DECEMBER 27, 1865: In his fourth annual report to the President, Secretary Welles summarized naval activity during 1865 and reviewed the contributions of the Navy to the North's war effort. "The demands upon the naval service," he wrote, "which for four years had been exacting, were relaxed upon the fall of Fort fisher.
"That event, and the possession of Cape Fear river, closed all access to Wilmington, the port of rebel supplies, put an end to illicit traffic with the states in insurrection, and extinguished the last remnants of that broken commerce which foreign adventurers had, notwithstanding constant and severe losses persisted in carrying on by breach of blockade."
--Welles noted that the evacuation of Wilmington "was preliminary to the fall of Richmond and the surrender of rebel armies, which were thenceforward deprived of supplies from abroad."
But while general Lee's soldiers were thus cut off from their source of supplies, the Union troops were assured full logistic support and freedom of movement because the North dominated the waterways at General Grant's vital base at City Point.