Battle of Tranter's Creek

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Battle of Tranter's Creek
Civil War on the North Carolina Coast

Battle of Tranter’s Creek

Other Names: None

Location: Pitt County

Campaign: Burnside's North Carolina Expedition (February-June 1862)

Date(s): June 5, 1862

Principal Commanders: Lt. Col. F.A. Osborne [US]; Col. George Singeltary [CS]

Forces Engaged: Regiments

Estimated Casualties: 40 total

Result(s): Union victory

Battle of Tranter's Creek Marker
Battle of Tranter's Creek Interpretive Marker.jpg
Battle of Tranter's Creek Interpretive Marker

Description: On June 5, Col. Robert Potter, garrison commander at Washington, North Carolina, ordered a reconnaissance in the direction of Pactolus. The 24th Massachusetts (including some cavalry and two pieces of artillery) under Lt. Col. F.A. Osborne, advanced to the bridge over Tranter’s Creek (a creek of the Pamlico River and near Washington, North Carolina), where it encountered the 44th North Carolina, under Col. George Singeltary (see North Carolina Outer Banks: Albemarle Sound and Pamlico Sound). Unable to force a crossing, Osborne brought his artillery to bear on the mill buildings in which the Confederates were barricaded. Colonel Singeltary was killed in the bombardment, and his troops retreated; the battle had lasted for one hour. The Federals did not pursue and returned to their fortifications at Washington. The Battle of Tranter's Creek was a continuation of Gen. Winfield Scott's "Anaconda Plan." Upon Colonel George Badger Singeltary's death, his brother Thomas Chappeau Singeltary assumed command of the 44th North Carolina. Thomas (1840-1873) was a graduate of the University of North Carolina. Another brother, Richard, served as commander of company H, 44th North Carolina. (See North Carolina Civil War Battle Reports: Tranter's Creek.)

Battle of Tranter's Creek, North Carolina
North Carolina Civil War Battle Tranter Creek.jpg
Civil War Battle of Tranter Creek, North Carolina

(Right) Beaufort County, Tranter's Creek, N.C. "The Battle of Tranter's Creek, near Washington, North Carolina, on June 5, 1862." Harper's Weekly, June 28, 1862, p. 413. Neg. 83-203. FP1-7-T77c-C582w.

Battle of Tranter's Creek Map
Battle of Tranter's Creek Map.gif
Civil War Tranter's Creek Map

Lt. Avery "Medal of Honor"
Civil War Medal of Honor.jpg
Valor at Battle of Tranter's Creek

Tranter's Creek and the Medal of Honor: Lt. William B. Avery (September 10, 1840 - July 19, 1894) was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor at the Battle of Tranter's Creek. Below is the transcription of his official Medal of Honor citation:

AVERY, WILLIAM B.

Rank and organization: Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 1st New York Marine Artillery. Place and date: At Tranters Creek, N.C., 5 June 1862. Entered service at: Providence, R.I. Born: 10 September 1840, Providence, R.I. Date of issue: 2 September 1893. Citation: Handled his battery with greatest coolness amidst the hottest fire. (See also Burnside's North Carolina Expedition.)

(Sources and related reading below.)

Recommended Reading: The Civil War in the Carolinas (Hardcover). Description: Dan Morrill relates the experience of two quite different states bound together in the defense of the Confederacy, using letters, diaries, memoirs, and reports. He shows how the innovative operations of the Union army and navy along the coast and in the bays and rivers of the Carolinas affected the general course of the war as well as the daily lives of all Carolinians. He demonstrates the "total war" for North Carolina's vital coastal railroads and ports. In the latter part of the war, he describes how Sherman's operation cut out the heart of the last stronghold of the South. Continued below...

The author offers fascinating sketches of major and minor personalities, including the new president and state governors, Generals Lee, Beauregard, Pickett, Sherman, D.H. Hill, and Joseph E. Johnston. Rebels and abolitionists, pacifists and unionists, slaves and freed men and women, all influential, all placed in their context with clear-eyed precision. If he were wielding a needle instead of a pen, his tapestry would offer us a complete picture of a people at war. Midwest Book Review: The Civil War in the Carolinas by civil war expert and historian Dan Morrill (History Department, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historical Society) is a dramatically presented and extensively researched survey and analysis of the impact the American Civil War had upon the states of North Carolina and South Carolina, and the people who called these states their home. A meticulous, scholarly, and thoroughly engaging examination of the details of history and the sweeping change that the war wrought for everyone, The Civil War In The Carolinas is a welcome and informative addition to American Civil War Studies reference collections.

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Recommended Reading: The Civil War in Coastal North Carolina (175 pages) (North Carolina Division of Archives and History). Description: From the drama of blockade-running to graphic descriptions of battles on the state's islands and sounds, this book portrays the explosive events that took place in North Carolina's coastal region during the Civil War. Topics discussed include the strategic importance of coastal North Carolina, Federal occupation of coastal areas, blockade-running, and the impact of war on civilians along the Tar Heel coast.

 

Recommended Reading: Ironclads and Columbiads: The Coast (The Civil War in North Carolina) (456 pages). Description: Ironclads and Columbiads covers some of the most important battles and campaigns in the state. In January 1862, Union forces began in earnest to occupy crucial points on the North Carolina coast. Within six months, Union army and naval forces effectively controlled coastal North Carolina from the Virginia line south to present-day Morehead City. Union setbacks in Virginia, however, led to the withdrawal of many federal soldiers from North Carolina, leaving only enough Union troops to hold a few coastal strongholds—the vital ports and railroad junctions. The South during the Civil War, moreover, hotly contested the North’s ability to maintain its grip on these key coastal strongholds.

 

Recommended Reading:  Storm over Carolina: The Confederate Navy's Struggle for Eastern North Carolina. Description: The struggle for control of the eastern waters of North Carolina during the War Between the States was a bitter, painful, and sometimes humiliating one for the Confederate navy. No better example exists of the classic adage, "Too little, too late." Burdened by the lack of adequate warships, construction facilities, and even ammunition, the South's naval arm fought bravely and even recklessly to stem the tide of the Federal invasion of North Carolina from the raging Atlantic. Storm Over Carolina is the account of the Southern navy's struggle in North Carolina waters and it is a saga of crushing defeats interspersed with moments of brilliant and even spectacular victories. It is also the story of dogged Southern determination and incredible perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds. Continued below...

For most of the Civil War, the navigable portions of the Roanoke, Tar, Neuse, Chowan, and Pasquotank rivers were occupied by Federal forces. The Albemarle and Pamlico sounds, as well as most of the coastal towns and counties, were also under Union control. With the building of the river ironclads, the Confederate navy at last could strike a telling blow against the invaders, but they were slowly overtaken by events elsewhere. With the war grinding to a close, the last Confederate vessel in North Carolina waters was destroyed. William T. Sherman was approaching from the south, Wilmington was lost, and the Confederacy reeled as if from a mortal blow. For the Confederate navy, and even more so for the besieged citizens of eastern North Carolina, these were stormy days indeed. Storm Over Carolina describes their story, their struggle, their history.

 

Recommended Reading: Gray Raiders of the Sea: How Eight Confederate Warships Destroyed the Union's High Seas Commerce. Reader’s Review: This subject is one of the most fascinating in the history of sea power, and the general public has needed a reliable single-volume reference on it for some time. The story of the eight Confederate privateers and their attempt to bring Union trade to a halt seems to break every rule of common sense. How could so few be so successful against so many? The United States, after Great Britain, had the most valuable and extensive import/export trade in the world by the middle of the 19th century. The British themselves were worried since they were in danger of being surpassed in the same manner that their own sea traders had surpassed the Dutch early in the 18th century. Continued below…

From its founding in 1861, the Confederate States of America realized it had a huge problem since it lacked a navy. It also saw that it couldn't build one, especially after the fall of its biggest port, New Orleans, in 1862. The vast majority of shipbuilders and men with maritime skills lived north of the Mason-Dixon Line, in the United States, and mostly in New England. This put an incredible burden on the Confederate Secretary of the Navy, Stephen R. Mallory. When he saw that most of the enemy navy was being used to blockade the thousands of miles of Confederate coasts, however, he saw an opportunity for the use of privateers. Mallory sent Archibald Bulloch, a Georgian and the future maternal grandfather of Theodore Roosevelt, to England to purchase British-made vessels that the Confederacy could send out to prey on Union merchant ships. Bulloch's long experience with the sea enabled him to buy good ships, including the vessels that became the most feared of the Confederate privateers - the Alabama, the Florida, and the Shenandoah. Matthew Fontaine Maury added the British-built Georgia, and the Confederacy itself launched the Sumter, the Nashville, the Tallahassee, and the Chickamauga - though these were generally not as effective commerce raiders as the first four. This popular history details the history of the eight vessels in question, and gives detailed biographical information on their captains, officers, and crews. The author relates the careers of Raphael Semmes, John Newland Maffitt, Charles Manigault Morris, James Iredell Waddell, Charles W. Read, and others with great enthusiasm. "Gray Raiders" is a great basic introduction to the privateers of the Confederacy. More than eighty black and white illustrations help the reader to visualize their dramatic exploits, and an appendix lists all the captured vessels. I highly recommend it to everyone interested in the Confederacy, and also to all naval and military history lovers.

Sources: National Park Service; Manuscripts Department, Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (SOUTHERN HISTORICAL COLLECTION); United States Department of Defense; Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

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