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[237] at the scene of conflict just as it had ceased. A heavy pall of sulphurous smoke, made blood-red by the setting sun behind it, hung in the still air over Fort Fisher. Porter had, indeed, caused the “Louisiana,” under the command of the intrepid Captain Rhind, to follow in the wake of a blockade-runner, at midnight, to within three hundred yards of the northeast salient of Fort Fisher. There she was anchored, and at two o'clock in the morning the powder was exploded without any sensible effect upon the fort or the garrison. The shock was felt like a slight earthquake at Newbern and Beaufort, but the garrison of Fort Fisher thought it was the effect of the bursting of the boiler of a blockade-runner. Probably not one-tenth of the powder was ignited. The fort seemed untouched by the explosion, for the edges of the parapet remained as sharply defined as ever.

Ten hours later Admiral Porter opened his heavy artillery on Fort Fisher and Mound Battery, and in the course of a few hours he hurled eight thousand shells upon them. The brief and feeble responses made by the guns of these defenses deceived the Admiral, and he believed he had disabled them all. At the middle of the afternoon he sent a dispatch to the Secretary of the Navy, in which he said that in half an hour after getting the ships in position he silenced Fort Fisher, but there were no troops to take possession, and he was “merely firing at it to keep up practice.” “The forts,” he said, “are nearly demolished, and as soon as troops come we can take possession.” He added: “All that is wanted now is troops to land to go into them.” How utterly deceived and mistaken the Admiral was appears from a statement of General Whiting, who said that no damage was done to Fort Fisher; that only one man was killed, and three were severely and nineteen were slightly wounded, and that only five gun-carriages were disabled and not a gun was bruised. The complaint of the absence of troops, by Admiral Porter, seems disingenuous and ungracious under the circumstances, and was unjust to the army, which, as we have seen, had waited for the motions of the fleet already six days. And had the Admiral waited a few hours for the troops, which, he, had been informed, would be there that day, he would have had them in full co-operation with him. As it was, he had defeated the intentions of both branches of the service concerning the powder-vessel, by causing it to be exploded when the army, in consequence of waiting for the navy, was, by the advice of the Admiral, seventy miles from the scene of action. Butler and Porter made arrangements to renew the attack the next morning at eight o'clock. Orders were given for us all to breakfast at six.

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