The Battle of Hatteras Inlet Batteries, sometimes known as the Battle of Forts Hatteras and Clark, was a small but significant engagement in the early days of the American Civil War. Two Confederate forts on the North Carolina Outer Banks were subjected to an amphibious assault by Union forces that began on 28 August 1861. The ill-equipped and undermanned forts were forced to endure bombardment by seven Union warships, to which they were unable to reply. Although casualties were light, the defenders chose not to continue the one-sided contest, and on the second day they surrendered. As immediate results of the battle, Confederate interference with Northern maritime commerce was considerably reduced, while the Union blockade of Southern ports was extended. More importantly, the Federal government gained entry into the North Carolina Sounds. Several North Carolina cities (New Bern, Washington, Elizabeth City, and Edenton among them) were directly threatened. In addition, the sounds were a back door to the Confederate-held parts of Tidewater Virginia, particularly Norfolk.
The battle is significant for several reasons: It was the first notable Union victory of the war; following the embarrassment of First Bull Run (or First Manassas), 21 July 1861, it encouraged supporters of the Union in the gloomy early days. It represented the first application of the naval blockading strategy. It was the first amphibious operation, as well as the first combined operation, involving units of both the United States Army and Navy. Finally, a new tactic was exploited by the bombarding fleet; by keeping in motion, they did much to eliminate the traditional advantage of shore-based guns over those carried on ships.