Friday, May 23, 2014

April 12, 1864 (Saturday): Bragg Plans A Surprise Attack on Plymouth

General Robert F. Hoke

Richmond, April 12, 1864.
Brigadier General ROBERT F. HOKE,
Kinston, N. C.:
    GENERAL: You are assigned to the special command of the land forces for an expedition against Plymouth, &c., in Eastern North Carolina. Your force will be composed as follows and immediately assembled at Tarborough, viz: Brigadier-General Ransom's brigade from Weldon, N. C.; Brigadier-General Hoke's brigade (except one regiment) from Kinston, N. C.; Eighth North Carolina Regiment, Clingman's brigade, near Petersburg, Va.; Brigadier-General Kemper's brigade, now at Tarborough; such artillery as can be spared from Kinston, N. C., on the requisition of Brigadier General R. F. Hoke; one regiment cavalry, or as much as Brigadier-General Corse may be able to spare. You will concentrate this force with expedition and secrecy, taking all necessary ammunition, &c. About five days' rations should be ready at Tarborough. As soon as you are prepared to move from Tarborough you will notify the commander of the gun-boat Albemarle, and inform him at whattime you propose to make your attack, so that he may co-operate as nearly as possible. It will be well for you to place him in possession of your plans and views previous to this notice, so that the may be able to prepare fully for all that is expected. Ransom's brigade will be ordered to march to Tarborough, but it is suggested that he might form a junction with you much nearer Plymouth and save his command one day's march. Shuld you think this advisable, order him accordingly. In your movement on Plymouth, success will depend in a great measure on celerity and secrecy, but great confidence is reposed on you well-known activity and energy. On your arrival before the enemy's position, prompt and decided action will most probably be crowned with complete success. Any delay, however, will enable the enemy to re-enforce and probably defeat your object, or make it cost too dearly for you to reap the fruits so confidently expected. Should you succeed in the first step, in capturing Plymouth and opening the river, then your attention should be immediately directed to Washington and New Berne. For this purpose you should advise Brigadier-General Corse of your plans and movements and secure his prompt and hearty co-operation. It is hoped you may be able to leave Tarborough Saturday or Sunday next. If possible, I will meet you then, and aid as far as possible in carrying out the details of your plans.
     Wishing you all success, I am, general, very respectfully,


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 1, Page 858.

A part of maintaining the security of the Army of Northern Virginia was protection of its rear by forces in North Carolina.  The Union forces in the state had a foothold in Plymouth and Bragg, realizing its strategic importance, aimed to remove it.  For the job he chose General R. F. Hoke.  Hoke had been wounded at Chancellorsville and remained out of action until sent to his native state to quell quell civilian violence, arrest deserters, and maintain a show of force in a state where support of the war was wavering.  He would work in concert with the ram Albemarle, one of the few times in the war the Confederacy was able to mount a combined arms attack.  The attack, as shall be seen, would prove successful.  One of Hoke's sons would be a founder of the Shriner's Children's Hospital.

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