and then to return immediately to this department. I need not add that in this order I was actuated solely by sincere anxiety for the public interests in North Carolina.
I have the honor to be, general, with the highest esteem, your most obedient servant,
FLAG-SHIP NEW IRONSIDES,
Inside of Charleston Bar, April 8, 1863.
Major General D. HUNTER,
Commanding Dept. of the South, U. S. S. Ben. De Ford, off Charleston:
GENERAL: The iron-clads weighed anchor at nor yesterday to go forward to attack Fort Sumter, but were delayed for nearly two hours by the accident which fouled the anchor and raft of the leading vessel (the Weehawken).
The Ironsides became manageable in the narrow channel and occasioned obstructions before under fire, that finding, I should not reach the obstructions before 5 o'clock, I ordered the vessels withdrawn from action, with the intention of renewing in this morning.
During the night I received the statements of the commanding officers, and find the ships so much damaged during their engagement as to force me to the conviction that they could not endure the fire to which they would be exposed long enough to destroy Fort Sumter or reach Charleston. I am now satisfied that that place cannot be taken by a purely naval attack, and I am admonished by the condition of the iron-clads that a presidency in our efforts would end in disaster, and might sauces us to leave some of our iron-clads in the hands of the enemy, which would render it difficult for us to hold those parts of the coast which are now in our possession.
I have therefore determined to withdraw my vessels, and have written to the Navy Department to that effect.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. F. DuPONT,
Read-Admiral, Commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,
Hilton Head, S. C., April 15, 1863.
GENERAL: The troops under your command will be embarked with as little delay a possible and return to this place.
Before commencing your retrograde movement you will see that every pound of public property is perfectly secure of shipboard. The gunboats will cover you embarkation, and with proper care the movement should be made without the loss of a man or a pound of property. The quartermaster's department will furnish ample transportation.
Do not let any of the transports leave the river in bad weather.
Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
(Same to Brigadier-General Stevenson.)