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[325] announcing that the fleet had remained off Fort Fisher, and that, under a proper leader, he believed the place could be carried.

The admiral could not be accused of concealing his sentiments. ‘My dispatch of yesterday,’ he said to the government, ‘will give you an account of the operations, but will scarcely give you an idea of my disappointment at the conduct of the army authorities in not attempting to take possession of the fort. . . Had the army made a show of surrounding it, it would have been ours; but nothing of the kind was done. The men landed, reconnoitred, and, hearing that the enemy were massing troops somewhere, the orders were given to reembark. . . . There never was a fort that invited soldiers to walk in and take possession more plainly than Fort Fisher. . . . It can be taken at any moment in one hour's time, if the right man is sent with the troops. They should be sent to stay . . . . I trust, sir, you will not think of stopping at this, nor of relaxing your endeavors to obtain the right number and the means of taking the place.’

A copy of this letter was forwarded to Grant, together with the substance of various other dispatches and reports, all to the same effect, and on the 30th of December, the Secretary of the Navy telegraphed: ‘The ships can approach nearer to the enemy's works than was anticipated. Their fire can keep the enemy away from their guns. A landing can easily be effected upon the beach north of Fort Fisher, not only of troops, but all their supplies and artillery. This force can have its supplies protected by gunboats. . . . Admiral Porter will remain off Fort Fisher, continuing a moderate fire to prevent ’

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