On March 11, Brig. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside's command embarked from Roanoke Island to rendezvous with Union gunboats at Hatteras Inlet for an expedition against New Berne. On March 13, the fleet sailed up the Neuse River and disembarked infantry on the river's south bank to approach the New Berne defenses. The Confederate defense was commanded by Brig. Gen. Lawrence Branch. On March 14, John G. Foster's, Jesse Reno's, and John G. Parke's brigades attacked along the railroad and after four hours of fighting drove the Confederates out of their fortifications. The Federals captured nine forts and 41 heavy guns and occupied a base which they would hold to the end of the war, in spite of several Confederate attempts to recover the town.