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‘ [326] new works being erected. . . . Under all these circumstances I invite you to such a military coopera-tion as will ensure the fall of Fort Fisher. . . . This telegram is made at the suggestion of the President.’

The general-in-chief did not need to be urged. The same day he sent a message to Porter: ‘Please hold on wherever you are for a few days, and I will endeavor to be back again, with an increased force, and without the former commander. . . . Your dispatch to the Secretary of the Navy was only received to-day. I took immediate steps to have transports collected, and am assured they will be ready with coal and water by noon of the 2nd of January. There will be no delay in embarking and sending off the troops. . . . If they effect a lodgment, they can at least fortify and maintain themselves until reinforcements can be sent. Please answer by bearer, and designate where you will have the fleet congregated.’

Every precaution was now taken to secure secrecy. ‘It is desirable,’ said Grant, ‘the enemy should be lulled into all the security possible, in hopes he will send back here, or against Sherman, the reinforcements sent to defend Wilmington.’ Only two persons in Washington and two officers of Grant's staff were informed of the destination of the expedition. The chief commissary of subsistence was sent to Fort Monroe to victual the transports, but was allowed to suppose that they were intended for Sherman's army; and Grant telegraphed to the Secretary of War: ‘I will instruct him to say confidentially that he thinks we are either sending for Sherman, or that we are going to reinforce him, inclining ’

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