‘It was intended that the men should assault in line, the marines acting as sharpshooters, and the different lines were to charge over them; but from the difficulty I had of informing myself of the time when the army was to assault, which was to guide our movements, that moment found us too far off to move to the attack unless under cover.’1
‘At three o'clock the signal came, the vessels changed their fire to the upper batteries; all the steam-whistles were blown, and the troops and sailors dashed ahead, nobly vying with each other to reach the top of the parapet. . . . The sailors took to the assault by the flank along the beach, while the troops rushed in at the left [right?], through the palisades that had been knocked away by the fire of our guns.’2
Fifty steam-whistles from the vessels, blown long and loud, and the sound of shells bursting far beyond the near faces of Fort Fisher
, upon which assaulting columns were advancing, gave notice within every bomb-proof of a movement, the army force, managed dexterously, had been placed under cover close to the land face of the fort.
It advanced rapidly, gained and held the western end of that parapet and between the traverses, but the sailors and marines had nearly half a mile before them, along a line, too, enfiladed by low and more distant guns that swept the ground with grape and shells.
The enemy swarmed the bastion and delivered deadly volleys at distances at which the cutlasses and revolvers in the hands of the sailors were quite inoperative, and yet many of the assailants reached, and some of them passed through the line of palisades that remained in part, and now afforded them partial protection, and the only one, from certain death; others farther away, and