You never know what you might find

I was slogging my way through the Confederate Navy Subject Files the other night as I normally do (usually 500-1000 pages per night) when I happened on an invoice for the Schooner M.C. Sumner, Captain James Cartwright. She was detained with work around the Pork Point battery (Fort Bartow), bringing up stores from Fort Oregon following its abandonment.

She was also used for the conveyance of troops to Chicamacomico in early October of 1861. These troops were part of the Chicamacomico Races. Futhermore, she was used to hold prisoners through the 13th of October 1861. No earthshaking news. Just another small piece of the big puzzle. A small piece that had me excitedly e-mailing Lee Oxford at 1:30 a.m. in the morning!

Lee Oxford is working on a bigger piece of the puzzle. One of his ancestors was captured aboard the Fanny. He is working on a book about the Fanny and the Chicamacomico Races. One of the small pieces he was missing was the name of the ship the prisoners were held on.

Back in February, Lee was one of the keynote speakers at the Civil War Living History Day at the Museum of the Albemarle. He shared with me a small piece of information he had dug up in his research: a company of the 7th (later 17th) NC Volunteer troops went ashore with the 3rd Georgians in their pursuit of the 20th Indiana troops stationed at Chicamacomico.

Co. L, 7th Regiment NC Volunteers (Co. E, 17th NC, 1st Organization) was stationed at Oregon Inlet. They were also known as the Currituck Atlanic Rifles, local troops raised in Currituck County in early 1861. Following the capture of Forts Clark and Hatteras at Hatteras Inlet on 28-29 August 1862, the recently completed Fort Oregon on the northern end of Hatteras Island was abandoned and the three companies of troops stationed there were relocated to Roanoke Island. It is quite likely the M.C. Sumner helped carry these troops to Roanoke Island.

Lee’s little bit of information dovetailed with my work on where the men of the 7th NC ended up following the debacle at Hatteras Inlet. Mine dovetailed with his on Chicamacomico. That’s the way it goes: one little piece here, one little piece there, gradually rebuilding the big picture of the Civil War here in northeastern North Carolina.

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