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[170] there it was found to be evacuated; by whose orders or what authority, I know not; no boats were there. The garrison of Fort Fisher had been coolly abandoned to its fate.

Thus fell Fort Fisher, after three days battle, unparallelled in the annals of the war. Nothing was left but to await the approach of the enemy, who took us about 10 o'clock P. M. The fleet surpassed its tremendous efforts in the previous attack.

The fort has fallen in precisely the manner indicated so often by myself, and to which your attention has been so frequently called, and in the presence of the ample force provided by you to meet the contingency.

The fleet never attempted to enter until after the land force had done its work, and, of course, unless the supporting force played its part, Fort Fisher must have fallen Making every allowance for the extraordinary vigor and force of the enemy's assault, and the terrific effect of the fire of the fleet upon the garrison, and the continual and incessant enfilading of the whole point from Battery Buchanan to the fort, thereby preventing, to a great extent, the movement of my troops, I think that the result might have been avoided, and Fort Fisher still held, if the commanding general had done his duty.

I charge him with this loss; with neglect of duty, in this, that he either refused or neglected to carry out any suggestion made to him, in official communications by me, for the disposition of the troops, and especially that he, failing to appreciate the lesson to be derived from the previous attempt of Butler, instead of keeping his troops in the position to attack the enemy on his appearance, he moves them twenty miles from the point of landing, in spite of repeated warning.

He might have learned from his failure to interrupt either the landing or the embarking of Butler, for two days, with his troops, though disgraceful enough, would indicate to the enemy that he would have the same security for any future expedition. The previous failure was due to Fort Fisher alone, and not to any of the supporting troops.

I charge him, further, with making no effort whatever to create a diversion, in favor of the beleagured garrison, during the three days battle, by attacking the enemy; though that was to be expected, since his delay and false disposition, allowed the enemy to secure his rear by works—but works of no strength. I desire that a full investigation be had of this matter, and these charges which I make; they will be fully borne out by the official records.

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B. F. Butler (2)
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