Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Battle of Roanoke Island

Burnside's expedition to attack Roanoke Island, North Carolina encountered rough weather on the way. To encourage his men, Burnside took up quarters in the worst ship in the fleet. Three vessels were wrecked and their crews rescued, but Burnside's boat arrived safely. Pamlico Sound was shallower than had been thought, and so significant time was spent either lightening the ship or offloading men and supplies to be transported by a smaller ship. The Confederates received no reinforcements to their 1,400 men as this large invasion force approached. The Confederate commander fell sick, and was unable to supervise the battle directly.

On February 7th, 150 years ago today, the Union fleet began a bombardment to feel out the Confederate positions, which were found to be very weak. The Confederates had a “Mosquito Fleet” of small gunboats, but they were no match for the Union vessels. Of the four Confederate forts, two were not in a position to fire only the Union fleet, and one other was rendered useless when a small Confederate gunboat was hit and ran aground, directly covering the guns of the fort. There were few casualties and little damage done, other than the one Confederate gunboat. Burnside landed 10,000 of his men through the afternoon and night. The 200 Southerners that had been posted at the landing area were driven off by fire from the ships. The Union troops were then in position to move against the Confederate forts by land the next day.


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