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Largest U.S. Fleet ever assembled sails from Norfolk, Virginia to blockade and harass the Confederate coast

Civil War at Sea Topic Image, Crew members of the USS Pawnee
To execute the planned complete naval blockade of the Confederacy, the Southern Blockading Squadron sailed from Hampton Roads off Norfolk, Virginia under Samuel Francis DuPont.  With almost fifty ships and around fifteen thousand troops under General W.T. Sherman, this was easily the largest U.S. naval force gathered under one command up to that time.  The force's first objective was the securing of a land base for its blockading operations and Port Royal, South Carolina was captured just over a week later.  (By John Osborne)
Source Citation: 
Lewis R. Hamersly, ed., The Records of Living Officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps ...  (Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippincott and Co., 1870), 273