We are indebted to the courteous officers of the Exchange Bureau
for a copy of the New York Tribune
of Thursday, the 29th instant.
The Failure of Butler's expedition — attempts to Conchal it--Fort Fisher taken and Retaken.
have heard of the disaster at Wilmington
, and are trying to conceal its extent.
On Wednesday, a telegram was sent from Fortress Monroe
, stating that Admiral Porter
's entire fleet had returned there.
It was accidentally published in a Washington evening paper, but promptly suppressed in the others, and the following telegram was substituted for it:
, Wednesday, December 28. --It would seem to be a mistake, as reported this morning, that the naval and military fleet has returned from North Carolina
to Fortress Monroe
The Navy Department has no such intelligence, but that one vessel only yesterday returned to the latter place, bringing dispatches from Admiral Porter
The messenger has not yet reached Washington
It is ascertained from an authentic source, however, date of Fortress Monroe
yesterday, that the powder ship was exploded within three hundred yards of Fort Fisher
about 2 A. M. on the 24th.
Later in the day, Admiral Porter
attacked the fort and adjacent defences, and renewed the bombardment on Christmas day.
On each occasion we drove the rebels from their guns to the shelter of the bomb-proofs, so as to effectually silence their fire.
In a very few minutes after the frigates and heavy ships got into position.
A detachment of troops landed on Sunday afternoon.
The skirmishers pushed up gallantly to the fort under cover of our fire.
Some of the more daring actually entered the works and brought off the flag.
The bombardment of the fleet continued on Monday.
The Santiago de Cuba
captured a company of North Carolina
soldiers in the outworks and took them off.
The Associated Press correspondent at Fortress Monroe
telegraphs as follows:
I have just arrived here on the Santiago de Cuba
from off Wilmington
.--The attack on Fort Fisher
commenced at noon of Saturday, 24th, continued all day, was resumed on Sunday, and kept up with great vigor all day. The fort is much damaged.
All the barracks and storehouses were burned and the garrison driven to the bomb-proofs, scarcely venturing to reply.
A small portion of our troops landed on Sunday afternoon, skirmished with great gallantry, pushed up to the fort, and actually entered the works and killed a rebel bearer of dispatches, who was entering.
, of the One Hundred and Forty-second regiment, captured the rebel flag from its outer bastion.--Our troops also captured a whole battalion of the enemy, who were outside of their works, but our forces were with drawn from the shore.
When the Santiago de Cuba
left the bombardment was continuing.
On Sunday, the sailors from the Santiago
captured Pond Hill battery, with sixty-five men, and brought the whole party off to the ships.
The torpedo boat was successfully exploded on Saturday morning at 2 o'clock, Out with what result is not known.
The weather has been most severe at Newbern
and Roanoke island
The oldest inhabitant never experienced such severe storms.
The following special dispatch to the New York Tribune
, from Washington
the 28th; says:
Dispatches received at the Navy Department to-day present a picture of the disembarkation of five thousand colored troops from the transports of General Butler
Their taking up a strong position and holding it against a vigorous attack of Bragg
's troops, their assuming then the offensive and carrying, at the point of the bayonet, an earthwork in front of Fort Fisher
, and from this advantage their dashing at Fort Fisher
itself, which they entered, and whose flag they hauled down, are worthy of the highest commendation; but the handful of heroes being inexplicably small in numbers, could not hold their victory.
The expelled garrison, being largely reinforced, returned and retook the fort, and drove out our black troops with heavy loss.
The remnants of them were re-embarked, but the fleet remained at anchor, and the men-of-war opened their fire again upon the fort and the rebel troops.
It was known in the fleet that Lee
had sent two divisions of his best troops to Bragg
It was also known that Hardee
was hurrying up from Savannah
under orders to save Wilmington
has the following editorial comment on this disaster to Butler
Dispatches from Wilmington
are contradictory and incomplete.
New York was a little startled yesterday afternoon by a report from the agent of the Associated Press
that the attack on Wilmington
had been abandoned, and that both naval and military forces had arrived near Fortress Monroe
. Two hours later this statement was cautiously contradicted, and the Washington
telegrapher declares that his first report would seem to be a mistake.
Instead of the whole fleet, a single vessel, and that a dispatch boat, had returned to Fortress Monroe
But if this later telegram, which appears in our columns this morning, be closely scanned, the pruning of the censor's knife will be discovered.
We quote, marking the hiatus: "A detachment of troops landed on Sunday afternoon. The skirmishers pushed up gallantly to the fort under cover of our fire.
Some of the more daring actually entered the works and brought off the flag.--The bombardment of the fleet continued on Monday." And we presume our special dispatch from.
does, in substance, correctly fill that yawning gap. The force under General Butler
, which landed on the Fort Fisher peninsula
, was notoriously inadequate to contend with the combined forces under Bragg
There were at Wilmington
not merely the usual garrison, but the two divisions which Lee
sent down when the sailing of Porter
's fleet was known.--These troops had time to arrive long before the fleet, which had buffeted the Atlantic
storms for a week, and which has concentrated at last with weakened numbers and strength.
Reckoning, therefore, all the reinforcements which Bragg
had been able to gather, it is safe to say he considerably outnumbered the expeditionary corps of General Butler
, and we are entitled, if not compelled, to infer that when the first assault on Fort Fisher
had failed, it was not found possible to maintain the hold on the land which had been gained by the landing of our troops.
's troops did all that such a force could have done.
They established themselves on the peninsula-- in itself a triumph — resisted an immediate attack by the forces sent down from Wilmington
to fall upon their rear; then moved against the fort, carried an outlying earthwork, pressed forward against the main work, surmounted its parapet, hauled down its flag, and then — alas, then, outnumbered by the reinforced garrison, themselves, attacked by superior numbers, were compelled to relinquish all they had won and to seek again the cover of the ships.
That their losses have been heavy is implied in the statement that the "remnants" of them re-embarked — probably under protection of the fire of the fleet.
It is plain there was heroism enough on the part of the troops; skill enough on the part of their commander; but the old, old story of insufficient numbers is once more rehearsed.
and its defences were known to be garrisoned strongly; known to be capable of quick reinforcement from Richmond
; proclaimed on the highest official naval authority to be impregnable against a naval force simply; and yet the land force sent to cooperate with the fleet seems to have been wholly incommensurate with the magnitude of the enterprise.
There can be no doubt that the particulars furnished by our special correspondent are, in the main, correct.
The re-embarkation, moreover, we interpret as equivalent to the abandonment of the enterprise for the present, since our forces would have held their ground on the peninsula had they been able to, or had they seen any prospect of operating efficiently against the fort.
They surely would not have gone on board ship for the sake of hazarding the perils of another landing on the same shore.
thus sums up the news from Thomas
's "pursuit" of Hood
The pursuit of Hood
is continued by General Thomas
with characteristic caution.
dispatches from his headquarters at Pulaski
, seventy miles south of Nashville
, are to the 26th, Monday last.
As the decisive battles in front of Nashville
were fought on the 15th and 16th, General Thomas
's subsequent advance has not been very rapid, for which, without doubt, he has good reasons.
It averages about seven miles a day. We have repeated accounts of the disorganization of Hood
's army, and it is stated that his corps commanders had orders to get themselves out of harm's way as best they could.
The last dispatch from General Wilson
's chief of cavalry, reports that the people say the rebels are suffering immensely.
They were beyond question divided, a part making straight for Florence, Alabama
, and a part moving on roads further to the west, in order to protect the pontoons at Florence
, and probably also at Muscle shoals, from an apprehended flank and rear movement.
It appears further that such a movement on Thomas
's part was in progress.
has pressed the rear guard of Hood
, an infantry force, under Steadman, Thomas
tells us, disembarked his troops from the cars at Limestone creek
, seven miles from Decatur
, and was marching on the latter place on the morning of the 26th.
The object of such a movement can be only to close up all eastern avenues of repeat to Hood
, and to enforce against mains of his army the necessity of a southwestern, instead of a southeastern, retreat from Florence
— supposing that army to reach and cross the Tennessee
at that point.
's position is clearly one of extreme peril, and his retreat is capable of being converted into a flight.
A telegram from Columbia, Tennessee
, the 27th, gives the latest intelligence from Hood
From escaped prisoners who have just arrived from Florence
, I learn that the advance of Hood
's army reached Florence
on the evening of the 1st, and during the whole of the next day his infantry was crossing the river.
From Duck river
retreated rapidly to the Tennessee
, his main army not once making a stand.
Our cavalry crossed Duck river
in time to have an occasional brush with Forrest
's force, who covered the enemy's retreat.
No fighting of any consequence, however, has occurred since the affair at Spring Hill
It is safe to say the Tennessee
is now free from rebels.