The North Carolina Navy began on May 27, 1861, when several Albemarle Sound steamers were organized as gunboats and army transports to protect the North Carolina shoreline. The navy had existed for only two months when the ships were bought by the Confederacy and used to challenge Federal ships. The Beaufort, for example, engaged the Federal ship the Albatross on July 22, 1861, and although neither ship suffered any major damage, the message was sent to the Federal army that passage through the Outer Banks would not go uncontested. That same day, all the North Carolina navy boats were bought by the Confederate army. The Beaufort engaged in several more battles and finally burned in Richmond on April 4, 1865.