of the navy, and so closely that three or four men of the picket-line ventured upon the parapet and through the sally-port of the work, capturing a horse, which they brought off, killing the orderly, who was the bearer of a dispatch from the chief of the artillery of General Whiting to bring a light battery within the fort, and also brought away from the parapet the flag of the fort. This was done while the shells of the navy were falling about the heads of the daring men who entered the work, and it was found as soon as the fire of the navy ceased, because of darkness, that the fort was fully manned again and opened with grape and canister upon our picket-line. Finding that nothing but the operations of a regular siege, which not come within my instructions, would reduce the fort, and in view of the threatening aspect of the weather, wind arising from the southeast, rendering it impossible to make further landings through the surf, I caused the troops, with their prisoners, to be re-embarked, and see nothing further that can be done by the land forces. I shall, therefore, sail for Hampton Roads as soon as the transport fleet can be got in order. My engineers and officers report Fort Fisher to me as substantially uninjured as a defensive work.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
CIRCULAR.] HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA AND N. CAROLINA,
December 25, 1864.
As soon as the troops are re-embarked all the transport and supply vessels will sail for Fort Monroe. Any vessel not having coal or water enough to reach there will put in to Beaufort, N. C., to procure the supplies, and thence proceed to Hampton Roads with all possible dispatch. All the transports having troops, except the Empire City, will at once go up James River and land the troops at Varina or Deep Bottom. The Empire City will lighter her troops and land them at Beaufort. Vessels will be sent down to take her troops to the Army of the James. As soon as coal enough can be put on the Empire City to take her to Fort Royal she will report there for full coal to proceed to New Orleans. The Winants will remain at the anchorage to see that all vessels get off and communicate these instructions, and she will then proceed to Beaufort and give them to the commanding officer there. The Chamberlain and Porter (tug) will sail with the fleet, the Chamberlain keeping in communication with the Ben De Ford. The tug will accompany the Baltic.
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE JAMES,
December 25, 1864. (Received 10.20 a.m.)
General Ferrero telegraphs as follows:
Hunton's brigade, of Pickett's division, left for Gordonsville on Friday morning last by rail; thirteen men reported frozen to death on the cars. Six deserters came in during the night. The Thirty-first U. S. Troops has returned; also the balance of Colonel Wells' brigade.
J. W. TURNER,
Brigadier-General and Chief of Staff.