First Battle of
Kinston Battlefield Park
This part of the battlefield is on
highway 258 about quarter of a mile from the Kinston Visitors and
Information Center. .
The story of Harriet’s Chapel
and the battle is one of excitement, turmoil, defeat and coming together.
The church is often mentioned in various records of the First Battle of
Kinston. As the Christmas season was drawing near Union forces were marching toward Kinston in December of 1862
. The Confederate troops stationed at Kinston were gathering on the
south side of the Neuse River in preparation for battle. One of the
defensive positions taken was at Harriett’s Chapel. Soldiers took their
place inside the church and watched from the windows for the advancing enemy
while other soldiers positioned themselves behind the north side of the
church. For many it was their first time in battle and they were about to
taste the rage and horror of war. Perhaps being in a church gave some a
false sense of security. The Union troops arrived at the swamp not far
from the church and fought their way through the mire while Union cannons
were firing over their heads into the Confederate forces. The cries of
the wounded filled the air while trees all around were catching afire from
the firing of cannons and guns. Slowly at first the Union soldier emerged
from the swamp and saw Harriet’s Chapel on a slight rise ahead of them.
They could see the enemy inside the church with guns pointed their way and
at the same time could see the feet and legs of soldiers on the other side
of the wooden church. Gun fire was blazing from all directions. Some
records later recorded the beating of hearts and fear were with every
soldier as they perform gallantly. The Confederate soldiers were outnumbered
4 to 1 and their ammunition was running low, so they began to pull back to
the bridge that crossed the Neuse River. On reaching the church the
Union soldiers found both wounded and dead rebels inside the building.
The battle was over in a matter of hours, givng many their first taste of
Battle. Kinston and the men that fought here would never be the same
again. The church building was soon turned into a field hospital where
both Union and Confederates were tended. It was a strange war and it is a
story that needs to be told in order for all generations to know why it was
fought and what it meant. The old wooden church located in the Kinston
Battlefield Park will help tell that story.