In an effort to link up with Sherman's advancing troops, Union Gen. John M. Schofield planned to advance inland from Wilmington in February. Meanwhile, Schofield assigned Gen. Jacob D. Cox to direct Union forces from New Berne toward Goldsboro. Cox’s advance was blocked, however, by Confederate divisions under Gen. Braxton Bragg at Southwest Creek below Kinston. Bragg tried to wrest the initiative from the Federals by attacking their flanks on the 8th. After initial success, the Southern attacks stalled because of faulty communications. Union reinforcements arrived on March 9, just in time to repulse Bragg’s renewed attacks on the 10th. After heavy fighting, Bragg withdrew across the Neuse River. Without Confederate troops to defend it, the city of Kinston fell into Union hands on March 14.
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