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 batteries were planted in front of the Fort and a strong palisade line erected from river to sea. A number of heavy rifles and columbiads were put on the land and sea faces to strengthen Fort Fisher and the armament of Battery Buchanan was completed. In the sixty days before the attack, our threatened works were so materially strengthened that we felt with proper co-operation on the part of the army under Whiting we would certainly defeat the enemy. On the morning of December 20th, the expected fleet was seen off Fort Fisher, hulls down. A stiff gale was blowing from the northeast. Only half of my garrison, five companies of the Thirty-sixth North Carolina, were with me, the other half having been sent to Georgia under the gallant Major James M. Stevenson to assist in resisting Sherman's advance to the sea. My effective force was not over 500. I immediately sent the slaves who were at work on the defences, to town, and put everything in readiness for action, expecting the fleet in at high tide. General Whiting paid me a short visit, and promised to send reinforcements. Commodore Pinkney was with him, and gravely informed me that the heavy frigates would drive my men from the guns on the sea face with a few broadsides of grape and canister. I respectfully disagreed with him. The gale increased in severity and continued through the night. The fleet remained at their anchorage during the 21st, the wind shifting to the southwest. During the day a detachment of three officers and twenty-five sailors of the Confederate States Navy reported. During the next day the fleet remained at anchor, their hulls still below the horizon. General Hebert, my immediate commander, also visited me; he was very blue, having really no men to spare from the reduced garrison of the other forts. On the 23d there was no demonstration by the enemy, but I was reinforced by Major James Reilly with two companies of his regiment, the Tenth, 110 men, and a company of the Thirteenth North Carolina Battery, 115 strong, and the Seventh Battalion Junior Reserves, boys between sixteen and eighteen years of age, 140 in number, making a total in the Fort of 900 men and boys. The new arrivals were assigned the quarters of the absent companies, and the regulars among them were soon at home. The old garrison had ceased to speculate on the impending attack, and in the evening hours before taps a visitor among them would never have supposed a battle was imminent. The violin and accordeon could be heard from different groups, and a quartette was singing ‘Loreno,’ ‘My Maryland,’
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