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[603] I have the honor to say that in the actions of the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth instant, with Fort Fisher and its dependencies, these works were effectually silenced by the heavy and accurate fire of this fleet for hours at a time, the enemy only replying to our fire when an occasional cessation occurred on our part.

On the twenty-fourth an explosion took place, during a heavy fire from the fleet, within the main fort of the rebels, and immediately after which flames were observed streaming high above the walls, naturally leading to the conclusion that we had fired the barracks and other tenements connected with Fort Fisher. During the continuance of this blaze, which was for hours, not a gun was fired by the enemy (to the best of my recollection), except from the isolated work called the Mound fort.

On the twenty-fifth instant the range was shorter and the firing of the fleet more accurate than on the preceding day. It is my belief that not a shot or shell was fired by the advanced line of ships that did not either penetrate the earthworks of the enemy or explode within them. The crew of this ship were perfectly cool, and fired with deliberation and apparent severe effect upon the enemy, delivering on the first day fifteen hundred and sixty-nine (1,569) projectiles. Near the close of the second day's action we perceived the near approach of the advanced skirmishers of our army force, which had landed late in the day, when our fire ceased for nearly thirty (30) minutes, and was only resumed after we had been hulled several times by a vicious gun which appeared to be fired from the north-east angle of Fort Fisher. We then reopened heavily, but more to the left than we had previously fired, to avoid annoying our own troops, who were seen approaching the fort. The effect of this last heavy fire was apparently severe upon the casemated works to the southward and westward of Fort Fisher. At this time a succession of explosions was heard in the rear of these casemates, followed by the blaze of a large building, which continued to burn during the greater part of Christmas night.

My “impression with regard to the defensibility of the post (battered as it was) against a combined attack of the army and navy” is, that it could have been carried by assault on either of the evenings of the twenty-fourth or twenty-fifth instant.

I do not suppose that it was deemed possible entirely to demolish a casemated earthwork like Fort Fisher, but I am satisfied that everything was done that could be done on the part of the navy to render it untenable, the enemy having been again and again driven from their guns (some of which, it appears, were dismounted by our fire), and compelled to seek refuge in the sand-holes.

The shoalness of the water for a mile seaward of the forts constituted their only safety against total destruction, or, at least, the dismounting of every gun, such was the heavy and concentrated fire of those two days bombardment. This ship planted two hundred and thirty (230) shot in the rebel works on the twenty-fifth, and exploded nine hundred and ninety-six (996) shells within them on that day.

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

H. K. Thatcher, Commodore, Commanding 1st Division, N. A. Squadron. Rear-Admiral David D. Porter, Commanding N. A. Squadron, Beaufort, N. C.

Report of Commodore Schenck.

United States steamer Powhatan, off Beaufort, N. C., January 1, 1865.
Admiral — Your General Order, No. 75 did not reach me until this morning, owing to its being sent on board the Colorado. In reply to that part of it requiring me to make a report of the part I took in the actions of the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth ultimo, I have to state that at twenty minutes past one P. M. on the twenty-fourth, I took my position in the line, as directed by you, with a kedge upon my port quarter acting as a spring, letting go my port anchor with twenty-five (25) fathoms of chain, which brought my starboard broadside to bear upon the forts. I immediately opened a vigorous fire upon the batteries, paying especial attention to Fort Fisher with my eleven-inch gun, and to the Mound with my two (2) one-hundred-pounder Parrotts, and with my nine-inch guns to the batteries more immediately abreast of us. It is reported and believed on board this ship that one of the shells from our eleven-inch, which exploded in Fort Fisher, set fire to it. At 2:45 P. M., finding that some of my nine-inch shell fell short, and that the Brooklyn, being under way, occasionally interfered with my line of sight, I got under way, continuing the action, and stood into four and a half (4 1/2) fathoms water, from which position every shot told with great effect. From this time the action was continued under way. At 3:10 P. M. the end of our spanker gaff was shot away, and our flag came down with it; hoisted it immediately at the mizzen. About the same time the rebel flag on Fort Fisher was shot away, and was not raised again during the action. At 3:45 P. M. the flag-staff on the Mound was shot away, which shot is claimed by our pivot rifle. At 5:20 P. M. the signal was made to discontinue the action. Hauled off, having sustained no loss of life or injury to the ship.

During this day's action we fired two hundred and thirty-six (236) nine-inch shell, fifty-four (54) eleven-inch shell, and eighty-two (82) one hundred-pounder rifle shell. Not a shell was wasted from the eleven-inch and rifles, and only a few in the early part of the action from the nine-inch guns. The starboard battery only was used in action, viz.: eight (8) nine-inch guns, two (2) one-hundred-pounder Parrott rifles, and one (1) eleven-inch pivot gun.

On the twenty-fifth I took my position as before, although nearer the batteries and further

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