One week before the Battle of Hatteras Inlet, only two ships were in the service of the NC Navy: the Winslow and the Beaufort. Both lost their commanders on 20 August 1861 when the ships were turned over to the CS Navy. The Winslow received her CS commander on 27 August 1861. The Beaufort got hers on the 5th September. The Ellis and Raleigh were turned over to the CS Navy in July. Both were kept busy transporting troops, guns, and supplies to the forts being built at the inlets of the Outer Banks.
When the fight broke out at Hatteras Inlet, the Beaufort was tied up to the dock in New Bern without captain or crew. The Winslow was also in New Bern, having just received her new captain the day before. The Raleigh was at Oregon Inlet towing schooners full of supplies. The Edwards was on her way to Norfolk for a much-needed overhaul. The Ellis was at Ocracoke Inlet. Only the Ellis and Winslow had any part to play in the battle and that was in a support role, hauling ammunition and reinforcements to Hatteras. Neither fired a shot. Flag Officer Barron, Lt. Sharpe, and Lt. Murdaugh of the navy and Major Andrews of the Artillery hurried aboard the Winslow and hastened to the battle, arriving in the afternoon on the 28th.