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[224] too far into the interior with some launches, fell into an ambuscade on its return, on the 22d of March, in which the commanders of the two vessels who had organized this imprudent expedition perished.

Shortly after this a fatal occurrence took place which, without diminishing in the least the efficacy of the blockade, tended to cool the sympathies which the sight of the old national flag was still able to rouse along this coast. After four weeks of occupation, Jacksonville was evacuated on the 8th of April. The seizure of this town was a mistake. The mission of General Sherman's troops and Dupont's gun-boats should simply have been to close every avenue against smugglers, who might attempt to run the maritime blockade. It was sought to employ these forces to bring back whole districts into the Union, whose inhabitants were ready to rally under the flag of the strongest, whoever he might be. This action was calculated to compromise all who had shown any interest in the Federals; this was particularly the case at Jacksonville, where many of its influential inhabitants had manifested a decided devotion to the Union cause. They were compelled to embark with the Federal troops, leaving all their interests behind, to go and vegetate at Port Royal or New York in useless exile; and the news was quickly spread along the whole coast that the same fate awaited all those who should display any partiality for the Star-spangled Banner.

Meanwhile, the preparations for an attack upon Fort Pulaski were soon to be completed; the batteries at Venus Point had been reinforced; the works on Tybee Island were rapidly progressing, and the garrisons at these two points had been increased. The Confederates felt the necessity of concentrating all their forces for the defence of Savannah. Fort Jackson, which had been built during the early stages of the war between the city and Pulaski, on the right bank of the river, had been enlarged and another work erected higher up. Both were mounted with powerful guns, while the Confederates had abandoned, as too far distant, the batteries they had raised a few weeks previously on Skidaway Island to command one of the canals which connect Savannah River with Warsaw Sound. Some Federal launches visited and destroyed these works on the 24th of March. All the approaches

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