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‘ [106] the place cannot be taken by a purely naval attack, and am admonished by the condition of the ironclads that a persistence in our efforts would end in disaster, and might cause us to leave some of our ironclads in the hands of the enemy, which would render it difficult to hold those parts of the coast that are yet in our possession. I have therefore determined to withdraw my vessels.’

The Department and the people of the North counted confidently on the fall of Charleston through the monitors, as is shown by the orders of April 2d, followed before the receipt of the news of the repulse on April 7th by a letter to the Admiral from the Secretary of the Navy, dated April 11th, as follows: ‘It has been suggested to the Department by the President, in view of operations elsewhere, and especially by the Army of the Potomac, that you should retain a strong force off Charleston, even should you find it impossible to carry the place. You will continue to menace the rebels, keeping them in apprehension of a renewed attack, in order that they may be occupied, and not come North or go West to the aid of the rebels with whom our forces will soon be in conflict. Should you be successful, as we trust and believe you will be, it is expected that General Hunter will continue to keep the rebels employed and in constant apprehension, so that they shall not leave the vicinity of Charleston. This detention of ironclads, should it be necessary in consequence of a repulse, can be but for a few days. I trust your success will be such that the ironclads can be or will have been despatched to the Gulf when this reaches you. There is intense interest in regard to your operations.’

The writer has italicised the sentence above, as it would exert a controlling influence on Admiral Dupont in fitting for effective service all of the ironclads under him with the least possible delay.

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