Monday, February 7, 2011
A Battle For The Coast
The first opening of what would be called the Burnside Expedition took place on February 7th and 8th 1862. Known as the Battle of Roanoke Island, it was fought just south of Virginia in the North Carolina Sound. The Union attack was made up of gunboats taken from the North Atlantic Blocking Squadron under the command of Flag Officer Louis M Goldsborough and troops led by Brigadier General Ambrose E Burnside. These Union forces came up against Confederate gunboats known as the Mosquito Fleet under the command of Captain William F Lynch, with about 2,000 soldiers led at the time of the battle by Colonel Henry M Shaw. The Confederate defenses were also supported by four forts and two batteries.
The day of February 7th 1862 was spent in a gun duel between the Union gunboats and the forts along the shore. Several of the Union gunboats were hit, but damage was light. Around four that afternoon Burnside went ashore with his 10,000 men, and six howitzers. It was to late in the day to begin a ground fight, and so they went into camp for the night.
The second day of the Battle, the Union troops advanced under a heavy artillery fire. Although protected by swamps the Confederates were flanked on both sides and drew back into the forts. Burnsides took the Forts one at a time. Shaw ran out of places to escape to and surrendered his 2,500 men and 32 guns..