and forty-second New York Volunteers - voluntarily reported to me that when recalled they were nearly into the fort,and,in their opinion, it could have been taken without much loss.*
Soon after the return of the expedition, I received a dispatch from the Secretary of the Navy and a latter from Admiral Porter, informing me that the fleet was still off Fort Fisher, and expressing the conviction that, under a proper leader, the place could be taken. The natural supposition with me that, when the troops abandoned the expedition, the navy would do so also. Finding it had not, however, I answered on the 30th of December, advising Admiral Porter to hold on, and that I would send a force and make another attempt to take the place. This time I selected Bvt. Major General (now major-general) A. H. Terry to command the expedition. The troops composing it consisted of the same that composed the former, with the addition of a small brigade, numbering about 1,500, and a small siege train. The latter it was never found necessary to land. I communicated direct to the commander of the expedition the following instructions:
CITY POINT, VA., January 3, 1865.
Bvt. Major General A. H. TERRY:
GENERAL: The expedition instructed to your command has been fitted out to renew the attempt to capture Fort Fisher, N. C., and Wilmington ultimately, if the fort falls. You will, then, proceed with as little delay as possible to the naval fleet lying off Cape Fear River,and report the arrival of yourself and command to Admiral D. D. Porter, commanding North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
It is exceedingly desirable that the most complete understanding should exist between yourself and the naval commander. I suggest, therefore, that you consult within Admiral Porter freely, and get from him the part to be performed by each branch of the public service, so that there may be unity of action. It would be well to have the whole programme laid down in writing. I have served with Admiral Porter, and know hat you can rely on his judgment and his nerve to undertake what he proposes. I would, therefore, defer to him as much as is consistent with your own responsibilities. The first object to be obtained is to get a firm position on the spit of land on which Fort Fisher is built, from which you can operate against that fort. You want to look to the practicability of receiving your supplies, and to defending yourself against superior forces sent against you by any of the avenues left open to the enemy. If such a position can be obtained, the siege of Fort Fisher will not be abandoned until its reduction is accomplished or another plan of campaign is ordered from these headquarters.
My own views are that, if you effect a landing, the navy ought to run a portion of their fleet into Cape Fear River, while the balance of it operates on the outside. Land forces cannot invest Fort Fisther, or cut it off from supplies or re-enforcements, while the river is in possession of the enemy.
A siege train will be loaded on vessels and sent to Fort Monroe, in readiness to be sent to you if required. All other supplies can be drawn from Beaufort as you need them. Keep the fleet of vessels with you until your position is assured. When you find they can be spared, order them back,or such of them as you can spare, to Fort Monroe, to report for orders. In case of failure to effect a landing bring your command back to Beaufort, and report to these headquarters for further instructions. You will not debark at Beaufort until so directed.
General Sheridan has been ordered to send a division of troops to Baltimore and place them on sea-going vessels. These troops will be brought to Fort Monroe and kept there on the vessels until you are heard from. Should you require them they will be sent to you.
U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant Colonel C. B. Comstock, aide-de-camp (now brevet brigadier-general), who accompanied the former expedition, was assigned in orders as chief engineer to his. It will be seen that these instructions did not differ materially those given for the first expedition, and that in either instance was there an order to assault Fort
*Subordinate reports of Butler's expedition will appear in Vol. XLII.