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[107] able for their high professional qualities—secured the control of the vast network of lagoons and inlets extending on the one hand to Charleston, and on the other to Fernandina. The blockade was made thoroughly efficient in the sounds; and the capture of Fort Pulaski in the following summer, in which a detachment from the fleet assisted, made the Savannah River nearly inaccessible to the blockade-runners. Port Royal then became the centre of occupation, and the headquarters of the fleet.

The principal centre of blockade in the South Atlantic was Charleston. An attempt was made early in the war to close the entrance by placing obstructions in the channel. A number of vessels, most of them old whalers, were bought for the purpose by the Navy Department at a cost of $160,--000. They were loaded with stone and sunk in rows on the bar, under the direction of Captain Davis. The plan proved a failure, not through any want of skill in carrying it out, but from the operation of natural causes. The vessels soon buried themselves in the sand, or were gradually moved out of position by the action of the water, and blockade-runners passed in as freely as if no obstructions existed. The experiment was tried at other points with the same result, and the attempt was finally given up.

The bar at Charleston extends several miles out to sea, and the main ship channel, running nearly north and south, follows the trend of Morris Island at a distance of a mile from the shore. During the first half of the war the batteries on Morris Island kept the fleet outside the bar, and the blockade was maintained at a great disadvantage. Moreover, several inlets to the north and south afforded access to Charleston for vessels of light draft. These were only closed after Dupont had taken command. In the summer and fall of 1863 the army, supported by the ironclads, gradually

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