February 7th and 8th mark the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Roanoke Island. A lesser known battle, Roanoke Island was part of Brigadier General Ambrose E. Burnside’s North Carolina Expedition and its successful outcome allowed the Union to tighten its blockade of southern ports.
On February 7, 1862, Burnside landed 7,500 men southwest of Roanoke Island via an amphibious operation launched. The next morning, supported by gunboats, the Union troops assaulted the southern forts, driving back the Confederate’s outnumbered forces. After losing less than 100 men, Colonel H.M. Shaw surrendered about 2,500 soldiers and 32 guns to the Union.