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[220] the seas rolled in unbroken by land for hundreds of miles. Many of the vessels dragged for miles, and some occasions were presented where seamanship was necessary to prevent them fouling each other. When the gale was over the fleet was widely scattered, but as soon as the weather moderated vessels that had dragged steamed into line again and anchored.

After the gale the wind changed to the westward, off the land, the sea became smooth, and as it was necessary to avail himself of the good weather, although the transports with the troops had not returned, the admiral determined to go in and attack the batteries. Mr. Bradford, of the Coast Survey, had previously made a night examination of the depth of water near Fort Fisher, and found that a vessel of seven feet draught could be placed light on the edge of the beach. At 10.30 P. M. of the 23d, the powder-boat Louisiana, Commander Rhind and the officers before mentioned, was taken in tow by the Wilderness, Master Arey in command, and Lieutenant Lamson, commanding the Gettysburg, on board to take her into position.

The Louisiana, though having steam, was towed in and piloted by the Wilderness to near her station, when she was cast off. Lieutenant Lamson, Mr. Bradford, of the Coast Survey, and Mr. Bowen, bar-pilot, were of the ‘greatest service in perfecting arrangements and carrying out the plan successfully.’ The officers and crew of the Wilderness ‘shared whatever of risk or danger attended the enterprise.’ At 11.30 the Wilderness cast off her tow, and the powder-boat (Louisiana) steamed in until she reached a point east by north, half north, from Fort Fisher, within three hundred yards of the beach. There was a light wind off shore; the anchor was let go, the fires hauled, the men put in the boat, and Commander Rhind and Lieutenant

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