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[712] Butler's military department, he did not absolutely forbid it. Still, as Weitzel was his choice, and the decision not to assault was primarily Weitzel's, he could not object to this. But he did complain, and with reason, that his express order, addressed to Butler for Weitzel, had been violated in the return of the expedition. That order is as follows:

City Point, Va., Dec. 6, 1864.
General: The first object of the expedition under Gen. Weitzel is to close to the enemy the port of Wilmington. If successful in this, the second will be to capture Wilmington itself. There are reasonable grounds to hope for success, if advantage can be taken of the absence of the greater part of the enemy's forces now looking after Sherman in Georgia. The directions you have given for the numbers and equipment of the expedition are all right, except in the unimportant matters of where they embark and the amount of intrenching tools to be taken. The object of the expedition will be gained by effecting a landing on the main land between Cape Fear river and the Atlantic, north of the north entrance to the river. Should such landing be effected whilst the enemy still holds Fort Fisher amid the batteries guarding the entrance to the river, then the troops should intrench themselves, and, by cooperating with the navy, effect the reduction and capture of those places. These in our hands, the navy could enter the harbor, and the port of Wilmington would be sealed. Should Fort Fisher and the point of land on which it is built fall into the hands of our troops, immediately on landing, then it will be worth the attempt to capture Wilmington by a forced march and surprise. If time is consumed in gaining the first object of the expedition, the second will become a matter of after consideration.

The details for execution are intrusted to you and the officer immediately in command of the troops.

Should the troops under Gen. Weitzel fail to effect a landing at or near Fort Fisher, they will be returned to the armies operating against Richmond without delay.


Gen. Weitzel had concurred in the propriety of returning, but in entire ignorance of this order. Had it been directed to him, and he placed in command of the expedition, he would have obeyed it.

Advised by the Navy Department that the fleet was still off Fort Fisher, and ready for a fresh attempt, Grant promptly determined that it should be made. Designating Gen. Alfred H. Terry to command the new expedition, he added a brigade of about 1,500 men and a siege-train (which was not landed), and ordered Gen. Sheridan to send a division to Fortress Monroe, to follow in case of need. Terry's force, therefore, though nominally but a quarter stronger, was really much more so; since all who were under his orders added vigor and confidence to his efforts. Gen. Terry was first apprised of his destination by Gen. Grant, as together they passed down the James.

The new expedition, composed in good part of the old one, minus its two Generals, left Fortress Monroe Jan. 6, 1865; put into Beaufort, N. C., on the 8th; was detained there by bad weather till the 12th; was off Wilmington that night; and commenced its landing, under cover of a heavy bombardment from Porter's fleet, early next morning; and, by 3 P. M., nearly 8,000 men, with three days rations in their haversacks, 40 rounds of ammunition in their boxes, arms, intrenching tools, munitions, &c., complete, had been landed, in spite of a heavy surf; having thrown out pickets which had exchanged shots with those of the enemy. The work assigned them was already well begun.

Gen. Terry's first concern was to throw a strong defensive line across the sandy peninsula whereon Fort Fisher stands, so as to isolate it from

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