and later of fact, was being established, but so far as hostile guns of opposing forces were concerned within this region they opened first at Hatteras Inlet, more than four months after the war had taken definite shape.
The capture of Hatteras Inlet seemed at first of little import to the military mind, but it grew in its proportions, and as will be seen by the following chapters, was no mean event, more important, too, from successive developments, for which it was the gateway.
From the time of the fall of Sumter
vessels were prepared and despatched to blockade Charleston
, and operations of this nature were extended as the means at hand permitted; it may be readily supposed, however, that until the capture of Port Royal
, at least, it was rather nominal than real.
If vessels were captured, even in entering the principal ports, it was due rather to the stupidity of the persons attempting to run the blockade than to the effectiveness of the force employed to prevent it. Should a vessel of ordinary or light draught be desired to reach Charleston
, she could be taken into Stono
, or North Edisto Inlets, or into any of the channels of St. Helena, or into Port Royal Harbor, and from thence in a few hours find her way into Charleston
; and if desired to reach Savannah
, and fearing to approach Tybee Bar, she could enter either Warsaw
or Ossabaw Sound
, and find her way to her destination without difficulty.
To prevent all this, and eventually, effectively as far as possible, and for securing a military base of operations it was essential that a good port on the Southern
coast should be seized and held, and for that purpose not one was more desirable in every point of view than Port Royal
As the Confederates
had few vessels of war, and none when military operations began, the blockade of the coast, and effective aid to the army in the capture of forts, was naturally