At an early age, Otway Burns had the sea in his veins. He later became a daring privateer during the War of 1812–one of the more famous American privateers in the nation’s history. As a state legislator during the 1820s and 1830s his opinions regarding the status of African Americans and the development of western North Carolina upset his constituents.
Author: Andrew Duppstadt
Andrew Duppstadt has a BA and MA in history from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He is the Assistant Curator of Education for the North Carolina Division of State Historic Sites. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor of History at Coastal Carolina Community College and Craven Community College. He resides in Jacksonville.
Although the most successful American naval officer of the War of 1812 and commander of the feared Wasp, Blakely never enjoyed the fame that he had for so long desired. It was posthumous.
The United States Navy’s activities off the North Carolina coast undoubtedly influenced the outcome of the Civil War. Even though many Tar Heels never saw a Union sailor or ship up close, the US Navy affected daily life in North Carolina because its blockade controlled nearly two-thirds of the coast. The threat of a naval bombardment was ever-present, too. During the latter stages of the war, the US Navy played an important role in the Old North State that hastened the end of war.
Many North Carolinians influenced the course of the American Civil War, but none so uniquely as did James Iredell Waddell. One of the most successful Confederate commerce raiders, much like Raphael Semmes and John Taylor Wood, Waddell spent much of the conflict overseas and left a controversial legacy behind. In particular, he commanded the only Confederate ship to circumnavigate the globe and continued fighting U.S. boats after the war’s end.
Although Confederate leadership for some time anticipated using the CSS Neuse, the ironclad’s service was short and disappointing. Various reasons, including a manpower shortage and Union raids on construction material, delayed the ironclad’s construction. Once it was battle and sea ready, the Neuse grounded on a sandbar during its first mission in 1864. It was later scuttled after its second and last mission in 1865.
The Confederate Navy conducted numerous joint land and sea raids during the Civil War. One important expedition in North Carolina was against the USS Underwriter in early February 1864. The brainchild of a naval officer, John Taylor Wood, the expedition was part of a larger Confederate offensive against the Union stronghold at New Bern. General Robert E. Lee detailed General Robert F. Hoke’s brigade, under the command of General George Pickett, to attack and attempt to retake the city. The army’s assault is largely forgotten because it failed. The navy’s spectacular attack, however, was more successful and proved that Union control in eastern North Carolina, even relatively late during the war, could still be challenged seriously.
Students of the Civil War often overlook the contributions of the naval services in the conflict. The Confederate Navy and Marine Corps, however, played significant roles in North Carolina. They not only hampered the ability of the Union Navy to do its job, but took part in some of the state’s largest battles.