Battle of Elizabeth City, 10 February 1862

A minor naval battle during the American Civil War. On 7-8 February an expedition led by Ambrose Burnside had captured Roanoke Island. On the first day of that battle his fleet of sixteen gunboats had chased off a small Confederate force of seven gunboats, one of which had to be destroyed. The six survivors retreated north to Elizabeth City, where they sheltered behind the dubious protection of a four-gun battery.

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Early on 10 February the Federal fleet caught up with them. The militiamen in the gun battery fled, forcing the Confederate commander, William F. Lynch, to despatch some of his men to man the guns. The Federal fleet, under Commander (later Vice-Admiral Stephen Rowan, swept past that fort and fell on the tiny Confederate fleet. Only one ship escaped. Three were destroyed by their own crew, one was sunk and another captured. Lynch was in the terrible position of having to watch this disaster from the fort, his own ship’s boat having been destroyed while he was on shore.

The Federal fleet went on to briefly occupy Elizabeth City. On 12 February they also took Edenton. The number of ports available to Confederate blockade runners was rapidly diminishing.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 December 2006), Battle of Elizabeth City, 10 February 1862 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_elizabeth_city.html

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