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Chapter 1

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
History of North Carolina

The Lewis Publishing Company
Chicago and New York, 1919
Volume III by
J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 3
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

Vol. III
Chapter 2
Military and Naval Operations in North Carolina

In spite of the strong Union feeling in the state and the long delay in seceding, when once the die was cast, there was no indecision in support of the cause. A peace-loving, agricultural population with only a small group of trained soldiers to organize and prepare the troops for service, without arms, ammunition, and equipment, and with no facilities for making or procuring them, the people of the state turned resolutely and unreservedly to the task before them. In charge of the work of organization was Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.James G. Martin, adjutant-general of the state, a graduate of West Point and a veteran of the Mexican War. He was admirably adapted for the task, and taking the volunteers as they poured in, he proceeded to organize them for training and service. Within seven months the state turned over to the Confederacy forty thousand men, armed and ready for service. By August, 1862, the total number of volunteers was more than sixty thousand. More than twenty-one thousand had been added by November, 1864. In addition there were conscripts, reserves, and detailed men. The report of the adjutant-general, made November 19, 1864, summarizes them as follows:

Number of troops transferred to the Confederate service


Number of conscripts September 30, 1864


Number of volunteers since date of original rolls


Number in unattached companies and in regiments from other states


Number of regulars in state service


Total offensive troops


Junior reserves


Senior reserves


Troops in active service


Home Guard and Militia


Total in state and Confederate service


These were organized into more than eighty regiments. After the troops were raised, they had to be armed and equipped. The state had already a few muskets and captured thirty-seven thousand in the arsenal at Fayetteville, along with a battery of artillery and a considerable quantity of ammunition and equipment. Some of the muskets were given to Virginia and the rest turned over to the North Carolina regiments. They did not go far and the deficiency was supplied in part by remaking old rifles collected in the state, by importing them from abroad, and by manufacturing them in various parts of the state, ten thousand being made by one firm in Guilford County alone. The Confederacy armed some of the regiments and captured arms supplied the rest. Powder was made in great quantity at Raleigh by a mill subsidized by the state. So abundant was the supply that the state was able to furnish the Confederate government with more than $500,000 worth in one year. The state also started a cartridge factory which was operated throughout the war. Sabres, swords, and bayonets were also made in large quantities.

Alone of the Confederate States, North Carolina undertook to clothe her soldiers. The legislature in 1861 directed the adjutant-general to furnish the clothing and an agreement was made with the quartermaster's department of the Confederacy that the agents of the department should be withdrawn from the state, and North Carolina, furnishing clothes and shoes and turning over any surplus to the Confederacy, was to receive commutation therefor. But the agreement was violated by the department and the cost to the state largely increased thereby. Nevertheless, the work was continued. General Martin had little time before winter but he organized a clothing factory, purchased the entire output of  p9 all the cloth mills in the state and sent agents into South Carolina and Georgia to buy what they could there. The women of the state co-operated splendidly, cutting up carpets for blankets, making quilts, and sending such clothing as could be used. As a result there was little suffering among the North Carolina troops the first winter.

The next year, however, with a vastly increased number of troops and the supplies in the state greatly decreased, the problem was much more serious. General Martin then concluded that the solution was for the state to buy a fast vessel and bring supplies in through the blockade. Governor Clark, who was about to go out of office, asked that the matter be deferred until Vance could decide it. When Vance was inaugurated Martin advised that it be done at once. Vance laid the question before a number of friends, including B. F. Moore who attacked it as unwarranted by law and likely to result in the impeachment of the governor and adjutant-general. Holden who was also present opposed it bitterly for reasons of his own. General Martin contended that it would be no more illegal than to buy a wagon.

After consideration Vance took Martin's advice and authorized him to buy the ship. John White was sent abroad to make the selection and purchase. The "Lord Clyde," which Vance described as "long-legged," was bought for $190,000 and re-named the "Ad‑Vance." It was an English boat, built for passenger service, and capable of great speed. After the necessary changes were made, it was able to carry eight hundred bales of cotton and a double supply of coal which enabled it to bring enough Welsh coal from Nassau for the return trip, and thus avoid the use of the smoky North Carolina coal. Eleven successful trips were made. After the fifth trip Governor Vance sold a half-interest for $130,000, with which he redeemed state bonds. The vessel was finally lost through the act of the captain of the Confederate cruiser, "Tallahassee." Being short of coal, he took from the "Ad‑Vance" her extra supply. This obliged her to make her outward trip with North Carolina coal, which reduced her speed, left a trail of smoke, and thus made her fall a victim to the Federal blockaders. The state also had an interest in the  p11 "Hansa" and the "Don." Their use, however, was abandoned on account of the excessive charge made by the Confederate government, one-half of each cargo being seized. Through the use of these vessels an immense amount of valuable stores was imported. No entirely accurate figures can be obtained as to the amount, but Governor Vance said in 1885 that he had distributed large quantities of machinery, 60,000 pairs of hand wool cards, 10,000 scythes, 200 barrels of bluestone for fertilizing wheat, 250,000 pairs of shoes, 50,000 blankets, cloth for 250,000 uniforms, 12,000 overcoats, 2,000 Enfield rifles with 100 rounds of ammunition each, 100,000 pounds of bacon, 500 sacks of coffee, $50,000 worth of medicines at gold prices, and an immense supply of minor stores. Through this means the North Carolina troops were clothed. Nor were North Carolina troops alone served. After Chickamauga Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Longstreet's men received 14,000 complete uniforms and when Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Johnston surrendered the state had on hand 92,000 suits. To pay for all these things some cotton was sent out and warrants were issued payable in cotton and rosin in North Carolina which the Union army afterwards captured.


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The Blockade-Runner "Ad‑Vance"

From a war-time painting in the Hall of History, Raleigh

With the same activity and forethought vast supplies of food were secured. Much was bought in Kentucky before communication was closed and at the same time horses for two regiments were bought. The supplies increased during the war, and for some months before the end the state fed more than half of Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Lee's army.

It was in consequence of these operations that North Carolina troops were better armed, clothed, fed and equipped than those from any other state in the Confederacy. In all, the state war supplies amounted to more than $26,000,000. Had not the transportation broken down almost completely, the entire Confederate army might have been adequately fed and clothed.

The troops for whom this tremendous task was undertaken well repaid the state for its care. Nearly every battle was witness to their prowess and on the field of every battle in which they fought, they left their dead. Everywhere their bravery and obedience won the praise of those who commanded them and of those from other states who fought at  p12 their side, and again and again they by name received the unstinted praise of their great commander. At Bethel, where they opened the war, at Manassas, Williamsburg, Hanover Court House, Seven Pines, the Seven Days, Cedar Mountain, the Second Manassas, Harper's Ferry, South Mountain, Fredericksburg, Murfreesboro, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Charleston, Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, the Wilderness, Drewry's Bluff, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and the Crater, Atlanta, Nashville, Cedar Creek, Ream's Station, Five Forks, and to the end at Appomattox where Cox's Brigade fired the last volley of the Army of Northern Virginia they proved their valor and devotion and gave to their state a priceless heritage.

To the cause North Carolina contributed two lieutenant-generals, seven major-generals, and twenty-six brigadier-generals.​a Of these nine were killed in battle or mortally wounded. She lost in battle thirty-six colonels, twenty-five lieutenant colonels, and twenty-seven majors. The total losses were killed, 14,452; died of wounds, 5,151; died of disease, 20,602; a total of 40,305. One-fifth of those killed and one-fourth of those wounded in the Seven Days, almost one‑third of each at Fredericksburg, one‑third of the killed and one-fourth of the wounded at Chancellorsville, and one-fourth of the killed at Gettysburg were North Carolinians. At Gettysburg the Twenty-Sixth North Carolina sustained a heavier loss than any regiment on either side in the entire war.


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Governor Z. B. Vance and North Carolina Lieutenant-Generals and Major-Generals, C. S. A.

From war-time photographs

It was not alone in the furnishing of men and supplies, however, that the state felt the war. While she was in no sense a battle ground as was Virginia, nevertheless, during a large part of the war Federal troops occupied a part of her soil and jurisdiction and frequent engagements took place, though few were of any vital importance. The state, too, was an important centre in blockade running, the Cape Fear operations being equalled by those of Charleston alone and continuing after Charleston was successfully bottled up.

On April 19, 1861, President Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring the blockade of the South from South Carolina to Texas. On April 27th, Virginia and North Carolina were included. While the United States was not a party to the declaration  p14 of Paris, the day of the paper blockade was over and it was generally recognized that to be binding a blockade must be actual and effective. The United States navy was in no sense prepared to make the blockade thus proclaimed immediately effective, and it was not until July that there was even a pretense of actual blockade. In that month the steamer, "Daylight" arrived off the mouth of the Cape Fear. Prior to this an English vessel out of Beaufort had been captured by vessels cruising off the coast two hundred miles from land and held as a prize. Even after the arrival of the "Daylight," the flow of commerce was little interrupted. During June, July, and August, forty-two vessels entered and cleared at Wilmington, most of them coasters which up to this time composed the bulk of the vessels entering the port. Beginning now, blockade running on a large scale started and it became one of the most prominent and important ports in the world.

The coast of North Carolina is well adapted for operations of the sort. A double coast extends the whole distance, the outer being a long, narrow belt of sand jutting out at Cape Hatteras, Cape Lookout, and Cape Fear. This is broken at intervals by shallow inlets. Within lie the great line of sounds, the three most important, Pamlico, Albemarle, and Currituck, being very extensive. Upon their tributary rivers were situated a group of towns of considerable importance. The most important in every way was Wilmington. In situation this was particularly true. Lying about twenty-eight miles from the mouth of the Cape Fear River, it was out of danger of direct attack so long as the mouth of the river was in Confederate hands. There were two entrances to the river, one from the east, called New Inlet; the other, the mouth of the river, from the south. These were about six miles apart on an interior line but between them lay Smith's Island with Cape Fear running out at the southern end and, extending seaward in the same line, the Frying Pan Shoals, which made the distance for vessels outside about forty miles. This made necessary two blockading squadrons for the river.

Each channel was guarded by strong works, the mouth by Fort Caswell and Fort Campbell, and New Inlet by Fort Fisher. Smithville, now Southport, a little village on the river  p15 furnished an anchorage where blockade runners after loading at Wilmington could wait for a good opportunity to go out. Equally distant from both channels, the favorable chances of each could be considered and taken advantage of. Outside each channel the blockading fleet lay in a semi-circle with the extremities as close in as they dared to come. The blockade runners coming in sight of land about evening would wait for darkness and then run in at full speed through the fleet and take refuge under the guns of the forts. It was utterly impossible to close such a port and blockade running continued until Fort Fisher and Wilmington fell. Beginning in 1861, business reached its height in 1863 and 1864, declining towards the end of the latter year because of the increased efficiently of the blockading fleet, due in part to experience, but more to the increase in the number of ships. By 1864 not less than fifty steamers were stationed at each entrance, some of them the best in the Federal service. During the war the blockaders captured or destroyed sixty-five steam vessels, but many of them had been running for a long time before they were stopped. Between November, 1861, and March, 1864, eighty-four were engaged in the trade, thirty-seven were captured, twelve were totally lost, eleven were lost and their cargoes saved in whole or in part, and one foundered at sea. They made 363 successful trips to Nassau and sixty-five to other ports. The "Siren," the most successful, made sixty-four runs through the blockade. The "R. E. Lee" ran twenty-one times, the "Fannie" and the "Margaret and Jessie" eighteen each. Of 425 runs from Nassau including schooners, only sixty-two were unsuccessful. From January to October, 1863, ninety vessels came in.

Mr. James Sprunt in his Chronicles of the Cape Fear River records the names of the more notable of the vessels. They were the "Lady Davis," "R. E. Lee," "Siren," "Fanny," "Hansa," "Fox," "Pet," "Grayhound," "Virginia," "Stag," "Chameleon," "City of Petersburg," "Old Dominion," "Alice,", "Margaret and Jessie," "Hebe," "Ad‑Vance," "Atlanta," "Eugenia," "Ella and Annie," "Banshee," "Venus," "Don," "Lynx," "Let Her Be," "Let Her Rip," "Lillian," "North Heath," "Little Hattie," "Beauregard,"  p16 "Owl," "Agnes Fry," "Kate," "Calypso," "Ella," "Condor," "Mary Celeste,"​b "Susan Bièrne," "Coquette," "Britannic," "Emma," "Dee," "Antonica," "Victory," "Granite City," "Stonewall Jackson," "Flora," "Havelock," "Hero," "Eagle," "Duoro," "Thistle," "Scotia," "Gertrude," "Charleston," "Colonel Lamb," "Dolphin," "Dream," "Spunkey," "Bat," "Orion," "Hope," "Sumter," "Phantom," "Will o' the Wisp," "Whisper," "Rattlesnake," "Armstrong," "Wild Dayrell," "Stormy Petrel," "Wild Rover," "Night Hawk," "Florie," "Chicora," "Falcon," "Flamingo," "Deer," "Maud Campbell," "Florence," "Modern Greece," and "Georgiana McCall."

A number of the captured blockade-runners were put into the service of the United States. The "Ad‑Vance" became the "Frolic" and the "Ella and Annie" served under the name "Malvern" as Admiral Porter's flagship. Of those destroyed, the "Beauregard" and "Venus" lie at Carolina Beach, the "Modern Greece" at New Inlet, the "Antonica" on Frying Pan Shoals, the "Spunkey" and the "Georgiana McCall" on Caswell Beach, and the "Hebe" and the "Dee" between Masonboro and Wrightsville.


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Capture of the "Lillian"

Nassau, situated only 570 miles from Wilmington, 515 miles from Charleston, and 500 miles from Savannah, became the most important intermediary port in the trade through the blockade, though Bermuda, 674 miles from Wilmington, was also used. Prior to the war, Nassau was chiefly a fishing and wrecking village. It now became a shipping depot of vast importance to the Confederacy and to the outside world. Cargoes were sent there from Europe, transhipped to the blockade-runners, and exchanged for cotton and naval stores which brought immense prices in Europe. The blockade-runners, which were chiefly a new type of vessel, designed for the purpose, were light, long, side-wheeled steam vessels, lying very low in the water. They averaged from four hundred to six hundred tons burden, and were of slight frame and narrow beam, with engines designed to develop great speed. They carried from six hundred to one thousand two hundred bales of cotton; a compress at Wilmington assisting greatly  p17 in increasing the number. With cotton selling at from four to eight cents at Wilmington and from fifty to seventy at Liverpool, the inducements were great. In the South, too, was an equal or even greater anxiety to secure manufactured goods of all sorts and this meant double profits. Freights rose until they ranged from $300 to $1,000 per ton. The captains often received $5,000 for a return trip, the pilot $750, a deck hand, $50. The profits on a single return voyage often reached $150,000.

To North Carolina and the Confederacy the blockade-runners were of inestimable service. But for them the Confederacy would have been strangled long before it was. During the latter years of the war the Cape Fear was the most important centre in the Confederacy of this important trade. No record was ever made of what was brought in but according to Confederate reports between October 26, and December 6, 1864, there were brought into Charleston and Wilmington together 8,632,000 pounds of meat, 1,507,000 pounds of lead, 1,933,000 pounds of saltpetre, 546,000 pairs of shoes, 316,000 pairs of blankets, 520,000 pounds of coffee, 69,000 rifles, 97 packages of revolvers, 2,639 packages of medicines, 43 cannon, and a very large quantity of other articles. As Charleston was by this time almost closed, the bulk of these came to Wilmington. These with the report on the "Ad‑Vance," already mentioned, give a fair idea of the immensity and importance of the business. Blockade-running lasted till the fall of Fort Fisher and three vessels came in after its fall only to be captured by the Federal forces. One came in that succeeded in escaping.

The first armed conflicts within North Carolina were on the coast. The command of the sounds and their tributary rivers, controlling as it did more than a third of the state, was of vital importance. An enemy in control would threaten the chief railroad communication between Richmond and the southern coast, cut off a vast trade, and cramp the whole state. The necessities of the case were at once seen and after the seizure of Forts Caswell, Johnston, and Macon, defences were begun at Ocracoke Inlet, at Hatteras Inlet and on Roanoke Island. On Beacon Island at Ocracoke, Fort Morgan was  p18 erected and at Hatteras Forts Ellis and Clark. On Roanoke Island were Forts Huger, Blanchard, and Bartow, all on the western side of the island on Croatan Sound, and a battery at Ballast Point on the eastern side commanding the entrance to Manteo or Shallow Bay. Across Croatan Sound, on the mainland was Fort Forrest. At Cobb's Point on the Pasquotank River was another battery. None of these were real forts, the strongest, Fort Ellis, having only twelve smooth-bore 32‑pounders. The total number on Roanoke Island was thirty 32‑pounders, most of them smooth-bore. The supply of ammunition was very small.

Operating in the sounds were four small steamers, the "Winslow," the "Beaufort," the "Ellis," and the "Raleigh," purchased in Norfolk by the state and converted into gunboats, each mounting one gun. The "Winslow" was in commission as early as June, 1861, and at once began to prey upon United States commerce, capturing in a short time eight vessels which were then sent to New Bern and condemned as prizes. The total captures by the little fleet were eight schooners, seven barks and a brig.

Public demands in the North and the evident value to the Union cause of establishing Federal control in this region led the Navy Department to order an expedition to go out from Norfolk against Hatteras. In August, 1861, six war vessels, two transports, and two schooners carrying a force of more than nine hundred men, under the command of Commodore Stringham and General B. F. Butler proceeded to Hatteras. After a short bombardment, the troops having in the meantime landed, Fort Clark was abandoned and Fort Ellis surrendered with six hundred and fifteen prisoners. Beacon Island was at once abandoned and the Federal forces destroyed Fort Morgan a few days later. In results the defeat was disastrous. Hatteras became an important supply point for the Federal vessels and forces, and it was the key to the Albemarle and Pamlico sections. The loss of Roanoke Island and New Bern followed naturally.

Active attention was at once given to strengthening Roanoke Island and the other strategic points. General Henry A. Wise was assigned to command at Roanoke and General L.  p19 O'B. Branch at New Bern. The defences, however, were in the main, absurd. Old smooth-bore cannon, mounted on cart wheels and drawn by mules masqueraded as field pieces. One of the regiments on Roanoke was armed with squirrel rifles and shot guns with carving knives for bayonets. Delay also was characteristic of the preparations. The Confederate authorities felt unable to furnish troops and all of the state's trained men were in Virginia. Branch at New Bern had but seven regiments; Shaw, who commanded at Roanoke, in the absence of Wise, but two. The latter had several times reported his inability to hold his position for even a day.

Flag-Officer William F. Lynch was placed in command of the naval defences. The fleet under his command was now increased by the addition of the "Seabird," the "Curlew," the "Appomattox," the "Black Warrior," the "Junaluski," the "Forrest," and the "Fanny," the last having been captured in October by the "Raleigh" and the "Junaluski," after an engagement of fifty-five minutes. In November the "Winslow" was wrecked and lost.

In the late autumn an expedition against Roanoke was planned and finally reached Hatteras in January, 1862. It consisted of twenty war vessels and forty-six armed army transports, almost all suited for the shallow waters of the sounds, under the command of Rear-Admiral L. M. Goldsborough and Commodore Rowan. The military force under General A. E. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Burnside assisted by Generals Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Foster, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Reno, and Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Parke, consisted of about fifteen thousand men. The attack began on February 7th, and lasted all day. The Confederate vessels having used all their ammunition, were forced to retire with the loss of the "Curlew." Federal troops were landed during the day and the next morning renewed the attack. The Confederate forces, driven to the north end of the island were forced to surrender.

The next day the retreating vessels were followed by Rowan with fourteen vessels. On February 10th, at Cobb's Point, the two squadrons met. The shore battery was abandoned and later destroyed, the "Seabird" was sunk, and the "Ellis" and "Fanny" captured, the latter on fire and aground. The Federal squadron followed to Elizabeth City  p20 where the "Forrest" was found on fire with some other vessels still on the ways. The "Raleigh," "Beaufort," and "Appomattox," escaped up the Pasquotank River and through the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal to Norfolk. Edenton was then visited, the militia there retreating, and a vessel there and some cannon were destroyed. The retreating Confederates from Elizabeth City had partially blocked the entrance to the canal and this was made complete by the Federal fleet. Winton was next visited and the raw militia placed there for defence after firing upon the fleet. Federal troops under Colonel Rush C. Hawkins at once landed and burned part of the town.

The way now lay open for the attack on New Bern. On March 12th, Rowan with thirteen vessels and twelve thousand men sailed from Hatteras and at sunset they were in sight of New Bern. Elaborate preparations had been made against attacks from the water, including sunken vessels, chevaux de frise and sunken torpedoes, attached to piles. There were also six small forts mounting thirty-two guns. Little attention, however, had been paid to possible land attacks. Under Branch were less than five thousand men.

On the next day the Federal forces were landed and marched towards the Confederate lines without opposition. On the following day the Federal troops attacked, supported by the fleet. A break in the Confederate lines was finally found and penetrated and after some hours of sharp fighting the Confederates were forced to retreat. The fleet had in the meantime reached the town which was occupied.

Following the fall of New Bern, Carolina City, Morehead City, Newport, and Beaufort were occupied. Fort Macon, garrisoned by five companies with more than fifty guns, was besieged and, after being heavily shelled from both land and sea was forced to surrender on April 25th.

Sharp fighting took place in the same month at South Mills. A Federal force of three thousand men was sent to destroy the Dismal Swamp Canal and the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal to prevent the coming of gunboats from Norfolk to the North Carolina sounds. A force of seven hundred and fifty Confederates succeeded in driving the Federals to their boats  p21 before they accomplished their purpose. Later in the month the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal was finally and effectively blocked.

About this time there occurred the first of the exploits which brought fame to Lieutenant Cushing of the United States Navy.​c In command of the captured "Ellis," he was blockading New River Inlet. In November, 1862, he went up New River to destroy salt works, capture vessels, and visit Jacksonville. Upon his return he was attacked from the shore and shelled. In escaping the "Ellis" went aground and was destroyed to prevent her capture. Cushing was eager to wipe out this reverse and in August of the following year, having seen from a small boat a schooner in New Topsail Inlet, he led in a small force and having destroyed the vessel and the salt works on shore, returned with a number of prisoners. He was the most active and energetic of the Federal naval officers in North Carolina waters and his destruction of the "Albemarle" was only the climax of a number of daring exploits.

In 1864 he was in command of the "Monticello," one of the vessels in the blockading fleet at the Cape Fear. In February, accompanied by several other officers and two boat crews he came in the mouth of the river at night and landed at Smithville, then occupied by a garrison of a thousand Confederate soldiers. Going at once to headquarters in the hope of capturing General Herbert, he found him out but captured a subordinate officer and returning to his boats, passed out safely by Fort Caswell to the fleet. In June of the same year he went with the same officers and fifteen men and up the river within seven miles of Wilmington, hoping to destroy the Confederate ram, "Raleigh." Landing, they stayed two days and three nights, cutting telegraph wires and examining fortifications. They captured a number of prisoners including a courier with valuable dispatches. The "Raleigh" they found was already destroyed. On the return trip down the river, they narrowly escaped capture, but finally rejoined the fleet in safety.

After the fall of New Bern, Federal gunboats patrolled the waters of Eastern North Carolina and Edenton, Washington,  p22 Williamston, Elizabeth City and Plymouth were occupied by troops. At various points small engagements took place. In September, 1862, a small Confederate force entered Washington and a hot fight occurred before they were forced to retire. Plymouth was retaken in December but was held only a short time. About the middle of the month General J. G. Foster who was in command at New Bern with ten thousand infantry, six hundred and fifty cavalry and forty pieces of artillery left New Bern for the interior. A fleet of small gunboats went up the river at the same time in support. At Southwest Creek he was opposed by one Confederate regiment which was soon forced to retire. About two miles from Kinston on the fourteenth, a Confederate force of about two thousand was driven back after a fight of two hours and Foster pressed on towards Goldsboro. At White Hall, two days later, another skirmish occurred, again resulting in a Confederate retreat. When Foster neared Goldsboro, he sent several regiments to burn the railroad bridge, and a sharply contested battle occurred, in which the Federal forces were checked. Foster then returned to New Bern.

With the opening of 1863 over thirty thousand Confederate soldiers were in the state, the largest number in any one quarter being ten thousand under General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Whiting in the defences about Wilmington. Other forces, mainly single regiments or parts of regiments, were at Magnolia, Kinston, Goldsboro, Weldon, and Hamilton. As spring advanced, most of these troops were sent to Virginia. In order to gather supplies inside the Federal lines, attacks upon New Bern and Washington were planned. That upon New Bern occurred early in March, two bodies of troops under General Pettigrew and General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Daniel co-operating. After a preliminary success by Daniel the expedition under Pettigrew failed, chiefly because of inferior arms and ammunition, and the plan was abandoned. Skirmishing at various points followed and towards the end of March the attack on Washington was ordered with the hope of surprising the Federal forces. Heavy rains delayed the movement and by the time the expedition reached Washington, the hope of surprise was gone and nothing could be accomplished.

 p23  During the rest of the year there were no operations in state of importance. Most of eastern North Carolina lay open to the Union troops and by degrees they stripped the entire region of everything of value that was movable. Whole shiploads of booty were sent north. Edward Stanly said: "Had the war in North Carolina been conducted by soldiers who were Christians and gentlemen, the state would long ago have rebelled against rebellion. But instead of that, what was done? Thousands and thousands of dollars' worth of property were conveyed North. Libraries, pianos, carpets, mirrors, family portraits, everything in short, that could be removed, was stolen by men abusing flagitious slaveholders preaching liberty, justice, and civilization. I was informed that one regiment of abolitionists had conveyed North more than $40,000 worth of property. They literally robbed the cradle and the grave. Family burying vaults were broken open for robbery; and in one instance (the fact was published in a Boston newspaper and admitted to me by an officer of high position in the army), a vault was entered, a metallic coffin removed, and the remains cast out that those of a dead soldier might be put in the place."

The horror of Federal occupation was intensified by the operations of the "Buffaloes," or native Union bushwhackers, who perpetrated every type of violence and crime. The condition of affairs finally became so bad that great feeling was aroused in the state. To counteract this President Davis, late in 1863, ordered General Lee to send a considerable force to the state. Acting upon a plan of General Robert F. Hoke, whom he called into consultation, an attack on New Bern was undertaken. Hoke was only a brigadier and the expedition was too large to be given to one of that rank, so General Lee told Hoke that he was to be the actual leader but that he would have to put in nominal command a major-general. Having chosen General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Pickett as the one who could "best be spared from Virginia," the force over thirteen thousand men was assembled at Kinston from which it moved toward New Bern on January 20, 1864. Pickett disregarded Hoke's plan and upon the latter's remonstrating, ordered compliance with his orders under threat of arrest and court martial. Hoke was  p24 obliged to submit and the expedition was a complete failure. A small naval detachment in boats under Commander John Taylor Wood, after a furious fight boarded and captured the "Underwriter," a converted tugboat and the most powerful of the vessels stationed at New Bern. Unable to take time to get up steam they were compelled to burn her.

Conditions in the state still demanding Confederate action, General Lee again called General Hoke into conference. Hoke advised an attack upon Plymouth which had been strongly fortified and which was held by General Wessels with about three thousand men. At Edward's Ferry on Roanoke River, Gilbert Elliott of Elizabeth City, a nineteen year old boy, was building for the Confederate navy, after plans prepared by John L. Porter, who had converted the "Merrimac," an iron-clad gunboat to operate in the sounds. The boat which had been begun early in 1863 was unfinished, but upon General Hoke's urgent representation of his need of it, the work was speeded up and on April 18, it started down the river under the command of James W. Cooke, formerly an officer of the United States navy, now a Confederate commander, with the construction force still working upon it.

The construction of the "Albemarle" was in itself an achievement. It was built in an open cornfield, above high water, of unseasoned timber, by unskilled workmen. A blacksmith shop furnished the mechanical parts. It was 152 feet long with an extreme beam of 45 feet. It drew about eight feet. It was covered with two courses of iron plates two inches thick. The prow was of heavy oak sheathed with iron and was intended for use as a ram. The armament consisted of two guns. The construction of the vessel had been reported to the United States Navy Department by Lieutenant-Commander Flusser, the naval commander at Plymouth, as early as June, 1863, but the depth of the river would not permit the ascent of his boats and nothing was done.


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Construction of the Albemarle

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The Albemarle Afloat and Ready for Action

On April 18th, General Hoke invested the town on the land side and attacked the forts but was repulsed. The ram was expected by both sides and the Federal vessels "Southfield" and "Miami" were chained together for the encounter. As the ram did not appear they separated and assisted in the repulse  p26 of the Confederate forces. When finally the "Albemarle" came, early the next morning, they were again chained together and went to meet the ram. At once the "Albemarle" struck the "Southfield" and sank her, the beak going so deep as to threaten the safety of the attacking vessel. As the "Southfield" went down, Flusser on the "Miami" then personally fired the first shot at the "Albemarle" and was killed by fragments of shell rebounding from her armored sides. The "Miami" then retreated under fire after which the "Albemarle" turned its guns on the town and the land forces storming the forts compelled the surrender of the place. General Hoke was on the field promoted to major-general.

The fall of Plymouth forced the Federal forces to evacuate Washington. Before the troop left they sacked and burned the town. So flagrant was the outrage that General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Palmer in a general order made the following statement: "It is well-known that the army vandals did not even respect the charitable institutions but burst open the doors of the Masonic and Odd Fellows Lodge, pillaging them both and hawked about the streets the regalia and jewels and this, too, by United States troops! It is well-known that both public and private stores were entered and plundered and that devastation and destruction ruled the hour."

General Hoke next attacked New Bern and having taken the outworks had demanded the surrender of the town when he was ordered to bring his forces with all speed to Petersburg.

In the meantime the "Albemarle" threatened the Federal control of the sound and even menaced the blockade. Captain Melancthon Smith was hurriedly sent South to hold the mouth of the Roanoke. With him were sent four large double enders, the "Sassacus," the "Mattabesett," the "Whitehead," and the "Wyalusing," which with the "Commodore Hull" and the "Ceres" already there, made a formidable squadron.

On May 5th, the "Albemarle" came out with a troop ship and a captured vessel loaded with coal and provisions. About ten miles from the mouth of the river, she met the Federal squadron and although rammed and exposed to a heavy bombardment was not destroyed, although considerably injured. Two of the Federal vessels were put out of the fight and  p29 finally the squadron retired. The "Albemarle," unable to get up steam on account of her smoke stack's having been riddled with shot, with great difficulty returned to Plymouth.


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Naval Engagement between Confederate Ram Albemarle and Union Vessel Wyalusing

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Sassacus and Albemarle

Several attempts were made to destroy her by means of torpedoes but all failed. So great a menace was she, however, to the Union cause in the state, that the Navy Department selected Cushing to undertake the task of destruction at almost any cost. On the night of October 27th, he came up the river with a considerable party in two comparatively noiseless steam launches, passed the numerous Confederate pickets on land and water, and reached Plymouth. The "Albemarle" was surrounded by a boom of logs about thirty feet away from her sides. A fire on the shore illumined the river and Cushing's boat was seen by those on shore who gave the alarm. Under a hot fire which was returned with the howitzer on the launch, Cushing ran his boat at full speed against the boom. The launch slid over the slippery logs and Cushing with his own hands pushed a spar with a torpedo attached under the vessel and exploded it. The ram sank and the launch, entangled with the boom by the explosion, was captured with his crew. Cushing, however, refusing to surrender, dived and swam under water out into the river. Finally, almost exhausted, he reached land across the river and, after wading miles through the swamp, captured a skiff in which he succeeded in rejoining the Federal fleet.


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Lieut. William Barker Cushing

Torpedoing of the Albemarle

As a result of the destruction of the "Albemarle," Plymouth was recaptured by Federal forces on October 31st. The vessel was raised and towed to Norfolk, but was never again employed in warfare.

Another Confederate ram, the "North Carolina," a twin of the "Raleigh" and built on the Cape Fear, came out of New Inlet in May 1864, and exchanged a few shots with the Federal blockading fleet, but retiring, was never again used.

In December, 1864, several vessels left Plymouth to co-operate with the Federal army in reducing corresponding batteries at Rainbow Bluffs, about sixty miles up the river. Two were sunk by torpedoes and, the military force never appearing, the rest, after dragging the river for torpedoes, returned.

Fort Fisher had proved from the beginning of the war  p30 such a tremendous asset to the Confederacy that as early as 1862 the Navy Department of the United States had sought to interest the War Department in a joint attack upon it and the other defenses of the Cape Fear. It was then decided that no troops could be spared for the purpose, but in the fall of 1864 Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Grant approved the plan and Farragut was appointed to the command of the naval force. On account of his health he was compelled to decline and D. D. Porter was placed in command. As first planned, the attack was to be made on October 1st. It was then postponed until the middle of the month, although 150 vessels were ready for the expedition.

Finally, in December, the details of a plan were announced. The attack was to open with the explosion of a vessel under the walls of the fort in the hope of blowing up the magazine in the fort. The "Louisiana," an old vessel, was disguised as a blockade-runner and loaded at Beaufort with two hundred and fifty tons of powder. After the explosion a naval force seventy vessels and a land force of sixty-five hundred men were to co-operate in the reduction of the fort. This wild plan originated in the fertile brain of General B. F. Butler who accompanied the expedition and, although General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Weitzel had been assigned to command, insisted as senior officer present, upon his right to control the operations of the military forces.

Fort Fisher, when Colonel William Lamb took command in 1862, was composed of several detached earth works and one casemated battery. It could have been reduced by one war vessel within a few hours. But work was begun at once with five hundred negroes and within the following year it was transformed into the largest earthwork in the Confederacy, built of heavy timbers covered with sand about twenty-five feet deep and sodded with turf. It extended across the peninsula between the river and the ocean for six hundred and eighty-two yards as a continuous work with twenty heavy guns, two mortars, and four light guns. The sea face was eighteen hundred and ninety-eight yards long, formed of batteries connected by a heavy curtain, ending in a mound battery sixty feet high. On this face were twenty-four heavy guns. At the end of the peninsula was Battery Buchanan,  p32 with four heavy guns. While almost impregnable from the sea, it was weak on the land side, reliance being placed on the troops around Wilmington. The garrison at the time of the first attack was composed of 1,431 men, 450 of whom were junior reserves. Throughout its entire history, the fort was manned almost exclusively by North Carolinians.


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Fort Fisher, the Gibraltar of the United States

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Fort Fisher, December 25, 1864

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Fort Fisher, January 13, 1865

Scenes from the Bombardment of Fort Fisher

The powder ship was headed for the fort and exploded on the night of December 23d. It excited curiosity in the garrison at first and then amusement mingled with envy at the possession of such a store of ammunition as this sheer waste indicated, the supply in the fort being very small. On the following day the bombardment by the fleet began, fifty vessels mounting over six hundred guns participating. It lasted five hours in which time a storm of round shot and shells was poured upon the fort, some ten thousand in all being fired. The fort, short of powder, only fired six hundred and seventy-two shots in reply and the attacking force thought that most of the guns had been silenced. On the following day another terrific attack on the land face began, two shots per second being fired during a large part of the seven hours it lasted, the fort replying with only six hundred shots. The fleet again fired more than ten thousand. In the two days it discharged projectiles weighing nearly two million pounds. In the meantime three thousand troops under Generals Butler and Weitzel were landed with the intention of storming the fort. However, upon investigation of its condition, they decided not to attack and returned to the fleet which sailed back to Beaufort.

General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Bragg was in command of the troops around Wilmington, and at once withdrew all the forces supporting the fort to the north of the town, and, although it was soon well-known that the fort was again to be attacked, did not send them back. When the attack was finally made, he, deliberately and shamefully, withheld the aid that would in all probability have saved the fort, and with a determination that contained not a vestige of courage prepared to retreat hastily from Wilmington.

By this time Charleston was closed to the outside world and the reduction of Fisher was deemed a military necessity. Another expedition, more powerful than the former one was  p33 prepared. Fifty-three heavily armed vessels on January 13th began a bombardment which lasted two days and nights. Over twenty thousand projectiles were again poured upon the fort, the guns of which replied at long intervals because of the continued shortage of ammunition. Most of them were put out of commission by the fire of the fleet and a large number of the troops were killed or wounded. The total number of men in the fort was considerably less than two thousand. General Whiting who had planned the defenses of Wilmington, in fine contrast to Bragg, came down to share the fate of the fort but left Colonel Lamb in command. He was mortally wounded and died in prison.

In the meantime eighty-five hundred Federal troops under General Terry had been landed and were advancing upon the fort. Both the garrison and the attacking forces fought magnificently, but the odds, thanks to Bragg's timidity, were too heavy and the fort surrendered.

The day after the fall of the fort, the Cape Fear was entered and Forts Caswell and Campbell on Oak Island were taken. These with the barracks and storehouses on Smith's Island were burned by the Confederates before evacuation. Smithville was also occupied. The gunboats then started up the river, making very slow progress on account of torpedoes, of which the river was full. Land forces also moved up both sides of the river only to be checked for several weeks by the Confederate troops under General Hoke's command at Fort Anderson at Old Brunswick and at Sugar Loaf across the river. General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Schofield was now sent to take command of the Federal forces and left Smithville on February 17th. Marching upon Wilmington and co-operating with the fleet, he forced the evacuation of Fort Anderson, which had been bombarded for two days, and on February 22d, occupied Wilmington which had been evacuated by the Confederates.

Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Sherman's army was then advancing towards North Carolina and all the troops around Wilmington were ordered to join Johnston's army to oppose the progress of the invaders. Generals Hoke and Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Hill had successfully fought out the preliminaries of a battle with Cox's Corps near Kinston when the order reached them to make the junction and they were  p34 forced to retire. Sherman's army entered the state in March and occupied Fayetteville a few days later. After the town had been completely plundered and the adjoining country ravaged, they moved on to join Schofield at Goldsboro. At Averysboro General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Hardee on March 15th confronted Sherman to give them time to reach the main army. This accomplished, the Confederate force was concentrated at Bentonville to strike Sherman before the arrival of Schofield from Wilmington. On March 19th, Johnston struck heavily at Sherman's advancing forces and drove them back in confusion. Sherman waited for reinforcements and effected a junction with Schofield. Johnston resumed his slow and masterly retreat finally surrendering near Durham's Station on April 26th, when Lee's surrender had made the Confederate cause clearly hopeless.


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The Bennett House

Here occurred the surrender of the Confederate forces under Gen. Joseph E. Johnston to Gen. William T. Sherman

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Gen. W. T. Sherman

Gen. Joseph E. Johnston

As Sherman approached Raleigh it was of course clearly evident that the end of the war was at hand and pressure was exerted upon Governor Vance to induce him to make terms with Sherman. William A. Graham and David L. Swain worked out a complete plan of action and advised the governor to summon the legislature which should pass resolutions expressing a desire for peace and inviting the other Southern States to join the movement. The legislature should further elect commissioners to treat with the United States and report to a convention of the people which should be called at once. In the meantime a commission should be sent to treat with Sherman for a suspension of hostilities. The governor refused at first to consider the plan, but when the capture of Raleigh was immediate and General Johnston had informed him of his intention to withdraw his forces, he yielded and sent Graham and Swain as a commission to meet Sherman and arrange an interview with him.

After a series of mishaps and delays they reached General Sherman who treated them with great courtesy and sent them back with a message to Governor Vance, declining to give the disciplined interview, but expressing a wish, based upon President Lincoln's instructions, that all state officers should continue to perform their duties. Upon their return, however, they found that Vance had left Raleigh. He had determined  p36 to remain and surrender the capitol in person, but was, against his will, forced by General Hoke to leave the city with him when the town was evacuated. And so when on April 13th, the Union forces entered Raleigh, Swain, and not Vance, surrendered the keys of the capitol to the officer appointed to receive them.

Vance went to Charlotte and had an interview with President Davis. He then sought permission from Sherman to return to Raleigh and call the legislature into session. Sherman had left Raleigh and Schofield, who was in command, declined to permit the return, and a little later advised his going to his home. Vance did so and remained there until May 14th, when he was arrested by General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Kilpatrick and carried to Old Capitol Prison in Washington where he stayed for several months.

In December, 1864, General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Stoneman was ordered on a raid into Southwest Virginia to destroy the railway connections between Virginia and Tennessee, and thus cut off supplies from Lee and also make this way of retreat for the Confederates impossible. In the last days of March, 1865, with a force of seven thousand men he came from Tennessee into Watauga County. In Watauga the force divided, Stoneman going to Wilkesboro and General Gillam crossing the Blue Ridge and going through Happy Valley, burning and plundering as he went, finally rejoining Sherman at Wilkesboro. They left there on March 31st, and crossing Surry County entered Virginia. Destroying the railroad above Wytheville, they turned back into North Carolina and marching rapidly through Stokes and Forsyth, reached Salem April 10th. Detachments were from there sent out to cut the North Carolina and the Greensboro and Danville railroads. Some of the track of each was torn up and several depots with a vast amount of cotton and great quantities of supplies were burned. At Salem no looting was permitted. On April 12th Salisbury was occupied after a skirmish which continued in the streets of the town. Here private property was respected by the officers though there was some minor pillaging. But here was situated one of the most hated of the Confederate prisons and a vast amount of government supplies of all kinds  p37 brought from Columbia, Charlotte, Richmond, Danville and Raleigh, as well as an arsenal, a foundry, and a considerable store of ordnance. These with the public buildings and the railroad depots were burned. The totals of destruction for the expedition are impressive: Four cotton factories, 7,000 bales of cotton, 10,000 stands of arms and accoutrements, 1,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition, 1,000 rounds artillery ammunition, 7,000 pounds of powder, 35,000 bushels of corn, 50,000 bushels of wheat, 160,000 pounds of bacon, 100,000 suits of clothes, 250,000 blankets, 20,000 pounds of leather, 10,000 pounds of saltpetre, large quantities of sugar, salt and rice, $100,000 worth of drugs and the machine shops at Salisbury. The total value of the property thus destroyed ran up into the millions.

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The Confederate Prison at Salisbury

On April 13th, Stoneman moved towards Statesville and, after destroying the government and railroad property there, moved on, one detachment going to Taylorsville and Lenoir  p38 and thence to Tennessee and the other to Lincolnton. Evidently inclined personally to mitigate the harshness of war, to non-combatants at least, his army was full of marauders who looted and burned private property, and shot and maltreated unoffending old men and young boys. Women were treated with harshness and brutal rudeness, but the Federal army's course through North Carolina, stained as it was, was not marked by outraged virtue. Both Generals Stoneman and Palmer were mercifully inclined. General Gillam, who was sent to Morganton and Asheville, collected about nine hundred prisoners, mostly old men and boys, who were treated with disgusting brutality. Riot, murder, and pillage marked his track through Lenoir, Morganton, and Asheville. The last was practically turned over to the troops and was thoroughly looted. In every way and very successful the Federal troops sought to emulate the more widely known exploits of Sherman's army in Georgia and the Carolinas.

On the heels of Stoneman came George W. Kirk, a Tennessee desperado, at the head of two regiments, chiefly composed of bushwhackers who found their occupation largely gone.

In May at Waynesville was fired the last shot of the war in the state. Between the battle of Hatteras on August 28, 1861, and this time there had been fought in the state eleven engagements worthy of the name of a battle and seventy-three skirmishes, most of these taking place in the eastern part of the state. Now at last warfare was ended.

Thayer's Notes:

a The list is given in North Carolina Booklet, IV.6.

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b This seems to be a different ship than the "Mary Celeste" famous for having been found abandoned in mid-ocean in 1872, although I'm not absolutely convinced. The latter was apparently built in Nova Scotia in 1861 and engaged in Caribbean trade in that decade (for full details, see MaryCeleste.Net); the Confederate ship, according to Ships of Bermuda — 1850‑1899 (a page on RootsWeb), was properly the "Mary Celestia" and apparently foundered in Bermuda in 1864.

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c An equally interesting and detailed account is given in Chapter 21 of Adm. Clark's A Short History of the United States Navy.

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Page updated: 4 Mar 21