Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Storms off the South Carolina coast

The morning of 3 November 1861 off the coast of Port Royal, SC was stormy, both literally and figuratively. The coast was still being brushed by the trailing remnants of a hurricane that had gone by over the past few days (post by Matt on 29 August), and the storm clouds of war were beginning to gather. After weathering the hurricane on their journey south from Hampton Roads, elements of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron were assembling off Port Royal in preparation to take the anchorage for use as a base of operations. As detailed by Matt in that prior post, the expedition was beat up somewhat by the storm, but managed to make it through with relatively minimal loss of life and ships. The Army suffered the greater loss, in terms of ships carrying equipment and supplies and the failure to make the rendezvous of the small steamers which were to tow the surfboats loaded with soldiers to the beaches. Flag Officer Samuel F. DuPont arrived the afternoon of 3 November in the flagship USS Wabash, and during the day, other warships of the squadron and US Army transports carrying troops under the command of Gen. Thomas W. Sherman rendezvoused with the flagship. During this time they were being watched by Confederate soldiers in Forts Walker and Beauregard and by Flag Officer Josiah Tattnall of the Confederate Navy, with his “mosquito fleet.” The stage was set for the Battle of Port Royal to begin. Illustration source: US Naval History and Heritage Command.

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