heavy guns were transported from that point, and the inlets at Hatteras
and Ocracoke fortified.
From the Sounds
through Hatteras and Ocracoke Inlets, small vessels made raids to capture vessels under the National
flag that might be passing along the coast, and for a time these efforts were well rewarded.
The shoal water extending far out gave these entrances a certain amount of immunity to the raids of privateers and blockade-runners, and it was hoped would prevent a successful attack on the batteries designed to protect these entrances.
Hatteras Inlet has on its bar, at ordinary high water, usually fourteen feet, the depth varying one or two feet more or less from the effects of gales and freshets on the inland waters.
Within this outer bar, at a distance of nearly one mile, is what is known as the ‘bulkhead,’ a bank of sand separating the deeper waters of the sounds and those within the exterior bar. At ordinary high tide there is a depth of seven feet; when heavy southeast winds bank up the waters, as they do from time to time, nearly double this depth may be found temporarily on the ‘bulkhead.’
Once within the outer bar, by means of lighterage, easily effected in smooth water, vessels with cargoes can readily lessen their draught so as to cross the bulkhead; with vessels having batteries and fitted for war purposes, the difficulty of entering is much greater, and where the required depth is eight or nine feet, considerable delay occurs in awaiting the banking up of the waters.
The Navy Department, appreciating the importance of Hatteras Inlet, the principal one affording access to the magnificent sound with its wide ramifications, directed in 1861 the preparation and concentration of such naval force as was available, and invited an army co-operation for its capture.