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[150] outset of the war their aim had been to make themselves masters of the place. We have said that in the month of December, 1861, General Phelps had landed with a few Massachusetts battalions on a small sandy islet called Ship Island, situated at the entrance of Lake Borgne. As this bay extends to within a short distance of New Orleans, the station of Ship Island, although a disagreeable spot, swept by winds dangerous to vessels and unhealthy for men, afforded, nevertheless, an indispensable point for victualling the fleet and the troops which were about to attack the capital of Louisiana. Upon this island Phelps had found a large fortification commenced before the war, which the Confederates had evacuated during the month of September, and which had been completed by the Federal troops.

While the Federal government was organizing the expedition the object of which was the capture of New Orleans, it maintained a strict blockade of the coast of the Mexican Gulf, despite the inclement season, which it rendered more stringent by gradually occupying the coast itself. A few words will suffice to explain the small military operations which preceded in the first four months of 1862 the setting out of this great expedition.

The first was the occupation of Cedar Keys. This group of islands is situated on the western coast of Florida, a short distance from the main land, and fronting the head of a line of railway which, crossing the peninsula in an oblique direction from south-west to north-east, connected with the Atlantic coast at Fernandina. The war-steamer Hatteras, which appeared there on the 10th of January, took possession of this post without firing a shot; there the Federals found several guns, four schooners, with four or five smaller vessels; they also captured about fifteen prisoners and destroyed the railway station. Six weeks after, on the 24th of February, a few sailors in a launch tried to take possession of another vessel which they had spied on the coast; they were unable to get her away, but succeeded in destroying her.

The principal river which empties into the Gulf of Mexico, east of Mobile Bay, is the Appalachicola, formed by the junction of the waters of Flint River and the Chattahoochee. At its mouth there are found alluvial deposits, which cause the coast to

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