Item description: Newspaper article, 10 July 1862, reporting on an attack by Union gunboats near Hamilton, N.C., on the Roanoke River.
After Federal troops took control of northeastern North Carolina, in early 1862, including the mouth of the Roanoke River, Elizabeth City, Edenton, Winton, and other areas, Confederate troops were quickly sent to reinforce an area near Weldon, N.C. The area was home to an important railroad bridge that was seen as a weak point in the Confederate supply line between Wilmington and Richmond. Fort Branch was constructed at Hamilton, N.C., (outside Weldon) to provide additional protection for the bridge.
The incident reported here is believed to be the 9 July 1862 attack involving three Union ships (the USS Commodore Perry, Shawsheen, and Ceres), under command of Comdr. S.C. Rowan, USN. The ships came under fire near Poplar Point, returning fire and proceeding upriver past a deserted battery at Rainbow Bend, then landing near Hamilton to send about 100 men ashore with one field howitzer. Some believe that the mission was a maneuver meant to drum up allegiance among the area’s Union sympathizers.
Item citation: “From Eastern North Carolina,” The Daily Journal (Wilmington, N.C.), 10 July 1862. North Carolina Collection call number: C071 Z. Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
From Eastern North Carolina
Weldon, July 10.
A courier has just arrived here and states that seven or eight Yankee gunboats came up the Roanoke yesterday and without the slightest notice opened a bombardment upon the town of Hamilton. The result of the grand attack was, one infant killed, on the part of the inhabitants.
A portion of Capt. Whitaker’s cavalry were before them, resisted their landing, and succeeded in killing several Yankees, with but two or three wounded amongst his men.
The Yankees are now in possession of Hamilton — always an undefended place.