The Battle of Cockle Creek was a minor engagement off the waters of Chincoteague, Virginia during the American Civil War. It was fought on October 5, 1861
Chincoteague's Wartime Position
In 1861 the citizens of Chincoteague voted 138-2 to remain loyal to the Union. The island had little need for slaves because of its poor cropland and its economic survival depended on trading seafood with the north. It was the only part of Virginia to remain with the Union. A few protests broke out, several houses flew the Stars and Bars, about three men enlisted in the rebel army, and sympathizers put out the lighthouse, which was quickly relit. Despite this, no lasting scars on the island occurred. Today, even many islanders do not know about Chincoteagues place in the Civil War. John Whealton, an influential island man, persuaded the islanders to remain in the Union. After the vote, Confederate sympathizers nearby organized a company to subdue Whealton and the islanders. Early one morning Whealton's well-equipped company left on flatboats to meet the Conferderates in the middle of the Chincoteague Sound. After an exchange of many harsh words and a brief conflict, the invaders were driven away with a signficant loss to themselves but without the loss of a single islander.
Despite Chincoteague's sound loyalty, it was surrounded by Confederate sympathizers in Virginia and Maryland. The surrounding Chincoteague Bay, Sinepuxtent Bay, and Pockomoke River served as routes to Maryland and Delaware. The rebels were using these waterways to smuggle arms into the two border states. They also had plans to use the waterways as a path to the Delaware Bay, there they would prey on Union shipping entering and leaving the bay by privateering against them. At the center of these plans was the schooner Venus. On July 4, 1861, 418 men from the barrier islands of Maryland and Virginia met at Chincoteague to celebrate the 85th Anniversary of American Independence. All who wer...