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The vessels not engaged on the blockade were withdrawn to Beaufort, to get a full supply of ammunition and sells, and to await further instructions. The results of the bombardment were not satisfactory to either side, but doubtless more so to the Confederates than to their opponents. It was heralded that this great fleet had been driven off, when in fact surprisingly little injury had been inflicted upon it, save through the bursting of rifled guns.

On December 29th the Secretary of the Navy, in a letter to Lieutenant-General Grant, said: ‘Ships can approach nearer the enemy's works at New Inlet than was anticipated. Their fire can keep the enemy away from their guns. A landing can easily be effected upon the beach north of Fort Fisher, not only of troops, but all their supplies and artillery. This force can have its flanks protected by gunboats. The navy can assist in the siege of Fort Fisher precisely as it covered the operations which resulted in the capture of Wagner. . . . Rear-Admiral Porter will remain off Fort Fisher, continuing a moderate fire to prevent new works from being erected, and the ironclads have proved that they can maintain themselves in spite of bad weather. Under all these circumstances, I invite you to such a military co-operation as will ensure the fall of Fort Fisher, the importance of which has already received your careful consideration.’ He added that the telegram was sent at the suggestion of the President.

On the 31st of December the Secretary of the Navy wrote Admiral Porter as follows: ‘Lieutenant-General Grant will send immediately a competent force, properly commanded, to co-operate in the capture of the defences on Federal Point.’

On January 14, 1865, Admiral Porter reports that he had been busily employed since his withdrawal from Fort Fisher in filling the ships with ammunition and coal. The large

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