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[321] on the peninsula under Bragg. But this was the very contingency against which Grant had provided. His instructions were clear that, if a landing was effected above Fort Fisher, that in itself was to be considered a success; the object of the expedition would be gained; and, if the fort did not fall immediately upon the landing, the troops were to entrench themselves, and remain and co-operate with the fleet for the reduction of the place. When Butler's orders to Weitzel, before the expedition started, were submitted to Grant, the general-in-chief at once sent word: β€˜The number of entrenching tools, I think, should be increased three or four times.’1 The position could certainly have been fortified, and, under cover of the fleet, have been easily held against double or treble any force that Bragg could have brought against it. As soon as Grant understood the circumstances, he declared that, in leaving after a landing had been effected, Butler had violated his instructions. Butler, indeed, maintained that he had not effected a landing; that only a third of his troops were ashore when the sea became so rough that he could land no more. But his subordinates did not bear him out in this assertion;2 and, as he was able to get all his force aboard except Curtis's command, he could certainly have put them ashore.

1 Grant to Butler, December 6.


β€œ General Grant said it was his intention, after we had made a landing there, finding it was not possible to assault, that General Butler should entrench there.

What was there to prevent compliance with such an order?

There was nothing to prevent compliance with it. There would have been difficulties at that season of the year.


Weitzel's Testimony. Report of Committee on Conduct of the War, 1865, Vol. II, Fort Fisher Expedition, page 79.

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