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Hatteras Inlet Batteries

Confederate Commander

Colonel W. F. Martin

Forces Engaged:



Captured or Missing:


Confederate Officers

Flag-Officer S. Barron


Confederate Official Records


Flag-Officer S. Barron

C. S. Navy

August 28-29, 1861

Dare County, North Carolina

Union Victory

Blockade of the Carolina Coast (August-December 1861)

Also Called: Forts Clark and Hatteras

Union Commander

Flag Officer Stringham

Forces Engaged:



Captured or Missing:


Union Officers

Maj. Gen. John E. Wool

Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler

Commander John P. Gillis



Naval Order of Battle


Union Official Records


Orders for the Expedition from Fort Monroe, Va.

Maj. Gen. John E. Wool

U. S. Army

Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler

Commanding Expedition

Col. Max Weber

Twentieth New York Infantry

Commander John P. Gillis

U. S. Navy

Lieutenant F. U. Farquhar

U. S. Engineer Corps

Flag-Officer S. Barron

C. S. Navy

Congratulatory Orders

            After the fall of Fort Sumter and North Carolina’s secession from the Union, North Carolina rushed to build forts along the coast line. Unlike other States, North Carolina’s coastline does not touch the Atlantic Ocean except for the Southern counties.1 The forts were built on the sandbars to protect North Carolina from invasion by sea.2

            During the summer of 1861, blockade runners were using the inlets for protection.3 Due to the damage the Blockade Runners were causing the Union fleets and supply lines, Gen. Butler suggested to the War Department “that something should be done to break… up” the “depot for Rebel privateers” at Hatteras.4

            The forts were built from 30 to 90 miles from any supply points with the main supply point being New Bern. Disassembled guns were shipped from the Norfolk Naval Yard.5 Fort Hatteras, located an eighth of a mile from the inlet, was completed in June with twelve 32-pounders and one 10-inch columbiad. Fort Clark was located a mile from the inlet and finished late July. It had six 32-pounders and two 6-pound barbette guns.6

            After the completion of the forts, Maj. Thompson reported the Albemarle Sound was key and could be guarded by enough troops. However, Thompson’s suggestions were ignored and only 580 men were assigned to the forts, 350 troops were assigned to Fort Hatteras.7 However, Fort Hatteras was not big enough to house all the men, so those not on duty stayed outside the fort on the Albemarle Sound side.8

            After capturing the fort, Butler described the fort as “an exceedingly strong one, nearly surrounded on all sides by water, and only to be approached by a march of 500 yards circuitously over a long neck of sand, within half musket range, and over a causeway a few feet only in width, and which was commanded by two 32-pounder guns, loaded with grape and canister… It had a well protected magazine, and bomb-proof capable of sheltering some 300 or 400 men. The parapet was nearly of octagon form, inclosing about two-thirds of an acre of ground, well covered, with sufficient traverses and ramparts and parapets, upon which our shells had make but little impression”.9

            Commodore Stringham and Gen. Butler received orders to attack Hatteras Inlet on August 13. There were ordered to proceed with ten days rations and water. Prior to leaving Fort Monroe, Stringham received valuable from former prisoners at the forts. They had been taken prisoner when their ships had been seized by the privateers.10

            On Monday, August 26th, the fleet left Fort Monroe with six ships and two transport ships, USS Adelaide and George Peabody. The last ship of the fleet arrived off Hatteras Inlet at 4pm the next day. During the voyage, the fleet was joined by two more warships, the USS Cumberland and Susquehanna.11

            The next day, the landing of troops started with 315 men and two heavy guns. While the troops were landing, the USS Monticello and Harriet Lane provided cover fire. The forts fired on the Monticello, but did not inflict any casualties. Due to heavy seas and high winds, the fleet could not land any more troops. One of the barges used to transport troops to the shore sunk due to the heavy seas (Butler’s OR).12

            Col. Weber was in command of the landed troops. He ordered Lt. Col Weiss forward with 20 men to reconnaissance Fort Clark, accompanied by Lt. Wiegal. Wiegal returned stating that Fort Clark had struck her flags and was being evacuated.13 Unknown at the time, the fort was being evacuated because they had run out of powder.14

            While Weber’s troops were occupying the fort, the fleet started firing on the fort again until the Stars and Stripes was raised and firing stopped. Pickets were stationed between the forts and the guns were set up against the sound. During the night, Flag-Officer Barron arrived at Fort Hatteras.

            The next morning, the fleet started firing on Fort Hatteras. Stringham went against Navy standards of anchoring the fleet and then firing on the fort. Instead, Stringham had the fleet moving and firing on the fort. This presented moving targets for cannoneers of Fort Hatteras. When the fleet first started firing, their shots were falling short. The fleet soon got the range without moving closer. The forts cannon fire was falling short and did not have the proper guns to hurt the fleet. With the shells falling in and bursting overhead, Barron called an officer’s council. During the council, they unanimously agreed to surrender, raising the white flag.15

            Barron offered to surrender the fort. He asked the officers be allowed to keep their side arms. The enlisted would not have their arms. He stated he had 615 men and did not want to spill any more blood. Butler responded saying full capitulation of officers and men would be treated as prisoners of war.16

            John Barrett in The Civil War in North Carolina says the Union victory at Hatteras Inlet Batteries was a morale booster after the loss at Manassas.17

  1. D. H. Hill, D. H. Bethel to Sharpsburg. North Carolina in the War Between the States Volume I. Raleigh, North Carolina: Edwards and Broughton, 1926. rpt Wilmington, North Carolina: Broadfoot, 1992. p 154

  2. Ibid, p 155

  3. John S. Carbone. The Civil War in Coastal North Carolina. Raleigh, North Carolina: North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 2001. p 6

  4. John Barrett. The Civil War in North Carolina. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University Press of North Carolina, 1963. p 36

  5. Hill, p 156

  6. Carbone, p 7

  7. Ibid, p 7

  8. Barrett, p 42

  9. Benjamin F. Butler. Report of Major General Benj. F. Butler. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. OR Series 1 Volume 4 Chapter VIII.

  10. Barrett, p 37

  11. Carbone, p 9

  12. Butler’s OR

  13. Max Weber. Report of Colonel Max Weber, Twentieth New York Infantry. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. OR Series 1 Volume 4 Chapter VIII.

  14. Carbone, p 11

  15. S. Barron. Report of Flag-Officer S. Barron, C. S. Navy. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. OR Series 1 Volume 4 Chapter VIII.

  16. Butler’s OR

  17. Barrett, p 47

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