JANUARY 2ND, 1862: Flag Officer L.M. Goldsborough ordered the USS Louisiana, Lockwood, I.N. Seymour, Shawsheen and Whithall (forced to return to Newport News because of engine trouble) to Hatteras Inlet, "using a sound discretion in time of departing."
Goldsborough wrote secretary of Navy Welles the next day: "When they arrive there, twelve of this squadron will have been assembled in that quarter. With the rest we are driving on as fast as possible."
Since early December extensive preparations for the joint attack on Roanoke Island -- the key to Albemarle Sound -- had been underway in a move not only to seal off the North Carolina coast, but also to back up General McClellan's Peninsular Campaign by threatening Confederate communications.