|1861 Hurricane Season|
The East Coast is stilling the effects of Hurricane Irene’s grasp. The CAT 1 storm cut a swath up the East Coast, causing widespread damage from North Carolina to Vermont. We sincerely hope everyone was safe during this past weekend’s storm.
Looking through the records, it seems that a similar hurricane to Irene occurred 150 years ago. On the heels of the Port Royal Expedition, Hurricane Eight, better known as the “Expedition Hurricane,” severely impacted the timeline for the Union thrust into the vital Confederate stronghold.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the three day storm was the last of the season. “Hurricane Eight” began on the southwestern tip of Florida and climbed up the east coast. Not unlike Irene, the storm made landfall along the Outer Banks of North Carolina as a CAT 1, slowly diminishing speed up the coast before downgrading to a tropical storm by nightfall on 2 November. At its height, the hurricane reached winds approaching 80 mph.
The storm caused many problems for the United States Navy preparing for the expedition to capture the Confederate center along the Port Royal Sound. Although the earliest storm warning occurred in late October while the fleet assembled, the most devastating impact came on the 2nd.
Most of the ships involved in the storm were spared, many having to unload precious cargo to stay afloat. One ship which did not fair well, the transport Governor, lost seven Marines during a fateful rescue by the USS Sabine‘s crew. Writing to Blockade commander Samuel F. Du Pont, Southern Division Marine Corps Commander JNO. George Reynolds communicated the harrowing wind, waves, and rescue:
Despite the loss of ship and life, the fleet of 77 ships went on to capture the sound at the Battle of Port Royal. Stay tuned in November to the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial Blog for more information on that specific battle.