War of the Rebellion: Serial 095 Page 0433 Chapter LVIII. CAPTURE OF FORT FISHER, N. C.

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From different sources I had learned with certainty that the enemy had landed neither horses nor artillery, intending to confine himself to the naval bombardment and infantry assault. Telegraphic reports from Major-General Whiting, received at 1.30 p. m. on the 14th instant, during this examination, represented the garrison of the fort in fine condition and spirits. He asked for fresh troops, on account of the exhaustion produced by the necessity for great vigilance at night to prevent surprise. Eleven hundred veteran infantry, under an approved commander, were immediately put in motion for the fort, and the general informed. From an accident to the transportation, the steamer grounding, only 500 of these reached their destination during the night of the 14th. The remainder were, however, close at hand, with orders to land as soon as the enemy's fire would allow. But, as the garrison had been under fire for two days and on duty but one night, not the slightest apprehension was felt. The land front, on which the assault must be made, was just 450 yards in extent, and the garrison now fully 2,300 arms-bearing men, of four to the yard, after manning all the artillery. My only apprehension was in regard to a surprise, and therefore, as a matter of precaution, instructions were given to keep out pickets to the front, and to look well to the flanks of the work, they being the only points considered at all vulnerable. Its commander was further informed that the troops in the fort would be regularly relieved by fresh details as their physical condition might require.

The work on the land front considered of a parapet fifteen or twenty feet high, with a board ditch more or less flooded accordingly to tide, and in front of this a line of sharpened palisades ten or twelve feet high, extending from sea to river, and loop-holed for infantry. To have assaulted the enemy behind his entrenchments, covered by his fleet, with inferior numbers, would have exhausted our means to aid the fort, and thereby not only have insured its ultimate fall, but have opened the country behind it. To make him the assaulting party, considering our means for attack and defense, seemed to me the only policy, and it promised his early and complete discomfiture, as the first change of weather would drive off the fleet and leave him unsupported and cut off from supplies.

In this condition matters continued until the afternoon of the 15th, the naval bombarded being kept up by day. At 1.30 p. m. it was reported that the entire loss up to that time had been 3 killed and 32 wounded. No report had been received of any damage to the fort or its armament. About one hour later a dispatch announced the enemy forming for a land assault, and that most of the guns on the land front were disabled. General Hoke's command was immediately formed for attack, and he moved forward in person with his skirmish line, through the thick undergrowth, close to the enemy's intrenchmets, receiving two balls through his coat. A heavy line of battle was formed along their whole front in rear of the entrenchments, which were well manned. About this time the fire of the fleet slackened, and a feeble, desultory fire of musketry was heard for a few minutes at the fort. Soon the fire from the fleet was resumed with great vigor. Knowing we had retained a very large portion of the enemy's land force, and relying on the strength of our works and the large force to defend them, confidence was felt that the assault was successfully repulsed. Some unpleasant rumors and reports from the west of the river were heard about 4.30 p. m., but, with the certainty of being able to re-

28 R R-VOL XLVI, PT I