previous next

[612] opened communication with them this morning, and supplied them with provisions.

To show that the rebels have no force here, these men have been on shore two days without being molested. I am now getting them off, and it has taken half the squadron (with the loss of many boats in the surf) to assist.

I can't conceive what the army expected when they came here; it certainly did not need seven thousand men to garrison Fort Fisher--it only requires one thousand to garrison all these forts, which are entirely under the guns of Fort Fisher; that taken, the river is open. Could I have found a channel to be relied on in time, I would have put the small vessels in, even if I had got a dozen of them sunk; but the channel we did find was only wide enough for one vessel at right angles, and we were not certain of the soundings. There never was a fort that invited soldiers to walk in and take possession more plainly than Fort Fisher; and an officer got on the parapet even, saw no one inside, and brought away the flag we had cut down.

A soldier goes inside, through the sallyport, meets in the fort, coming out of a bomb-proof, an orderly on horseback, shoots the orderly, searches his body, and brings away with him the horse and communication the orderly was bearing to send up field-pieces.

Another soldier goes in the fort and brings out a mule that was stowed away; and another soldier, who went inside while our shells were falling, shot his musket into a bomb-proof, where he saw some rebels assembled together; he was not molested. Ten soldiers, who went around the fort, were wounded by our shells. All the men wanted was the order to go in; but because every gun was not dismounted by our fire, it was thought that the fort “was not injured as a defensive work,” and that it would be to lose men to attack it. It was considered rash to attack the works with wooden ships, and even the officers who have been on the bar a long time (and witnessed the building of the works), thought that half the ships would be destroyed; and it was said that the only hope we could have of silencing the batteries was in case the powder-vessel did the damage expected.

We silenced the guns in one hour's time, and had not one man killed (that I have heard of), except by the bursting of our own guns, in the entire fleet.

We have shown the weakness of this work. It can be taken at any moment, in one hour's time, if the right man is sent with the troops. They should be sent here to stay — to land with a month's provisions, intrenching tools, guns, and Cohorn mortars. Ten thousand men will hold the whole country. The rebels have been able to send here, all told, about four thousand men; seventy-five of them that were sent here to observe us gave themselves up to the navy. Two hundred and eighteen men, sent on the same duty, gave themselves up to our reconnoitring party, and this would have been the case all the way through.

I know what they would do, and I shall send and ask him to let some of his troops come and locate themselves in Fort Fisher. If I can't do better, I will land the sailors, and try if we can't have full credit for what we do.

I trust, sir, you will not think of stopping at this, nor of relaxing your endeavors to obtain the right kind of troops for the business, the right number, and the proper means of taking the place, even if we fail in an assault. Every attack we make we will improve in firing, and if the weather would permit, I could level the works in a week's firing, strong as they are; but it is only one day in six that a vessel can anchor so close. We had a most beautiful time, and the weather for the attack was just what we wanted.

If General Hancock, with ten thousand men, was sent down here, we could walk into the fort.

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

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

Effect of the Exlposion of the powder-boat.

North Atlantic Squadron, U. S. Flag-ship Malvern, off New Inlet, December 28, 1864.
sir — I am enabled, from information gained from prisoners, to tell you what effect the explosion had on the rebels in and about Fort Fisher. It was entirely unexpected, and the troops were mostly asleep at the time, It created a perfect panic, stunned and disabled the men, so that they refused to fight, notwithstanding all the efforts of their officers, and the severe bombardment that followed so completely demoralized them, that two hundred men could have gone into and taken possession of the works.

No injury was done to the forts that I can hear of, nor were any of the wooden huts, about half a mile off, thrown down; but on looking at the massive structures, built of sand-bags, it could scarcely be expected to move them by such a process; that can only be done by continual hammering with shot and shell.

As far as this squadron is concerned, the forts can be silenced at any moment, and taken possession of by a well-organized land force.

I am sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

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

Confederate reports.

General Whiting's report.

headquarters, Wilmington, December 31, 1864.
Colonel — For the information of the General commanding, I forward the report of Colonel

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Washington (United States) (2)
New Inlet (North Carolina, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Gideon Welles (2)
David D. Porter (2)
W. H. C. Whiting (1)
John L. Hancock (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
December 31st, 1864 AD (1)
December 28th, 1864 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: