Flag Officer Samuel Du Pont was a scion of a wealthy dynasty and naval veteran of the Mexican War. The assault on Port Royal was his first opportunity to experiment with steam-power. His command contained 14 warships, and Du Pont decided to exploit the three-mile (5-km) breadth of Port Royal Sound. His flotilla swirled through the Sound, continually in motion, unleashing uninterrupted broadsides at the twin Forts Walker and Beauregard, then turning, and repeating the barrage on the way back. This ‘double reduction’ at two dozen shells a minute, unnerved the defenders. Before starting a third rotation, Du Pont learned Fort Walker had been abandoned. Shortly afterward Beauregard too was abandoned, its defenders fleeing to the mainland. The whole spectacle was watched by some of the South’s wealthiest planters in their island summer residences and the Confederacy’s naval defence of converted tugs, bottled up in the Beaufort River.
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