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[269] but I think the remains of the ‘Modern Greece’ were mistaken for her, and that nothing was left of this vessel. Returning to my quarters, I laid down on my lounge to get a rest before the anticipated engagement next day, but I had hardly lain down before I felt a gentle rocking of the small brick house (formerly the light keeper's), which I would have attributed to imagination or to vertigo, but it was instantly followed by an explosion, sounding very little louder than the report of a ten-inch Columbiad. The corporal of the guard was called for in every direction by the sentinels, and the officer of the day reported the blowing up of the magazine of the vessel which had been on fire. I telegraphed General Whiting, at Wilmington, of the explosion, and retired to rest. In the morning the explosion was the subject of conversation among the officers, and some had not even been aroused by the commotion it created. I thought so little of it that the only entry I made in my diary was ‘a blockader got aground near the fort, set fire to herself, and blew up.’ I was surprised to learn from prisoners captured Christmas night that the explosion was that of a great floating magazine, the steamer Louisiana, with more than 250 tons of powder, intended to demolish the work and paralyze the garrison. The vessel was doubtless afloat when the explosion occurred, or the result might have been very serious. The shock was distinctly felt in Wilmington.

Saturday, December 24th, was one of those perfect winter days that are occasionally experienced in the latitude of the Cape Fear. The gale, which had backed around from the northeast to the southwest, had subsided the day before, and was followed by a dead calm. The air was balmy for winter, and the sun shone with almost Indian summer warmth, and the deep blue sea was as calm as a lake and broke lazily on the bar and beach.

A grander sight than the approach of Porter's formidable Armada towards the fort was never witnessed on our coast. With the rising sun out of old ocean there came upon the horizion one after another, the vessels of the fleet, the grand frigates leading the van, followed by the iron-clads. More than fifty men-of-war headed for the Confederate stronghold. At 9 o'clock the men were beat to quarters, and silently the detachments stood by their guns. On the vessels came, growing larger and more imposing as the distance lessened between them and the resolute men who had rallied to defend their homes. The ‘Minnesota,’ ‘Colorado,’ and ‘Wabash’ came

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