On January 30, 1864, Confederate General George Pickett led five brigades of approximately 15,000 men in an attack on New Berne, North Carolina, site of a Union supply base along the Atlantic coast and an area within the South where a significant percentage of the population favored the Union.
When the Confederates attacked the outskirts of the city, Union forces withdrew into New Berne’s inner defenses, allowing the Confederates to overrun a unit of the Second North Carolina Union Volunteers. Fifty-three prisoners were captured, including twenty- two deserters from the Confederate Army.
These men would become object lessons; Pickett showed no mercy as he had them executed. When the war ended, Pickett and his family fled the country for several months for Canada, fearing reprisals for the New Berne executions.