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[275] have stormed our palisade that Christmas night. If the assaulting column could have reached the comparatively uninjured palisades through the fire of cannister and grape, the explosion and infantry fire would have resulted in their capture or destruction. My only uneasiness was from a boat attack in the rear, between the mound and battery Buchanan, where a thousand sailors and marines could have landed with little opposition at that time, and attacked us in the rear. About 3 o'clock A. M., it was reported that such an advance was being made, and I sent Major Reilly, with two companies, to repulse them, following shortly after in person with a third company to reinforce him. A heavy rain and windstorm had arisen at midnight, and if such a movement was contemplated, it was abandoned. Two prisoners from the One Hundred and Forty-second New York were captured in our front at night, and next morning a number of new graves were seen on the beach, and an officer's sword and some small arms were found. Our casualties for the second day were: killed, 3; wounded, mortally, 2; severely, 7; slightly, 26. Total for the two days, 3 killed and 61 wounded.

Just before the close of the first day's bombardment, General Whiting and staff came into the fort and remained until the enemy departed. His presence was encouraging to the officers and men, who were devoted to him, and his disregard of danger inspired the men with courage to stand by their guns under the terrific fire of the fleet.

It is remarkable what a mistaken idea Admiral Porter and many of the commanders in his fleet had of the condition of the fort after the first attack. They claimed to have silenced the guns of the fort and that a few hundred men could have taken it on Christmas night. Captain Alden, of the ‘Brooklyn,’ voiced this impression when, in his official report, he said:

‘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,’ and that if the troops had not been recalled ‘they would have been in it before dark and in quiet possession without firing a shot.’

I know that they could not have captured Fort Fisher, and I agree with General Whiting, that but for the supineness of General Bragg, the 3,500 men who were landed would have been captured on Christmas night, and it is incomprehensible why he should have allowed the 700

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