Burnside Campaign Made Inroads on N.C. Coast

A flag used by North Carolina troops at the Battle of Roanoke Island, now in the collection of the N.C. Museum of History

A flag used by North Carolina troops at the Battle of Roanoke Island, now in the collection of the N.C. Museum of History

On February 7, 1862, Federal ships bombarded Fort Bartow, part of the Confederate defenses on Roanoke Island. One of three Confederate earthen forts on the west side the island (the others were Fort Huger and Fort Blanchard), Fort Bartow mounted nine guns. The forts were designed to protect the mainland from Federal invasion and to complement obstructions placed in the channel. Of the three forts, Bartow was the only one actively engaged in what would become known as the Battle of Roanoke Island.

The first shot of the battle was fired from Bartow’s guns and the fort subsequently was bombarded by the Federal fleet for seven hours. The Confederate fleet, under Captain W. F. Lynch, waited to engage the Federals behind a line of obstructions placed in Croatan Sound to delay the Federal advance. However, the Confederates, after a sharp engagement which was ended only by darkness, were forced to retire due to lack of ammunition.

The next day, the Union army was victorious in the Battle of Roanoke Island, which gave the federals control of the North Carolina Sound region.

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