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[598] river this morning at half-past 12 o'clock, and, after getting the ships in position, silenced it in about an hour and a half, there being no troops here to take possession. I am merely firing at it now to keep up practice. The forts are nearly demolished, and as soon as troops come we can take possession; we have set them on fire; blown some of them up, and all that is wanted now is troops to land to go into them.

I suppose General Butler will be here in the morning. We have had very heavy gales here which tugs, monitors, and all, rode out at their anchors. The transports have gone into Beaufort, North Carolina.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

David D. Porter, Rear-Admiral. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

Report of rear-admiral Porter.1

flag-ship Malvern, off New Inlet, North Carolina, December 26, 1864.
sir — I have the honor to forward with this a somewhat detailed report of the two engagements with Fort Fisher and the surrounding works.

We attacked with the whole fleet on the twenty-fourth instant, and silenced every gun in a very short time.

On the twenty-fifth instant we again took up our position, within a mile of the fort (the iron vessels within twelve hundred (1,200) yards), without a shot being fired at us; shelled it all day, with now and then a shot from the rebels, and stopped firing after sunset.

The army landed and reembarked, considering it impracticable to assault the place.

I shall remain and keep shelling the enemy's works on every occasion, whenever the weather will permit.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

David D. Porter, Rear-Admiral. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

North Atlantic Squadron, U. S. Flag-ship Malvern, at sea, off New Inlet, N. C., December 26, 1864.
sir — I was in hopes I should have been able to present to the nation Fort Fisher and surrounding works as a Christmas offering, but I am sorry to say it has not been taken yet.

I attacked it on the twenty-fourth instant with the Ironsides, Canonicus, Mahopac, Monadnock, Minnesota, Colorado, Mohican, Tuscarora, Wabash, Susquehanna, Brooklyn, Powhatan, Juniata, Seneca, Shenandoah, Pawtuxet, Ticonderoga, Mackinaw, Maumee, Yantic, Kansas, Iosco, Quaker City, Monticello, Rhode Island, Sassacus, Chippewa, Osceola, Tacony, Pontoosuc, Santiago de Cuba, Fort Jackson, and Vanderbilt, having a reserve of small vessels, consisting of the Aries, Howquah, Wilderness, Cherokee, A. D. Vance, Anemone, Aeolus, Gettysburg, Alabama, Keystone State, Banshee, Emma, Lillian, Tristram Shandy, Britannia, Governor Buckingham, and Nansemond.

Previous to making the attack, a torpedo on a large scale, with an amount of powder on board, supposed to be sufficient to explode the powder magazines of the fort, was prepared with great care, and placed under the command of Commander A. C. Rhind, who had associated with him on this perilous service Lieutenant S. W. Preston, Second Assistant Engineer A. T. E. Mullan, of the United States steamer Agawam, and Acting Master's Mate Paul Boyden, and seven men. So much had been said and written about the terrible effects of gunpowder in an explosion that happened lately in England, that great results were expected from this novel mode of making war. Everything that ingenuity could devise was adopted to make the experiment a success.

The vessel was brought around from Norfolk with great care and without accident, in tow of the United States steamer Sassacus, Lieutenant Commander J. L. Davis, who directed his whole attention to the matter in hand, and though he experienced some bad weather and lost one of his rudders, he took her safely into Beaufort, where he filled her up with powder, and perfected all the machinery for blowing her up. General Butler had arrived at the rendezvous before us, and I hastened matters all that I could, so that no unnecessary delay might be laid to my charge.

On the eighteenth instant I sailed from Beaufort with all the monitors, New Ironsides, and small vessels, including the Louisiana, disguised as a blockade-runner, for the rendezvous, twenty miles east of New Inlet, North Carolina, and found all the larger vessels and transports assembled there, the wind lowing light from the north-east. On the twentieth a heavy gale set in from the south-west, and not being able to make a port without scattering all the vessels, I determined to ride it out, which I did, without any accident of any kind, except the loss of a few anchors, the monitors and all behaving beautifully.

Only two vessels went to sea to avoid the gale, and fared no better than those at anchor. The transports, being short of water, put into Beaufort, North Carolina, and were not suitable for riding out at anchor such heavy weather.

After the south-wester the wind chopped around to the westward and gave us a beautiful spell of weather, which I could not afford to lose, and the transports with the troops not making their appearance, I determined to take advantage of it and attack Fort Fisher and its outworks.

On the twenty-third I directed Commander Rhind to proceed and explode the vessel right under the walls of Fort Fisher, Mr. Bradford, of the Coast Survey, having gone in at night and

1 see document 76, page 490, ante.

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