General Beauregard, the Confederate commander at Charleston, was a skilled engineer who supervised the enhancement of its defences. Its approaches bristled with forts and batteries, and a series of booms impeded the channels, which were also mined. In early April, a squadron of nine Union ironclads anchored outside the harbour-mouth: at noon on the 7th, they began a tortuous assault. The lead ship, USS Weehawken encountered a torpedo barrier running from Fort Sumter, but escaped unscathed when a torpedo detonated nearby. However, its progress slowed to walking pace and the line of ships became subject to a furious bombardment. The New Ironsides got into difficulties, and collided with other vessels. By late afternoon, progress had stalled, the squadron was taking repeated hits, while inflicting little damage on the defences. The Commander, Admiral Du Pont, took the decision to withdraw. The experimental Ironclad USS Keokuk, hit 90 times, sank during the night.
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