FEBRUARY 3RD, 1865: To speed the collapse of the faltering South, another giant thrust gathered from the sea off Wilmington, North Carolina. During a lull in the planned spring assault on Richmond when the roads improved, General Grant came down to confer with Rear Admiral Porter, his old Vicksburg comrade.
The general had spent several hours on board the flagship USS Malvern on 28 January where plans took shape for the push into North Carolina up the Cape Fear River as Sherman marched inland parallel to the coast.
When Grant returned to Virginia he quickly dispatched general Schofield and his 23rd Corps by sea with an army which, with the big guns of the fleet, would be large enough to push on to Wilmington.
This date, Porter, in the USS Shawmut, was preparing for this campaign, engaged Fort Anderson to test the strength of the Confederate defenses on the west bank of the Cape Fear River.