the duties of the signal-service were assumed by the officers of the Monticello
, under the direction of Cushing
; and two well known blockade-runners, the Stag
and the Charlotte
, were helped in by range-lights from the shore, only to find themselves prizes when they were comfortably anchored in the river.
Vessels passed so often between the squadron and the shore that special measures were taken to stop it. The endmost vessel was so placed as to leave a narrow passage.
When the blockade-runner had passed, the blockader moved nearer and closed the entrance, at the same time sending up signal rockets.
Two or three of her consorts were in waiting and closed up, and the adventurous vessel suddenly found herself hemmed in on all sides, and without a chance of escape.
Whenever a blockade-runner was hard pressed in a chase, it was a common practice for the captain to run her ashore, trusting to favorable circumstances to save a fragment of his cargo.
Communicating with the forces in the neighborhood, he would obtain the co-operation of a detachment of infantry, often accompanied by one or two pieces of artillery, which would harass the parties sent from the blockading vessels to get the steamer off. At Wilmington
, lunettes were thrown up along the shore, large enough for two guns, and a fieldbat-tery of Whitworth
12-pounders was kept in constant readiness to run down and occupy them.
Sometimes the blockaders were able to command the land approaches, and so prevent the people on shore from doing mischief; but at other times the latter had it all their own way. It was no easy matter in any case to float off a steamer which had been beached intentionally under a full head of steam, especially if the tide was running ebb; and the fire of one or two rifled guns placed close by on the beach made the operation hazardous.
The only course left was to burn the wreck; and even then, if