1. Did you know … that during the years of the Civil War (1861 – 1865) the Atlantic hurricane seasons were very weak. Only a handful of hurricanes and tropical storms were recorded from each year, and from those, very few made landfall. However, in early November, 1861, a hurricane did hit the east coast of the United States that directly affected the Civil War. Known as the “Expedition Hurricane”, the storm began as a tropical storm on November 1, 1861 in the southeast Gulf of Mexico, moved across Florida and up the east coast. It reached hurricane strength (Category 1) on November 2nd, hitting the Outer Banks of North Carolina during the day before weakening to a tropical storm by nightfall.

Continuing northward, the storm made landfall in Massachusetts on November 3rd and eventually lost strength throughout the rest of that day.







11/01/1861 6:00AM

25.5° N

82.1° W

Tropical Storm


11/01/1861 12:00PM

27.2° N

81.1° W

Tropical Storm


11/01/1861 6:00PM

29.2° N

80.1° W

Tropical Storm


11/02/1861 12:00AM

31.2° N

78.6° W

Category 1


11/02/1861 6:00AM

33.2° N

77.3° W

Category 1


11/02/1861 12:00PM

35.2° N

76.3° W

Category 1


11/02/1861 6:00PM

37.0° N

75.0° W

Tropical Storm


11/03/1861 12:00AM

38.7° N

73.8° W

Tropical Storm


11/03/1861 6:00AM

40.3° N

72.8° W

Tropical Storm


11/03/1861 12:00PM

42.0° N

71.5° W

Tropical Storm


11/03/1861 6:00PM

44.0° N

70.0° W

Tropical Storm










Source: State Climate Office of North Carolina


The reason the hurricane was known as the “Expedition Hurricane”, was because the Union had launched the largest fleet of warships and transports ever assembled (over 75 ships and 12,000 soldiers) on October 29, 1861. It was known as the Port Royal Expedition and was intended to set up a naval blockade at Port Royal, South Carolina. However, when the expedition encountered the hurricane on November 2nd off the coast of Cape Hatteras, NC, the fleet was scattered and three ships were sunk. Eventually the expedition regrouped and one by one, arrived at Port Royal. On November 7, 1861 a short battle ensued between the fleet and the two forts guarding the port; Fort Beauregard and Fort Walker. The fleet was overpowering and the battle was easily won by the Union.

For more on the Port Royal Expedition, refer to:



A letter from Gustavus V. Fox to Abraham Lincoln (Naval Affairs) on Tuesday, November 05, 1861 alludes to the storm that hit the Union naval fleet. This is from the Library of Congress web site. See link below.


Navy Dept.

Nov. 5th 61


A telegraph from Balt. this morning to the Dept. announces that the fleet were seen 30 miles north of Charleston Sat. night. One of the transports had ret. suffering slightly from some cause. We have no information that the gale was severe with them on the contrary all seemed right Sat. night.


Most sincerely

G. V. Fox



2. Did you know … that horses suffered heavy casualties during the Civil War. The armies used horses to not only act as heroic steeds for the Cavalry, but also to transport men, supplies, artillery and equipment. In the Battle of Gettysburg, it is estimated that over 3000 horses were killed during the three day confrontation!

Gettysburg 1863

Gettysburg 1863

But battle was not only the cause of death for horses. As with soldiers, a high percentage of deaths was attributed to disease, exhaustion and at times, starvation. According to the article “The Horse In the Civil War” written by Deborah Grace, “Despite the thousands of horses killed or wounded in battle, the highest number were lost to disease or exhaustion. The Tenth Massachusetts Battery lost 157 horses between October 18, 1862, and April 9, 1865. Out of these horses, 112 died from disease. Forty-five of these succumbed to glanders. Glanders, a highly contagious disease that affects the skin, nasal passages, and respiratory tracts of a horse, was most widespread. Another forty-five horses from the same battery were lost to fatigue; they simply became too exhausted to work and were put to death”. This short article is fascinating and I recommend it highly. Link to:



3. Did you know … that, according to estimates, there were about 280,000 Federal deserters from the Union military and another 110,000 deserters from the Confederate ranks. All told, about 11% of the entire military forces from both North and South deserted. Although the punishment for desertion could be as severe as death by firing squad (or hanging if the offence involved treason or other henous crime), it was left to the discretion of the court martial to determine. According to Florida Reenactors Online, “Approximately 500 soldiers (north and south combined) were executed for capital crimes. The Union army’s records show that they executed 267 men. This included 147 deserters, 67 murderers, 19 mutineers, 23 rapists and 11 others for various crimes”.

Execution of Deserter by firing squad

Execution of Deserter by firing squad

For more information on Civil War desertion and other offenses and punishments during the Civil War, please read “Crimes and Punishments in the Civil War (Parts 1 and 2) – Crimes and Offenses”, see the two links below.







If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by two Lincoln experts:

“An Awesometalk With” Harold Holzer, Lincoln Scholar

(posted on November 10, 2008) 

  “An Awesometalk With” Dr. Thomas Schwartz, Illinois State Historian 

(posted on December 08, 2008)