The troops were placed in position without attracting the attention of the enemy, although within 150 yards of its picket-line. About half an hour after the enemy on their extreme left opened suddenly a very severe and galling picket-fire which ran down the line to my front and which continued for nearly an hour. Under this fire my brigade remained quiet, not answering with a single shot or otherwise betraying our presence to the enemy, although a number were killed and wounded. Too much praise cannot be give to my officers for the splendid manner in which they moved their men into position and afterward controlling their commands under this severe picket-fire. At about 4.30 a.m. the signal gun to advance was fired from Fort Fisher, when I ordered the brigade to advance. Instantly a terrible fire of musketry and artillery was opened upon us by the enemy, but my men gallantly and bravely advanced at a double-quick and in a few moments scaled the breast-works, which at this place were from twelve to fifteen feet high, driving the enemy before them and holding the position. I must here state that when the order to advance was given, and the enemy opened upon us, the Eighty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers broke to the front, passing through the second and first lines, and became temporarily the first line. The first colors inside the works were those of the Tenth Vermont Volunteers, followed immediately by those of the One hundred and sixth New York Volunteers and Fourteenth New Jersey Volunteers.
We here captured 300 prisoners and either 5 or 6 guns. The first line, composed of the Tenth Vermont Volunteers and One hundred and sixth New York Volunteers, were instantly reformed inside the works, wheeled to the left, and charged down the line at a double-quick, the balance of the command following as they entered the works, driving and doubling up the enemy as they advanced. The next fort was seized with but little opposition, my troops capturing about 150 prisoners and 2 guns. Again advancing I ordered the brigade to charge on the next fort. The enemy here endeavored to make a stand, but my command pushed forward and compelled the enemy to evacuate it, when the fort was instantly occupied by my brigade the first colors to enter being those of the Fourteenth New Jersey Volunteers. Here my command was joined by a small portion of the Second Brigade, which remained with me until I fell back temporarily to the second fort, when they were ordered to the right and joined their proper command. We here captured about 100 prisoners and seized 2 guns. This fort we held about twenty-five minutes, when the enemy advanced in two lines of battle, one in front of the fort and the other from the woods on the right, compelling us to fall back temporarily to the second fort above mentioned. In this charge of the enemy we lost heavily in killed and wounded, besides many prisoners my men falling back reluctantly and contesting the ground inch by inch, but were overpowered by superior numbers. The enemy were enabled to hold this fort for some length of time, and it was not until after the arrival of a battery to our aid that we were successful in dislodging him, capturing 40 prisoners and 2 pieces cannon.
In the capture of this front the sharpshooters of the brigade deserve especial mention in silencing the rebel guns by picking off the gunners whenever they made their appearance. A number were deployed on the left of the works in the direction of a house for this purpose. The brigade was formed in columns of regiments, and advancing on the left flank of the fort compelled its surrender. Without halting we advanced on the next fort, which was evacuated almost without a struggle, leaving in our possession four guns, caissons, and horses. Still press-