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Judge, the trial was finally postponed till the third Monday of October. Before that date the operations of the war, both military and naval, were expanded to such a degree, and the number of prisoners captured, of other privateersmen, as well as of the land forces, had already become so considerable as to compel a radical change of practice in their treatment and disposition. It grew evident that even if the crime of piracy could be legally proven against these offenders, their wholesale punishment by execution could not be thought of, particularly by an Executive whose humane impulses were so active as those of President Lincoln. When the Savannah prisoners were brought to trial in October, after long and exhaustive arguments of opposing counsel, the jury failed to agree, Warburton, and was discharged by the court. The prisoners were remanded to custody; but in January of the following year negotiations were begun for a general exchange, and though some delay occurred, the arrangement was brought into effectual opera- Cyclopæ tion in August, 1862, at which time the Savannah pp. 712-714. privateersmen, together with some seventy or eighty others, were exchanged; and the question of their legal status was not thereafter raised.
Among the earliest needs which the actual beginning of the blockade pointed out was the possession of suitable harbors, on the coast of the insurrectionary States, which might be used as coal depots and as points of rendezvous or harbors of refuge for the blockading fleet. The Navy Department convened a board of competent officers early in July to study this problem. Meanwhile another opportunity for a successful naval exploit
CHAP. I. presented itself, which was promptly taken advan
tage of, the success of which, amid the gloom of recent disasters, was hailed with eager joy by the people of the North.
The sea front of the State of North Carolina has a double coast; and behind the outer one, which is a mere narrow belt of sand not more than two miles wide, there expand the great inland waters of Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. There are but few practicable entrances through this outer sandbank or false coast; in latter times Hatteras Inlet had become the most important. Here the rebels had built two forts and armed them with guns brought from the Norfolk navy yard : Fort Hatteras, nearest the inlet, with fifteen guns, and Fort Clark, half a mile to the north, with seven guns. The blockading fleet soon discovered that this was a point of the utmost importance; that the light rebel privateers could lie here securely in wait for passing prizes, dart out and seize them, and quickly retire beyond pursuit; also, that an unfrequented point like this offered special opportunities for the comparatively safe and easy entrance of blockaderunners.
An expedition for its capture was therefore organized, as soon as the necessary vessels could be collected in Hampton Roads. On the 26th of August, Flag-Officer Silas H. Stringham sailed from Fort Monroe in command of five war steamers and two transports, carrying about eight hundred troops under command of Major-General Benjamin F. Butler. After a little more than a day's sail, the fleet appeared before Hatteras Inlet, and on the two days following both forts were captured by
Vol. IV., pp. 581-587.
1861-62. Part III.,
the attacking vessels, with a comparatively short and easy bombardment, the delay having been stringham, occasioned by unfavorable winds. The casualties Sept. 2, 1861, were slight: in the forts, twelve or fifteen were killed or died of wounds, and thirty-five wounded remained; on the fleet, there was not a single pp. 46-482 loss of life. The garrisons, comprising seven hun- ler, Report, dred and fifty men, were formally surrendered on 1861. W. k August 29.
The original design was to block up the entrance by sinking vessels, but upon examination both commanders united in the more prudent determination to hold and utilize the place. “This inlet,” reported Stringham, “I consider the key to sept. 2,1881. all the ports south of Hatteras, and only second and Doouin importance to Fort Monroe and Hampton Roads." Major-General John E. Wool, who had been sent (August 17) to take command at Fort Monroe, joined in this opinion. General Butler R. VOL immediately returned to Washington to report the joint victory, and upon his representations the President and Cabinet at once decided and ordered measures to hold possession of the captured forts. What was still more to the point, cheering evidence soon came of the existence of a friendly sentiment among the scattered residents of Hatteras Island and points on the neighboring mainland. The officer sent to command Fort Clark, under date of September 11, expressed his belief in the loyalty of the people on Pamlico Sound, and “that troops could be raised here for the purpose of suppressing rebellion in North Carolina, upon the assurance that they would not be called on to go out Vol.600.-, P. of the State,” which was the occasion of the fol
Wool to Gen. Scott,
IV., p. 580.
Hawkins to Wool, Sept. 11, 1861. W.R.
lowing characteristic letter from President Lincoln to General Scott:
MY DEAR SIR: Since conversing with you I have concluded to request you to frame an order for recruiting North Carolinians at Fort Hatteras. I suggest it to be so framed as for us to accept a smaller force company - if we cannot get a regiment or more. What is necessary to now say about officers you will judge.
Governor Seward says he has a nephew (Clarence A. Lincoln to Seward, I believe) who would be willing to go and play Gen. Scott, colonel and assist in raising the force. Still, it is to be 1861. w. R. considered whether the North Carolinians will not prefer
officers of their own. I should expect they would.
Before the expedition against Hatteras set sail, preparations for another naval expedition on a more extended scale were under way. It will be remembered that the “Anaconda” plan of General Scott contemplated that the insurgent States should be completely enveloped. Such a course necessarily comprised eventual military possession of the entire coast line, and this was a part of the problem to be studied by the board of officers who had been convened by the Navy Department on June 28. Careful reports made by the board on July 5 and 13 recommended that either Bull's Bay, Port Royal Sound, or Fernandina should be, if possible, captured and occupied, both to facilitate the blockade and to furnish a base for military operations. Accordingly, orders were issued on August 2 and August 11 to Brigadier-General Thomas W. Sherman to proceed to
New England and recruit an expeditionary land Aug, 2 and force of twelve thousand men, while Captain SamVI., p. 188. uel F. Du Pont, of the navy, was instructed to
gather a fleet of vessels at Hampton Roads to be
Scott to Sherman,
W. R. Vol.
used in the same movement. When General Sherman (who must not be confounded with General William Tecumseh Sherman, afterwards the famous leader of the march to the sea) was called to Washington, President Lincoln, in presence of the Cabinet, explained to him that this expedition was specially favored by General Scott; described in a general way its extent and purpose; directed that the utmost secrecy be observed, both as to its organization and probable point of descent; and expressed the wish of himself and his Cabinet that it should be ready to start early in September.
Fuller consideration, however, recalled the fact that this was the unhealthy season, and the time of starting was afterwards postponed to October. The details were settled by General Scott and a military council of the most experienced officers. Obstacles and delays arose, as a matter of course. Before Sherman had more than three of his twelve regiments in camp on Long Island, where he proposed to drill and equip them, he was summoned to Washington with his whole command to help meet the danger of a rumored movement of the enemy against the capital. Here the remainder of his force was gathered, in constant competition with the all-absorbing accumulation of the grand Army of the Potomac, and not without apprehension that his command would be dribbled away in fragments to this or to some one of the many urgent calls for troops which beset the Administration from every quarter. " To guard against misunderstanding," wrote Lincoln to the Secretary of War, September 18, “I think fit to say that the joint expedition of the army and