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On the 16th of December, Fort Fisher was garrisoned by four companies of infantry and one light battery, together numbering six hundred and sixty-seven men, while about eight hundred reserves were at Sugar Loaf, five miles up the peninsula.1 The arrival of the double fleet, however, was at once discovered, and reinforcements were promptly forwarded from Richmond. On the 19th, General Whiting, in command at Wilmington, reported: ‘Information seems reliable of formidable attack here. The troops ordered away cannot return. If not helped, the forts must be turned, and the city goes. The reduced garrisons are not able to hold this ex tended position without support.’ Lee at once ordered Hoke's division, about six thousand strong, to North Carolina. On the 20th, Bragg, who had returned to Wilmington and resumed command of the district, telegraphed: ‘The head of the enemy's fleet arrived off this point during the night. Over thirty steamers are now assembling, and more are following.’ On the 23rd, he reported further: ‘The fleet, which drew off in the rough weather, is again assembled. Seventy vessels came in sight on the coast. The advance of the troops only reached here to-night.’ On this day the Governor of North Carolina issued a proclamation, calling on all men in the state, who could stand behind breastworks and fire a musket, to rally to the defence of Wilmington. On the 23rd, one hundred and ten artillery-men, fifty sailors, and two hundred and fifty junior reserves were thrown into the fort. The garrison then numbered one thousand and seventy-seven men.

1 Whiting's letter to Butler, February 28, 1865.—‘Report on Conduct of the War,’ 1865, Vol. II.

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