Confederate General George Pickett’s failed assault on New Berne, North Carolina ended with little glory, and--considering Pickett’s execution of twenty-two deserters captured from the Second North Carolina Union Volunteers— with much controversy.
Lost in this episode was the capture and destruction of the USS Underwriter by a Confederate boat crew on the Neuse River near New Berne. Southern troops commanded by John Taylor Wood, grandson of former President Zachary Taylor and nephew of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, took the Underwriter in hand to hand combat, killing her captain and capturing most of her crew.
Under heavy fire from nearby Union batteries and without sufficient steam to move the ship, Wood ordered the Underwriter to be set afire and destroyed. Union salvage operations later saved the Underwriter’s engines and boilers.