Also sometimes referred to as the Battle of Forts Hatteras and Clark, the Battle of Hatteras Inlet Batteries was a significant battle for a number of reasons. The battle consisted of a naval assault by the Union upon Confederate forts which afforded the Federal government access to the strategically important North Carolina Sounds.
Significance of the Battle
The battle was significant not for the number of casualties but for the fact that it gave the Union forces a much needed boost after the setback suffered during of the First Battle of Bull Run. In the early part of the American Civil War this was a much needed respite for the Union forces. It was an win that resulted from the Union’s newly implemented naval blockading strategy.
As a direct result of this battle, the Union not only gained certain strategic advantages, the interference of the Confederate forces in trade and commerce of the North was also reduced.
The Battle Summary
In a combined amphibious offensive that involved units of the United States Navy as well as the United States Army. It was the first of its kind; an offensive was launched by the Union forces under the leadership of Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler and Flag-Officer Silas Stringham, upon the Fort Clark and Fort Hatteras.
These forts located on Hatteras Island were under Confederate control; however they were poorly protected by too few men and too little in the way of arms and ammunition. When the Union forces attacked on August 28 1861, Confederate forces were ill-equipped to resist.
The defenders soon ran out of ammunition and however reinforcements did start to arrive for the Confederate forces after sunset on the first day. In spite of this however, the Union forces continued to hammer the Confederate positions who were still ill-equipped to answer their fire. The new naval blockading strategy employed by the Union as well as their strategy to keep the bombarding fleet in motion, yielded rich dividends.
Though casualties were few, Flag Officer Samuel Barron, then was in charge of coastal defenses of North Carolina and Virginia, after consultation with officers, decided to seek terms of surrender. On August 29, Col Martin surrendered garrison 670 of the Confederate forces to the Union.
While only 3 Union men were wounded in the battle, between 20 and 45 Confederate men lost their lives or were wounded (accounts about actual figures tend to vary). Also very significantly, 691 Confederate men were made prisoners of war.