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[352] progress of the enemy and directed his forces by day; then taking advantage of his knowledge of their disposition and the inability of the fleet to co-operate with them at night, he could have fallen upon them with army and garrison and captured them. He had steamers of all sizes at his command, among them the Chicamauga, which did good service with her scant supply of ammunition when the enemy first landed, that could have conveyed him from his camp to the rear of the fort in thirty minutes. With all these facilities, besides the existing telegraph lines on the river for gathering correct information, the general commanding, hid away in the undergrowth of safe sand hills, gathered his news of the condition of the most important part of his command from rumors and from “an escaped officer who reported by telegraph from across the river that the fort was captured.” The women, children and old men, who watched the battle from the farm houses across the river, knew more about what was going on in his command than did General Braxton Bragg.

The letter continues:

No human power could have prevented the enemy from landing, covered as he was by a fleet of ships carrying six hundred heavy guns.

Some fifty yards from the land face of the fort the river bank was high enough to form a perfect defence from the fleet at sea, and from its trend, unfortunately for the besieged, hid an approach to the fort. This natural protection from the fleet extended for some miles up the river until it reached the camp of General Bragg. In the previous attack, Sergeant Glennan had volunteered to carry a message to General Bragg and see if “the coast was clear,” and had passed unobserved from fort to camp up this natural covered way, on December 26th, while Butler's troops still occupied the beach. Besides this river bank, from Battery Holland, a half mile north of Fort Fisher to the head of the sound, were a series of batteries, curtains and sand hills, giving excellent protection to infantry against the fire of the fleet. Both nature and art combined to make a landing of troops from beyond the close range of the fort to the head of the sound impossible in the face of a few thousand determined troops, who could have moved from point to point behind the works and hills unobserved by the enemy. It was the opinion of Whiting, Beauregard and Longstreet that a landing south of Masonboro sound was impracticable in the face of a well handled force on shore. The fleet in the day could not have fired over their friends so effectively as to have silenced the sharpshooters, and the few who landed, without works to defend them, would have

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