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318

TIE ENEMY SET FIRE TO NEW BERN.

woods that covered them, and moving at double-quick over the intervening field, charged up to the very muzzles of the guns. But our success on the left had spread a panic on every side, and the rebels broke and fled without attempting to carry off the artillery. The victory was won—we were within the enemy's works, and shout after shout went up as the regimental colors were planted on the ramparts. Soon, Burnside and his staff galloped up, and as he passed within, the cheers were redoubled, and caught up and sent back, till from far and near, the field shook with wild hurrahs. Less than seven thousand men had done all the fighting, and carried these strong works in the face of eight regiments of infantry, five hundred cavalry, and eighteen cannon in position, and with a total loss of killed and wounded of only five hun. dred.

Leaving knapsacks, blankets, and arms strewed along the road and rail road track, the enemy filed towards Newbern, burning the bridges behind them. Reaching the city, they crowded into the cars, and streamed inland. Our troops were soon formed in two columns as before, and taking the stage road and rail road track, pressed on with drums beating and colors flying, after the fugitives. They had not proceeded far, when clouds of black smoke ahead told them that the bridge across the river, and the town itself, was on fire. They reached the smoking bridge about half past three o'clock in the afternoon. Through the ascending columns of smoke, the spires of the churches could be seen, and it was thought that the entire city was on fire. But the rebels were in too great haste to consummate their diabolical work, and the citizens rallying, extinguished the flames. Soon after, our gun boats were seen moving up to the wharves. They had passed slowly up the river, shelling the woods in advance of our army 'till nightfall, when they came to anchor. Next morning, a heavy fog lay on the water, conceal

CONDUCT OF THE FLEET.

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ing every object at a distance, even the shores; but it soon lifted, and they again moved forward. First, one fort, and then another, was silenced, when they at length came to a more formidable obstruction. More than twenty vessels had been sunk in one channel, their masts sticking out above the surface in every direction. In the other, heavy spars had been sunk with the long points down stream, to pierce any vessel that might attempt to force a passage. To these, under the water were attached torpedoes, so arranged that when a vessel pressed against the point of a spar, it would spring a lock, which by striking a percussion cap, would ig. nite the powder, causing an explosion.

The raid of the Merrimac had re-called Goldsborough to the Chesapeake, and Rowan was in command of the squad

He, after carefully examining the obstacles before him, determined, though heavy guns commanded the passage, to force his boats over the sunken vessels. In this he succeeded; and though other forts commanded the river beyond they made but feeble resistance, and he moved up to the smoking city.

Between sixty and seventy cannon were captured in the various works, besides a large quantity of small arms. The city was nearly deserted, and but little of that Union feeling, said to exist south, was found. The slaves alone seemed rejoiced at our coming, for here, as every where else where our forces penetrated, these simple-minded creatures looked upon our victorious banners as signs of their approaching millennium.

The great victories at the west could not eclipse the bril. liancy of this exploit, and every where Burnside was spoken of with enthusiasm. Not only had our troops won a great victory, but they had done it without the aid of our gun boats-by superior valor alone. The enemies of McClellan were especially loud in their praises, contrasting his brilliant : achievements with the dilatory action of the Commander-in

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BURNSIDE'S DISPATCH.

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Chief. West, too, our leaders were winning imperishable laurels, while the head of the army, with two hundred thousand men, could do nothing more than hold Washington against the rebels. Such language was held by certain members of Congress, and a portion of the press which sympathized with them. But soon aster, Burnside's official dispatch arrived, in which was a single paragraph, inserted to all appearance casually, which struck dumb these cavilers, and let the country see that all these movements, extending from the Mississippi to the Atlantic coast, were not isolated ones, but parts of a great plan.

of a great plan. Said he, “I beg to say to the General commanding the army that I have endeavored to carry out the very minute instructions given me by him before leaving Annapolis, and thus far events hare been sin. gularly coincident with his anticipations. I only hope that we may in future be able to carry out in detail the remaining plans of the campaign; the only thing I have to regret is the delay caused by the elements.

Burnside having quietly taken possession of Newbern, the soldiers established a newspaper there, evidently intending a long sojourn among the disgusted inhabitants. Washington and Morehead were soon after occupied, and preparations were set on foot to lay siege to Macon near Beaufort, a United States fort that commanded the entrance of the har. bor of the city.

Dupont, in the mean time, was pushing his explorations, and conquests along the coast of Florida, -Jackson and St. Augustine were occupied in which a considerable Union feeling was discovered, and before the month closed the chief part of this refractory little state was under the national flag.

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While events were thus marching forward with fearfully rapid strides west and east, the mighty Army of the Potomac

THE FORWARD MOVEMENT,

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was put in motion, and all believed that the finishing blow to the rebellion was to be struck. It was divided into five grand corps d'armee and began to feel its way towards Ma

A mountain department in the mean time was created, embracing Western Virginia over which Fremont was placed.

The President had issued an order for a general

all along the lines on the twenty-second day of February, though it was not made public until this month, and, according to general rumor, had assumed the active

Commander-in-Chief. It was asserted and believed, that in a council of war called to determine on the propriety of an immediate movement, McClellan and all but four Generals declared it to be unwise. But the President, it was said overruled this decision, and ordered it to com

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and the people were jubilant at this act of the President, while, if it were true, they should have been filled with sadness. The President, who niay be

any of the professions of life, is not supposed to know any thing of military science, and hence was never designed by the Constitution to take the personal responsibility of the movements of the army. His power as Com- . mander-in-Chief, was given him to restrain military encroachments-check lawless action,-displace incompetent leaders, and see that every thing worked in harmony with our free institutions and the laws of the land. If, therefore, M:. Lincoln, from the sudden confidence inspired by our successes, took the responsibility of breaking up carefully matured plans of the very officers he had put at the bead of military affairs, he took a fearful risk. Incompetent leaders should never be left at the head of an army—if competent, they should not be meddled with so long as they are in the strict line of their duty. At this point, the people should erect a great landmark ; for if future developments show that the military decision was overruled by the President, they will be

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322

MANASSAS. EVACUATED.

able to fix this. as the turning point of our fortunes, and as certain where the guilt rests of the stapendous blunders that followed, about which the country was so much divided.

MANASSAS EVACUATED.

McClellan, under this order, took command of the Army of the Potomac, and issued a stirring address to his troops, in which he praised their discipline, offered to share their dangers, and promised them victory.

But while the public were waiting in eager expectation to hear of the onset of this vast army against the strong defenses of Manassas, news came that on the eleventh they were evacuated. The enemy had Aed, burning every thing they could not take with them, except the huts in which they had wintered. Great chagrin and disappointment were felt at this barren triumph, and the land was filled with murmurs that the rebels had been allowed to escape. The most absurd stories were circulated, and nothing seemed able to appease the public, that had waited so long and patiently for this grand army to fully prepare itself for the desperate struggle before it. A deserted camp was a sorry trophy to present to the American people, after so many months of eager expectation. There was one thing, however, that somewhat alleviated the disappointment--the army had finally got in motion, and now, sweeping every thing before it, would not stop till it drew up around the rebel Capital. From Leesburg to Alexandria, the mighty columns moved .majestically on.

Though the main army of the enemy was retiring behind the Rappahannock, -beyond the Blue Ridge, Jackson was still in force; and it was hoped that while Banks pressed him in front, his retreat towards Richmond might be cut off by our army at Manassas.

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