CSS Ellis

Featured Character – 1861-1862

Pencil Drawing of the CSS Ellis

Source: Diary of Charles F. Johnson

The CSS Ellis was an iron-hulled propeller steamer that was part of the original North Carolina Navy.  The steamer was bought and commissioned in 1861 to bring reinforcements from Ocracoke and Hatteras. It was present at the defense of Fort Hatteras and Fort Clark at Hatteras Inlet on August 28–29, 1861, and at the Battle of Roanoke Island on February 7–8, 1862. At the Battle of Elizabeth City on February 10, 1862, it was captured by the USS Ceres, after which it was employed by the Union Navy. When Lieutenant William B. Cushing encountered Confederate forces near the New River Inlet, he was forced to decide whether to surrender or destroy the ship.  As such, on November 24, 1862, the CSS Ellis was set on fire and destroyed while Cushing and his men escaped on a small schooner to the sea.