December 6, 1864
Cipher dispatch received. Orders will be given to carry out the orders contained in it.
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,
City Point, Va., December 6, 1864
Major General B. F. BUTLER,
Commanding Army of the James:
GENERAL: The first object of the expedition under General Weitzel is to close to the enemy the port of Wilmington. If successful in this, the second will be to capture Wilmington itself. There are reasonable grounds to hope for success, if advantage can be taken of the absence of the greater part of the enemy's forces now looking after Sherman in Georgia. The directions you have given for the numbers and equipment of the expedition are all right, except in the unimportant matter of where they embark and the amount of intrenching tools to be taken. The object of the expedition will be gained by effecting a landing on the mainland between Cape Fear River and the Atlantic north of the north entrance to the river. Should such landing be effected whilst the enemy still hold Fort Fisher and the batteries guarding the entrance to the river, then the troops should intrench themselves, and by co-operating with the navy effect the reduction and capture of those places. These in our hands, the navy could enter the harbor and the port of Wilmington would be sealed. Should Fort Fisher and the point of land on which it is built fall into the hands of our troops immediately on landing, then it will be worth the attempt to capture Wilmington by a forced march and surprise. If time is consumed in gaining the first object of the expedition, the second will become a matter of after consideration . The details for execution are intrusted to you and the officer immediately in command of the troops. Should the troops under General Weitzel fail to effect to landing at o near Fort Fisher they will be returned to the army operating against Richmond without delay.
U. S. GRANT,
December 6, 1864.
What day can we start from the fortress? I wish not to keep troops on board transports a day longer than possible, as it will take some days to reach Savannah anyway. Is there anything I can aid you in?
BENJ. F. BUTLER.
FORTRESS MONROE, December 6, 1864-9.30 p.m.
Your telegram is received. The vessels to carry the ammunition will be ready in the morning completely filled. The ordnance officer here