22 December 2006 by Published in: Battlefield preservation 6 comments

Regular reader and fellow lawyer Randy Sauls, who lives in Goldsboro, NC, is the founder of the Goldsborough Bridge Battlefield Association. Randy has every reason in the world to be extremely proud of himself and of his organization.

In December 1862, Union General John G. Foster led 12,000 Union soldiers on a foray out of New Bern intended to destroy a vital railroad bridge over the Neuse River. 2,000 Confederate defenders awaited them. On December 17, 1862, the action occurred. Although Clingman’s Confederates fought valiantly and delayed Foster’s advance, the vastly larger Union force evetually overpowered the Southern defenders and the bridge was burned. Foster then returned to New Bern on December 20. The bridge was rebuilt within a matter of a few days and the railroad restored to service.

The battlefield languished for decades. About ten years ago, the county acquired 32 acres of the battlefield, and Randy and his group raised money and spent years developing those 32 acres into a nice little battlefield park. Randy sent along photos, and it appears that he and his group have done a first rate job of it. Their battlefield park was dedicated on December 13. The park features a Civil War Trails marker, four other interpretive markers, a restored fence lines, a walking trail, and a gravel parking lot. This project, accomplished with private dollars, clearly was a labor of love for Randy and his merry band. My friend Wade Sokolosky’s Confederate ancestor was killed in action during this fight, and Wade–a lieutenant colonel on active duty in the United States Army–was present in the uniform of a Confederate private.

Randy invited me to the dedication ceremony, and I would have loved to have made it. However, it was just a few days after Susan’s knee surgery, and I would not have felt comfortable leaving her under the circumstances. Consequently, I reluctantly passed on the invitation, even though I would have loved to have been there and to have been a part of their success.

Kudos to Randy and his gang for a first-rate job, and for providing us with a textbook illustration of how a group can accomplish a lot without a lot of public money while still preserving our heritage and history. I’m looking forward to visiting the battlefield in May, when we have our annual North Carolina vacation.

North Carolina seems to spawn these groups. The most notable one, of course, is the Averasboro Battlefield Commission, which has done a magnificent job with almost no public money. The folks in Kinston are trying to do something similar with the First Kinston and Wyse’s Fork battlefields through their Historical Preservation Group, and I likewise commend their efforts.

It seems to me that the rest of us could learn something from the success of these groups in the Old North State.

Scridb filter


  1. Randy Sauls
    Sat 23rd Dec 2006 at 11:38 am


    Thanks so much for the kind words. Because of the hard work of the group I put together, along with the support and help of the county and of many volunteers, this slice of history has been preserved. This was a classic case of the way private/public partnerships can work. Private donations as well as county and tourism funds bought materials and all work (hundreds of man hours) was done with volunteer labor. Preservation does not have to cost a fortune. With a little luck it is even possible that we might double or even triple the size of our battlefield. You’re right, North Carolina seems to abound with these private or semi-private efforts. Don’t know whether that’s a function of our state being late to the preservation game or a part of that whole “vale of humility” thing we’ve always had. What works, works. As for personal accomplishment, this ranks right up there with graduating from law school. Not all that many individuals have had the opportunity, or honor, of preserving and developing a Civil War battlefield. Wonderful feeling.


  2. Sat 23rd Dec 2006 at 11:49 am


    You’re very welcome, and it’s richly deserved. You and your merry band have done a great job and you’re to be commended for it.


  3. Wade Sokolosky
    Sat 23rd Dec 2006 at 7:25 pm


    Thanks for throwing the plug in for the battlefield at Goldsboro. The effort Randy and his group of faithful put in to it really showed last Sunday. A Class Act for sure.

    These Grass Roots Organizations are making a difference in the Ole North State – Goldsboro, Averasboro & Kinston are models for others to follow. My home state has come a long ways in the past several years because of the hard work by folks like Randy and others.

    Eric, on another note, made it over to the Library of Congress yesterday for a couple of hours. I followed the trail of Mark Bradley’s research on a Miss. unit and scored big time on Wyse Fork. Great diary by a Confederate band member/hospital steward who describes in his diary the casualties at Kinston ’65. Needless to say it made my trip home on the VRE most enjoyable.

    I plan on gettng back over early next week and will look up the obituaries we discussed earlier.

    Wade Sokolosky

  4. Sun 24th Dec 2006 at 12:09 am


    I agree, which is why I wanted to make a point of focusing on the efforts of Randy and his group.

    That’s terrific news about the LOC. It sounds to me like there’s plenty of good untapped material out there, just waiting for somebody to use it…


  5. Shorlette
    Wed 10th Oct 2007 at 9:52 pm


    I am helping a student do a bit of research on the Battle at Goldsborough Bridge, actually on the bridge itself. Can you tell me if the bridge still stands today and if so, it’s location. This info can be really helpful in putting the final touches on the project. Also, any photos you have of the current bridge will be appreciated. We really need this info by tomorrow if possible (I apologize for the short deadline).

    Thank you!

  6. JoAnne Peach
    Fri 14th Aug 2009 at 10:28 pm

    I was born at Seymour Johnson at the end of WWII and revisited Goldsboro today with my elderly mother trying to find the house where my parents lived during their 3 yrs there. It is on South William St but we could not remember the street number. Mom believes the house was headqtrs for Sherman during his stay in Goldsboro. Does anyone know anything about this legend?

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