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[230] Fear river, ten miles above the first-named town. It was known that no formidable defenses near Wilmington would oppose a force coming over from the sea. This plan was submitted by Mr. Kidder, early in 1864, to General Burnside, who was then recruiting men in New York and New England to fill up his corps — the Ninth. That energetic officer was so pleased and interested in the plan that he submitted it to the government, and received from the War Department full permission to carry it out. For that purpose he collected a large force at Annapolis, and was almost ready to go forward in the execution of the plan, when the campaigns in Virginia and Georgia were arranged by General Grant, and Burnside and the Ninth Corps were called to the Army of the Potomac. The expedition against Wilmington was abandoned, and its capture was postponed for nearly a year.

In the summer of 1864, General Charles K. Graham submitted a plan for the seizure of Wilmington. It was suggested by Kidder's plan. It proposed to have a force of cavalry and infantry, a thousand strong, collectively, and a section of artillery, go out from Newbern (then held by the National forces) and strike the railway between Wilmington and Goldsboroa with destructive energy, while two picked squadrons of cavalry and two thousand infantry, with a good battery, should land at Snead's ferry, at the mouth of New river, forty-one miles from Wilmington. This force should then march on that city, while another, composed of twenty-five hundred infantry, with ten pieces of artillery, should land at Masonboroa Inlet and push on toward Wilmington. It was believed that the menaces of these several bodies of troops would so distract and divide the Confederates that the capture of Wilmington would be an easy task. Circumstances prevented an attempt to execute General Graham's plan.

Meanwhile, arrangements had been made by the government for an attack, by land and water, on the forts at the entrance to Mobile Bay, which were crowned with success. Similar arrangements were made to assail the forts at the entrance to the Cape Fear river. So early as August, 1864, armored and unarmored gunboats began to gather in Hampton Roads. Full fifty of these were there in October, under the command of Admiral David D. Porter, who had performed signal services on the Mississippi and other inland waters in the Southwest. Among them were several vessels of the “Monitor” class and the “New Ironsides,” a powerful vessel, built at Philadelphia, having a wooden hull covered with iron plates four inches in thickness, and at her bow an immense wrought iron beak,

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