First Wednesdays – Murmur of the Burnside Expedition

Information coming to the attention of Governor Henry T. Clark suggested that the U.S. was planning a major assault against the coast of North Carolina.  When Clark questioned the Confederate government concerning the defense of coastal North Carolina he received a telegram from Confederate Secretary of War, Judah P. Benjamin chiding him for his expressed concerns.  However, less than a week later he received an alarming telegram.  Benjamin Huger reported that at least thirty-five vessels were seen heading south off Cape Henry,Virginia.  According to Huger, the troop transports were of a moderate draft indicating a likely assault against a shallow inland waterway such as North Carolina’s coastal area.  A final telegram informed Governor Clark that the Federal occupied Hatteras Inlet held forty-three or forty-four vessels of the Burnside Expedition.  Clark’s unease over a possible assault on North Carolina’s coast shortly turned to certainty and led to his own call for defense of the coast.  The first offensive of the second year of the war would take place on North Carolina soil.

Governor’s Office, Military Board: Telegrams on the beginning of the Burnside Expedition, Jan. 1862

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