|Flag Officer Du Pont, Union Naval Commander|
|Map of Port Royal|
For the attack on Port Royal the North assembled what was, up to that point, the largest fleet to sail under the American flag, with 19 warships and 68 other ships. On the way to Port Royal, on November 1, the fleet was struck with a storm. The fleet was scattered and four ships were sunk. By November 4 the fleet was reassembled, except for a few ships which had to return home for repairs. Some naval skirmishing occurred on November 4 and 5, which showed that the Confederate gunboats would do little in the face of the powerful Federal vessels. The Union army commander also informed the fleet commander that the army could not participate in the attack because the lost ships contained necessary ammunition. Flag Officer Du Pont, the fleet commander, decided to go on with the naval attack. The battle was delayed until November 7th because of bad weather. Du Pont decided to go with a strategy similar to that used at the Battle of Hatteras Inlets. He would have his ships bombard while moving, hoping to thus avoid the forts' fire.
|Bombarding Port Royal|
|Confederate Fort Receiving the Union Fire|
The casualties were relatively light in this battle, with 11 Confederates dead and 47 wounded, and with the Union fleet having 8 killed and 23 wounded. Although this battle has largely been forgotten, it had an important effect on the flow of the war. A Union author wrote:
The Battle of Port Royal Bay has been somewhat overshadowed by the later naval victories of the war, but at the same time it was admirably planned and brilliantly executed. It was a battle in which ships engaged and captured forts on shore which were supposed to be impregnable to attack from the sea, for the army remained on board its transports and took no hand in the fighting, not landing until the forts had been abandoned under the fire of the naval guns. It had a good moral effect, for it came at a time when the Confederate arms had been generally successful and the feeling of despondency at the North was widespread, and this effect was felt abroad as well as at home. The object for which the expedition set out had been perfectly successful, and the plan carried out in its entirety, without hitch or mistake.11. Biographical Memoirs (Washington City: National Academy of Sciences, 1895), vol. III, p. 36