No. 8. Report of Colonel Moses J. White, C. S. Army.
GOLDSBOROUGH, N. C., May 4, 1862.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the defense of Fort Macon, which you will find to be imperfect. As my adjutant has mysteriously disappeared with his papers, I have no means of giving you a full report:
A demand was made for the surrender of Fort Macon on March 23 last by Brigadier-General Parke, U. S. Army, which demand was refused. General Parke then, having collected a large force at Carolina City, took possession of Beaufort and Shackelford Banks, thus cutting us off from any communication without the range of our guns.
Having established his camp 8 miles from the fort, on Bogue Banks, the enemy drove in our pickets on April 10, and established themselves just without the range of our guns and their pickets within 1 mile of the fort. In retiring before them our pickets showed great coolness, and forced the enemy to advance with caution, although flanked by a fire from the sea. The enemy, after fully establishing themselves, commenced their advance on the fort by means of ditches, using the sand hills as a covering for their working parties.
With their larger force (being well protected by the sand hills) they were able by April 22 to establish their batteries within 1,400 yards of Fort Macon.
Only one sortie was made during their advance, which consisted of an attempt made with two companies to drive in their working parties and pickets on April 11, but, they being largely re-enforced from their camp, out companies were forced to retire. Occasional firing took place between our pickets and those of the enemy at night, but without any casualties on our side. We could only annoy the enemy by the fire of our artillery, which, fired horizontally, could do them no damage and only force them to keep behind the sand hills. Not having a mortar in the fort, we mounted six old 32-pounder carronades, which had been placed in the fort for defending the ditch, with 40 dec. elevation, and used them for throwing shell behind the enemy's coverings. Two 10-inch guns were also used for the same purpose. They were, however, so completely concealed that we could seldom ascertain the position of their working parties, and when driven from them we could not see when they returned, and from scarcity of shell could not keep up a continued fire. Had the fort been built and armed for defense from a land attack the siege might have lasted longer; but as neither was the case, the enemy were able to complete their batteries, completely masked, in a shorter time than I had hoped for. During the siege some discontent arose among the garrison, which ended in several desertions. The men complained of their fare, although furnished with full rations, and seemed to be dissatisfied with being shut up in such a small place, so near their relations and friends, but unable to communicate with them. I am sorry to say that the officers did not act in a proper manner to suppress the difficulty. The health of the troops did not seem to be good, although we lost but one man by sickness. Nearly one-third were generally on the sick list.
On April 22 General Burnside arrived with several boats and anchored about 4 miles down the sound, but was forced by the fire of a rifled gun the retire and take up a position near Harker's Island.