while engaging at close action under press of steam is not all affected, and I maintain, as heretofore, the necessity of obstructions to detain the enemy under fire. A passage of the forts necessarily makes their reduction but a question of time. On the other hand, to obstruct prevents the use of the port and makes the position useless and expensive. Here is a problem requiring careful consideration. I had hoped our iron-clads would have solved it, but they have so far failed.
It remains for me to pay a well-earned meed of praise. This gallant and successful resistance, humanly speaking, is due to the untiring energy, the dauntless resolution, and brilliant courage of Colonel William Lamb, of the Thirty-sixth North Carolina, devotedly supported by men that know him and will fight for him anywhere. His thorough knowledge of the post, its approaches, the skill displayed in his constructions, and his remarkable practical resources have brought their best fruit in the confidence of his men and his commanders, and there only remains that his services should be suitably acknowledged. A proper report will be made to the Engineer Department.
W. H. C. WHITING,
Lieutenant Colonel ARCHER ANDERSON,
Asst. Adjt. General, Hdqrs. Department of North Carolina.
Wilmington, December 31, 1864.
COLONEL: For the information of the general commanding I forward the report of Colonel Lamb, commanding Fort Fisher in the action of the 24th and 25th.
On receiving the information at 1 p. m. on the 24th that the fleet was moving in to take position, I at once ordered a steamer, and reporting to headquarters proceeded to the point of attack, reaching Confederate Point just before the close of the first day's bombardment, which lasted four hours and a half. That of the second day commenced at 10.20 a. m. and continued, with no interruption or apparent slackening, with great fury from over fifty ships until dark. During this day the enemy landed a large force, and at 4.30 advanced a line of skirmishers on the left flank of the land curtain, the fleet at the same time making a concentrated and tremendous enfilading fire upon the curtain. The garrison, however, at the proper moment, when the fire slackened, to allow the approach of the enemy's land force, drove them off with grape and musketry. At dark the enemy withdrew. A heavy storm set in and the garrison were much exposed, as they were under arms all night.
At 3 a. m. 26th a reported advance in boats was opened on with grape and shell. The garrison remained steadily awaiting a renewal of the assault or bombardment until Tuesday morning, when they were relieved by the supports of Major-General Hoke and the embarkation of the enemy.
Colonel Lamb's report, herewith, gives all the details of the action. In an accompanying paper* I will give an account in detail of all matters which fell under my own observation during the action and the three succeeding days, which I beg you will cause to be forwarded for the information of the War Department. As soon as other business
* See next, ante.