Commander Thomas “Tornado” Hunter didn’t sit idle following the sinking of his ship Curlew during the battle of Roanoke Island. Retreating to Elizabeth City with the rest of the NC Squadron, Hunter was dispatched by Flag Officer William F. Lynch to South Mills to repair the disabled locks on 9 February 1861.
Hunter was successful in his efforts, as the CSS Beaufort was able to escape though the locks and up the Dismal Swamp Canal the following day. The CSS Appomattox wasn’t so lucky; she couldn’t fit through the locks and was schuttled.
Marching on towards Gosport, Hunter paused at the Cross-Cut Canal to Gates County to sink a dredge in its openning. He continued to Gosport and reported his crew to the CS Receiving Ship United States. He was ordered to reenlist his crew for the war. They were to serve as his crew aboard a new Maury gunboat when it was completed: the “Old Dominion.” The unfinished Old Dominion was destroyed when Gosport was abandoned in May 1862.