Roanoke island was a key position during the civil war here in the United States. Being that it was positioned opening to two major water routes (see image below). This not only served military strategy, but was also an important area for importing and receiving supplies and goods. Confederate soldiers had hold of the island to begin with. Though even with the perfect position, on February 7th and 8th, 1862, their strength was tested. On the first day of battle the union troops emerged on gun boats and engaged in a gun fight on the island. As it got later in the day it was obvious there would be no more fighting so late, so union troops set up camp and rested for the night. The next morning, going into battle union soldiers were first stopped by an artillery battery and an infantry in the middle of the island. Though because confederate troops were needed else where for this very reason, it was not many of them. Their shortage in numbers caused them to be overrun with union soldiers, and forced to surrender. Union soldiers took Roanoke island on the basis of not "loosing unnecessary men". After they claimed victory union generals deemed that slaves currently on the island were "contraband of war". Then it was stated in the emancipation proclamation that all slaves settled on union territory were in fact considered freed.
Map of Roanoke Island displaying water routes