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‘ [171] to maintain the ascendancy on Pamlico Sound, and thus admitted Burnside's fleet without a contest; we failed to put a proper force on Roanoke Island, and thus lost the key to our interior coast; and we failed to furnish General Branch with a reasonable force, and thus lost the important town of Newbern.’

On consultation with Flag-Officer Stringham and Commander Stellwagen, General Butler determined to leave the troops and hold the fort until he could get some further instructions from the Government.

He adds: ‘The importance of the point cannot be overrated. When the channel is buoyed out any vessel may carry fifteen feet of water over it with ease. Once inside, there is a safe harbor and anchorage in all weathers. From there the whole coast of Virginia and North Carolina, from Norfolk to Cape Lookout, is within our reach by light-draught vessels, which cannot possibly live at sea during the winter months. From it offensive operations may be made upon the whole coast of North Carolina to Bogue Inlet, extending many miles inland to Washington, Newbern, and Beaufort. In the language of the chief-engineer of the rebels, Colonel Thompson, in an official report, “it is the key of the Albemarle.” In my judgment, it is a station second in importance only to Fortress Monroe on this coast. As a depot for coaling and supplies for the blockading squadron it is invaluable. As a harbor for our coasting trade, or inlet from the winter storms or from pirates, it is of the first importance.’ Future events fully confirmed the opinion of General Butler as to the value of Hatteras Inlet in a military point of view, and no less in respect to all of the advantages so clearly expressed.

Twenty-five pieces of artillery, one thousand stand of arms, a large quantity of ordnance stores, provisions, three valuable

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B. F. Butler (2)
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