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[219]

Owing to their possession of all the islands of South Carolina, the Federals maintained a strict blockade of the coast of that State. Although it became every day more difficult to run this blockade, still a considerable traffic was carried on in provisions— destined not only for the Confederate armies, but also for the inhabitants of Savannah and Charleston—through the numerous inland canals which separate these islands from the main land. The Federals made great efforts to break up this traffic, and on the 13th of February they seized three vessels laden with rice in Bull's Bay.

Meanwhile, the operations of investment which were to precede the siege of Pulaski progressed slowly. Tybee Island, already designated for the erection of breach-batteries, had been occupied since the month of December. Troops were landed on the islands situated to the left of the channel of the Savannah, and one battery was erected on a promontory called Venus Point, the soil of which was firmer than that of the surrounding localities. This battery was speedily armed; and as it was above Fort Pulaski, it rendered the communications between the defenders of the fort and the city of Savannah extremely difficult. The necessity for covering this position compelled Captain Rodgers to establish himself permanently on Wright's River. It was impossible for him to take his ships into the Savannah, because, its waters being only navigable during a few hours in the day, at high tide, they would have found themselves blockaded in a river belonging to the enemy, the banks of which could conceal hidden dangers; but he took them through the adjoining passes of Venus Point and placed them across these channels. In this manner their guns had complete command of the river; at low water the gun-boats gradually settled in the mud, and thus formed immovable citadels. Commodore Tatnall came to attack them in this difficult position on the 14th of February; but the Federals, supported by four batteries of field-artillery that had recently been landed on the island, compelled him to retire.

Other dangers menaced the Union forces. They had constructed some slight stockades at a point where Wright's River becomes separated from the Savannah, in order to stop the fire-ships which the enemy might launch against them; but they could not prevent

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