On February 7-8, 1862, the Union captured Roanoke Island, effectively cutting off access of blockade runners to Norfolk, Virginia through openings in the outer Banks off the North Carolina and Virginia coasts. Seven of the eight gunboats defending the island escaped up the Pasquotank River to Elizabeth City. So long as they were there, the gunboats represented a threat to the forces occupying Roanoke Island. On February 10, Union gunboats attacked the Confederate gunboats, destroying or capturing four and driving the other three to Norfolk. Owing to the coastal blockade and blockage of access through the Outer Banks, Norfolk no longer was useful to the Confederates and was abandoned in May 1862. This account describes in detail the engagement between the Union and Confederate gunboats on February 10.
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Text Copyright, 2023-08-08, by Lowell L. Getz. All Rights Reserved.