Falkland in Pitt County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Otter Creek Bridge Skirmish
“...diﬃcult ...to carry”
—Potters Raid —
On July 18, 1863, Union Gen. Edward E. Potter led infantry and cavalry from New Bern to destroy the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad bridge at Rocky Mount. The infantry feinted toward Kinston and returned to New Bern. Potter raided Greenville, then sent part of his cavalry to Rocky Mount and occupied Tarboro. The raiders damaged or destroyed bridges, trains, munitions, and mills before returning to New Bern on July 23, but the Confederates restored rail service by Aug. 1.
Union Gen. Edward E. Potter led his cavalrymen through Falkland on Sunday evening, July 19, 1863, on the way to Tarboro and Rocky Mount. Returning to Pitt County from Tarboro the next day, Potter encountered 150 Confederate soldiers under Maj. Thomas Claiborne at the Otter Creek Bridge, a mile and a half west of here. Claiborne had burned the bridge and positioned most of his force on the eastern side of the creek as sharpshooters. He fired prematurely on Potter’s advance with two small mountain howitzers from the 7th Confederate Cavalry, inadvertently warning Potter of the trap. After an hour’s engagement, Confederate Col. William C. Claiborne arrived with reinforcements, including a four-gun Alabama battery, the Montgomery True Blues. The gunners poured a heavy fire from their larger pieces into the Union position
Potter later wrote that he found the Confederates “in considerable strength,” and that “their position was a very difficult one to carry.” Sgt. H.A. Cooley, 3rd New York Cavalry, found a black man who told him about an unguarded ford called Dupree Crossing a short distance upstream. Potter’s force crossed the ford and marched away on Otter Creek Church Road. Col. Walter Newton, a local militia officer, and his nephew, W.B.F. Newton, fired on the Federals and then fled into the woods. Potter’s men set Col. Newton’s nearby house afire, but the slaves extinguished the blaze.
Unaware that Potter had evaded him, Col. Claiborne shelled the Union position across Otter Creek into the night. By the next morning Potter’s force had reached Grimsley’s Church in Greene County.
(bottom center) The Thomas Dupree Plantation, 2.5 miles west, was where Sgt. H.A. Cooley learned of the ford upstream behind the plantation. — Courtesy Bucky Moore
(upper right) Gen. Edward E. Potter Courtesy U.S. Army Military History Institute; Evan Thomas, 7th Confederate Cavalry Courtesy the Bradsher Family
Erected by North Carolina Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails
Location. 35° 41.778′ N, 77° 30.504′ W. Marker is in Falkland, North Carolina, in Pitt County. Marker is on South Main Street (State Highway 43) 0.3 miles south of West Avenue (State Highway 222), on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6063 NC 43, Falkland NC 27827, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Sallie S. Cotten (approx. 2.1 miles away); Voice Of America (approx. 4.2 miles away); Gen. Allen Hal Turnage (approx. 8.2 miles away); Chasing Gen. Potter (approx. 8.3 miles away); Thomas J. Jarvis (approx. 9.3 miles away); Plank Road (approx. 9.3 miles away); a different marker also named Thomas J. Jarvis (approx. 9.4 miles away); Baptist State Convention (approx. 9½ miles away).
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 4, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 405 times since then and 50 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on September 4, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.