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‘ [104] Langdon Cheves, who endeavored to explode it for ten minutes. He could not have placed the Ironsides more directly over the torpedo, but the confounded thing, as is usual with them, would not go off when it was wanted.’ The character of the defences of Charleston and the ability of the attacking force will appear more fully in the closing pages relating to operations on that coast.

The considerations that were operative in the mind of the flag-officer are given in his report of April 15th. He says: ‘I had hoped that the endurance of the ironclads would have enabled them to have borne any weight of fire to which they might have been exposed; but when I found that so large a portion of them were wholly or one-half disabled by less than an hour's engagement, before attempting to remove [overcome] the obstructions, or testing the power of the torpedoes, I was convinced that persistence in the attack would result in the loss of the greater portion of the ironclad fleet, and in leaving many of them inside the harbor, to fall into the hands of the enemy.’

On the withdrawal of the ironclads at 5 P. M., April 7th, the flag-officer had not even a suspicion that he would not resume operations the following morning. The grave injuries sustained by the vessels in aggressive power restrained him, such as no loss of life, had it occurred, would have done.

On the evening of the attack the flag-officer received a letter, as follows:


Navy Department, April 2, 1863.
Sir—The exigencies of the public service are so pressing in the Gulf that the Department directs you to send all the ironclads that are in a fit condition to move, after your present attack upon Charleston, directly to New Orleans, reserving to yourself only two.

Very respectfully,

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