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[548] Porter the fleet. The enemy seems about this time to have conceived a new means of destroying forts; it was, to place a large amount of powder in a ship, and having anchored off the fort, to explode the powder and so destroy the works and incapacitate the garrison as to enable a storming party to capture them. How near Fort Fisher it was expected to anchor the ship I do not know, nor have I learned how far it was supposed the open atmosphere could be made to act as a projectile. General Whiting, the brave and highly accomplished soldier who was in command of the defenses of Wilmington, stated that the powder ship did not come nearer to Fort Fisher than twelve or fifteen hundred yards. He further stated that he heard the report of the explosion at Wilmington, and sent a telegram to Colonel Lamb, the commanding officer at the fort, to inquire what it meant, and was answered, ‘Enemy's gunboat blown up.’ No effect, as might have been anticipated, was produced on the fort.1 From the same source it is learned that the combined force of this expedition was about six thousand five hundred land troops and fifty vessels of war of various sizes and classes, several ironclads, and the ship charged with two hundred thirty-five tons of powder. Some of the troops landed, but after a reconnaissance of the fort, which then had a garrison of about six thousand five hundred men, the troops were reembarked, and thus the expedition ended.

On January 15, 1865, the attempt was renewed with a larger number of troops, amounting, after the arrival of General Schofield, to twentyodd thousand. Porter's fleet also received additional vessels, making the whole number fifty-eight engaged in the attack. The garrison of Fort Fisher had been increased to about double the number of men there on December 24th. The ironclad vessels of the enemy approached nearer the fort than on a former occasion, and the fire of the fleet was more concentrated and vastly more effective. Many of the guns in the fort were dismounted, and the parapets seriously injured, by the fire. The garrison stood bravely to their guns, and when the assault was made, fought with such determined courage as to repulse the first column, and obstinately contended with another approaching from the land side, continuing the fight long after they had got into the fort. Finally, overwhelmed by numbers, and after the fort and its armament had been mainly destroyed by a bombardment—I believe greater than ever before concentrated upon a fort—the remnant of the garrison surrendered. The heroic and highly gifted General Whiting was killed, and the gallant commander of the fort, Colonel Lamb, seriously wounded.

1 ‘Report of Committee on the Conduct of the War,’ 1865, Vol. II, pp. 106, 107.

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