In the early months of the war, the sheltered waters of Pamlico Sound provided a perfect base for Confederate privateers to breach the Union maritime blockade and raid passing commercial shipping. To protect its raiders, North Carolina built two forts, Hatteras and Clark on a narrow island shielding the Sound. On 28 August 1861, a Union flotilla commanded by Flag Officer Stringham attacked these forts; Clark was soon abandoned, its defenders fleeing to Hatteras. Stringham’s guns had greater range than those of the defenders: he was able to batter the remaining fort with his artillery with impunity. After several hours of this punishment, Hatteras surrendered, handing control of the Sound to the Union. The battle at Port Royal in November followed a similar trajectory. Flag Officer Du Pont’s bombardment first forced the abandonment of Fort Walker, whereupon the commander of Fort Beauregard, realizing he could be trapped by a landing party, surrendered.
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