Slike strani

an augmentation of supplies, more transportation became needful. Thus it happened that the remarkably fine weather that characterized the autumn and early winter of 1861, slipped away, and that the expedition did not start till so late a period as to be caught by the wintry storms which howl around the "ship-breaking" Hatteras. Escaped from these, General Burnside set himself to obey the further instructions of his general-in-chief.

[ocr errors]

Those instructions contemplated, in the first place, the formation of the Department of North Carolina, carrying with it, of course, the command of the garrison of Hatteras Island. Afterwards, General Burnside was to make Roanoke Island and its dependencies his first point of attack. It was presumed that the navy could reduce the batteries on the shore, and cover the landing of troops on the main island, by which, in connection with a rapid movement of the gunboats to the northern extremity, it was hoped that the entire garrison of the place would be captured. Roanoke Island was then to be fortified, and a sufficient force left to guard its defences. Immediately subsequent to these operations, the naval force coöperating, a descent was to be made upon Newbern, "having gained possession of which, and the railroad passing through it," General Burnside was "to throw a sufficient force upon Beaufort, and take the steps necessary to reduce Fort Macon and open that port." The railroad west of Newbern was also to be seized "as far west as Goldsborough, should circumstances favor such a movement." Raleigh was also to be threatened, if not occupied; but in this last named movement, 'great caution" was advised. Having accomplished the objects mentioned, the next point of interest would probably be Wilmington, the reduction of which" might require additional means. Surely here was work enough for a long campaign and a large number of troops. To penetrate to Goldsborough and Raleigh with a few thousand men, one battery of light artillery, and an amphibious kind of force of a few hundred men-the Marine Artillery-which had been added to the expedition,


was madness. The rebels had large armies in the field, and Goldsborough was an important railroad junction. To support such a movement, it was General McClellan's intention to send an army, under General Buell, by rapid marches upon Cumberland Gap and Knoxville, in East Tennessee. General Butler was to reduce the forts on the lower Mississippi, capture, and occupy New Orleans. General T. W. Sherman was to bombard Fort Pulaski, compel its surrender, and "to study the problem " of capturing Fort Sumter and Charleston. Meanwhile, it was hoped that these movements would distract the attention of the rebel leaders, and scatter their forces in an attempt to prevent the occupation of the various points by our armies. Then the Army of the Potomac would move with overwhelming force upon Richmond. General McClellan was a man of large plans, but with little facility of execution. In connection with the movement upon Goldsborough and Raleigh, those upon Knoxville and Richmond were most important and necessary. General Buell was entrusted with the one, but succeeded only partially. A portion of his forces marched through Kentucky and seized Cumberland Gap. But the occupation of this point was only temporary, and no advance was made beyond it. The dispositions of the enemy during the summer of 1862, soon forced its evacuation. General McClellan undertook the other movement, and the Peninsular campaign of 1862 has become the synonym of delay and disaster. It is a curious fact in the history of the war, that, two years after the date of the present operations, upon General Burnside himself was devolved the duty of occupying Knoxville, and performing a movement which should have been cooperative with his campaign in North Carolina. Had as much zeal and energy been displayed in other quarters as in this, the year 1862 would have borne a glorious record of victory. But after the first temporary success, an unaccountable apathy seems to have vitiated the counsels and checked the action of government, army, and people. Was it that the defeat of our

material forces was needed to prepare the country for the moral triumphs of the war?

Immediately upon the arrival of General Burnside at Hatteras Inlet, he issued an order assuming command of the newly constituted Department of North Carolina. General Thomas Williams had command of the troops at Hatteras, which had been stationed there to hold the point against the enemy's forces which had concentrated at Roanoke Island. The importance of General Butler and Flag Officer Stringham's operations during the preceding season had now appeared. Two regiments of infantry, the 9th New York and 48th Pennsylvania, and one company, C, of the 1st United States Artillery, occupied Forts Clark and Hatteras and the neighboring parts of the island. Beyond this, the Department of North Carolina was only upon the decks of the vessels which had cast their anchors in Pamlico Sound. General Burnside's first care was to enlarge the boundaries of his command, and establish himself securely upon the land. Losing not a moment, after getting his transports and gunboats through the swash and over the bulkhead, he prepared to obey his instructions, which contemplated an attack upon the enemy's works on Roanoke Island and the neighboring shore. There were known to be several forts on the island, both near the Sound and in the interior. It was also known that the enemy had a small fleet of gunboats in those waters, coöperating with his land forces in the defence of the island. To our navy was intrusted the work of reducing the shore batteries and scattering or destroying the rebel fleet, while the army should land, push into the interior of the island, and carry the enemy's works wherever they could be found.

How could the troops be landed? Where was the best point for debarkation? These were questions that demanded considerable thought and discussion. They were happily solved by an unexpected reënforcement of intelligence from Roanoke Island itself. A short time before the expedition arrived at the inlet, a negro boy, sixteen or seventeen years of

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PrejšnjaNaprej »