General Bragg was held in check by two brigades of U. S. Colored Troops, along a line of no impediment whatever. Once at this line by the river bank with the his three batteries of artillery, and his whole force steadily advancing, the enemy's fleet could not have fired again without hurting their own men. The enemy had not a single piece of artillery; altogether about 7,000 or 8,000 me. Pushing our batteries to Camp Wyatt and Colonel Lamb's headquarters, and opening heavily on Shepherd's battery, with an advance of our troops, and such of the enemy as could not have escaped in boats must have fallen into our hands; but it was not to be. I went into the fort with the conviction that it was to be sacrificed, for the last I heard General Bragg say was to point out a line to fall back on if Fort Fisher fell. In all his career of failure and defeat from Pensacola out, there has been no such chance missed, and no such stupendous disaster.
Wounded, in the hospital, with mortification at the shameful haste, I heard the blowing up of For Caswell before the enemy had dared to enter the harbor.
I demand, in justice to the country, to the army, and to myself, that the course of this officer be investigated. Take his notorious congratulatory Order Numbers 14 [17*], with its numerous errors, and compare his language with the result. I do not know what he was sent to Wilmington for. I had hoped that I was considered competent. I acquiesced with feelings of great mortification. My proper place was in command of the troops you sent to support the defense; then I should not now be a prisoner, and an effort at least would have been made to save a harbor on which I had expended for two years all the labor and skill I had. I should not have had the mortification of seeing works which our very foes admire, yielding after four day's attack, given up and abandoned without even an attempt to save them.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. H. C. WHITING,
Major-General (prisoner of war).
General R. E. LEE,
Commanding Armies Confederate States.
Numbers 26. Report of Brigadier General Alfred H. Colquitt, C. S. Army, commanding brigade.
HEADQUARTERS COLQUITT'S BRIGADE,
January 17, 1865.
COLONEL: In reply to your communication, I have the honor to submit the following statement:
In accordance with instructions from the general commanding, I left the landing at Sugar Loaf is a row-boat about 9 p. m. of the 15th instant, with a view to proceed to Fort Fisher and assume command. I was accompanied by Lieutenant Washington, of General Hoke's staff, and Lieutenants Estill and Colquitt, of my own staff. The accounts which had been given from Battery Lamb and other points existed the apprehension that the fort was in possession of the enemy. A dispatch from General Whiting, dated at the fort at 6.30 p. m., dispelled these apprehensions and gave the assurance that the fort was still holding
*See Vol. XLII, Part I, p. 999.