War of the Rebellion: Serial 089 Page 1294 Chapter LIV. OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C.

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HEADQUARTERS,

Wilmington, December 22, 1864.

Captain JAMES,

Chief Engineer, Present:

It is essential to the defense of this port to have means of obstruction which can be readily and rapidly applied at the New Inlet Rip. The most effectual will be to anchor one of the disabled blockade-running ships (saved by the garrison of Fort Fisher), either the Badger or Night Hawk, as may be selected, on the rip stern and stern with the ebb, or nearly so. She can remain at anchor with a guard on board and everything in readiness to sink her at the proper time. In conjunction with this, the river obstructions will be put down on either side of her position, so as effectually to close the entrance to the rip channel. Captain Kerrigan will be instructed to place fifteen to twenty self-acting torpedoes in advance of the obstructions. Care must be taken not to interfere with the galvanic torpedoes; also to sink the steamer with as little damage to her as possible. Application will be made to the commanding officer of Battery Buchanan to put a guard on board and to take charge of placing the steamer in position. You are directed to use all haste in making ready, and will report accordingly.

Very respectfully,

W. H. C. WHITING,

Major-General.

SUGAR LOAF, December 22, 1864-11.20 a. m.

Major HILL:

Nine vessels in sight; one making rapidly toward Masonborough.

J. K. CONNALLY,

Colonel, Commanding.

FORT FISHER, December 22, 1864-3.45 p. m.

Major HILL:

There is apparently another fleet off Battery Gatlin about five miles out. The sand is blowing so I cannot tell the character of the vessels. I think there is a frigate among them. The fleet off here does not seem changed.

LAMB,

Colonel.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,

December 23, 1864.

Honorable J. A. SEDDON:

General Leventhorpe reports the enemy attempted, on the 20th, to land a force at Poplar Point, three miles from Fort Branch, on the Roanoke. The attacking party consisted of three gun-boats and barges loaded with troops. After a combat of three hours they were repulsed with loss. The attack was renewed on 21st and their skirmishers landed, which were attacked and driven to the boats. The gun-boats have resumed the position they occupied previous to their attempt to land troops at Poplar Point.

R. E. LEE.