Yankee Reasons for the fall of Fort Fisher.
The New York Tribune
contains a long vindication of Butler
in the Fort Fisher
affair, from the pen of a correspondent.
The object for which it is written is of no consequence to Confederates, but many of the facts stated are of much interest in a military point of view.
The writer says that Butler
was "jumped" by the Confederates
the moment he landed, and had only six thousand five hundred men in all; while Terry
, with twelve thousand five hundred, was allowed to land without interruption.
landed quietly on Friday; had all Saturday to establish a line of breast-works, with four thousand men in it, to prevent the approach of rebel reinforcements from Wilmington
; and had till 3 1-2 o'clock on Sunday afternoon to get ready to assault the fort.
The fleet co-operated with Terry
, and enabled him to throw this line of defence across the Peninsula
, to protect an assault he was going to make with just five times as many men as Butler
had to assault with.
The Baltimore American
records: "An order was received from the Admiral
to proceed in shore to cover the encampments of the troops from any assault by Bragg
.--Should he come, Captain Glisson
will, with the one hundred and twenty-three guns at his command, give him a warm reception."
had but one thousand two hundred men to assault with, having left one thousand as a thin line of defence against an attack in his rear.
The fire of the fleet in the first expedition had done the fort no injury what over, and had disabled but two of its seventy-two guns.
In the second expedition, as Secretary Stanton
"The sea front of the fort had been been greatly damaged and broken by a continuous and terrible fire of the fleet for three days."
"It was soon apparent that the iron vessels had the best of it; traverses began to disappear, and the southern angle of Fort Fisher
began to look very dilapidated.
The guns were silenced, one after another, and only one heavy gun in the southern angle kept up its fire.
"* * * By sunset the fort was reduced to a pulp — every gun was silenced by being injured or covered up with the earth so that they would not work."
's attack on Fort Fisher
the fire of the fleet did not injure or weaken the land face of the fort.
's attack, the fire of the fleet dismounted and injured all of the guns on the land side, where Terry
was to attack, and all of the guns on the sea side.
Notwithstanding the injury which the fort had received on both sides, and the silencing of all its guns on both sides, Perter's two thousand sailors and marines, who assaulted on the sea side, were driven right back, and the three brigades that attacked on the land side were unable to enter the fort, after two hours of determined fighting, with all the help the fleet could give them.
Of this help, Secretary Stanton
"By a skillfully-directed fire thrown into the traverses, one after another as they were occupied by the enemy, Admiral Porter
contributed to the success of the assaulting column.
By signals between himself and General Terry
at brief intervals, this fire was so well managed as to damage the enemy without injury to our own troops."
, with only two thousand and two hundred men ashore, wisely and dutifully declined to assault Fort Fisher
, uninjured by the fire of the fleet.
Injured and its fire silenced, Terry
could not take it with six thousand men (troops, sailors and marines), after two hours fighting.
He had to put in Abbot
's brigade, of three thousand freshmen, to finish the job; and it took from five o'clock till ten for the combined nine thousand to do it.
"The works were so constructed that every traverse afforded the enemy a new defensive position, from whence they had to be driven.
They were seven in number, and the fight was carried on, from traverse to traverse, for seven hours."
's assaulting column of sailors and marines was much larger than the whole column that Butler
sent to the assault.
It attacked, as Secretary Stanton
says, "the least difficult side" of the fort; yet it was, as Secretary Stanton
says, "after a short conflict, checked and driven back is disorder." And yet they were perfectly brave men. So were the three thousand heroes of Curtis
's and Bell
's brigades, who could not, unaided, get in on the other side; although, as Secretary Stanton
says, the sailors and marines "performed the very useful part of diverting the attention of the enemy and weakening the resistance to their attack." And so were Butler
's men brave, and so were their leaders; but the bravest men can't do impossible things; and it was a totally impossible thing for Butler
's one thousand two hundred men to take that fort.
Had it not been for the co-operation of the fleet in its fire, it is reasonably certain that the assault by Terry
would have disastrously failed.
has, in these few words, described the amazing strength of the fort: "Work unsurpassed, if ever equalled, in strength, and which General Beauregard
a few days before pronounced impregnable."
If the disposition to co-operate with Butler
had existed in the fleet, it could not have persistently co-operated with his assault, if he had persistently made one; for, when Butler
was about to move to the attack, Captain Breeze
, of the navy, Admiral Porter
's chief of staff, informed General Weitzel
and Colonel Comstock
that the fleet had but one hour's supply of ammunition left.