the farther down the peninsula we should go the shorter would be our line across it it was determined to take up a position where the maps showed a large pond, occupying nearly one-third of the width of the peninsula, at about three miles from the fort. Shortly before 5 o'clock, leaving Abbott's brigade to cover our stores, the troops were put in motion for the last-named point. On arriving at it, the "pond" was found to be a sand flat, sometimes covered with water, giving no assistance to the defense of a line established behind it. Nevertheless, it was determined to get a line across at this place, and Paine's division, followed by two of Ames' brigades, mad their way through. The night was very dark, much of the ground was a marsh and illy adapted to the construction of works, and the distance was found to be too great to be properly defended by the troops which could be spared from the direct attack upon the fort. It was not until 9 p.m. that Paine succeeded in reaching the river. The ground still nearer the fort was then reconnoitered, and found to be much better adapted to our purposes. Accordingly, the troops were withdrawn from their last position and established on a line about two miles from the works.
They reached this final position at 2 a.m. of the 14th instant. Tools were immediately brought up and entrenchments were commenced; at 8 o'clock a good breast-work, reaching from the river to the sea and partially covered by abatis had been constructed and was in a defensible condition. It was much improved afterward, but from this time our foothold on the peninsula was secured. Early in the morning of the 14th the landing of the artillery was commenced, and by sunset all the light guns were gotten on shore. During the following night they were placed, on the line, most of them near the river, where the enemy, in case he should attack us, would be least exposed to the fire of the gun-boats. Curtis' brigade of Ames' division was moved down toward Fisher during the morning, and at noon his skirmishers, after capturing on their way a small which had come down the river with shells forage for the garrison of the fort, reached a small unfinished outworks in front of the west end of the land front of the work.
General Curtis, Lieutenant-Colonel (now brevet brigadier-general) Comstock, the chief engineer of the expedition, and myself, under the protection of the fire of the fleet, made a careful reconnaissance of the work getting within 600 yards of it. The report of General Comstock, which with its accompanying map, is appended hereto,* gives a full description of it and its condition at that time.
As the result of this reconnaissance, and in view of the extreme difficulty which might be expected in landing supplies and the material for a siege on the open and often tempestuous beach, it was decided to attempt an assault the next day, provided that in the meantime the fire of the navy should so far destroy the palisades as to make one practicable. This decision was communicated to Admiral Porter, who at once placed a division of his vessels in a position to accomplish this last-named object. It was arranged in consultation with him that a heavy bombardment from all the vessels should commence early in the morning and continue up to the moment of the assault, and that even then it should not cease, but should be diverted from the points of attack to other parts of the work. It was decided that the assault should be made at 3 p.m., that the army should attack on the western half of the land face, and that a column of sailors and marines should assault at the northeast bastion. The fire of the navy continued during the night.
* See p.405.