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[235] When the latter discovered that she was outside of the port and had substituted a white flag for the war ensign, it was too late; and before his late masters had realized the bold stroke he had just accomplished, Small was in the midst of the Federal fleet, which was greatly astonished to receive the unexpected gift of a steamer fully equipped from the lands of this daring and intelligent negro.

The services of this new pilot were soon made available on the coast of South Carolina, with which he was perfectly acquainted. These services were the more important because Hunter and Dupont intended to take advantage of the propitious season of the year to undertake the siege of Charleston; the capture of Pulaski encouraged them to do this; and as they had met with no serious resistance anywhere else on the coast, it was easy for them to collect a sufficient number of men for that purpose. But it was necessary first of all, on the one hand, to get possession of some of the islands in the vicinity of Charleston as stations for troops, and on the other hand to make the blockade more stringent along that portion of the coast situated between this city and North Carolina, which had hitherto been less strictly guarded by the Federal fleet.

On the 20th of May, three gun-boats, detached from the division which blockaded Charleston, entered the Bay of Stono River, south of the city, under the pilotage of Robert Small, destroyed an old fort which the Confederates had built, and subsequently abandoned, at Legareville, and took a few prisoners. The chief result of the expedition was to secure a safe anchorage for the Federal fleet in that bay, and an easy point of debarkation for the troops who were to operate against Charleston. General Hunter resolved to avail himself of these advantages to attempt against the forts which commanded the entrances to Charleston the manoeuvre which had proved so successful in the attack upon Pulaski. The Bay of Charleston is separated from Stono River at the south by a group of islands, which strongly resemble those of Tybee, being, like the latter, encircled by canals, which are the means of communication between the two bays. The most important are Morris and Folly, bordered by the sea, which will play a prominent part in the history of the siege of Charleston,

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