The Civil War in NE North Carolina
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.