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matched, and were compelled to surrender. Among those who were thus taken prisoners was Barron, who had, at Lincoln's accession, nearly been surreptitiously appointed to one of the most confidential posts in the United States Navy Department (p. 55). There were captured more than 700 prisoners, 25 cannon, and 1000 small-arms. The force left in charge of the posi tion subsequently undertook an expedition to Chickamicomico, about 20 miles distant, but was Chickamicomico compelled to retire, pursued by the Confederates: it destroyed its tents and stores, and lost about 50 prisoners. But one of the light-draught vessels, coming to the rescue, put the pursuers to flight with shells, inflicting on them a considerable loss as they passed along the flat sand-bank, which afforded them no cover or protection.
Failure of the expedition.
Results of these
The seizure of these forts was an important step in the enforcement of the blockade. It gave access operations. to all the North Carolina sounds, and threatened the power of the Confederates in these interior wa ters.
They are surrendered.
Roanoke Island, lying behind Bodie's Island, the sandBurnside's expedi- bar that shuts off Upper North Carolina tion to Roanoke. from the Atlantic Ocean, offers some of the most interesting souvenirs of early American history. It was (vol. i., p. 147) the scene of Sir Walter Raleigh's colonizing expedition.
As stated by General Wise, to whom its defense was Military value of intrusted by the Confederate government, it Roanoke Island. was the key to all the rear defenses of Norfolk. It unlocked two sounds, eight rivers, four canals, two railroads. It guarded more than four fifths of the supplies of Norfolk. The seizure of it endangered the subsistence of the Confederate army there, threatened the
CHAP. LIX.] EXPEDITION TO ROANOKE ISLAND.
navy yard, interrupted the communication between Norfolk and Richmond, and intervened between both and the South. "It lodges an enemy in a safe harbor from the storms of Hatteras, gives him a rendezvous, and a large, rich range of supplies. It commands the sea-board from Oregon Inlet to Cape Henry."
After the capture of Hatteras Inlet in August, 1861, light-draught steamers, armed with a rifle gun, often stealthily came out of these waters to prey upon commerce. In the interior, shipping, and even iron-clads, were building.
Defenses of the position.
NAGS HEAD O
THE EXPEDITION TO ROANOKE ISLAND.
The expedition of General Butler, as has been stated (p. 491), had reduced the defensive works at Hatteras Inlet and opened Pamlico Sound. The Confederates had retired to Roanoke Island, which, intervening between Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, commands the passage to the latter. The channel on the east of the island is shallow; that on the west, known as Croatan Sound, was defended by three earth-works
EXPEDITION TO ROANOKE ISLAND.
on the island, one at Pork Point, one at Weir's Point, and a smaller work, Fort Blanchard, between. The larger works were armed with twenty-two guns, some of them 100-pound rifles. On the main land, at Redstone Point, there was another battery Across the channel, near Pork Point, obstructions of piles and sunken vessels had been placed. On the island itself there were other works, one giving protection toward Nag's Head, on the bar, and an other near the centre of the island-a redoubt, with a pond on its front and flanks, commanding the road that comes from the south.
An expedition for operating on this part of the North Carolina coast was placed under command of General Burnside, who was ordered (January 7th, 1862) to unite with Flag-officer Goldsborough, in command of the fleet, at Fortress Monroe, capture Newbern, seize the Weldon Railroad, and reduce Fort Macon.
The force consisted of 31 steam gun-boats, some of them carrying heavy guns; 11,500 troops, strength of the ex- conveyed in 47 transports; a fleet of small vessels for the transportation of sixty days'
Naval and military
It left Hampton Roads on the night of January 11th, and arrived off Hatteras in two days, as a storm was coming on. The commander found with dismay that the draught of several of his ships was There were not more
Its misfortunes at the outset.
too great to permit them to enter. than 71⁄2 feet of water on the bar. Some dishonest shipsellers in New York had, by misrepresentation, palmed off on the government unsuitable transport vessels, of which several were lost in that tempestuous sea. The crowded ships were in each other's way. The steamer City of New York, with a cargo valued at nearly a quarter of a million of dollars, went to pieces. The clouds seemed to dip down to the vessels' masts; so violent were
the waves that no one could keep the deck. It was only by the greatest exertion and perseverance, and not until a whole fortnight had elapsed, that the entrance to Pamlico Sound was completed. The villainy that led to this delay gave the Confederates ample time for preparation. Not until the end of another week (February 7th) had the reorganized expedition gained the entrance to Croatan Sound, and worked through its shallow, marshy passes. The weather was beautiful by day; there was a bright moonshine at night. The gun-boats found a Confederate fleet drawn up behind the obstructions, across the channel, near Pork Point. They opened fire on the fort at that point. It was returned both from the works and the shipping. Meantime troops were being landed at Ashby's, a small force, which was attempting to resist them, being driven off by the fire of the ships. The debarkation went on, though it was raining heavily and night had set in. It was continued until 10,000 men had been landed on the marsh. Before dark, however, the work at Pork Point had been silenced, and the Confederate fleet had retired to Weir's Point. Their flag-ship, the Curlew, had been set on fire by a 100-pound shell.
When day broke Burnside commenced forcing his way up the island. He moved in three columns, the central one, preceded by a howitzer battery, upon the only road, the right and left through the woods. The battery that obstructed this road was soon carried, though not without resistance. The men had to wade waist-deep in the water of the pond that protected it. Finding it impossible to flank it, as had been intended, they charged it in front. It was here that Captain Wise, the son, of the Confederate commander, was mortally wounded. General Wise himself lay sick at Nag's Head. It added not a little to the bitterness
Attack commenced by the fleet.
The troops carry the batteries.
EXPEDITION TO ROANOKE ISLAND.
EXPEDITIONS IN NORTH CAROLINA.
of this needless sacrifice that he had protested in vain to the Richmond authorities against what was doing at Roanoke Island, and had told them what the result must inevitably be; but the Secretary of War, Benjamin, turned a deaf ear to him. Toward Nag's Head the Confederate force, expelled from the captured work, attempted to retreat. They were, however, overtaken, and the rest of the command on the north of the island, 2500 strong, was compelled to surrender.
The Confederate fleet was pursued to Elizabeth City, Capture of Eden- Whither it had fled, and there destroyed. A large part of the town was burned. A portion of the national fleet went into the harbor of Edenton, and captured that town. Winton, on the Chowan River, shared the same fate.
Burnside next made an attack (March 14th) on Newbern, one of the most important sea-ports of North Carolina. As the troops advanced from the place of landing, the gun-boats shelled the woods in front of them, and thereby cleared the way. A march of eighteen miles in a rain-storm, and over execrable roads, did not damp the energy of the soldiers. They bivouacked at night by pitch-pine fires. Five miles below Newbern they came upon some works, which, after a sharp struggle, were taken by assault, and the enemy pursued toward Newbern. The city had been set on fire in several places, and also of New- and the bridge over the Trent was in flames. Newbern was captured, and with it 46 heavy guns, 3 batteries of light artillery, and a large amount of stores. Burnside's losses were 90 killed and 466 wounded.
Preparations were next made for the reduction of Fort Capture of Fort Macon, which commands the entrance of Beaufort Harbor. On April 25th it was bombarded by three steamers and three shore batteries;