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[231] constituting her the most formidable “ram” in existence. She carried sixteen eleven-inch Dahlgren guns, two two hundred-pound Parrott guns, and four twenty-four-pound howitzers, making her aggregate weight of metal two hundred and eighty-four thousand eight hundred pounds. She was propelled by a screw moved by two horizontal engines, and was furnished with sails and completely bark-rigged. This was the most formidable vessel in Porter's fleet, and fought Fort Fisher gallantly without receiving a wound. After that she returned to the place of her nativity, where she was dismantled and allowed to repose at League Island, just below Philadelphia, until accidentally destroyed by fire on Sunday, about the middle of December, 1866.

While this naval armament was gathering in Hampton Roads, Governor Andrews, of Massachusetts, had laid Mr. Kidder's plan before the government, and it was again approved. The proponent was sent for, and he accompanied Admiral Porter from the National Capital to Hampton Roads. At Fortress Monroe, they had an interview with Lieutenant General Grant, who also approved the plan, and agreed to send the bulk of Sheridan's army, then in the Shenandoah Valley, to execute it. Again the supreme necessities of the service interfered. The movements of the Confederates in the Valley detained Sheridan there; and, as no competent force of cavalry could be had to make the co-operating movement from Newbern with forces at Masonboroa Inlet, the plan was again abandoned. Then measures for making a direct attack upon the Cape Fear defenses were pressed with energy.

In September, Generals Godfrey Weitzel and Charles K. Graham had made a reconnoissance of Fort Fisher by means of the blockading squadron. Rumors of this movement had reached the Confederates. On the fall of the Mobile forts, they perceived that their only hopes of receiving supplies from the sea rested on their ability to keep open the port of Wilmington to blockade-runners. The reconnoissance implied a meditated attempt to close it. Their suspicions were confirmed by the gathering of the formidable naval force in Hampton Roads. Then they hastened to strengthen Fort Fisher and its dependencies, by erecting new military works and increasing its garrison. The skilful engineer and judicious commander, General W. H. C. Whiting, was in charge of the Confederate forces in that region, in the absence of General Braxton Bragg, who had gone to Georgia with a greater portion of the Confederate troops at and around Wilmington, to oppose General Sherman's march from Atlanta to the sea. The fact that General Bragg had gone to Georgia,

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