Confederate flotilla commanded by Flag-Officer William F. Lynch
and the much heavier naval division under Commander S. C. Rowan
, that resulted in the destruction or capture of all but three of the Confederate vessels.
After the expedition to Hatteras Inlet, the most important movement against the coast was set on foot when Flag-Officer Samuel F. Du Pont
hoisted his broad pennant on board the Wabash
, commanded by Lieutenant C. R. P. Rodgers
This magnificent frigate was to lead the fleet of fighting ships and the transports that were to carry twelve thousand troops, under command of General Thomas W. Sherman
, the whole expedition being destined for Port Royal, South Carolina
, the entrance to which was guarded by Fort Walker
, on Hilton Head
, and Fort Beauregard
, on Bay Point
Driven in all directions by a violent gale, the fleet reassembled off the bar with the loss of but two vessels, the transports Governor and Peerless
The crew of the first had been saved through the exertions of the crews of the frigate Sabine
and the steamer Isaac Smith
, and only seven men had been lost.
This was out of a human cargo of over six hundred and fifty souls.
Everyone on the Peerless
was saved by the crew of the Mohican
. On the first high tide, all of the vessels were gotten over the bar. At daybreak, on the 7th of November, 1861, the war-ships weighed anchor and started in to attack Fort Walker
The fleet was divided into two columns, the Wabash
Lying back of the forts was Flag-Officer Tattnall
's little flotilla of Confederate river steamers, but as it would have been madness to have opposed the Federal
vessels with such make-shifts, Tattnall
withdrew into Skull Creek
and took no part in the action.
The Confederate forces on shore were commanded by General Thomas F. Drayton
The circling tactics used by Flag-Officer Du Pont
and the tremendous and concentrated fire of his heavy guns quickly bore results, and the lighter-draft vessels, which had taken up an enfilading position to the north of Fort Walker
, soon had the latter at their mercy.