Hunter’s Expedition

We’ve all heard about Butler’s Hatteras Expedition, Burnside’s Expedition, and Wild’s Expedition. How many have heard of Hunter’s Expedition?

Butler’s expedition departed for Hatteras Inlet from Hampton Roads on Monday, August 26, 1861. They began their attack on the forts at Hatteras Inlet on the 28th. The Confederate forces surrendered around 11 a.m. on the 29th. Around 700 prisoners were taken to northern prisons.

Hunter’s expedition to North Carolina was a reaction to Butler’s Expedition. As soon as it became clear that Hatteras was Butler’s objective, troops were mobilized and sent south from Portsmouth. Commander T.T. Hunter was ordered on August 28th to command the expedtion by French Forrest, commander of Gosport Navy Yard in Portsmouth. His naval force was one steamer (the Junaluska), pulling two armed launches (the Mosquito and the Sand Fly) and several canal barges. The military force consisted of Col. Ambrose Wright’s 3rd Georgia Regiment.

Leaving Portsmouth on the 29th, the expedition passed Roanoke Island around noon on the 30th. There they met a schooner bound for Edenton carrying some officers that had escaped from Hatteras. Upon hearing that Hatteras had fallen, Hunter turned around and returned to fortify Roanoke Island.

Lt. W.H. Parker turned the launches over to Boatswain Charles H. Hasker and returned to Gosport with the Junaluska on September 1st. The launches were used to land stores on Roanoke Island. The 3rd Georgians set about getting the island in a defensible position in case the Yankees at Hatteras decided to move northward up the Pamlico Sound.

The Harmony arrived at Roanoke Island on September 2nd pulling a lighter with six 32 pdrs. to be used for the defense of the island. Fort Oregon at the northern end of Hatteras Island was abandoned and her three companies of NC troops joined the 3rd Georgians at Roanoke Island. The CSS Raleigh assisted in the evacuation. Efforts to fortify the back door to Norfolk had begun in earnest.

Butler was content to hold Hatteras Inlet, denying use of the inlet to Confederate privateers. But plans were already in progress to invade the northern sounds of North Carolina with an even larger force: the Burnside Expedition.