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BUTLER AND WEITZEL DECLINE TO ASSAULT. 711 Com'r Rhind, at 101 P. M. of the 23d; , before the rest, because out of ammu. exploding her at 14 next morning, nition. The iron-clads were ordered but to very little purpose—the mira- to continue their fire throughout the culous power which gave, efficacy night. to the assault with rams’-horns on Our land forces had meantime Jericho not having been vouchsafed. commenced debarking, under the imRhind and his crew did their work: mediate command of Gen. Weitzel, following in (unperceived) a block- who headed the first or reconnoiterader whose signals of amity were re ing party of 500 men; going himself spected and answered by the fort. to within 800 yards of the fort, When all was ready, they escaped in pushing up a skirmish-line to within a tender which had accompanied 150 yards, and capturing a little outthem on their perilous errand, and work called Flag-pond Hill battery, which, having attained a considerable with 65 men. distance, was scarcely harmed by the Weitzel's observations convinced explosion. The fort and its defend him that the work was exceedingly ers seem to have been nowise dis- strong, and that its defensive power turbed by it-Col. Lamb supposing had not been essentially injured by it to be merely the bursting of one of Porter's fire. He soon returned, as the great guns of our fleet.
directed, to Butler, and reported that Porter had 33 war vessels, several it would be murder to assault such a of them iron-clad, beside a reserve fort with our 6,000 men. Butler, of 17 small ones. At 111 A. M., he disappointed, now ran close up in his followed up the abortive explosion vessel, reconnoitered for himself, and
y an order to advance and bom- reluctantly acquiesced in Weitzel's bard the fort: the Ironsides leading, decision. Our men, of whom about closely followed by the Monadnock, half had been landed, were thereCanonicus, Mahopac, Minnesota, and upon rëembarked;57 and Gen. Butler nearly all his larger ships; and so returned with the land force to the terrible was their concentrated fire James, leaving the fleet still off Wilthat the fort was completely silenced mington. by it in 75 minutes; having been Our loss in this bombardment was set on fire in several places and two about fifty killed and woundedof its magazines exploded. The nearly or quite all by the bursting of bombardment was continued till sun- six of our heavy Parrott guns—the set, when Gen. Butler arrived in his enemy inflicting no injury, because he flagship; his transports being still could not work his guns under our absent. Com. Porter now drew off fire. His loss was 3 killed and 55 for the night.
wounded. Butler reports that we At 7 A. M. next day, the transports took 300 prisoners. and troops having arrived, the bom-| Grant was profoundly dissatisfied. bardment was renewed, and was con- In the first place, he had not intinued for seven hours: the Rebels re- tended that Gen. Butler should go, sponding for a while with two guns and had at length plainly intimated only. Some of our vessels drew off this; though, as Fort Fisher was in
67 Dec. 26-7.
disan with o
nce and bone decision. own landed, were Butler
Butler's military department, he did , in command of the expedition, he not absolutely forbid it. Still, as would have obeyed it. Weitzel was his choice, and the decision not to assault was primarily Advised by the Navy Department Weitzel's, he could not object to this. that the fleet was still off Fort FishBut he did complain, and with rea- er, and ready for a fresh attempt, son, that his express order, addressed Grant promptly determined that it to Butler for Weitzel, had been vio- should be made. Designating Gen. lated in the return of the expedition. Alfred H, Terry to command the That order is as follows:
new expedition, he added a brigade ... “City Point, Va., Dec. 6, 1864. of about 1,500 men and a siege-train “GENERAL: The first object of the expe- (which was not landed), and ordered dition under Gen. Weitzel is to close to the enemy the port of Wilmington. If success. | Gen. Sheridan to send a division to ful in this, the second will be to capture Fortress Monroe, to follow in case of Wilmington itself. There are reasonable
need. Terry's force, therefore, though grounds to hope for success, if advantage can be taken of the absence of the greater nominally but a quarter stronger, was part of the enemy's forces now looking after really much more so; since all who Sherman in Georgia. The directions you have given for the numbers and equipment
were under his orders added vigor of the expedition are all right, except in the and confidence to his efforts. Gen. unimportant matters of where they embark
Terry was first apprised of his destiand the amount of intrenching tools to be tony taken. The object of the expedition will nation by Gen. Grant, as together be gained by effecting a landing on the main they passed down the James. land between Cape Fear river and the Atlantic, north of the north entrance to the
1 The new expedition, composed in river. Should such landing be effected good part of the old one, minus its whilst the enemy still holds Fort Fisher
two Generals, left Fortress Monroe and the batteries guarding the entrance to the river, then the troops should intrench
Jan. 6, 1865; put into Beaufort, N. themselves, and, by cooperating with the C., on the 8th; was detained there navy, effect the reduction and capture of those places. These in our hands, the navy
by bad weather till the 12th; was could enter the harbor, and the port of Wil- off Wilmington that night; and commington would be sealed. Should Fort
menced its landing, under cover of a Fisher and the point of land on which it is built fall into the hands of our troops, im
heavy bombardment from Porter's mediately on landing, then it will be worth fleet, early next morning; and, by 3 the attempt to capture Wilmington by a
P. M., nearly 8,000 men, with three forced march and surprise. If time is consumed in gaining the first object of the ex- days' rations in their haversacks, 40 pedition, the second will become a matter rounds of ammunition in their boxes, of after consideration.
- The details for execution are intrusted arms, intrenching tools, munitions, to you and the officer immediately in com- &c., complete, had been landed, in mand of the troops.
spite of a heavy surf; having thrown "Should the troops under Gen. Weitzel fail to effect a landing at or near Fort Fish-out pickets which had exchanged er, they will be returned to the armies op shots with those of the enemy. The erating against Richmond without delay. “U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
work assigned them was already well “Major-General B. F. BUTLER."
begun. Gen. Weitzel had concurred in Gen. Terry's first concern was to the propriety of returning, but in en- throw a strong defensive line across tire ignorance of this order. Had it the sandy peninsula whereon Fort been directed to him, and he placed | Fisher stands, so as to isolate it from
all support, and enable him to hold yards of the fort, where they lay his ground against any relieving force awaiting the order to assault; which that was likely to be sent down from came at 3:25 P. M., or so soon as the Wilmington. This was effected, after landsmen were ready. And now the some hours necessarily given to ex- fleet changed the direction of its fire, aminations; the first line being, at 9 so as to cover the approach of our P. M., drawn across some three miles assaulting columns, which vied with above the fort ; but a better was each other in their eagerness to be finally found a mile nearer; where first in the fort; the sailors rushing up a position was taken 5€ at 2 A. M., and by the flank along the beach, while where a good breastwork, stretching the soldiers charged on the land-side from river to sea, partially covered toward the left. by abatis, had been constructed by 8 Up to this moment, our loss had A. M. And now the landing of the been trifling; but, when our columns lighter guns was commenced, and by reached the fort, it was no longer sunset completed; the guns being possible for the fleet to persist in its placed in battery before morning, fire without doing more harm to them mainly toward the river, where, in than to the enemy; and at once the case of an attack on us, the enemy parapets swarmed with Rebel muswould be least exposed to the fire of keteers, who-scarcely touched by our gunboats.
the aimless, random firing of our 400 Curtis's brigade was now thrown marines, who had been left in the forward toward the fort, and a care- rifle-pits to cover, by deadly volleys, ful reconnoissance made, under cover the charging sailors--swept down the of the fire of the fleet, to within 600 storiners in winrows, while grape and yards of the wall; as a result of canister plowed through and through which, it was decided to deliver a the head of the column. Thus the determined assault next day. sailors' assault was signally repulsed
The iron-clads continued their fire with great carnage, after a large through this, as they had through number of them had gained the ditch, the preceding night; but, at 9 A. M., and some even climbed the parapet. the wooden vessels moved up to re- But the sailors, though not sucnew the bombardment; reaching cessful, had done a good work. They position about 11, and opening fire, had largely engrossed the attention with the usual effect of driving the and efforts of the besieged; thus Rebels from their batteries into their enabling Curtis's brigade, leading bomb-proofs, and thus silencing their Terry's column of assault, followed by guns. Meantime, 2,000 sailors and Pennypacker's, and they by Bell's marines, armed with cutlasses, re- having already gained, with modervolvers, and a few carbines, had been ate loss, partial shelter but 475 yards detailed from the fleet, and landed to from the fort-to spring forward, share in the meditated assault, and under a heavy enfilading fire, over had worked their way up, by digging marshy and difficult ground, to and ditches or rifle-pits, under cover of through the palisades, and so to effect the fire of the fleet, to within 200 a lodgment on the parapet; when 58 Jan. 14.
59 Jan. 15.
Pennypacker, advancing to Curtis's / suers; and Maj.-Gen. Whiting (morsupport, overlapped his right, drove tally wounded), Col. Lamb, and their the enemy from the heavy palisading followers, had no choice but to surthat extended from the west end of render. Terry took 2,083 prisoners; the land-face to the river, taking while his material trophies were 169 some prisoners; and now the two guns, most of them heavy, over 2,000 brigades, uniting, drove the enemy, small arms, and considerable ammuby desperate fighting, from about nition, provisions, &c. Before mornone-quarter of the land-face. Gen. ing, Fort Caswell, across the river, Ames, commanding the assaulting with the extensive works at Smithdivision, now brought up Bell's brig-ville and Reeve's point, were abanade, and placed it between the fort doned and blown up by the enemy: and the river, where the hollows so that the triumph was complete. whence sand had been dug for the Our loss in this desperate assault parapet, the ruins of barracks and was 110 killed, 536 wounded; but store-houses, and the large magazine, among these were Col. Bell, mortally, formed, with the huge traverses of and Gen. N. M. Curtis and Col. G. the land-face, a series of rude breast-A. Pennypacker, severely wounded, works, behind which successively the while leading their brigades in the enemy rallied, and over which the assault. combatants fired into each others' | Gen. Hoke, with a considerable faces. Nine of these traverses were Rebel force, had watched the landing successively carried by our men ; of our troops at a respectful distance while Terry strengthened the assail- inland; but did not venture to annoy ants by sending down Abbott's brig- them, though expected, and finally ade from the north, where their place ordered, by his superior, Bragg, to do was taken by the discomfited sailors so. The prompt extension of our and marines, with the 27th U. S. col- lines across the peninsula precluded ored, Brig.-Gen. A. M. Blackman; the possibility of success after the who entered the fort and reported first night; so that, when Bragg reto Ames at 6 P. M.
iterated his order more peremptorily, Still, the defense was obstinately he was requested by Hoke to reconmaintained; the fleet now shifting noiter for himself, and did so; when its fire from that portion of the fort his order was withdrawn. They now not yet gained by our troops to the resolved to rëenforce the fort; but beach, to prevent the possibility of the rapidity of Terry's and Porter's succor from the Rebel garrison of operations left them no opportunity Battery Buchanan; until, at 9 P. M., to do so. It only remained to the two two more traverses having been car- Rebel commanders to look quietly ried, the Rebels were fairly driven on and see Fort Fisher taken. They by Abbott's men out of their last were not long compelled to endure foothold in the fort, fleeing down the their necessarily painful anxiety. Point to Battery Buchanan; but it Next morningco after the capture, was idle to hope to make a successful while the fort swarmed with our custand here against their eager pur- rious, exulting soldiers and sailors,
60 Jan. 16.