The failure to assault, however, was no disobedience of orders.
gave no order to any one to assault; that was a matter left to the discretion of the commanding officer
The work was doubtless formidable; the guns were not dismounted, as appeared to some of the naval officers; they were silenced, but not dismounted, and not many were even disabled; and the rebels returned to man their works when the fire from the fleet was discontinued at dark.
The thousand men inside would probably have made a good defence, and there was a relieving force of eighteen hundred men at Sugar Loaf
, five miles off. But, on the other hand, the naval guns could certainly have kept down the fire of the fort until the assailants reached the parapet; the relieving force made no attempt to molest Curtis
's command, only five hundred strong; three hundred rebels had given themselves up outside, without a struggle; and, above all, Curtis
and his men believed they could carry the fort.
said at the time he could do it with a brigade.
The garrison were in the bomb-proofs, and fifteen hundred men, inspired with the idea that Curtis
and his troops entertained, would have been very likely to accomplish their task.
In war, as in everything else, it is the men who believe in success who succeed.
Far more difficult works than Fort Fisher
have been carried by storm, and in the Peninsular wars of Europe
well-manned forts with vertical walls fifteen to twenty feet high were repeatedly scaled.
A bold and accomplished soldier would doubtless have assaulted and carried Fort Fisher
on the 25th of December.
It would, nevertheless, be preposterous to suppose that General Butler
was not anxious for victory,