The Lost Confederates of Roanoke

On January 2nd, General Henry A. Wise, former Governor of Virginia, is put in command of The Department of Norfolk. This department encompasses Roanoke Island and parts of Eastern North Carolina.

General Henry A. Wise

Colonel Henry M. Shaw of the 8th North Carolina is in direct command on Roanoke Island. He has been sending reports to the Confederate War Department apprising them of the state of affairs on the island. The reports site inadequate defenses, lack of obstructions in Croatan Sound, lack of ammunition and the absence of a competent engineer and artillery officers.

General Wise inspects the island on January 7th and states, "The infantry were un-drilled, unpaid, not sufficiently clothed and quartered, and were miserably armed with old flintlock muskets in bad order. In a word, the defenses were a sad  farce of ignorance and neglect combined, inexcusable in any or all who were responsible for them."

Evidence of the types of antiquated arms many of the Southern troops were armed with on Roanoke Island. Lockplate from a Model 1816 Harpers Ferry flintlock musket. Lead flint holder along with musket and pistol flints.

General Wise orders pilings to be sunk in front of Fort Bartow to force enemy ships to come under direct fire of the fort. He instructs officers to drill the men in the forts and batteries in artillery. In Addition, Wise requests infantry reinforcements from the "Legion" he had been organizing prior to his appointment as district commander.

On January 22nd Wise learns that he is put in direct command on Roanoke Island.

January 30th finds the general in Nags Head, North Carolina where he establishes his headquarters in the hotel near the shore of Roanoke Sound. He inspects Roanoke Island on January 31st and finds little has been done to bolster the defenses. Wise returns to Nags Head where he comes down with pleurisy the next day and is confined to bed. 

Fort Bartow has been reinforced with the addition of two cannon on its south flank. The blockading of Croatan Sound proceeds slowly with only one piledriver working. Colonel Shaw orders old schooners sunk along the piles to strengthen them.

Pilings driven into Croatan Sound just north of Fort Bartow.

Burnsides Expedition will soon leave Hatteras Inlet bound for Roanoke Island.