A Graphic story of the bombardment of Fort Fisher, from an inside witness.
The bombardment of Fort Fisher
, which, it seems to be conceded, is the heaviest which has occurred in the annals of warfare, is described in the Fayetteville Observer
by one who was inside.
We give a portion of it, which is very interesting:
About 12 o'clock the fleet had formed in line of battle and commenced to move up. On they came, the huge frigates leading the way; then the grim, ugly ironsides; then the monitors and the great line of smaller vessels — stretching away out — almost as far as the eye could see. Nearer and nearer they approach.
All is calm and quiet in the fort — the men are at their guns — our colonel stands on the parapet, watch in hand, to note the time they commence firing.
Closer still they come; and now they are in position; a flash, a curl of smoke, and a loud report, followed by the shrieking noise of the shell, from one of the frigates, announces the fight commenced--twenty minutes before one o'clock. And now the fight progresses in earnest; thick fly the shell, loud sounds the thunder of artillery, lurid are the flashes of great guns as they vomit forth their missiles of death and destruction.
nobly stand our men to their guns.
's Battery to the Mound
they stand unquivering and defiant, loading and firing coolly and calmly, the gunners sighting their guns as if they were practicing at a target.
The scene is grand and awful.
From every vessel can be seen the white curl of smoke, and high up in the air hundreds of smoky rings are formed from the explosion of shells.
The firing does not abate in the least; it increases as the fight progresses, and the noise is deafening.
The enemy have concentrated their fire on our flag, and the halyards are cut; and now the noble staff is struck in several places, and falls.
The flag at the Mound
still floats, and now they fire on it thick and fast.
At last they strike it, and down it comes; but it is immediately raised again.
Bang, bang, bang, whiz, whiz, whiz, clash, clash, clash, all the time.
The quarters have caught fire, and the bright flames stretch out their tongues, while the heavens are enveloped with dark clouds of smoke.
The air is sulphurous from burned powder.
Still all goes well.
About 5 o'clock the fire of the enemy begins to slacken and the intervals between the firing are longer.
Still gradually it slackens; and at 5 1-2 o'clock the fight ceases — the vessels haul off and return to their anchorage.
The damage to the fort has been very slight — hardly any — and our weary, gallant soldiers rest from their struggle for the while, as they expect another attack at night.
The casualties are twenty-three; one mortally, three severely, and nineteen slightly wounded.
This day will always be memorable to the men who garrisoned Fort Fisher
The expectation of the garrison that we would have a night fight was not realized.
The night was spent in watchfulness and repairing the slight damage sustained by the fight.
Our noble General Whiting
had arrived, and all was confidence and cheerfulness.
As the morning dawned, the fleet could be discerned in the distance getting ready to renew the attack; but it was not expected that operations would commence before high tide, which would be about half-past 12 o'clock. However, every man was at his post, ready, at any moment, to again engage the fleet.
About 10 o'clock the fleet commenced moving in — their extreme right resting near Gatlin
's battery, about six miles up the beach, and their left extending down to the fort.
The ironsides led the attack, the frigates resting on her right and left and the monitors to the right of the frigates.
I counted fifty-two vessels in all--one ironsides, three or four monitors, four frigates and forty-seven other vessels.
They steamed in very slowly, two of the frigates going round to the sea front of the fort, and the iron-clads and monitors lying abreast of the centre front.
The ironsides and monitors came up within a mile; the rest of the fleet remained out about one and a half miles. At 10:30 A. M. the first gun was fired by the ironsides, followed by the rest of the fleet — firing very slowly and delibe — rately for the while.
The fort reserved its fire, thinking that the wooden fleet would be tempted to come in closer range.
Finding, however, that they would not come closer, our guns opened, also firing very slowly.
The day was quite foggy, and the smoke from the guns rendered it more so.
About 12 o'clock the fire commenced to increase with great rapidity.
The dull, heavy, thumping sounds of the enemy's guns as they were fired could be heard first, and then the whistling, shrieking sound of the shells as they came whizzing and buzzing through the air. Their explosion and the myriad fragments that went rattling by, thick almost as hail, were terrible to listen to. Terrific continued the bombardment — no slow firing now from the enemy — no deliberation — away they would shoot their hell balls, not caring where they threw them — faster and faster comes the iron hail, louder and louder sounds the terrible thunder — the air is hot with the fire, such as you would experience from the heat of a furnace; the earth shakes; no interval of quiet; all is noise — crash, bang, and bang, crash, all the time.
Will it ever cease?
Will it ever stop?
Bang, bang, bang, quicker than you can count.
The sand flies all about.
There goes a shell whistling by, close to General Whiting
; it buries itself, exploding, covering him all over with the wet sand.
He does not even move, not even takes his pipe from his mouth, and only remarks coolly, "Well, it spattered me."
Still no intermission; the evening goes on; the time passes slowly.
The men stand to their guns nobly.
Some have been, yesterday, fighting all day, and still fighting; there is no lag in them; they fight as men never fought before with heavy guns.
and General Whiting
are everywhere along the lines encouraging them; from battery to battery they go; the men look at them and smile, and bang away again; the commanders of the companies are all at their posts.
The bombardment continued terrific till about 5 o'clock, when the firing suddenly slackened from the fleet.
It was then discovered that the enemy had succeeded in landing a force at Anderson
and Holland batteries and that their line of skirmishers were advancing on the fort.
All is excitement now. Our infantry man the parapets; and now the sharp crack of the rifle can be heard instead of the heavy booming of guns.--Faison
have engaged them.
But the lull is of short duration — the most terrific bombardment now commences; the fleet have seen their land forces, and they open with greater vim than ever to keep our men from engaging the skirmishers.
comes rushing up the parapets; he calls for his men to man the line of palisades; with a cheer for him they answer to his call.
Away they went after him, and soon they are in line, ready to meet the enemy.
The sharp crack of the rifle is mixed in with the loud noise of the cannon.
can be seen creeping away on their bellies, like crawling worms.
, with his Whitworth rifle, is doing good service; Colonel Tansill
and Major Saunders
are among the junior reserves, encouraging them on; fainter grows the cannonade; the musket firing has ceased; the fleet is drawing off; the land attack has been repulsed.
The day's fight is over; and, thank God, all is well.
Everything about the land front was now got in readiness with the expectation that a night attack would be made by the land force to storm the fort.
A bright lookout was kept up and our pickets were thrown out. Everything was quiet, however, until about 12 o'clock, when our pickets discovered the Yankees landing
on the extreme right of the fort, near the mound.
The night was dark and a heavy rain had set in.--Colonel Lamb
, at the head of his infantry, engaged them, and for awhile the rattle of musketry was heavy; but the enemy are at last driven off, and quiet is again resumed.
Our casualties to-day were thirty-nine--four killed and thirty-five wounded.
Monday, 26th.--The morning was very foggy and the fleet was hardly visible.--The tall, tapering masts of the frigates could be discerned in the fog looming up like phantom ships.
The booming of cannon could be heard in the distance up the beach, and it was supposed that the enemy were landing their forces, which turned out to be true.
About 10 o'clock, by looking through a glass, could be seen a column of the enemy stretched out across the land front near Anderson
.--The long roll was beat and the men lined the palisades and manned the guns.--From some cause, however, the enemy made no advance, and nothing happened about the fort during the day. The men were all in fine spirits; and Colonel Tait
, with his fine battalion, had arrived to take part in the fray.
The firing up the beach continued all day, and also during the night.
The men were hard at work to-day in repairing the damages to the fort.
Tuesday, 27th.--The morning opened brightly.
The glorious sun came forth from great old ocean in all its splendor.
The rippling waves, crowned with their white caps, rushing on each other as in a playful gambol, sparkled in its light.
All nature seemed lovely.
there on the bar is the blockade-runner Banshee
The fleet see her, and two of them start after her, but she is too quick, and proudly she comes in the inlet, while the men crowd the curtains, and cheer after cheer greets her, which are answered with a vim by her crew.
During the night another had come in, whose name I have not learned.
I wonder how Mr. Admiral Porter
felt at that time, with a fleet of upwards of sixty vessels, not able to effectually
blockade New inlet
About 12 o'clock the fleet stood out; the ironsides, which had been lying nearer the fort, got up steam and started out, and soon the whole fleet were out some distance, where they anchored.
A bright lookout was kept up at night, but nothing of importance occurred.
Wednesday, December 28.--Another beautiful morning.
Half of the fleet has disappeared; the rest are going off. 5:20 o'clock P. M.--The rest have disappeared; nothing but the usual blockade squadron are now visible.