The bombardment of the second day commenced at 10.20 A. M., and continued, with no interruption or apparent slackening, with great fury from over fifty ships till dark. During the day the enemy landed a large force, and at 4.30 P. M. advanced a line of skirmishers on the left flank of the sand curtain, the fleet at the same time making a concentrated and tremendous enfilading fire on the curtain. The garrison, however, at the proper moment, when the fire slackened to allow the approach of the enemy's land force, drove them off with grape and musketry; at dark the enemy withdrew. A heavy storm set in, and the garrison were much exposed, as they were under arms all night.1
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1 General Whiting, in answer to inquiries by General Butler, states that the garrison was 667 men on the 18th. On the 23d, 110 veteran artillery, 50 sailors, and 250 Junior reserves were added. Total, 1,077. On the 24th the fleet disabled five guns; on the 25th four guns, two of them being on the left, looking up the beach, and nineteen in position, and mines (for explosion) undisturbed. He doubts the success of an assault at that time. In the official report of General Whiting, dated December 30th, is found the fact that the ‘Junior Reserves’ and others had to be coaxed out of the bomb-proofs, one might say, on the 25th, to repel a possible assault. This report concludes as follows: ‘hatever the power of resistance of the fort, and it is great, no doubt, the delay due to the heavy weather of Wednesday and Thursday after the arrival of the fleet was its .salvation .. But we cannot always hope for such aid from weather, or the blunder of the enemy, manifest here for his not landing and occupying the work before the commencement of his bombardment, and I trust the lesson will not be lost.’ The reader can now form his own conclusion whether General Butler could or could not have taken Fort Fisher.
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