Wednesday, August 31, 2016


The 1,290 ton steamer sloop Pawnee was launched in Philadelphia in 1859.

Sketch by Philip Howard

In August of 1861, at the beginning of the American Civil War, the Pawnee was assigned to the Atlantic Blockading Squadron, a unit of the US Navy designed to enforce a blockade of Confederate ports. On August 26, the Pawnee sailed to the North Carolina coast. There she was engaged in the first naval engagement of the Civil War, attacks on Fort Hatteras and Fort Clark (August 28–29) near Hatteras Inlet. The Confederate forts quickly capitulated and were subsequently occupied by U.S. troops.

On September 18 Lieutenant James Y. Maxwell  of the Pawnee, in an official report, recounted the destruction of Fort Ocracoke on Beacon Island:

"...[I]n compliance with your orders...I started for Ocracoke on [September 16, 1861] in the steamer Fanny, towing the Pawnee's launch.... [The fort] is called Fort Ocracoke, and is situated on the seaward face of Beacon Island; it was entirely deserted. It is octagonal in shape, contains four shell rooms about 25 feet square, and in the center a large bombproof of 100 feet square, with the magazine within it. Directly above the magazine on each side were four large tanks containing water.

The Destruction of Fort Ocracoke

"The fort has been constructed with great care of sand barrace, covered with earth and turf. The inner framing of the bombproof was built of heavy pine timbers. There were platforms for twenty guns which had been partially destroyed by fire. The gun carriages had been all burned. There were 18  guns in the fort, viz, 4 8-inch shell guns and 14 long 32-pounders."

Our Ocracoke Newsletter for this month is an article by Philip Howard, My Ocracoke, Living amidst 250 years of Howard family history. You can read it here:

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:27 PM

    Sorry to give you an off-topic question - are you expecting a hurricane this weekend? Sometimes you give us much-appreciated bad weather info. And thank you for the Pawnee story. It is very interesting.