north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     The engagement between Federal and Confederate forces at Whitehall (today known as Seven Springs) took place during Union General John G. Foster’s raid from New Bern to Goldsboro in late 1862. On December 15, Foster’s contingent of three companies of cavalry and several pieces of artillery entered Whitehall, which is located on the south bank of the Neuse River several miles above Kinston, hoping to capture or destroy the railroad bridge and confirm suspicions of Confederate ironclad construction on the river. Upon their arrival, they found the bridge burned by the Confederates in order to protect the ironclad and the opposite bank of the river occupied by several regiments of Confederate troops under the command of Brigadier General B. H. Robertson. During the ensuing battle, which lasted through December 16, the Federal artillery bombarded Confederate positions with such a barrage that the dense woods along the bank were cut down for a quarter of a mile back from the river and construction materials for the ironclad were damaged or destroyed.

     Federal reinforcements arrived the next day and Foster placed them in exposed locations along the river bank, resulting in heavy casualties. Confederate casualties were low since geographical restrictions on the river at the site of the conflict allowed only one regiment at a time to engage the Federals. In addition to damaging the town and its river fortifications, the Confederate ironclad ram, the CSS Neuse, under construction on the north bank of the river, was damaged during the raid. Eager to move toward Goldsboro about eighteen miles distant, Foster withdrew his forces from Whitehall during the evening of the sixteenth, confident that the bridge and ironclad were destroyed. However, damage to the Neuse was minimal and work resumed on the ironclad after Foster’s withdrawal. Local citizens were left with the tasks of cleaning up, burial of the dead in mass graves, and providing care for the wounded. In recent years questions have arisen about the Whitehall battle, with speculation that many of the Union casualties were the result of friendly fire and that body counts were purposefully under-reported by the federal government.

John G. Barrett, The Civil War in North Carolina (1963)
CSS Neuse State Historic Site:
W. W. Howe, Kinston, Whitehall, and Goldsboro Expedition: December 1862 (1890)
L. G. Williams, A Place for Theodore (1997)
Goldsboro News Argus, December 6, 1993
(Raleigh) News and Observer, October 22, 1991
Location: County:

Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

Gen. John G. Foster

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources