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[313]

At daylight on the 24th, the fleet got under way, and stood in, in line of battle. Fifty vessels were under orders, thirty-three for the attack and seventeen smaller ones in reserve. The iron-clads, four in number, first took position three-quarters of a mile north-east of the fort, but only a quarter of a mile from shore. They anchored directly in line with the beach, and not more than a length apart, leaving space only for a gunboat to lie outside and fire between or over them. The nine largest ships were next formed in line of battle, south of the iron-clads, heading parallel with the land, but anchored a mile from the fort. Eight vessels of intermediate size took position outside and between the larger ones, and four small gunboats were stationed in the same way outside the monitors, to keep up a rapid fire while these were loading. The remainder of the force was posted on the left of the main line, to operate against the sea front and the works commanding the inlet, while the monitors and the larger ships were ordered to concentrate their fire upon the heaviest batteries of the enemy on the north. The whole command formed a half moon, with the horns approaching the shore.

At 11.30 A. M. Butler had not arrived, but General Ames, on the steamer Baltic, with about twelve hundred men, had reported to the admiral that he was ready to co-operate, and Porter signalled to engage the fort. The iron-clads opened battle with deliberate but rapid fire, covering themselves as they anchored, and the bombardment soon became incessant. One hundred and fifteen shells a minute were thrown. Fort Fisher replied at once with all its guns, but those on the north-east face were

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Horace Porter (1)
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