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[115]

Port Royal, 1862.

In these photographs of March, 1862, Federals are busily at work making the newly captured Port Royal the strong and handy Southern base it remained throughout the war. It had become apparent early in the war that, if the blockade were to be made effective, the Federal Government must repossess itself as quickly as possible of the forts guarding the entrances to the important harbors of the South. From the Rio Grande to the Chesapeake the coast defenses were in the hands of the Confederacy. It was impossible for the navy to prevent the ingress and egress of blockade-runners under friendly guns. President Lincoln, in June, 1861, convened a board including Captain Samuel Francis Du Pont and Captain Charles H. Davis, of the navy, Major John G. Barnard, of the army, and Professor Alexander D. Bache, of the coast survey. After careful study they presented a plan to the President. Its first object was to obtain possession of Hatteras Inlet and thus close the main entrance to Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, which were veritable havens of refuge to the blockade-runner. This was to be followed up by the capture of Port Royal for a naval base, where vessels could be coaled and repaired without the necessity of being withdrawn from the blockading squadron for the long period required to reach a Northern port. On August 29th a fleet under Flag-Officer Silas H. Stringham, together with a military force commanded by General Benjamin F. Butler, carried out successfully the first of these plans. This was the first expedition in which the army cooperated with the navy. On November 7th another joint expedition, under Flag-Officer Samuel Francis Du Pont, silenced and captured the forts at Port Royal. Then into the sounds had to be sent light-draft gunboats to drive the Confederates from position after position back toward Charleston and Savannah — the first effective step by the Federal navy toward narrowing the field of the blockade-runners, compelling them to seek harbors where the larger vessels of the old navy could be effectively used against them.

Federals on the wharf at Port Royal--1862

Stores at the newly captured base


 

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