Return of Hatteras Force
The Associated Press reports that Union regiments in and around Washington are slowly readying winter quarters. Absent major fighting, there are only sporadic skirmishes, firing and occasion potshots taken between rival pickets near the federal capital. "The Second Massachusetts are erecting a spacious stable for their horses, and digging cellars for their tents," The AP reports in an Oct. 12 dispatch. Although there are no major battles during this time, nerves are on edge from skirmishes. "About twenty heavy guns were heard ... Thursday night in the direction of the Great Falls" but the cause was unknown, one AP correspondent writes this week. Stormy weather signals the approaching winter at Fortress Monroe, the Union-held stone bastion on the Virginia coast. Reports note that a "severe gale now prevailing" has blocked a U.S. Treasury cutter from departing to enforce a federal blockade on Southern seaports from Virginia's Hampton Roads to Hatteras, N.C., an area used by contraband smugglers to run goods to the Confederacy. At Fortress Monroe, a federal tug exchanges shots with Confederates manning a battery beside the James River leading to Richmond, the Confederate capital. Meanwhile, the Union is bolstering its defendses at Fort Monroe, an imposing stronghold that would have military use for nearly 200 years until its deactivation in September 2011. "The Union gun is now mounted so as to sweep the Roads between the Fortress and Sewall's Point" nearby, the AP reports. Meanwhile, troops are erecting wooden houses on the fortress grounds for winter accommodations and readying more holding cells for smugglers caught aiding the Confederacy.