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[365] convinced by my conversations with Federal officers after my capture.

An officer, writing of our attempt to dislodge the besiegers, says:

With the slackening of the naval fire the great bastion at the angle grew freer to offer resistance; the reversed guns of the inlet face of the fort, and the rifle line inside, found more area to play upon. So the work grew harder, and the progress slower. The rebels gained by the concentration, their artillery swelling a louder and louder roar as our naval fire grew faint. Then they turned assaulters, and dashed at the nearest traverse in our hands. Then came a time when, for hours, the battle made no progress either way. * * * *

Somewhere about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, when the obstinate fight looked dubious, a distant sound of startling omen came to my ears — a sound of firing from the north. Absorbed as I was in the terrible game in front, I was alive enough to the responsibility of my position, as commander of the picket line, to hear this sound, which was probably inaudible to all other ears at Fort Fisher. An outburst of musketry from the north — to me an attack from Wilmington upon my northern picket line — an attempt to force our northern line of works across the peninsula! And this, too, coming at the critical hour when the assault at the fort had slackened to a standstill, and the exhausted men were losing heart. Turning to the northward with reluctant haste and anxious forebodings, I ran ankle-deep through the loose sand, which was dotted and spattered with grapeshot and bullets. * * But no more firing sounded from the north; it was absolutely still in that direction. This was so reassuring, that I slackened my pace as I came among the pines, and presently, coming upon the idle groups of negro soldiers lolling about the rear of their unscathed breastworks, I knew at last that General Hoke had made no impression on them.

Can any one doubt that if at this critical period in the attack General Bragg had done his duty and fiercely assaulted the enemy he would have retreated from the work to defend his rear?

General Bragg continues in his letter:

It is known that General Whiting left here for the fort on Friday in a steamer with a large party of these money-kings, called blockade-runners, and a very large supply of the material to produce this result.

The facts are: General Whiting and his staff arrived in the fort in the afternoon of Friday in the midst of the terrific bombardment. I did not know of their approach, until the General came up to me and remarked: “Lamb, my boy, I have come to share your fate. You and your garrison are to be sacrificed.” I replied: “Don't say so, General, ”

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W. H. C. Whiting (2)
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