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[492] were then within two miles of the rear of my forces, and their skirmishers were then actually engaged, and that the remainder of Hoke's division had come the night before to Wilmington, and were then on the march, if they had not already arrived.

I learned, also, that these troops had left Richmond on Tuesday, the twentieth.

Knowing the strength of Hoke's division, I found a force opposed to me, outside of the works, larger than my own.

In the meantime the weather assumed a threatening aspect. The surf began to roll in so that the landing became difficult, At this time General Weitzel reported to me that to assault the work, in his judgment, and in that of the experienced. officers of his command, who had been on the skirmish line, with any prospect of success, was impossible.

This opinion coincided with my own, and much as I regretted the necessity of abandoning the attempt, yet the path of duty was plain. Not so strong a work as Fort Fisher had been taken by assault during the war, and I had to guide me the experience of Port Hudson, with its slaughtered thousands in the repulsed assault, and the double assault of Fort Wagner, where thousands were sacrificed in an attempt to take a work less strong than Fisher, after it had been subjected to a more continued and fully as severe fire. And in neither of the instances I have mentioned had the assaulting force in its rear, as I had, an army of the enemy larger than itself.

I therefore ordered that no assault should be made, and that the troops should re-embark.

While superintending the preparations for this, the fire of the navy ceased. Instantly the guns of the fort were fully manned, and a sharp fire of musketry, grape and canister swept the plain over which the column must have advanced, and the skirmish line was returning.

Working with what diligence we could, it was impossible to get the troops again on board before the sea ran so high as to render further re-embarkation, or even the sending of supplies ashore, impossible. I lay by the shore until elven o'clock the next day, Monday, the twenty-sixth, when, having made all proper dispositions for getting the troops on board, I gave orders to the transport fleet, as fast as they were ready, to sail for Fortress Monroe, in obedience to my instructions from the Lieutenant-General.

I learned from deserters and prisoners captured, that the supposition upon which the Lieutenant-General directed the expedition, that Wilmington had been denuded of troops to oppose General Sherman, was correct. That at the time when the army arrived off Wilmington, there were less than four hundred men in the garrison of Fort Fisher, and less than a thousand within twenty miles.

But the delay of three days of good weather, the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth, waiting for the arrival of the navy, and the further delay of the terrible storm of the twenty-first, twenty-second and twenty-third, gave time for troops to be brought from Richmond, three divisions of which were either there or on the road.

The instructions of the Lieutenant-General to me did not contemplate a siege; I had neither siege-trains nor supplies for such a contingency.

The exigency of possible delay, for which the foresight of the commander of the armies had provided, had arisen, to wit: the larger reinforcement of the garrison. This, together with the fact that the navy had exhausted their supply of ammunition in the bombardment, left me with no alternative but to return with my troops to the Army of the James.

The loss of the opportunity of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth, was the immediate cause of the failure of the expedition.

It is not my province even to suggest blame to the navy for their delay of four days at Beaufort. I know none of the reasons which do or do not justify it. It is to be presumed they are sufficient.

I am happy to bring to the attention of the Lieutenant-General the excellent behavior of the troops, both officers and men, which was all that could be desired.

I am under special obligations to Captain Glisson, of the Santiago de Cuba, for the able and efficient manner in which he covered our landing; to Captain Alden, of the Brooklyn, for his prompt assistance and the excellent gunnery with which the Brooklyn cleared the shores of all opposers at the moment of debarkation. Lieutenant Farquhar, of the navy, having in charge the navy boats which assisted in the landing, deserves great credit for the energy and skill with which he managed the boats through the rolling surf. Especial commendation is due to Brigadier-General Graham and the officers and men of his naval brigade, for the organization of his boats and crews for landing, and the untiring energy and industry with which they all labored in re-embarking the troops during the stormy night of the twenty-fifth and the days following. For this and other meritorious services during the campaign since the first of May, which have heretofore been brought to the notice of the Lieutenant-General in my official reports, I would respectfully but earnestly recommend General Graham for promotion.

The number of prisoner captured by us was three hundred, including twelve officers, two heavy rifled guns, two light guns, and six caissons.

The loss of the army was one man drowned, two men killed, one officer captured, who accidentally wandered through our pickets, and ten men wounded while upon the picket line by the shells of the navy.

Always chary of mentioning with commendation the acts of my own personal staff, yet I

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