JANUARY 22ND, 1865: Flag Officer Mitchell of the Confederate James River Squadron reported that he was unable to get underway to pass the obstructions at Trent's Reach as he had planned because of heavy fog. Mitchell had also received no report from Boatswain Thomas Gauley, whom he had dispatched on the 21st to remove Confederate torpedoes that had been placed in the channel near Howlett's Landing.
He wrote Major General Pickett: "To-morrow night, if the weather is sufficiently clear for the pilots to see their way, our movement will be made, and I will be glad to have your cooperation as agreed upon for to-night."
A successful downriver thrust by Mitchell's squadron could spell a major setback for the Union cause as General Grant would be deprived of his great water-supplied base at City Point and his armies would be divided by Confederate control of the James River.
A Move Against the Enemy Imminent. --Old B-Runner