Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Hatteras Expedition Assembles

Cape Hatteras and the North Carolina Sounds had become a perfect safe haven for Confederate commerce raiders.  As Northern merchant ships used the Gulf Stream as expressway home from West Indies ports, the local waters were target rich.  Several dozen small merchants fell victim to privateers and small commissioned gunboats.

To put a stop to this, the Union's Blockade Board recommended using filling schooners with stones and sinking them Hatteras' channel.  After consultations with local pilots about the currents in the area, the idea was soon rejected.  Commodore Silas Stringham recommended seizing the Hatteras Inlet as the only real solution.

In mid-August, the expedition began to assemble in Hampton Roads.  The large steam frigates USS Minnesota and Wabash and the all sail sloop-of-war USS Cumberland formed the core of a task force of several warships and transports.  The expedition's assembly caused a buzz in Northern newspapers who were looking for something positive to write about in light of the humiliating sting of Bull Run.

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