NORTH ATLANTIC SQUADRON, U. S. FLAG-SHIP MALVERN,
Off New Inlet, December 26, 1864.
Major General B. F. BUTLER,
GENERAL: I beg leave to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of this date, the substance of which was communicated to me by General Weitzel last night. I have ordered the largest vessels to proceed off Beaufort and fill up with ammunition, to be ready for another attack in case it is decided to proceed with this matter by making other arrangements. We have not commenced firing rapidly yet, and could keep any rebels inside from showing their heads until an assaulting column was within twenty yards of the works. I wish so more of your gallant fellows had followed the officer who took the flag from the parapet, and the brave fellow who brought the horse out from the fort. I think they would have found it an easier conquest than is supposed. I do not, however, pretend to place my opinion in opposition to General Weitzel, whom I know to be an accomplished soldier and engineer, and whose opinion has great weight with me. I will look out that the troops are all off in safety. We will have a west wind presently, and a smooth beach about 3 o'clock, when sufficient boats will be sent for them. The prisoners now on board the Santiago de Cuba will be delivered to the provost-marshal at Fortress Monroe, unless you wish to take them on board one of the transports, which would be inconvenient just now.
I remain, general, respectfully, your obedient servant,
DAVID D. PORTER,