Civil War Transcendence, Part 57

In late summer of 1861, Samuel F. Du Pont, a member of the Federal strategy counsel convened by Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, was given a Flag Officer rank and made the chief officer of the Union South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Du Pont set about planning for an expedition to take Port Royal, S.C.

This harbor is positioned just south of Beaufort, S.C. and 25 miles northwest of Savannah, GA.


Port Royal was protected by two forts, one on the south side of the three mile wide harbor leading to the port and the second on the north side of the harbor.  Du Pont left Hampton Roads, VA with 14 warships, which mounted 120 guns between them, 26 supply ships and 25 transports housing 12,000 troops on October 29, 1861.

The flotilla ran into a big storm on November 1st that scattered the fleet. Most of the flotilla had rendezvoused off the South Carolina coast by November 4th. Only a few of the supply ships had been lost. Du Pont conducted reconnaissance of the port and its forts, and on November 7th, began his attack.

Du Pont employed the same tactics that Springham had used to take Hatteras, which again proved to be a good strategy. The harbor was big enough for gunships to steam in a circle between the two forts. Union guns were thus able to keep up a constant bombardment.

The Confederates were not well fortified with effective long range cannons. By November 8th, both forts had been abandoned, and the troops accompanying the Union flotilla occupied the forts. This victory began to have far reaching effects for this universe’s Civil War.

During February 7th and 8th of 1862, Union Forces captured Roanoke Island, North Carolina, which is located 80 miles south of the Virginia border.  This victory opened up the large Albemarle Sound to the Union Navy and led to the capture Battle of Elizabeth City, North Carolina on February 10, 1862. Thus the backdoor supply line to Norfolk, VA was closed, and another blockade runner port was obliterated.

The next big joint Union Navy and Army expedition in the East was to open another front for the Union Forces.



About Civil War Reflections

Vernon has been a Civil War buff since childhood, but had been inactive in Civil War history for over two decades. However, in the early 1990s his interest was rekindled after watching Ken Burns’ “Civil War Documentary” on PBS. He particularly became interested in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and decided to learn more about this epic struggle.
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