close as possible to Fort Fisher, ascertain its true condition, and to report, so that if it were found practicable to assault all the troops could be landed and the assault made.
At 6.30 a. m. the next day I saw Admiral Porter and arranged with him the details for covering the landing, and also for landing the troops. As soon as all the transports arrived and the preparations were ready 500 men (the One hundred and forty-second New York and about fifty men of the One hundred and twelfth New York Volunteers, of General Curtis' brigade, Ames' division, all under the command of Brevet Brigadier-General Curtis) were landed on the beach about three miles above Fort Fisher. I also accompanied this body of men in person. We were covered on our landing by a division of twelve gun-boats, under the command of Captain Glisson, U. S. Navy, and the sloop of war Brooklyn, Captain Alden, U. S. Navy, commanding. We were assisted by the boats of these vessels and those of other vessels. As soon as the landing was made I directed General Curtis to push his command down the beach as far as he could go. He pushed his skirmish line to within a few yards of Fort Fisher, causing in his way the surrender of a garrison of Flag-Pond Hill Battery. The flag of this battery and the garrison were taken possession of by the navy immediately after the white flag was raised and before our men, moving at a double-quick, could get up to it. I proceeded in person, accompanying the One hundred and forty-second New York, to within about 800 yards of Fort Fisher, a point from which I had a good view of the work. From what I saw there and before that time, and from what I had heard from what I considered reliable sources, I believe the work to be a square bastioned work; it has a high relief, a wide and deep ditch, excepting on the sea front, a glaces, has casemates and bomb-proofs sufficiently large to hold its garrison. I counted seventeen guns in position bearing up the beach, and between each pair of guns there was a traverse so thick and so high above the parapet that I have no doubt they were all bomb-proofs. A stockade ran from the northeast angle of the counterscarps of the work to the water's edge on the sea-side. I saw plainly that the work had not been materially injured by the heavy and very accurate shell fire of the navy, and having a distinct and vivid recollection of the bombardment of Fort Jackson, of Vicksburg, of Charleston, and of Fort Wagner, in all of which instances an enormous and well-directed shell fire had done but little damage, and having a distinct and vivid recollection of the two unsuccessful assaults on Fort Wagner, both of which were made under four times more favorable circumstances that those under which we were placed, I returned, as directed, to the major-general commanding; found him on the gun-boat Chamberlain within easy range and good view of the work, and frankly reported to him that it would be butchery to order an assault on that work under the circumstances. After examining it himself carefully, he came to the same conclusion, and directed the troops to be re-embarked. This was accomplished by Tuesday morning.
In the interval between my leaving General Curtis' command and their re-embarkation General Curtis performed several operations, resulting in the capture of 7 officers and 220 privates, making a total of nearly 300 prisoners.
Lieutenant W. H. Walling, of One hundred and forty-second New York Volunteers, is reported as having gone on the parapet of Fort Fisher and captured its flag. He deserves prompt promotion for this act of personal gallantry.