JANUARY 16TH, 1865: Seeking to take advantage of the reduced Union naval strength on the James River, Secretary Mallory wrote Flag Officer Mitchell to encourage him to pass the obstructions at Trent's Reach and attack General Grant's base of operations at City Point.
Mallory wrote: "From Lieutenant Read I learn that the hulk which lay across the channel [at Trent's Reach] and the net also have been washed away, and I think it probable that there is a passage through the obstructions. I deem the opportunity a favorable one for striking a blow at the enemy, if we are able to do so.
"In a short time many of his vessels will have returned to the river from Wilmington and he will again perfect his obstructions. If we can block the river at or below City point, Grant might be compelled to evacuate his position."