ironclads, said to be under construction at Norfolk, from passing through the canal to attack Federal gunboats in Albermarle Sound. Near South Mills, the Federals were defeated by 400 Confederates, and had to return to their ships.
Possession of Fort Macon, the Hatteras Inlet forts and Roanoke Island, enabled the Union to control the North Carolina Sounds, while the army was within a three mile march of the vital railroad which linked Richmond with Wilmington, a key blockade running port. If the Federals could reach Goldsboro, they could prevent the Confederates from using the railroad to transport supplies from Wilmington -brought there by Confederate ships that had run the blockade.
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