Homefront help, and an amphibious assault

August 21, 2011 

Tennessee Gov. Isham G. Harris, his state in the Confederacy, issues a call for women on the homefront to prepare blankets, uniforms and other clothing for troops set to fight.

Tennessee is a state of divided loyalties; it mustered tens of thousands of Confederate troops but saw thousands also go to the Union side. Some of Tennessee's bloodiest fighting is still well distant, at Shiloh in 1862. For now the war, in its early stages, sees light and scattered skirmishes.

Confederate soldiers, like Union counterparts, are just adjusting to camp life. Yet there are reports of Confederate officers scrambling to procure large quantities of tobacco for those grumbling troops deprived of a smoking habit.

Union Major Gen. Benjamin Butler sets sail Aug. 26, leading a naval force from Fort Monroe, Va., to stifle blockade runners and seize Hatteras Inlet, N.C. Days later, the naval ships begin bombarding Fort Hatteras before Union landing parties wade ashore. The fort and nearby Fort Clark are captured.

Hatteras' poorly trained defenders surrender unconditionally. The Cape Hatteras lighthouse is damaged by artillery in the fighting. The early Union naval victories tighten the federal blockade of the South, squelching blockade runners off North Carolina's Outer Banks. The expedition is hailed as the first amphibious assault in U.S. Navy history and the territory seized is the first taken by Union that it will hold for the duration of the war.

There is rejoicing in the North, anger in the South. Butler is fast earning Confederate wrath as one unnamed Southerner's poem attests: “… In every land, The Scoundrel is despised. In Butler's name the foulest wrongs and crimes are all comprised … Ages unborn will tell in scorn of him as mankind's scourge.”

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