1861 August 28th

August 28 1861 Wednesday

Fort Clark, NC

Cape Hatteras Expedition
Confederate Invasion of New Mexico
Rosecrans’ West Virginia Campaign

Go to August 29 1861

Kentucky. Despite explicit warnings from President Abraham Lincoln not to interfere with the neutrality of Kentucky, Union Major-General John Charles Frémont ordered Brigadier-General Ulysses Simpson Grant to prepare an expedition to Columbus to prevent the important riverside town from falling into Confederate hands. The citizens of the region were largely pro-Confederate and there was an imminent risk that Confederate troops under Major-General Leonidas Polk would march from Union City, Tennessee, to occupy the town. Grant was instructed to move first from Cape Girardeau to take command at Cairo, where he would prepare for operations along the Missouri and Kentucky shores of the Mississippi. Commander John Rodgers USN was in charge of the growing Union gunboat flotilla and was ready to cooperate with any expeditions. Grant planned to move rapidly and aimed to reach Columbus, Kentucky, by 5 September 1861.

Missouri. Union operations continued in southwestern Missouri with incidents at Ball’s Mills, Ashley, and Lexington. In the defence of Lexington against a Confederate raid, the Union reported eight Confederates killed and several wounded for the loss of 5 or 6 wounded men.

Missouri. Expedition to Jackson began.

New Mexico Territory. Operations at Fort Stanton began.

Fort Clark, North Carolina, also known as Pamlico Sound and Hatteras Inlet Batteries. An amphibious expedition led by Major-General Benjamin Franklin Butler and Captain Silas Horton Stringham USN bombarded Fort Clark and Fort Hatteras. The plan was for USS Minnesota and seven other naval vessels mounting a total of 143 guns to bombard the forts while Colonel Rush Hawkins with some of the 860 troops of the 9th New York Infantry and 20th New York Infantry, plus detachments of the 2nd US Artillery and US Coast Guard, came ashore and attacked the rear of the Confederate batteries.
Early in the morning USS Minnesota, along with USS Wabash towing USS Cumberland, began to bombard Fort Clark, while the lighter warships accompanied the transports to a point about three miles to the east, where the troops began disembarking. Stringham kept his ships moving in a novel formation, circling in a loop,. At about 11 am USS Susquehanna joined the cannonade. By this tactic, the ships delivered their broadsides against the fort, moved back out of range to reload, and then came back in a loop to fire again. By remaining in continual motion, they did not let the artillerymen in the fort correct their aim between shots, and thereby negated much of the traditional advantage of shore-based guns over those on ships. This tactic had been used previously by the British and French at the siege of Sevastopol in the Crimean War, but this was the first time it was used by the US Navy. The return fire from Fort Clark was ineffectual, falling short or passing overhead, and no hits were made on the bombarding ships. Shortly after noon, the defenders ran low on ammunition, and at about 12.25 pm they ran out completely. At this point, they abandoned the fort, some of them escaping to Fort Hatteras, while others fled in small boats.
Colonel Maximilian Weber, commanding the Union troops already ashore, sent forward some men to take possession of the fort. The fleet did not know of this movement and continued firing for another five minutes. During this interval of confusion, the landing force suffered its only casualty, with one soldier being seriously wounded in the hand by a shell fragment. Fortunately, the troops were able to attract the attention of the gunners on the ships by waving a large American flag and the bombardment stopped with no further harm done. Stringham then turned his attention and his ships to attack Fort Hatteras. Weber found that he had only 318 men with him, including 102 from his own 20th New York, 68 from the 9th New York, 28 from the Union Coast Guard, 45 artillerymen, 45 marines, and 28 sailors who could man heavy guns. With a couple of field pieces that they had managed to wrestle ashore through the surf, they could reasonably expect to defend themselves against a Confederate counterattack, but they were too weak to mount an attack on Fort Hatteras. Meanwhile, not all the landings were going so well. Only about a third of the troops were ashore when rising winds produced surf that swamped and overturned the landing boats, and Butler had to suspend further attempts to land.
At Fort Hatteras, Stringham kept his ships moving in a loop as he had done at Fort Clark. The defenders tried to conserve their ammunition by firing only sporadically, so Stringham thought that the fort had been abandoned. No flag was flying as the fort’s flag had been reduced to tatters by the weather before the battle and was never replaced. Stringham sent USS Monticello into the inlet to sound it out but then the fort came back to life. The warship grounded while trying to extricate herself and was struck by five shots. None of these did any permanent damage, although a couple of sailors received minor wounds. As the day came to a close, the fleet drew off in the face of threatening weather, and the exhausted defenders looked for reinforcements. The Union troops ashore went to sleep unfed, with water running low, and fearing the arrival of enemy reinforcements.

Virginia. Incidents at Gauley Bridge, Bailey’s Cross Roads, Bailey’s Corner, and Ball’s Cross Roads.

Virginia. Union troops encountered Confederates at Wayne Court House and returned to Ceredo without loss. They reported 5 or 6 Confederates killed or wounded and 8 captured.

Virginia. Four hundred seamen were sent on the steamboat Philadelphia from Washington Navy Yard to Alexandria, to strengthen the garrison of Brigadier-General William Buel Franklin at Fort Ellsworth.

Virginia. USS Yankee, Commander Thomas Tingey Craven, captured the schooner Remittance near Piney Point.

Union Organisation

USA: The West Indies Squadron of the US Navy was deactivated temporarily as its vessels had been recalled to home waters.

Commander in Chief: President Abraham Lincoln
Vice-President: Hannibal Hamlin
Secretary of War: Simon Cameron
Secretary of the Navy: Gideon Welles

Atlantic Blockading Squadron: Silas Horton Stringham
Gulf Blockading Squadron: William Mervine
Pacific Squadron: John Berrien Montgomery
West Indies Squadron: Garrett J Pendergrast
Western Gunboat Flotilla: John Rodgers
Potomac Flotilla: Thomas Tingey Craven

General–in-Chief: Winfield Scott

Department of the Cumberland: Robert Anderson awaited

Department of the East: Vacant

Department of Florida: Harvey Brown

Department of the Ohio: William Starke Rosecrans

  • Cheat Mountain District: Joseph Jones Reynolds
  • Cheat River District: Henry Washington Benham
  • District of Grafton: Benjamin Franklin Kelley
  • Army of Occupation: William Starke Rosecrans

Department of the Pacific: Edwin Vose Sumner

  • District of Oregon: George Wright

Department of the Potomac: George Brinton McClellan

  • Army of the Potomac: George Brinton McClellan

Department of Texas: Vacant

Department of Virginia: John Ellis Wool

Western Department: John Charles Frémont

  • District of Ironton: Benjamin Mayberry Prentiss
  • District of North Missouri: John Pope
  • Southern District of New Mexico: Benjamin Stone Roberts

Confederate Organisation

CSA: Alexander Robert Lawton confirmed Brigadier-General PACS 28 August 1861 to rank from 13 April 1861; although confirmed comparatively late, Lawton was the most senior officer at this grade.

CSA: William Henry Chase Whiting confirmed Brigadier-General PACS 28 August 1861 to rank from 21 July 1861.

Commander in Chief: President Jefferson Finis Davis
Vice-President: Alexander Hamilton Stephens
Secretary of War: Leroy Pope Walker
Secretary of the Navy: Stephen Russell Mallory

Military Adviser to the President: Robert Edward Lee

Department No 1: David Emanuel Twiggs

Department of Fredericksburg: Daniel Harvey Hill

  • District of Aquia: vacant

Department of Middle and Eastern Florida: John Breckinridge Grayson

Department of Norfolk: Benjamin Huger

Department of North Carolina: Richard Caswell Gatlin

  • Defences of North Carolina: Theophilus Hunter Holmes

Department of the Peninsula: John Bankhead Magruder

  • Army of the Peninsula: John Bankhead Magruder

Department of the Potomac: Joseph Eggleston Johnston

  • Army of the Potomac: Joseph Eggleston Johnston
  • Army of the Valley: Thomas Jonathan Jackson

Department of South Carolina: Roswell Sabine Ripley

Department of Southwestern Virginia: William Wing Loring

Department of Texas: Earl Van Dorn interim Paul Octave Hébert awaited

  • Defences of Galveston: John Creed Moore

Department of West Florida: Braxton Bragg

  • “Forces in Pensacola”: Braxton Bragg

Western Department: Leonidas Polk

  • District of Upper Arkansas: William Joseph Hardee
  • Western Army: Benjamin McCulloch

District of East Tennessee: Felix Kirk Zollicoffer

Defences of Savannah: Alexander Robert Lawton

Indian Territory: Benjamin McCulloch

Forces in Richmond: Thomas Turner Fauntleroy

Army of the Kanawha: John Buchanan Floyd

Army of Liberation: Gideon Johnson Pillow

Army of the Northwest: William Wing Loring

Union Generals

Note: Italics, awaiting confirmation of the commission

Major-General USA

Winfield Scott
George Brinton McClellan
John Charles Frémont
Henry Wager Halleck

Major-General USV

John Adams Dix
Nathaniel Prentiss Banks
Benjamin Franklin Butler
David Hunter

Brigadier-General USA

John Ellis Wool
William Selby Harney
Edwin Vose Sumner
Joseph King Fenno Mansfield
Irvin McDowell
Robert Anderson
William Starke Rosecrans

Brigadier-General USV

Samuel Peter Heintzelman
Erasmus Darwin Keyes
Andrew Porter
Fitz-John Porter
William Buel Franklin
William Tecumseh Sherman
Charles Pomeroy Stone
Don Carlos Buell
Thomas West Sherman
John Pope
George Archibald McCall
William Reading Montgomery
Philip Kearny
Joseph Hooker
John Wolcott Phelps
Ulysses Simpson Grant
Joseph Jones Reynolds
Samuel Ryan Curtis
Charles Smith Hamilton
Darius Nash Couch
Rufus King
Jacob Dolson Cox
Stephen Augustus Hurlbut
Franz Sigel
Robert Cumming Schenck
Benjamin Mayberry Prentiss
Frederick West Lander
Benjamin Franklin Kelley
John Alexander McClernand
Alpheus Starkey Williams
Israel Bush Richardson
James Cooper
James Brewerton Ricketts
Orlando Bolivar Willcox
Michael Corcoran
George Henry Thomas
Ambrose Everett Burnside
Henry Hayes Lockwood
Louis Blenker
Henry Warner Slocum
James Samuel Wadsworth
John James Peck
Ormsby McKnight Mitchel
George Webb Morell
John Henry Martindale
Samuel Davis Sturgis
George Stoneman
Henry Washington Benham
William Farrar Smith
James William Denver
Egbert Ludovicus Vielé
James Shields
John Fulton Reynolds
William Farquhar Barry

Brigadier-General USA (Staff)

Montgomery Cunningham Meigs (Quartermaster-General)
Henry Knox Craig
Lorenzo Thomas (Adjutant-General)
James Wolfe Ripley (Ordnance)

Confederate Generals

Note: Italics, awaiting confirmation of the commission

General ACSA

Samuel Cooper
Albert Sidney Johnston
Robert Edward Lee
Joseph Eggleston Johnston
Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard

Major-General PACS

David Emanuel Twiggs
Leonidas Polk

Brigadier-General ACSA

Braxton Bragg

Brigadier-General PACS

Alexander Robert Lawton
Milledge Lake Bonham
Benjamin McCulloch
William Wing Loring
Charles Clark
John Buchanan Floyd
William Henry Talbot Walker
Henry Rootes Jackson
Theophilus Hunter Holmes
Henry Alexander Wise
Earl Van Dorn
William Joseph Hardee
Richard Stoddert Ewell
David Rumph Jones
Benjamin Huger
John Bankhead Magruder
James Longstreet
Edmund Kirby Smith
John Clifford Pemberton
Thomas Jonathan Jackson
Henry Hopkins Sibley
John Henry Winder
Richard Caswell Gatlin
Daniel Smith Donelson
Samuel Read Anderson
Gideon Johnson Pillow
Benjamin Franklin Cheatham
Felix Kirk Zollicoffer
Daniel Harvey Hill
Jones Mitchell Withers
Richard Heron Anderson
Robert Augustus Toombs
Samuel Jones
Arnold Elzey
William Henry Chase Whiting
Jubal Anderson Early
Isaac Ridgway Trimble
Daniel Ruggles
George Bibb Crittenden
John Breckinridge Grayson
Roswell Sabine Ripley
Albert Pike
Paul Octave Hébert

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