Battle of Roanoke Island - Roanoke Island Captured by Union Forces
The opening phase of what came to be called the Burnside Expedition, the Battle of Roanoke Island was an amphibious operation of the American Civil War, fought on 7–8 February 1862 in the North Carolina Sounds a short distance south of the Virginia border. The attacking force consisted of a flotilla of gunboats of the United States Navy drawn from the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, commanded by Flag Officer Louis M. Goldsborough, a separate group of gunboats under United States Army control, and an Army division led by Brigadier General Ambrose E. Burnside. The defenders were a group of gunboats from the Confederate States Navy, termed the Mosquito Fleet, under Captain William F. Lynch, and about 2000 Confederate soldiers commanded locally by Brigadier General Henry A. Wise. The defense was augmented by four forts facing on the water approaches to the island, and two outlying batteries. At the time of the battle, Wise was hospitalized, so leadership fell to his second in command, Colonel H. M. Shaw.
The first day of the battle was spent mostly in a gun duel between the Federal gunboats and the forts on shore, with occasional contributions from the Mosquito Fleet. Rather late in the day, Burnside's soldiers came ashore unopposed; they were accompanied by six howitzers manned by sailors. As it was too late to fight, the invaders went into camp for the night.
On the second day, 8 February, the Union soldiers advanced, but were stopped by an artillery battery and accompanying infantry in the center of the island. Although the Rebels thought that their line was safely anchored in impenetrable swamps, they were flanked on both sides and their soldiers were driven back to refuge in the forts. The forts were taken in reverse, however. With no way for his men to escape, Col. Shaw surrendered in order to avoid pointless bloodshed.
Description: On February 7, Brig. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside landed 7,500 men on the southwestern side of Roanoke Island in an amphibious operation launched from Fort Monroe. The next morning, supported by gunboats, the Federals assaulted the Confederate forts on the narrow waist of the island, driving back and out-maneuvering Brig. Gen. Henry Wise’s outnumbered command. After losing less than 100 men, the Confederate commander on the field, Col. H.M. Shaw, surrendered about 2,500 soldiers and 32 guns. Burnside had secured an important outpost on the Atlantic Coast, tightening the blockade.
Civil War on Roanoke Island
Roanoke Island Festival Park