Work began on the CSS Neuse shortly after the contract was signed and its construction began on the banks of the Neuse river in Whitehall, which is now current day Seven Springs. However, a couple of months into construction, Union Gen. John Foster marched from New Bern on December 11, 1862 and captured the town of Kinston on the December 14. The next evening, he reached Whitehall and encountered Gen. Beverly Robertson’s Confederates setting fire to the bridge over the Neuse river to protect the building of the ship. A short battle occurred, known as the Engagement at Whitehall on December 16. Foster soon withdrew his force and continued marching to Goldsboro after encountering how well the Confederates forces were entrenched. The CSS Neuse was slightly damaged however, once Union forces let the area construction resumed. In late summer of 1863 the initial hull of the ship was completed and it was guided down the river to Kinston to be fitted with its fittings, machinery, and iron plating, engines, propellers, and cannons. When it arrived in Kinston, it was moored in a site referred to as the “cat hole.” This was a deep area of the river located against the steep riverbank, allowing the ship’s machinery to be lowered easily into the hull. This cat hole today is adjacent to where the King Street bridge. After months of delays the CSS Neuse was deemed ready and on April 22, 1864 it set sail from Kinston to recapture the town of New Bern. It was planned for the ship to meet her sister ship the CSS Albemarle however, the Neuse had moved one-half mile down the river when it ran aground on a sand bar. It was not until mid-May that the river rose high enough and the ship was freed. Instead of continuing to New Bern, it returned to Kinston where it would have to remain.