the bank of the river to keep her off. On the afternoon of January 14 a reconnaissance was pushed, under direction of the major-general commanding, to within 500 yards of Fort Fisher, a small advanced work being taken possession of. This was at once turned into a defensive line, to be held against any attempt from Fort Fisher. The reconnaissance showed that the palisading in front of the work had been seriously injured by the navy fired. Only nine guns could be seen on the land front where sixteen had been counted on Christmas day. The steady though not rapid fire of the navy prevented the enemy from using either artillery or musketry on the reconnoitering party. It seemed probable that troops could be got up within 200 yards of the work without serious loss, and it was a matter of great doubt whether the necessary ammunition could be supplied by the open beach if regular approaches were determined on.
It was decided to assault, and the assault was made on the 15th at 3.30 p. m., after three hours of heavy navy fire, by three deployed brigades, following one another at intervals of about 300 yards, and each making its final rush for the west end of the land face from a rough rifle-pit about 300 yards from the work. At the point attacked the palisading was less injured than elsewhere, it being partially hidden, and it was necessary to use axes to cut and timbers to batter it down, in order that troops might pass readily through it. Powder sacks for blowing these palisades down had been prepared, but were not used. After sever hours' fighting, gaining traverse by traverse, the work was won.
Fort Fisher consists of two fronts. The first, or land front, running across the peninsula at this point, about 700 yards wide, is 480 yards in length; while the second, or sea front, runs from the right of the first parallel to the beach to the Mound Battery, a distance of 1,300 yards. The land front is intended to resist any attack from the north; the sea front, to prevent any of our naval vessels from running through New Inlet or landing troops on Federal Point.
(1) Land front.-This front consists of a half bastion on the left, or Cape Fear River, side, connected by a curtain with a bastion on the ocean side. The parapet is twenty-fire feet thick, averages twenty-feet in height, with traverses rising ten feet above it and running back on their tops, which were from eight to twelve feet in thickness, to a distance of from thirty to forty feet from the interior crest. The traverses on the left half bastion were about twenty-five feet in length on top. The earth for this heavy parapet and the enormous traverses at their inner ends, more than thirty feet in height, was obtained partly from a shallow exterior detach, but mainly from the interior of the work. Between each pair of traverses there was one or two guns. The traverses on the right of this front were only partially completed. A palisade, which is loop-holed and has a banquette, runs in front of this face, at a distance of about fifty feet in front of the foot of the exterior slope, from the Cape Fear River to the ocean, with a position for a gun between the left of the front and the river, and another between the right of the front and the ocean. Through the middle traverse on the curtain was a bomb-proof postern, whose exterior opening was covered by a small redan for two field pieces to give flank fire along the curtain. The traverses were generally bomb-roofed for men or magazines. The slopes of the work appear to have been generally revetted with marsh sod, or covered with grass, and to have had an inclination of forty-five degrees or a little less. On those slopes most exposed to fire the revetment or gassing has been entirely destroyed, and the inclination reduced to thirty