attainable when not under good steerage way, and as they steamed ahead at nine, signal was made for close order, and the line of battle was fairly developed, at distances intended, of a little more than a ship's length apart, the flanking column appearing through the intervals, as it were, and at a distance from the other line of a ship's length.
The reader will bear in mind the ample sheet of water between the earthworks.
The order given was, that the main column, in passing in, should deliver its fire on Fort Walker
) and the flanking column on Fort Beauregard
; when the vessels had passed within where the guns could no longer be trained on the works of the enemy, the main column would turn toward Hilton Head
, pass again toward the sea and against the flood tide, steam quite slowly, delivering their fire, and when again reaching a point where their guns could no longer be brought to bear on the batteries of the enemy, the vessels would be turned toward mid-channel, and pass as in going in first, following the flag-ship in line.
This made the vessels describe an ellipse, the curves of which, in relation to the distance from Fort Walker
, were chosen by the flag-ship.
In passing in, the shortest distance from Fort Walker
was probably about eight hundred yards, and heading outward is given as six hundred yards. This evolution was to be continuous until the reduction of the fort, or until further orders.
The flanking column was to deliver its fire in passing in on the Bay
Point batteries, then turn its attention to the force of the enemy afloat, and after sinking or driving it away, take up a position to the north of Fort Walker
, the best attainable to enfilade that work.
In giving these instructions the flag-officer stated that he knew Tatnall
well; he was an officer of courage and plan, and that it was not at all unlikely in the heat of action and smoke of battle he