Civil War Brown Water Navies

The Civil War in NE North Carolina

Why was the CSS Appomattox sent to Edenton on 7 Feb 1862?

The Appomattox was sent to Edenton the morning of 7 February 1862, just as the Union invasion of Roanoke Island was beginning. Why did they send away one of their 8 gunboats just as the battle was beginning?

I may be close to finding the answer. The 2nd Battalion NC Volunteers, originally part of Wise's Legion, had been sent to Wilmington in December of 1861, where they remained until ordered to Roanoke Island on 1 February 1862. They landed on Roanoke Island during the morning of 8 February 1862, just before the surrender. Five men were killed and seven wounded in limited action. How did they get there?

To get from Wilmington to Roanoke Island, they would probably have been shipped on the Weldon and Wilmington Railway to somewhere in northeastern North Carolina or southeastern Virginia. To get to Roanoke Island, they would have to have water transportation at some point. Here is my conjecture:

The 2nd NC Battalion were transported by rail to Suffolk, Virginia. From there they were either marched or transported by ship to Edenton, North Carolina. The Edenton Steamboat Company had regular routes to Suffolk, so this would be the most logical route. The Appomattox could have been dispatched to Edenton to pick up the 2nd NC Battalion., arriving at Roanoke Island on the 8th, just in time for the 2nd Battalion to be captured.

Now to prove it.

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Comment by Bruce Long on June 23, 2012 at 12:22pm

[REALITY CHECK] The 2nd Battallion was sent to Norfolk. They were delayed in finding transportation from Norfolk to Roanoke Island. A steamer pulled the schooner Beauregard and the other schooners loaded with the 2nd Battalion down the Dismal Swamp Canal and to Elizabeth City on 7 February 1862. The ships continued down the Pasquotank River in the darkness.

At the same time, the NC Squadron left Roanoke Island in darkness enroute to Elizabeth City in search of more ammunition. All lights were extinguished. Near the entrance to the Pasquotank River, the CSS Beaufort and another squadron ship enroute to Elizabeth City collided with the Beauregard enroute to Roanoke Island.

The CSS Appomattox could not have been the steamer towing the troop transports. She had arrived back at Roanoke Island from Edenton before darkness fell and was part of the flotilla heading to Elizabeth City in search of ammunition.

Back to the drawing board!

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