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[491] troops; and by the advice of Admiral Porter, communicated to me by letter, I directed the transport fleet to rendezvous at Beaufort. This was a matter of necessity, because the transport fleet, being coaled and watered for ten days, had already waited that time, to wit: from the ninth, the day on which we were ready to sail, to the nineteenth.

On the twentieth, Tuesday; twenty-first, Wednesday; twenty-second, Thursday; and twenty-third, Friday, it blew a gale. I was occupied in coaling and watering the transport fleet at Beaufort.

The Baltic, having a large supply of coal, was enabled to remain at the place of rendezvous, with a brigade on board of twelve hundred men, and General Ames reported to Admiral Porter that he would co-operate with him.

On the twenty-third I sent Captain Clark, of my staff, from Beaufort on the fast-sailing armed steamer Chamberlain, to Admiral Porter to inform him that on the evening of the twenty-fourth I would again be at the rendezvous with the transport fleet, for the purpose of commencing the attack, the weather permitting.

At four o'clock on the evening of the twenty-fourth I came in sight of Fort Fisher, and found the naval fleet engaged in bombarding it, the powder-vessel having been exploded on the morning previous, about one o'clock.

Through General Weitzel I arranged with Admiral Porter to commence the landing under cover of the gunboats as early as eight o'clock the next morning, if possible, as soon as the fire of the Half-Moon and Flag-pond Hill batteries had been silenced. These are up the shore some two or three miles above Fort Fisher.

Admiral Porter was quite sanguine that he had silenced the guns of Fort Fisher. He was then urged, if that were so, to run by the fort into Cape Fear river, and then the troops could land and hold the beach without liability of being shelled by the enemy's gunboats (the Tallahassee being seen in the river).

It is to be remarked that Admiral Farragut, even, had never taken a fort except by running by and cutting it off from all prospects of reinforcements, as at Fort Jackson and Fort Morgan, and that no casemated fort had been silenced by naval fire during the war. That if the Admiral would put his ships in the river the army could supply him across the beach, as we had proposed to do Farragut at Fort St. Philip. That at least the blockade at Wilmington would be thus effectual, even if we did not capture the fort. To that the Admiral replied that he should probably lose a boat by torpedoes if he attempted to run by.

He was reminded that the army might lose five hundred men by the assault, and that his boat would not weigh in the balance, even in a money point of view, for a moment, with the lives of the men. The Admiral declined going by, and the expedition was deprived of that essential element of success.

At twelve o'clock noon of the twenty-fifth, Sunday, Captain Glisson, commanding the covering divisions of the fleet, reported the batteries silenced and his vessels in position to cover our landing.

The transport fleet, following my flag-ship, stood in within eight hundred yards of the beach, and at once commenced debarking. The landing was successfully effected. Finding that the reconnoitring party just landed could hold the shore, I determined to land a force with which an assault might be attempted.

Brevet Brigadier-General Curtis, who deserves well for his gallantry, immediately pushed up his brigade within a few hundred yards of Fort Fisher, capturing the Half-Moon battery and its men, who were taken off by the boats of the navy.

This skirmish line advanced to within seventy-five yards of the fort, protected by the glacis which had been thrown up in such form as to give cover, the garrison being completely kept in their bomb-proofs by the fire of the navy, which was very rapid and continuous, their shells bursting over the work with very considerable accuracy. At this time we lost ten men wounded on the skirmish line by the shells from the fleet.

Quitting my flag-ship I went on board the Chamberlain and ran in within a few hundred yards of the fort, so that it was plainly visible.

It appeared to be a square bastioned work of very high relief, say fifteen feet, surrounded by a wet ditch some fifteen feet wide. I was protected from being enveloped by an assaulting force by a stockade which extended from the fort to the sea on the one side, and from the marshes of Cape Fear river to the salient on the other.

No material damage to the fort, as a defensive work, had been done.

Seventeen heavy guns bore up the beach, protected from the fire of the navy by traverses eight or ten feet high, which were undoubtedly bomb-proof shelters for the garrison.

With the garrision kept within their bombproofs it was easy to maintain this position; but the shells of the navy, which kept the enemy in their bomb-proofs, would keep my troops out. When those ceased falling the parapet was fully manned.

Lieutenant Walling, of the One Hundred and Forty-second New York, pressed up to the edge of the ditch, and captured a flag which had been cut down by a shell from the navy. It is a mistake, as was at first reported to me, that any soldier entered the fort. An orderly was killed about a third of a mile from the fort and his horse taken.

In the meantime the remainder of Ames' division had captured two hundred and eighteen men and ten commissioned officers of the North Carolina reserves and other prisoners. From them I learned that Kirkland's and Hagood's brigade of Hoke's division had left the front of the Army of the James, near Richmond, and

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