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[276] demoralized troops who were forced to remain on the beach on the night of the 26th of December to escape unmolested.

General Butler was severely criticised and retired from active service, because he failed to capture the works. For this he had himself to blame to a great extent. On the evening of December 25th, without waiting for official reports, he listened to camp gossip and wrote as follows to Admiral Porter: ‘General Weitzel advanced his skirmish line within fifty yards of the Fort, while the garrison was kept in their bomb-proofs by the fire of the navy, and so closely that three or four men of the picket line ventured upon the parapet and through the sally port of the work, capturing a horse which they brought off, killing the orderly, who was a bearer of a dispatch from the Chief of Artillery of General Whiting, to bring a light battery within the fort, and also brought away from the parapet the flag of the fort.’

This absurd statement was sent North, has been given a lodgment in current history, and is repeated in General Grant's ‘Memoirs,’ although General Butler corrected the error in his official report. No Federal soldier entered Fort Fisher during this attack except as a prisoner. The courier was sent out of the fort without my knowledge; was killed and his horse captured within the enemy's lines The flag captured was a company flag which I had placed on the extreme left of the work, and it was carried away and thrown off the parapet by an enfilading shot from the navy.

The garrison of Fort Fisher was composed altogether of North Carolinians. After the repulse of the enemy, although some important guns were destroyed by the bombardment and by the explosion, very little was done to repair damages. Requisitions were made for additional ammunition, especially for hand grenades to repulse assault, but it was impossible to obtain what was needed. Application was made for the placing of marine torpedoes where the ironclads had anchored and whither they returned, but no such provision was made. Although it was known that the fleet would return, General Bragg withdrew the supporting army from Sugar Loaf and marched it to a camp sixteen miles distant, and there had a grand review. The fort was not even advised of the approach of the fleet, but its arrival was reported from Fort Fisher to headquarters in Wilmington.

At night, on January 12, 1865, I saw from the ramparts of the fort the lights of the great armada, as one after another appeared above

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