HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES, Numbers 12.
Fort Fisher, N. C., January 23, 1865.
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III. Colonel George S. Dodge, chief quartermaster, will remove from Smithville and the works on the west side of Cape Fear River such captured stores as are required for the use of this command and bring them to this point, excepting those needed by the navy.
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By order of Major General A. H. Terry:
Captain and Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES,
Fort Fisher, January 23, 1865.
General R. DELAFIELD, Chief Engineer:
In front of the land face of Fort Fisher, at an average distance of 200 yards from the work and 80 feet from other, was an elaborate system of torpedoes, twenty-four in number. The plan of Fort Fisher will show their position. There were three kinds: First, 20-inch shells; second, boiler-iron cylinders, 13 inches diameter and 18 inches long; and third, buoy-shaped vessels, of about the same content as the cylinders and also of sheet iron. The fuse usually had and iron plate, with a wire three feet long to form its ground connection, but in some cases the wire was fastened to the iron vessel containing the powder, thus using that for a ground plate. The system was connected with the fort by three sets of double wires, each wire apparently intended to fire five or more torpedoes. A single wire running to a group of torpedoes was branched to each, in the expectation, apparently, of having battery power sufficient to fire the whole group, and, in addition, some of these groups were connected with each other, thus giving (with sufficient battery power) a choice of positions in the work to fire the group from. The assault was made on the left (proper) of the face by the army, and the right of the front by the navy. Shells had cut the sets of wires leading from both these points, and no torpedoes whatever were exploded, we having no masses of men over them. It is possible they could not fire those whose wires were uncut, as the fuse I have examined had its powder caked, but it may have been intended for slow-match. The method of firing is as follows: The sketch in the margin shows the acorn g of the accompanying sketch and the quill h. The axis of the acorn is hollow, and the quill b g h fits tightly into it, and is filled with mealed powder, or perhaps slow-match composition. The wires w' w' leaving the gutta-perch covering w w pass through eye-holes e e in the acorn, by which they are fastened. From the copper lining of the eye-holes e e smaller copper wires a a pas and enter a solid gutta-percha cylinder, s, the wires remaining about one-twentieth of an inch apart. No connection between the wires is perceptible. Where the gutta-percha cylinder containing the wires touches end to ene the quill b g h the ends of the wires appear at the end of the cylinder, and it is supposed that here an imperfect electric connection is made between them by means of a black lead line on the end of the cylinder, joining the ends of the wires, the heat developed in this black on the passage of the current firing