap above the clouds, and the bellowing of the gunboats on the river, throwing their large shells over the town after the retreating enemy, conspired to make a most hideous scene.
It was near the middle of the afternoon when the old ferry boat Curlew (which a few weeks before I had wished sunk) arrived. On board this, Major McCafferty, with a mixed company of about 100 men, with the colors, crossed the river and landed on the wharf at the foot of Craven street. These were the first troops and colors in the city. After landing we marched up Craven nearly to Pollock street, when we halted. The major did not appear to have any business on hand or instructions to make any, so we waited for further orders or for the regiment to join us.
Here was presented an indescribable scene. A town on fire, an invading army entering its gates, the terror-stricken inhabitants fleeing in everydirection. The negroes were holding a grand jubilee, some of them praying and in their rude way thanking God for their deliverance; others, in their wild delight, were dancing and singing, while others, with an eye to the main chance, were pillaging the stores and dwellings. But in the midst of all this appalling tumult and confusion, the boys, true to the natural instincts of the soldier, were looking around to see what could be found in the line of trophies and fresh rations. They soon began to come in with their plunder, which the major told them to carry back, as he should allow no pillaging while he was in command.
Presently Stokes comes along bringing a little package. The major asked, "What have you there?" "Sausages, sir!" "Go, carry them back where you got them from." "I reckon not," replied Stokes, "a lady out here gave them to me." The major was incredulous, but Stokes offered to show him the lady and let her tell it, whereupon the former subsides, and Stokes, with a roguish twinkle of his eye, jams the package into my haversack, saying, "Sausage for breakfast." I was proud of the boy, to see how well he was observing instructions, as I have told him fry might find. Generals Burnside and Foster, with soldiers, citizens and negroes, were putting out the fires and bringing order out of confusion. Company B was quartered in a small house on Craven street, and the boys, although hungry, tired and worn down by the fatigues of the day, made frolic of the evening and celebrated their victory.