proper munitions of war, and admiration for their untiring energies and plucky utilization of sand-bars, turf, and smooth-bore guns.
As the Federal
government tightened the blockade, rapidly raising the number of its ships from 42 in 1861 to 6711
in 1864, it saw the necessity of possessing these sounds for safe anchorage, and it realized, as Scharf
puts it, ‘that they were depots from which the very central line of inland communication of the Confederates
might be broken, and that they were the “back-door” to Norfolk
, by which the navy yard might be regained.’
Moreover, the daring excursions of little Confederate vessels, mounting one or two guns, like the Winslow
, under the restlessly energetic Thomas M. Crossan
, which dashed out from these inlets to reap a rich harvest in captured vessels, raised such an outcry in Northern business circles that there was added incentive to seize the home waters of these vessels.
An illustration of the activity of these diminutive ships of war is found in the fact that in the month and a half preceding the capture of Hatteras
they had seized as prizes eight schooners, seven barks and one brig.2
Accordingly, in August, 1861, the Federal
government fitted out at Fortress Monroe
a combined army and navy expedition for an attack on the two forts at Hatteras
The land forces,3
consisting of 800 infantry and 60 artillerymen, were commanded by Gen. B. F. Butler
; the naval force, comprising the war vessels Wabash
, Harriet Lane
and transport ships, carrying in all 143 guns, was commanded by Flag-Officer S. H. Stringham
these forces sailed for Hatteras inlet on the 26th of August and arrived off the inlet that afternoon.
To resist this formidable expedition, the Confederates