Southern Banks Fell to British in War of 1812

British Invasion: A British force under Admiral Cockburn occupied Portsmouth and Ocracoke, July 12-16 1813. S.E. 30 miles across Pamlico Sound.On July 12, 1813, a British fleet under the command of Admiral George Cockburn continued the invasion of the Outer Banks that had begun the night before. Before the day was over, the British had taken Ocracoke and Portsmouth Islands.

The invasion, which was part of the War of 1812, was the most serious attack on North Carolina during the course of the war. Cockburn’s fleet included a 74-gun man-of-war, three frigates, a brig, three schooners and several transport vessels carrying nearly 3,000 British soldiers and marines

The British plundered the islands of “200 head of cattle, 400 sheep, and 1,600 fowls of various kinds.” The troops paid the inhabitants for what they took but at prices far below actual value. The Redcoats took customs collector Thomas Singleton’s “papers in his library” and “tore up his law books.”

Though the British took two privateers, a revenue cutter managed to escape their grasp, reach New Bern and alert the rest of the state to the attack. That, in turn, allowed state militiamen to march on and guard coastal towns.

The British fleet sailed for Nova Scotia on July 16, but warned locals that the entire North Carolina coast remained under a British blockade. There is no evidence that the fleet ever returned to enforce it.

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