Owing to the fact that the commanding officer
of the Hatteras
expedition did not push the advantages he had gained by the capture of Forts Hatteras and Clark
, in August, 1861, the victory was almost a barren one, with the exception of its moral effect and the recapture of many of the guns which had fallen into the hands of the Confederates
The principal entrances into the sounds of North Carolina
were secured, but the Confederates
had still the means not only of annoying the coast-wise commerce passing daily before these inlets, but also of supplying their armies through the intricate and numerous channels belonging to the several sounds, and known only to themselves.
In January, 1862, it was determined by the Navy Department to fit out an expedition for the purpose of capturing Roanoke Island
, and getting possession of Pamlico
and Albemarle Sounds
This had become a necessity, as the Confederates
had facilities for fitting out light armed and swift vessels, which could get in and out at their pleasure and attack our commerce whenever it suited their convenience.
It was also known that the Confederates
were fitting out some powerful ironclads in the western waters of the sounds, and it was absolutely necessary for the Federal
government to obtain a foothold there before these vessels were completed.
There were many other reasons why so large and important a body of water should be secured, and it was a case where the Navy only could take the initiative, and where success could only be obtained by the use of well-armed vessels-of-war.
Rear-Admiral Louis M. Goldsborough
was selected to command the naval expedition, and General A. E. Burnside
was directed to co-operate with him: the latter to have under his command some 17,000 troops.
The following is a list of the vessels which composed the naval part of the expedition, with the names of their commanders:
Stars and Stripes
. Reed Werden
-Comdg A. Murray
H. K. Davenport
. W. N. Jeffers
. S. P. Quackenbush
; Commodore Perry
. C. W. Flusser
; Valley City
J. C. Chaplin
; “Con. Barney
-Comdg R. T. Renshaw
E. R. Colhoun
C. F. W. Behm
, Acting-Master Peter Hayes
, Acting-Master Charles French
, Acting-Master G. W. Graves
, Acting-Master John E. Giddings
; I. N. Seymour
, Acting-Master F. S. Wells
, Acting-Master John McDiarmid
, Acting-Master W. J. Hotchkiss
, Acting-Master T. G. Woodward
's Mate E. Boomer
These vessels were placed by Admiral Goldsborough
under the “general command” of Commander S. C. Rowan
, who carried his divisional flag on the steamer Delaware
The flagship Philadelphia
being “unfit for the purpose” took no part in the engagement; the Commander-in-Chief
transferring his flag temporarily to the steamer Southfield
Hatteras Inlet, through which our vessels had to pass to get into Pamlico Sound
, was not the most desirable channel in the world; on the contrary it was beset with difficulties, and only those who went on that expedition will ever know of the perilous adventures in which the officers and men were engaged.
At the time when this expedition was undertaken, the Navy Department had great difficulty in obtaining suitable vessels for its purpose.
If the vessels were of light draft, they were naturally slightly built, and not calculated to contend with the winter gales which rage in the vicinity of Cape Hatteras
It will be seen by a look at the list of naval vessels employed in this expedition that the squadron was a nondescript
It was made up of river steamers, ferry-boats, tug-boats and almost anything that would turn a wheel or screw.
It was a great change for our naval officers to come down from the staunch old ships of live oak (in which they had been accustomed to sail about the world) to these frail craft loaded to the water's edge with guns of heavy calibre, not knowing whether they would ever reach the place for which they were destined, much less hoping to get home safe and sound to their anxious relatives.
It was a mere matter of luck with them, as their success depended on whether they should meet a gale of wind or not, while off the coast.
Our government was not always careful as to what kind of vessels it purchased, and if the people of the country could have seen the craft in which our sailors went to sea and fought their country's battles they would have given them more sympathy.
But there were hearts of oak in that nondescript squadron, and they never stopped to inquire whether there was danger in the enterprise or not, or whether their vessels would sink or swim; all they cared for was to reach the post of danger, well knowing that when once in the smooth water of the sounds they would be amply repaid for any risks they might run in getting there.
The reason why such vessels had been selected for this important work was that the Navy Department had no others.
Gun-boats were built as fast as possible, but all of them were of such draft of water that they could only with great difficulty cross the bars at the southern inlets.
The Army transports were worse even than the so-called naval gun-boats, for the War Department had been even more unfortunate than the naval authorities in selecting vessels.
They had no skill in such matters, and were easily deceived by the harpies who are always ready to take advantage of their country's need, without regard to any sacrifice of life which might result from their avarice: and yet some of these men were considered to e loyal citizens, working for the Government
They took good care to make close contracts, securing themselves from loss in case of damage to their chartered steamers.
This heterogeneous crowd of naval vessels and transports arrived at Hatteras Inlet on the morning of the 13th of January, 1862, and were all taken across the bar, where there was barely seven and one-half feet of water.
They arrived at the beginning of a northeast gale which lasted two days, during which time many of the vessels were severely battered ere they could reach safe quarters.
On the 20th seventeen naval armed steamers were over the bar and safely anchored inside, under the command of Com. S. C. Rowan
This in effect gave the Federal
forces full control of Pamlico Sound
, but the military command could only be retained by the capture of Roanoke Island
It was not until the 22d that Gen. Burnside
was able to get all his transports over the bar and into still water.
Had the enemy been on the alert with what gun-boats they had, they would have caused great disturbance to our fleet while it was beset with dangers on the bar, where the naval vessels would have found it difficult to use their guns, and where great havoc might have been made among the closely packed troops on board the transports.
The enemy's gun-boats did not take advantage of their opportunity, however, but kept close to their fortifications, merely amusing themselves by throwing an occasional shell from their long range guns at the vessels in the harbor, but never reaching the danger point.
On the 21st, Rear-Admiral Goldsborough
sent a steamer out to examine a certain buoy, to see whether it was in the right.
place. While engaged upon this service two steamers were descried in the distance.
On the fact being signalled to Com. Rowan
he gave chase to them with several of his vessels, but the enemy escaped.
It must have been very evident to the Confederates
, when they beheld the comparatively large force that was sent against them, that they would have a hard tussle to keep possession of the sounds; but they had a strong position, and seemed determined to maintain it.
When everything was in readiness for the movement to commence, the naval vessels were all placed under the command of Commander Rowan
, who was to take the lead and open the way for the transports.
Before giving any account of the operations it will be necessary to give the readers some idea of the defenses of Roanoke Island
This island is about ten miles long and three wide, running in a northwesterly and southeasterly direction.
By the capture of Hatteras Inlet forts the Federal Government
gained possession only of Pamlico Sound
, and therefore the first object of this expedition was to gain possession of Albemarle Sound
and the connecting waters, through which the Confederates
were carrying on an active trade.
barred the way between these two sounds, and the Confederates
had made it a formidable barrier by the erection of heavy fortifications
The channel connecting Pamlico
and Albemarle Sounds
in which Roanoke Island
lies is very shallow, and could therefore be easily obstructed by sunken vessels or piles.
The sheet of water on the west side of the
island is called Croatan Sound
, and that on the east side Roanoke Sound
All of these waters are navigable to a certain extent, but large vessels can only pass through the western channel.
(See the plan, which will more fully explain the situation than any description.)
It is quite clear that Roanoke Island
in the hands of the Confederates
was the key to that great chain of sounds and passages
running from Hatteras Inlet to the Dismal Swamp canal
, and that in order to retain control of these highways it was necessary for the Unionists to capture this position at all hazards.
It was a great strategic point which enabled the Confederates
to cover Norfolk
in the rear, Welden
and the Northeast
railroads, and keep open their communications with Lee
's army at Richmond
If the Northern Government
had established a formidable army in North Carolina
in the neighborhood of Plymouth
, connected by lines of communication and supported near these places by a fleet of gun-boats with powerful guns, the Wilmington Railroad, Raleigh
would have been within striking distance of our army, and the Confederates
would have been obliged to use more northern railroads to obtain their supplies, even if they did not have to evacuate Richmond
The final movement of our army under Sherman
in his “March to the sea,” was directed towards some of these points in North Carolina
, and it was not long after this that Lee
surrendered and General Joe Johnston
laid down his arms.
When the Confederates
found that the Hatteras
forts were incapable of keeping the
Federal gun-boats out of the sounds, and that the Neuse
and Pamlico Rivers
must fall into our hands, they determined to fortify Roanoke Island
and prevent our getting into Albemarle Sound
; so that they could hold communication with Norfolk
through the Currituck Inlet
and save Plymouth
and the Roanoke River
They were building some heavy iron-clads up that river, and all the material, machinery and guns had to be transported from Norfolk
The defences of Roanoke Island
consisted of six separate works.
Five of these guarded the water approaches and the sixth was a masked battery intended to prevent troops from landing and attacking the main works in the rear.
This last battery was armed with three guns and was flanked on either side by a dense cedar swamp, so that an army landing at this point was only supposed to be able to advance by the roadway, towards the water defence at Pork Point
, where their principal work, Fort Bartow, was situated.
The swamp was considered impassible, and to render further protection a barrier of fallen trees was formed on each side of the road.
The following is a list of the defences, taken from Rear-Admiral Goldsborough
's report: “They consisted of two elaborately constructed works, mounting altogether twenty guns, three of them being 100-pounder rifles; four other batteries, mounting together twenty guns, a large proportion of them being of larger calibre and some of them rifled; eight steamers, mounting two guns each, and each having a rifled gun with the diameter of a 32-pounder; a prolonged obstruction of sunken vessels and piles to thwart our advance, and, altogether, a body of men numbering scarcely less than 5,000. . . .”
This was a strong position, and a large number of guns (56 in all) to meet the attack of 48 guns on our frail steamers without any protection to hull or machinery.
The naval vessels, under the lead of Com. Rowan
, made the attack on the works and vessels at Roanoke Island
, on February 7th, at nine o'clock in the morning.
The plan of battle was for the naval force to lead up to the attack, and engage the batteries at Pork
and Sandy Points
and the Confederate vessels.
While this was going on the Army was to advance and land under cover of the naval fire.
A naval brigade of artillery was also detailed to land from six launches, at Ashby Harbor, or, if possible, at Sandy Point
, half a mile above.
The naval division under Com. Rowan
was arranged in three columns, commanded respectively by Lieuts. Worden
, these to be followed by the Army transports, also in divisions.
Two days were occupied by our fleet in threading its way through the intricate channels of the marshes, owing to fogs and foul weather.
These channels were so narrow that only two vessels could proceed abreast, and in this order they continued until reaching the wider and deeper waters of Croatan Sound
The naval division, composed and commanded as stated above, was accompanied, as predetermined, by the Picket
, Capt. T. P. Ives
, Capt. Frederick Crocker
, Capt. Charles E. Baker
, Capt. John L. Foster
, Capt. Samuel Emerson
, Capt. M. B. Morley
, and Chasseur
, Capt. John West
, of the army division.
Keeping in close order it approached the enemy near enough to begin the attack, and to devote most of its firing against the fort on Pork Point
(not neglecting the enemy's vessels), a battery between Pork
and Weir's Points, and another on Redstone Point
(see plan), all of which returned the fire of the Federal fleet, but without much effect.
The Federal vessels having obtained position the action became general between them and the enemy, the army transports also joining in with the rifle guns they had mounted.
At 1:30 the shells from our fleet set fire to the barracks behind Pork Point
, and in a short time they were in full blaze and beyond control, as at this time the Federal
vessels, having got their range, were throwing in a very destructive fire.
At 3 P. M. the troops shifted to light-draft steamers and boats and started to land at Ashby's Harbor
This place was guarded by a large body of the enemy with a field battery, but Commander Rowan
in the Delaware
, taking up a flanking position to the southward of Pork Point
, turned his 9-inch guns towards the harbor and compelled the enemy to retreat, thus clearing the way for a landing.
At 4.30 Pork Point Battery and the one next to the northward of it ceased firing; five of the Confederate steamers went behind Weir's Point disabled, and the first landing of our troops took place.
At 5 P. M. these batteries re-opened, and the enemy's steamers having repaired damages put forth again and opened fire.
In a short time, however, the steamers were again obliged to retire, and one of them, the Curlew
, in a disabled condition.
took refuge under the battery at Redstone Point
As evening came on, the Rear Admiral
commanding made signal to cease firing — not wishing to waste ammunition.
In the course of the afternoon, six launches, under the command of Midshipman B. H. Porter
, had landed their howitzers and a body of men, which were employed
during the night in guarding the main road and its two forks.
On the following morning they assisted in the active operations of the Army.
By midnight some ten thousand of our troops had been landed safely at Ashby's Harbor
On February 8th it was arranged by General Burnside
that his forces should move at an early hour in the morning, and begin their attack upon the enemy; and as the direction they were obliged to take would bring them in the line of fire occupied by the Navy it was agreed between the two commanders,
that the naval fire should cease until the General
gave notice that it would not
interfere with his operations.
At daylight none of the enemy's vessels, except the Curlew
, could be discovered.
At 9 A. M. a continuous firing in the interior of the island showed that the Army was hotly engaged with the enemy between Ashby's Harbor
and Pork Point
being thus informed of the position of our troops, and seeing that they were now beyond his line of fire, at once moved up and engaged the forts, without waiting to hear from Gen. Burnside
The fleet continued its fire upon the forts until the firing in the interior of the island sensibly slackened, when it was taken for granted that our troops were approaching the batteries, and carrying everything before them.
Then came the order to clear the channel of obstructions, to enable the squadron to pass up and destroy the battery on Redstone Point
, which had only one gun left to fire, and also the Curlew
, which lay disabled under the enemy's batteries.
In two hours and a half this service was performed by the Underwriter
, Valley City
, and these vessels passed through.
Just at this moment our troops hoisted the American
flag on the battery at Pork Point
, and in a few minutes afterwards the enemy himself fired the works at Redstone Point
and the Confederate steamer Curlew
: both blew up early in the evening.
Thus ended the attack on the forts of Roanoke Island
, the Confederate
being now completely in the hands of the Army and Navy.
To discriminate between the two branches of the service on this occasion would be making an invidious distinction; both performed their duties in the most admirable manner, and worked together most harmoniously.
The casualties among the naval vessels were few in number, which is considered strange when the light character of these steamers is taken into account and the number of guns (56) which were brought to bear upon them by the enemy; but the fire from the eight and nine-inch shell guns and rifles of the fleet was so vigorously kept up and accurately aimed that it was the same old story of Port Royal
— hearts of oak in wooden ships.
The military forces had some hard fighting on shore, and the attack was conducted with great skill.
The entire force of the enemy stationed in the batteries and as sharpshooters was 4,000. Governor H. A. Wise
had a force in reserve at Nag's Head
, but retreated when he heard of the fate of the two forts.
The enemy's troops were well posted and their batteries well masked, so that the Federal
forces were really fighting an unseen foe.
Over 150 officers and 2,500 men surrendered to Generals Foster
The losses of the Confederates
are unknown, but they did not exceed 150 killed and wounded. Our Army lost 15 officers and 32 men killed, 10 officers and 264 men wounded, and 13 men missing.
Thus was a very important capture made, with but little loss of life, when it is considered that the enemy held a strong position and was completely concealed in bushes and masked batteries.
The advantages which resulted from the capture of this island cannot be over-estimated.
A large quantity of military stores of all kinds fell into the hands of the Federal Army
which the enemy could not well spare, and altogether it was a very happy ending of what promised at first to be a very difficult undertaking.
The only regret was that the enemy's fleet escaped.
These vessels mounted 16 or 17 heavy guns, and had taken a secure position behind the barricades, prepared to defend the way against the Federal fleet. Commodore Lynch
(the commander of this naval force) and many, if not all, of his officers, had once served in the United States Navy; but they could not stand the attack of their old comrades and were obliged to retreat.
Strange to say, all of these steamers, except the Curlew
, made good their escape.
As regards vulnerability these vessels were as defective as those of the Federal fleet, and their commanders saw from the first what the result would be, and took advantage of the darkness to move away to a safer position.
Great praise was given to General Burnside
for the manner in which he conducted his part of the affair.
There was no instance during the war where the Army and Navy worked together more harmoniously.
It was a case where each was necessary to the other and where neither could have won alone.
History will show that, throughout the war, whenever the Army and Navy co-operated harmoniously success followed: but when difficulties occurred between the military and naval commanders the results were unsatisfactory.
By the capture of these works and their garrisons, all the sounds of North Carolina
came under Federal jurisdiction, as the naval vessels and military transports were now able to reach all parts of these waters and soon swept from them all traces of the Confederate
power: a great loss to the enemy and one that he deeply mourned.
The casualties in the Union fleet were 6 killed, 17 wounded, 2 missing.
lost no time after the surrender of the forts on Roanoke Island
in chasing up the Confederate Navy, which had disappeared entirely; and on the 9th of February he directed Com. Rowan
to pursue them with the following vessels: Louisiana
, Lieut.-Com. Murray
, Lieut.-Com. Davenport
, Lieut.-Com. Jeffers
, Lieut.-Com. Quackenbush
; Commodore Perry
, Lieut.-Com. Flusser
; Valley City
, Lieut.-Com. Chaplin
, Acting-Master French
, Acting-Master Graves
, Acting-Master McDiarmid
, Acting-Master Woodward
; Brincker Acting-Master Geddings
, Acting-Master Hotchkiss
This was not a very formidable squadron, but it was equal to the occasion.
Late in the afternoon of the 9th this fleet of vessels entered Albemarle Sound
in search of the enemy, and soon after sighted the smoke of two steamers, which were seen to be heading for Pasquotank River
was given and an attempt made to cut them off, but without success, and the Confederates
escaped over the bar and then up the river.
The Union fleet was then anchored for the night, ten miles distant from Fort Cobb
knew very little about the condition of affairs up the river, whether there were any batteries, torpedoes or obstructions, but he well knew that if there were
any forts the Confederate
gun-boats would naturally seek their protection and rely on their aid in any encounter that might follow with the Federal
enemy could select their point of attack or defence, and the Union
commander was obliged to advance against them without having the slightest idea of the strength of their position.
The little steamers under Rowan
's command were certainly the frailest vessels that had ever been improvised for meeting the stern hazards of war. They carried heavy guns, however, and the gallant spirits who manned them were determined to win, no matter what the risks.
's plan was to avoid a protracted combat, and to bring the enemy to close quarters as soon as possible, for the reason that his ammunition was reduced to 20 rounds for each gun in the fleet (owing to the battle of Roanoke Island
). He made signal for the commanders of vessels to come on board the flagship, and after conferring with them in regard to the proper measures to be adopted he gave them their final orders.
It was naturally expected that the Confederate fleet would take position behind the battery at Cobb's Point
, and there await the attack; but the result was not feared, as it had been shown in the battle of Roanoke Island
that the Confederate vessels could not hold their own, even when supported by heavy forts.
The plan of attack was that the gun-boats should approach in close order and proceed up the river without firing a shot until ordered to do so, dash through the enemy's lines, crushing and sinking him if possible, or engage in hand-to-hand conflict; after capturing or destroying the steamers to take the forts in reverse and act according to signal.
The little fleet weighed anchor at daylight on the 10th of February, and proceeded up the river in the prescribed order: the Underwriter
keeping in advance as pickets, the little Ceres
nearer shore on the right flank, and the Louisiana
leading up the remainder of the flotilla.
The Valley City
were ordered to leave the line as soon as the fort was passed and attack it in reverse.
The Confederate steamers were soon discovered drawn up in order of battle behind the fort, which mounted four heavy 32-pounders.
Opposite the fort on the other side of the river a large schooner was moored, mounting two heavy 32-pounders, and the enemy's line of vessels, under Commodore Lynch
, was anchored diagonally across the channel between these two defences.
Thus they may be said to have held a very powerful position, and it looked almost like rashness for the Federal
commander to attack an enemy so situated.
But there was no hesitation on the part of Com. Rowan
or his officers.
As soon as the Federal
vessels got within fair range, the Confederates
opened upon them from their 32-pounders from the fort and the schooner Black Warrior
, followed by the 80-pounder rifles of their gun-boats.
Though shot and shell passed thick and heavy over the foremost vessels and fell in the midst of the main column, not a shot was fired by the Federal
vessels in return until they got within short range, when the signal was made “Dash at the enemy.”
Throttle valves were opened and the steamers put at full speed, at the same time opening fire all along the line.
Sweeping forward as rapidly as their engines could drive them they were quickly in the midst of the enemy, who were completely panic-stricken by this bold and unexpected attack and offered but a feeble resistance to the officers and men, who jumped on board their vessels with sword and pistol in hand.
Those in the batteries seeing what had happened to their gun-boats immediately deserted and fled.
Those on board the Black Warrior
set fire to her and got to the shore.
Some of the steamers endeavored, unsuccessfully, to save themselves by flight, among others the flagship Seabird
, but she was run into and sunk by the Commodore Perry
), and nearly all of her officers and crew made prisoners.
In fifteen minutes the whole affair was ended, all the Confederate
gun-boats having been either run ashore and set fire to, or captured by hand-to-hand conflicts; and thus the fleet on which they had depended to defend the sounds against any force that could be sent there, was entirely annihilated, and there was no one left to dispute the control of the interior waters of North Carolina
Although this was comparatively a small affair, it was one of the best conceived and best executed battles of the war, in which just as much skill and dash were displayed as in the grander achievements which took place at a later date.
In fact, greater credit is die the commander of this expedition when one takes into consideration the character of the vessels which he had at his disposal and the strong position of his enemy.
The attack of the Union vessels was like the spring of a pack of greyhounds upon a brood of foxes — it was just such a scene as naval officers delight in.
No one who has read an account of this dashing adventure has failed to give to the brave spirits who took part in it all the credit they deserved for the skill and daring which they exhibited throughout the affair.
After the battle was over, Com. Rowan
sent some of the steamers up to Elizabeth City
At their approach the enemy made a hasty retreat through the town, having set it on fire before their departure.
It being evident to Com. Rowan
that it was the design of the enemy to throw the blame of burning the city upon the Union
forces, he sent his men on shore to extinguish the flames.
Having accomplished this object.
and taken prisoner one of the officers belonging to the Wise Legion
, who was caught in the act of setting fire to the houses of the inhabitants, they returned immediately to their ships.
A great deal of Confederate property was destroyed at this place.
The steamer Forest
, one gun-boat and a small vessel on the stocks were burned at the ship-yard, and all the machinery, boilers, railways, etc., destroyed.
Also the machinery of the steamers Seabird
, which had been sunk.
After this a number of expeditions were started all through the Sounds
of North Carolina
for the purpose of destroying the enemy's property and blocking up the canals, so that no communication could be held with Norfolk
But we cannot refer to these operations at this time, as events of far greater importance were now taking place at Hampton Roads
, which require us to transfer our history to that quarter.
Before leaving the Sounds
of North Carolina
, we cannot but express our unqualified admiration at the happy manner in which the Army and Navy co-operated, and the brilliant results which followed from the skill and energy displayed by both branches of the service.
The Federal forces had not yet gained entire possession of the interior waters of the Sound
, but that came a few months later, and will all be narrated in its proper place.
On the 9th of July, 1862, an expedition was fitted out from Goldsborough
's fleet for the examination of certain rivers leading into the Sounds
of North Carolina
, in order to ascertain whether the enemy was fortifying the river banks or building men-of-war at the small towns in the interior.
The expedition consisted of the Commodore Perry
, Lieut. C. W. Flusser
; the Ceres
. Lieut. John McDiarmid
; and the Shawsheen
, Acting-Master T. T. Woodward
, with a detachment of about forty soldiers in addition to their regular crews.
The first of the places to be examined was the town of Hamilton
on the Roanoke River
The banks of this river were high in places and afforded many commanding positions from which an enemy upon the water could be attacked with little danger to the attacking party.
The Confederates did not fail to make the most of their opportunities, and the gun-boats had not proceeded far on their way before they were fired upon by concealed riflemen, and although the men returned the fire promptly it was with little apparent effect.
The river banks seemed lined with sharpshooters, and for ten hours the vessels, being obliged to run slowly, were kept under a galling fire.
The men were struck down by an invisible foe, who lurked in the bushes or fired from over the edge of the bluffs without any danger of being struck from the vessels.
had been ordered to go to Hamilton
, and he was determined to get there, no matter what might be the consequence.
This gallant officer was now placed in a most trying position.
but he stood unflinchingly at his post and continued on his way. The only thing to be done was to keep the men under cover as much as possible and return the enemy's fire when opportunity offered.
In spite of all precautions, however, the fleet had one man killed and ten wounded.
The Confederates deserted their forts as the steamers approached, and Hamilton
Having taken possession of the Confederate steamer Nelson
at this place, the expedition returned in safety to the Sound
In the latter part of October, 1862, another expedition, a combined military and naval force, was started for Hamilton
, and proved successful beyond all expectations.
Great risks were run, some valuable lives lost, and great skill shown in the management of the gun-boats.
Thus the Navy, when co-operating with the Army, always made its usefulness felt.
Without the presence of the Navy to capture and destroy the enemy's improvised gun-boats, to destroy their steam transports and cut off their means of rapidly moving an army, not a single point on the Southern
coast could have been wrested from the enemy, or, if captured at great expense and labor, could not have been retained without the continual watchfulness of the Navy.
This co-operation on the part of the Navy seldom failed of success, and this support to the Army was of more value to it than large numbers of men or hundreds of cannon.
The Army had with them in the gun-boats a train of field-pieces no enemy could resist.
The American people as a rule, knew nothing during the war of the continuous, exhaustive and perilous labor to which the officers and men of the Navy were subjected, and in a victory sometimes made sure by the presence of the gun-boats, the Navy
was nowhere mentioned.
This was not the fault of the gallant soldiers who received the support of the Navy, but rather the fault of the military historians, who in almost all cases ignored the Navy altogether.
Did the limits of this paper permit, and could the numerous cases of support to the Army be specially noted, it would readily be seen that in the Sounds
of North Carolina
, under Goldsborough
, in the rivers, bayous and inlets along the Southern
coast under Dupont
, on the coast of Louisiana
and the whole length of the Mississippi
, Tennessee, Cumberland
and Red Rivers, a distance of over 3,000 miles, the Navy more or less contributed towards success; and if defeat overtook our Armies at any time while the Navy was at hand, the enemy gained no important or lasting advantage.
Our Army always had a line of defense (the naval gun-boats) on which they could fall back, regain its formation and send the enemy retreating in his turn.
For the present we must leave the sounds and inlets and follow other adventures.
All the sounds of North Carolina
and the rivers emptying into them as far up as the gun-boats could reach were virtually in the hands of the Federal Government
was no longer a base of supplies for the Confederates The sounds
and inlets of Georgia
, South Carolina
were nearly all closed up by the Navy, and Wilmington
were really the only two places by which the Confederacy
could obtain supplies or munitions of war from abroad.
All of this work had been done within a year of the commencement of the war, in spite of delays which enabled the enemy to erect earthworks and sink obstructions that required herculean labors to remove.
Inadequate as were the vessels supplied to the Navy, the officers seldom failed to accomplish what they attempted, and it was a well-deserved compliment when an old soldier said, “every man should carry a gun-boat in his pocket, and then he could accomplish wonders.”