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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Rawls's Mill, Battle of

by Wiley J. Williams, 2006

The Civil War battle at Rawls's Mill in Martin County took place on 2 Nov. 1862. Maj. Gen. John G. Foster, commander of Union forces in North Carolina, was leading his 5,000 soldiers from Washington, N.C., to Wilmington when attacked by Confederates under Col. Henry "Harry" King Burgwyn Jr. At Rawls's Mill, approximately six miles south of Williamston, Foster's infantry, artillery, and cavalry fought a spirited half-hour battle with Burgwyn's troops, which had far fewer men and neither artillery nor cavalry. The Confederates were driven from their works and across a bridge, burning it to prevent pursuit. Nevertheless, this encounter was a trying ordeal for the green Union recruits of such regiments as the 44th Massachusetts, which had been organized only 60 days previously.

About noon on 3 November, Foster's army arrived at Williamston. They expected another fight, but the town was nearly deserted. The troops plundered the town, destroying everything that could not be taken.


John G. Barrett, The Civil War in North Carolina (1963).

Louis H. Manarin, comp., North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster, vol. 7 (1979).

Francis M. Manning and W. H. Booker, Martin County History, vol. 2 (1979).

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