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[238]

Quite as remarkable were the continual and ineffectual attempts on the part of the Federal forces to reduce the city of Charleston. To its wharves blockade-runners continually made their way up to the very last days of the war. Off its harbor was maintained the strongest fleet, in the point of efficiency, weight of metal, and actual fighting qualities, that existed in that day. Month after month, Charleston was assailed both by water and land. Under the direction of General Gillmore and General Terry, breaching batteries were erected in the marshes, and although most of the outlying earthworks and batteries were taken, many determined assaults were repulsed. Fort Wagner, on Morris Island, continued its brave and determined resistance until September 7, 1863, when it was evacuated just as a strong force of three thousand troops was ready to make the third assault. Although reduced to nothing but a pile of brick dust and debris, Sumter did not surrender, though day and night the fire of heavy guns from both the war-ships and the heavy artillery of the army was kept up.

Charleston's defense was something for her citizens to look back upon with pride. It was neither the Federal army nor navy that caused her downfall, but, as a contemporaneous writer has put it, “General Sherman took the city by turning his back on it.”

The harbor of Wilmington, North Carolina, had two entrances available for vessels of not more than twelve feet draft, and therefore two blockading squadrons were maintained. Fort Caswell guarded the southern entrance to the Cape Fear River, and Fort Fisher the northern. The Navy Department of the Federal Government had been anxious from the opening of the war to reduce these defenses, but this could only be done by a combined army and navy attack, and up to the time of the assumption of command of the Union armies by Grant, it was not deemed expedient to spare the troops.

Admiral Farragut, on September 5, 1864, was appointed to the command of a naval force to cooperate with the land

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Alfred H. Terry (1)
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