had taken, for at that moment everything seemed propitious. The bombardment was at its height, little or no surf on the beach, and no serious indications of bad weather. Still, the order for retiring had gone forth, and our boats were employed till very late (the launch not returning till next morning), in reembarking the troops, the surf not interfering seriously with operations till near midnight, when it became impossible to land with any safety. Much dissatisfaction, I am told, was shown by the soldiers and their officers when they were informed that they were to re-embark, and it was with some difficulty that they could be made to get into the boats. They were loud in their denunciations of the order turning them back, saying that they had gone there to take the fort, and they were going to do it before they left, &c., &c. The next day, the twenty-sixth, the surf was too high for safe transit from the shore, and this vessel was employed in making a reconnoissance of the enemy's works. Nothing new, however, was discovered, and, after exchanging a few shots with Fort Fisher, we returned to the anchorage for the night. The following day all our boats were sent, and, after some difficulty, the remaining troops were safely embarked. I have endeavored in the above to give you my ideas of the effect of our fire on the enemy's works, which was to almost silence them. In regard to the damage done, it is, under the circumstances, impossible for any one to tell without a closer inspection, for, as you remember at Forts Jackson and St. Philip, everything on the outside seemed in statu quo, hardly any trace of injury was apparent, but on entering and looking around, the terrible effect of the bombardment was manifest at every turn. So, too, at Fort Morgan, little or no injury could be discovered from without, but. upon close examination, it was found that almost every gun on its carriage was seriously damaged, if not entirely destroyed. Now, as to the “defensibility” of the fort. The rebels, I am satisfied, considered, from the moment that our troops obtained a footing on the shore, the work (battered as it was), was untenable, and were merely waiting for some one to come and take it. The General commanding furnishes us with proof of that fact, I think. In his letter to you, informing you of his determination to withdraw, a copy of which you sent me, he says that “three or four men ventured upon the parapet and through the sallyport of the work, capturing a horse, which they brought off; * * * and also brought away from the parapet the flag of the fort.” This was all done in open day and without resistance, if, indeed, there was anybody there who was disposed to question their right to such trophies. From that and other current testimony, I am satisfied that if our troops had not been stopped in their triumphant march toward Fort Fisher, they would have been in it before dark, and in quiet possession without firing a shot. With great respect, I am your obedient servant,
Report of Com. J. C. Howell.
Admiral — This vessel having been ordered to support the ironclads during the attack on Fort Fisher, on the twenty-fifth day of December, I stood in to three fathoms water, and at 11:8 A. M. opened fire; at 12:40 P. M. was ordered to shell the woods; at 1:12 P. M. ordered to assist in landing troops; at 2:15 P. M. Flag-pond battery, at which this vessel and two or three small gunboats had been firing occasionally, surrendered to the navy. There was no gun in the battery. Some sixty-five or seventy prisoners were taken. At 9:45 one of the Nereus' boats returned, the officer stating that he had been employed embarking troops. December twenty-sixth, heavy sea on. But one boat, and that in charge of Acting Master E. L. Haines, of this vessel, got off during the day. Engaged shelling woods during the day and night. December twenty-seventh, boats and men employed in embarking troops; shelling woods. At about twelve M. General Curtis and two officers visited the ship. General Curtis desired to express his acknowledgments to Acting Master E. L. Haines and Ensign G. M. Smith, and the boats' crews of the Nereus, for courage and perseverance in getting off his command. He informed me that if he had not been ordered back, and had been supported by the troops on shore, he could, in his opinion, have carried Fort Fisher. From all the information I have been able to gain on the subject, I think he was correct in his views. There was no exception to the excellent conduct of officers and men. I am indebted to Lieutenant H. E. Mullan for intelligent services. I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
Report of Com. Daniel Ammen.
Admiral — I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your General Order, No. 75, directing commanding officers to make their report in relation to our attack on Fort Fisher and the adjacent earthworks, and also a copy of a communication to you from Major-General Benjamin F. Butler, and in regard to some points touched upon you request an opinion. At about half-past 11 A. M., of the twenty-fourth