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[307] sea by only a narrow peninsula, not more than a mile across, the extremity of which is known as Federal Point. At the mouth of the Cape Fear and directly south of Federal Point lies Smith's island, on either side of which are the two principal entrances to the river. The southern or outer channel was protected by Fort Caswell, on another island adjoining the mainland; and the northeast entrance, known as New Inlet, was commanded by Fort Fisher, which stretched across Federal Point from the river to the sea. Butler, it will be remembered, had been instructed that the object of the expedition would be gained when a landing was effected on the peninsula, north of the north entrance to the river. ‘Should such a landing be effected,’ said Grant, ‘whilst the enemy still holds Fort Fisher and the batteries guarding the entrance to the river, then the troops should entrench themselves, and, by co-operating with the navy, effect the capture and reduction of those places. These in our hands, the navy could enter the harbor, and the port of Wilmington would be sealed.’1

On the 9th of December, Butler's troops were all aboard, off Fort Monroe, but a heavy gale sprang up, and it was impossible to put to sea for several days. The powder boat was still unprepared, and this also contributed to the delay. Grant, we have seen, had learned that Wilmington, as well as the works at the mouth of the river, had been nearly stripped of troops, and he was extremely anxious to take advantage of this circumstance. At ten A. M. on the 14th, he telegraphed to Butler: ‘What is the prospect for getting your expedition started? It is ’

1 See pages 224, 235, et seq.

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