Stephen Michael Workman
POLITICIAN GENERALS, GUNBOAT COMMANDERS, AND ARMY-NAVY JOINT OPERATIONS IN COASTAL AND INLAND EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA, 1861 - 1865: INTERSERVICE RIVALRY OR COOPERATION?
(Under the director of Professor David E. Long) Department of History, November 2002.
The purpose of this thesis is to examine the working relations between the Union army and naval commands involved in joint operations in eastern North Carolina from 1861 to 1865, and how the individual commanders influenced those relations. Beginning with the attack on the Rebel forts at Cape Hatteras in 1861, the Union army and navy worked together as partners to invade and occupy coastal North Carolina. After the initial Federal successes at Roanoke Island, New Bern, and Fort Macon, nearly half of the Union troops left for Virginia to participate in the Peninsula campaign. The remaining Northern troops adopted a defensive posture, fortifying New Bern, Washington, and Plymouth. Except for a few large-scale raids, the army rarely ventured from its fortified outposts, leaving the initiative to the Confederate forces in the state. The small Union naval gunboat force assigned to the inland waters attempted to maintain the lines of communication between the Federal outposts, and led by a handful of aggressive junior officers, dared to venture up the rivers to disrupt Rebel supply lines. Despite ample intelligence and warnings, senior Union army commanders failed to cooperate with the naval forces to preemptively deal with the Confederate "Cornfield" ironclad threat. The Wilmington campaign and the two attacks against Fort Fisher clearly demonstrated the two extremes of interservice cooperation. The first attack suffered from limited communication and poor cooperation between the service commanders that led to an embarrassing failure. Good communication and close cooperation between the service commanders during the second attack produced an outstanding victory.