safe, but that the enemy had assumed a most precarious position, from which he would escape with great difficulty.
If the fort had remained in the condition in which General Bragg
saw it previous to January 13th, Grant
's army could not have stormed and carried it. It had twenty heavy guns bearing on the beach, supplemented with one mortar and four Napoleons.
In front was a perfect palisade line pierced for musketry, and constructed in irregular lines, giving an enfilading fire for light artillery, and in advance were numerous sub-terra mines capable of blowing up the beach from river to sea for more than one hundred yards in front of the works.
Although constructed primarily with a view to prevent the entrance of a fleet into the river, yet uninjured by bombardment, it could have resisted any assault.
But before the assault fifty thousand shells had expended their fury on the works.
Every gun save one 10-inch Columbiad was destroyed, the use of all but one Napoleon
rendered impracticable, every wire leading to the mines ploughed up, and the palisade such a wreck as actually to offer a protection to some of the assailants.
The terrific fire in front, rear and enfilade from the fleet upon the land face rendering the salients practicable for assault forced me, from the numbers killed and wounded, to cover by bomb-proofs all the troops on the land face except those at the Columbiad and Napoleon and the sharpshooters protected by the traverses.
Did General Bragg
expect us, if we repelled all the assaults, to pursue the enemy without his co-operation?
If not, why, in his inactivity, did he not only consider himself safe, but the enemy in a precarious position?
I understood that General Bragg
would take advantage of the darkness on the night of the 14th and attack the enemy.
About 9 o'clock I went out of the works with Captain Patterson
's company as skirmishers and engaged the enemy's pickets to ascertain their position, intending to attack them in force as soon as I heard the advance of General Bragg
, but I waited in vain for him to avail himself of the last opportunity to capture the enemy and save the fort, while the fleet would have been forced to remain inactive.
I accordingly ordered Hoke to entrench immediately in his front, and push his lines close on to him, so as to keep him engaged and closely observed.
I think it must be a mistake.
was not an officer to disobey the command to keep the enemy engaged.
While this was going on I started one thousand of our best men