put to sea, arriving at the place of rendezvous off New Inlet, near Fort Fisher, on the evening of the 15th (Thursday). We there waited for the navy Friday, the 16th, Saturday, the 17th, and Sunday, the 18th, during which days we had the finest possible weather and the smoothest sea. On the evening of the 18th Admiral Porter came from Beaufort to the place of rendezvous. That evening that sea became rough, and on Monday, the 19th, the wind sprang up freshly, so that it was impossible to land troops, and by the advice of Admiral Porter (communicated to me by letter) I directed the transport fleet to rendezvous at Beaufort. This was a matter of necessity, because the transport fleet being coated and watered for ten days had already waited that time, to wit, from that 9th, the day on which we were ready to sail, to the 19th.
On the 20th (Tuesday), 21st (Wednesday), 22nd (Thursday), and 23rd (Friday), it blew a gale. I was occupied in coating and watering the transport fleet at Beaufort. The Baltic, having a large supply of coal, was enabled to remain at the place of rendezvous with a brigade on board of 1,200 men, and General Ames reported to Admiral Porter that he would co-operate with him. On the 23rd I sent Captain Clarke, of my staff, from Beaufort on the fast sailing armed steamer Chamberlain to Admiral Porter to inform him that on the evening of the 24th I would again be at the rendezvous with the transport fleet for the purpose of commencing the attack, the weather permitting. At 4 o'clock on the evening of the 24th I came in sight of Fort Fisher, and found the naval fleet engaged in bombarding it, the powder vessel having been exploded on the morning previous about 1 o'clock. Through General Weitzel I arranged with Admiral Porter to commence the landing under the cover of the tun-boats, as early as 8 o'clock the next morning if possible - as soon as the fire of the Half-Moon and Flag-Pond Hill Batteries had been silenced. These are up the shore some two or three miles above Fort Fisher. Admiral Porter was quite sanguine that he had silenced the guns of Fort Fisher. He was then urged if that were so to run by the fort into Cape Fear River, and then the troops could land and hold the beach without liability of being shelled by the enemy's gun-boats (the Tallahassee being seen in the river). It is to be remarked that Admiral Farragut even had never taken a fort except by running by and cutting it off from all prospect of re-enforcement (as at Fort Jackson and Fort Morgan), and that no caseated fort had been silenced by naval fire during the war; that if the admiral would put his ships in the river the army could supply him across the beach as we had proposed to do Farragut at Fort Saint Philip; that at least the blockade of Wilmington would be thus effectual even if we did not capture the fort. To that the Admiral replied that he should probably lose a boat by torpedoes if he attempted to run by. He was reminded that the army might lose 500 men by the assault, and that his boat would not weigh in the balance even in a money point of view for a moment with the lives of the men. The admiral declined going by and the expedition was deprived of that essential element of success.
At 12 o'clock noon of the 25th (Sunday) Captain Glisson, commanding the covering division of the fleet, reported the batteries silenced and his vessels in position to cover our landing. The transport fleet, following my flag-ship, stood in within 800 yards of the beach and at once commenced debarking. The landig was successfully effected. Finding that the reconnoitering party just landed could hold the shore, I determined to land a force with which an assault might be attempted. Brevet Brigadier-General Curtis, who deserves well for his gallantry