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[104] importance of the conflict had not yet been fully realized, but the spirits of all the Northern people were still drooping after the disastrous defeat at Bull Run. They required some salve for their wounded pride, and the successful conclusion of the first naval expedition gave them this and restored confidence, as well. But the most important features were the realization of the plans of the naval committee, and the fact that the victory had gained a base upon the Southern coast for the support of the blockading squadrons, while, at the same time, a foothold was afforded for military invasion.

Stringham's fleet had now almost complete command of the most important passage to the North Carolina sounds. More than one port of entry of the blockade-runners was closed. The important capture of the Hatteras forts was quickly followed by operations along the coast that extended into the various sounds, and a little Fort on Beacon Island, Ocracoke Inlet, some twenty miles further south, was captured. It was in an unfinished condition, and was practically abandoned upon receipt of the news of the fall of Forts Clark and Hatteras. Lieutenant Maxwell landed with a small force on Beacon Island and destroyed the guns found there--four 8-inch navy shell-guns and fourteen 32-pounders; then setting fire to a store-ship that he found a few miles beyond, near the little town of Portsmouth, he regained the fleet.

Thus was secured, from Hatteras Inlet southward to Cape Lookout, virtually the entire possession of the coast to the Cape Fear River; northward the occupation of Hatteras controlled the coast as far as Hampton Roads.

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Silas H. Stringham (1)
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