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Burnside Expedition

In October, 1861, General Ambrose Burnside was instructed to create a Coast Division, comprised of ships and troops (mostly gathered from North Atlantic sea coast areas) intended to be used along the Atlantic Coast in order to maintain that blockade that was part of Winfield Scott's Anaconda Plan. By the beginning of January 1862, the ships (a rather motley fleet) and men were gathered in Annapolis.

McClellan ordered the division to head down to Pamlico Sound, supported by a U.S. naval squadron under Admiral Louis M. Goldsborough. They were to use the Hatteras Inlet, which had been captured by the Union in August, to enter the sound. Setting off in early January, the fleet ran into a gale and then had trouble getting through the inlet. Finally, the fleet and troops made it into the inland waters.

Burnside's first objective was the Confederate controlled Roanoke Island, which controlled access to Albemarle Sound. The island's fortifications were manned by about 3,000 men under Col. Henry M. Shaw. On February 7th, the Union force steamed north to launch its attack. Burnside's division, supported by Goldsborough, bombarded the Confederate position and landed the troops on the island by the end of that day. The following day, the Confederate fortifications were captured, along with over 2,500 prisoners and 32 cannon.


Landing troops on Roanoke Island
W. Momberger. "Landing of Troops on Roanoke Island." From The Great Rebellion. Connecticut: Hurlburt, Williams, & Co., 1862. 4 1/2 x 7. Steel engravings by Geo. F. Perine. Very good condition.

An unusual engraving showing the Union troops being landed on Roanoke Island before their assault on the Confederate positions. The troop carriers and gun boats in the fleet are shown in the distance. $75


Capture of Roanoke Island
F.O.C. Darley. "Capture of Roanoke Island. Charge of Zouaves." From The Great Civil War. New York: Virtue & Yorston, 1863-65. 5 x 7 1/2. Steel engraving. Very good condition.

Another engraving of the capture of Roanoke Island, this one showing the Union forces storming the battlements. $75


Capture of Roanoke Island
Alonzo Chappel. "Attack Upon Roanoke Island - Landing of the Troops." From Battles of the United States by Sea and Land. New York: Johnson, Fry & Co., ca. 1865. 5 x 8. Steel engraving. Very good condition. $75



Schell. "The Burnside Expedition encountering the terrific gale off Hatteras." Wood engraving. 4 x 6. Very good condition. $25



Prints from Harper's Weekly

Burnside Expedition
The Burnside expedition created great interest in the north. At first the specific objective was not known, but that a very large, joint operation between the army and navy under General Burnside was underway created its own excitement, so it was natural that the illustrated newspapers like Harper's Weekly followed the events closely.



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©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. February 10, 2012