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General Curtis, Lieutenant-Colonel (now Bre- accomplished under a sharp fire of musketry Brigadier-General) Comstock, the chief and artillery, from which, however, they soon engineer of the expedition, and myself, under sheltered themselves by digging shallow the protection of the fire of the fleet, made a trenches. careful reconnoissance of the work, getting within six hundred yards of it. The report of General Comstock, which, with its accompanying map, is appended hereto, gives a full description of it and its condition at that time.

As the result of this recounoissance, and in view of the extreme difficulty which might be expected in landing supplies and the material for a siege on the open and often tempestuous beach, it was decided to attempt an assault the next day, provided that in the mean time the fire of the navy should so far destroy the palisades as to make one practicable.

This decision was communicated to Admiral Porter, who at once placed a division of his vessels in a position to accomplish this lastnamed object. It was arranged in consultation with him that a heavy bombardment from all the vessels should commence early in the morning and continue up to the moment of the assault, and that even then it should not cease, but should be diverted from the points of attack to other parts of the work.

It was decided that the assault should be made at three o'clock P. M.; that the army should attack on the western half of the land-face, and that a column of sailors and marines should assault at the north-east bastion.

The fire of the navy continued during the night. At eight o'clock A. M., of the fifteenth, all of the vessels, except a division left to aid in the defence of our northern line, moved into position, and a fire, magnificent alike for its power and accuracy, was opened.

nypacker was brought up to it, and Bell was When Curtis moved from the outwork, Penbrought into line two hundred yards in his rear. Finding that a good cover for Curtis' men could yards in the rear of the sharpshooters, they be found on the reverse slope of a crest, fifty were again moved forward, one regiment at a time, aud again covered themselves in trenches. Pennypacker followed Curtis, and occupied the ground vacated by him, and Bell was brought up to the outwork.

It had been proposed to blow up and cut attached, had been prepared, and a party of down the palisades; bags of powder, with fuses volunteer axemen organized; but the fire of the navy had been so effective during the preceding night and morning that it was thought unnecessary to use the powder. The axemen, however, were sent in with the leading brigade, and did good service by making openings in portions of the palisading which the fire of the navy had not been able to reach.

were completed, the order to move forward was At three twenty-five P. M. all the preparations given to Ames, and a concerted signal was made to Admiral Porter to change the direction of his fire.

trenches and dashed forward in line; its left Curtis' brigade at once sprung from their was exposed to a severe enfilading fire, and it obliqued to the right so as to envelop the left of the land-front; the ground over which it moved was marshy and difficult, but it soon reached Ames' division had been selected for the as- ed a lodgement on the parapet. At the same the palisades, passed through them, and effectsault. Paine was placed in command of the time the column of sailors and marines, under defensive line, having with him Abbott's Fleet-Captain K. R. Breese, advanced up the brigade in addition to his own division. Ames' beach in the most gallant manner and attacked first brigade Curtis'-was already at the out- the north-east bastion; but, exposed to a murwork above-mentioned, and in trenches close derous fire, they were unable to get up the around it; his other two brigades, Pennypack-parapet. After a severe struggle and a heavy er's and Bell's, were moved at noon to within supporting distance of him. At two o'clock preparations for the assault were commenced. Sixty sharpshooters from the Thirteenth Indiana volunteers, armed with the Spencer repeating carbine, and forty others, volunteers from Curtis' brigade, the whole under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Lent, of the Thirteenth Indiana, were thrown forward at a run to within one hundred and seventy-five yards of the work. They were provided with shovels, and soon dug pits for shelter, and commenced firing at the parapet.

As soon as this movement commenced the parapet of the fort was manned and the enemy's fire, both of musketry and artillery, opened.

As soon as the sharpshooters were in position, Curtis' brigade was moved forward by regiment, at the double-quick, into line at about four hundred and seventy-five yards from the work. The men there laid down. This was

loss of valuable officers and men, it became apparent that nothing could be effected at that point, and they were withdrawn. When Curtis moved forward, Ames directed Pennypacker to move up to the rear of the sharpshooters, and brought Bell up to Pennypacker's last position, and as soon as Curtis got a foothold on the parapet sent Pennypacker in to his support. He advanced, overlapping Curtis' right, and drove the enemy from the heavy palisading, which extended from the west end of the land-face to the river, capturing a considerable number left, the two brigades together drove the of prisoners; then pushing forward to their enemy from about one quarter of the land-face. it between the work and the river. On this side Ames then brought up Bell's brigade, and moved there was no regular parapet, but there was abundance of cover afforded to the enemy by cavities from which sand had been taken for the parapet, the ruins of barracks and store

houses, the large magazine, and by traverses, behind which they stubbornly resisted our advance. Hand-to-hand fighting of the most desperate character ensued, the huge traverses of the land-face being used successively by the enemy as breastworks, over the tops of which the contending parties fired in each other's faces. Nine of these were carried one after the other by our men.

When Bell's brigade was ordered into action I foresaw that more troops would probably be needed, and sent an order for Abbott's brigade to move down from the north line, at the same time requesting Captain Breese to replace them with his sailors and marines. I also directed General Paine to send me one of the strongest regiments of his own division; these troops arrived at dusk and reported to General Ames. At six o'clock Abbott's brigade went into the fort; the regiment from Paine's division-the Twenty-seventh United States colored troops, Brevet Brigadier-General A. M. Blackman commanding-was brought up to the rear of the work, where it remained under fire for some time, and was then withdrawn. Until six o'clock the fire of the navy continued upon that portion of the work not occupied by us; after that time it was directed on the beach, to prevent the coming up of reinforcements, which it was thought might possibly be thrown over from the right bank of the river to Battery Buchanan. The fighting for the traverses continued till nearly nine o'clock, two more of them being carried; then a portion of Abbott's brigade drove the enemy from their last remaining strongholds, and the occupation of the work was completed.

The same brigade, with General Blackman's regiment, were immediately pushed down the Point to Battery Buchanan, whither many of the garrison had fled. On reaching the battery all of the enemy who had not been previously captured were made prisoners. Among them were Major-General Whiting, and Colonel Lamb, the

commandant of the fort.

arms; considerable quantities of commissary stores, and full supplies of ammunition. Our prisoners numbered one hundred and twelve commissioned officers and one thousand nine hundred and seventy-one enlisted men.

I have no words to do justice to the behavior of both officers and men on this occasion; all that men could do they did. Better soldiers never fought. Of General Ames I have already spoken in a letter recommending his promotion. He commanded all the troops engaged, and was constantly under fire. His great coolness, good judgment, and skill were never more conspicuous than on this assault. Brigadier-General Curtis and Colonels Pennypacker, Bell and Abbott-the brigade commanders-led them with the utmost gallantry. Curtis was wounded, after fighting in the front rank, rifle in hand; Pennypacker, while carrying the standard of one of the regiments, the first man in a charge over the traverse. Bell was mortally wounded near the palisades.

Brigadier-General Paine deserves high praise for the zeal and energy displayed by him in constructing our defensive line, a work absolutely essential to our success.

Brevet Brigadier-General Blackman deserves mention for the prompt manner in which he brought his regiment up to the work, and afterward followed up the retreating enemy.

To Brevet Brigadier-General C. B. Comstock, aid-de-camp on the staff of the Lieutenant-General, I am under the deepest obligations. At every step of our progress I received from him the most valuable assistance. For the final success of our part of the operations the country is more indebted to him than to me.

Colonel George S. Dodge, Chief Quartermaster of the Army of the James, accompanied me as Chief Quartermaster of the forces under my command. His able and energetic performance of his multifarious duties was all that could be wished for, and reflected the highest honor upon him.

Surgeon Norman S. Barnes, United States VolAbout four o'clock in the afternoon Hoke ad-unteers, Medical Director, and Surgeon A. J. H. vanced against our north line, apparently with Buzzell, Third New Hampshire volunteers, the design of attacking it; but if such was his Medical Inspector of the expedition, discharged intention he abandoned it after a skirmish with their laborious duties on the field and in the our pickets. hospital in a manner most creditable to their ability and humanity. I desire to express my high appreciation of the services of these officers.

During the day Brevet Brigadier-General H. L. Abbott, Chief of Artillery, was busily engaged in landing artillery and ammunition, so that if the assault failed, siege operations might at once be commenced.

Consequent to the fall of Fisher, the enemy, during the nights of the sixteenth and seventeenth, blew up Fort Caswell, and abandoned both it and their very extensive works on Smith's island, at Smithville and Reeve's Point, thus placing in our hands all the works erected to defend the mouth of the Cape Fear river.

In all the works were found one hundred and sixty-nine pieces of artillery, nearly all of which are heavy; over two thousand stands of small

I shall have the honor to submit a supplemental report in reference to those subordinate officers and enlisted men who distinguished themselves on the occasion.

I should signally fail to do my duty were I to omit to speak in terms of the highest admiration of the part borne by the navy in our operations. In all ranks, from Admiral Porter to his seamen, there was the utmost desire not only to do their proper work, but to facilitate in every possible manner the operations of the land forces. To him and to the untiring efforts of

his officers and men are we indebted that our men, stores, tools, and ammunition were safely and expeditiously landed, and that our wounded and prisoners were embarked for transportation to the North; to the great accuracy and power of their fire it is owing that we had not to confront a formidable artillery in the assault; and that we were able, with but little loss to push forward the men, preparatory to it, to a point nearly as favorable for it as the one they would have occupied had siege operations been undertaken and the work systematically approached. The assault of the sailors and marines, although it failed, undoubtedly contributed somewhat to our success, and certainly nothing could surpass the perfect skill with which the fleet was handled by its commander. Every request which I made to Admiral Porter was most cheerfully complied with, and the utmost harmony has existed between us from the outset to the present time.

I forward herewith General Ames' report. I have the honor to be, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


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HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES, FORT FISHER, NORTH CAROLINA, January 27, 1865. SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of engineer operations in connection with the capture of Fort Fisher, together with a sketch of that work and another of the country in the vicinity. Fort Fisher is situated on the peninsula between the Cape Fear river and the Atlantic ocean, about a mile and a half north-east of Federal Point. For five miles north of Federal Point this peninsula is sandy and low, not rising more than fifteen feet above high tide, the interior abounding in fresh-water swamps, often wooded and almost impassable, while much of the dry land, till one gets within half a mile of Fort Fisher, is covered with wood or low undergrowth, except a strip about three hundred yards wide along the sea-shore. The landing of the troops composing the expedition was effected on the sea-beach about five miles north of Fort Fisher, on January twelve, and Paine's division was at once pushed across to Cape Fear river, with instructions to take up a line to be held against any attack from the direction of Wilmington. This line, on the morning of January thirteen, was already defensible, and was further strengthened during the day, while on the fourteenth a second line was laid out and begun under charge of Lieutenant J. H. Price, in rear of its left. Pioneer companies were organized in Ames' and Paine's divisions, and, as during the fourteenth the fire of the rebel gunboat Chickamauga killed and wounded a number of our men, Lieutenant O'Keeffe, with his company of the Fifteenth regiment New York volunteer engineers, was directed to build a battery for

two thirty-pounder Parrotts on the bank of the river, to keep her off.

On the afternoon of January fourteenth a reconnoissance was pushed under the direction of the Major-General commanding to within five hundred yards of Fort Fisher, a small advanced work being taken possession of. This was at once turned into a defensive line, to be held against any attempt from Fort Fisher. The re connoissance showed that the palisading in front of the work had been seriously injured by the navy fire; only nine guns could be seen on the land-front where sixteen had been counted on Christmas day; the steady, though not rapid fire of the navy prevented the enemy from using either artillery or musketry on the reconnoitring party; it seemed probable that troops could be got within two hundred yards of the work without serious loss, and it was a matter of great doubt whether the necessary ammunition could be supplied by the open beach, if regular approaches were determined on. It was decided to assault, and the assault was made on the fifteenth, at three and a half P. M., after three hours' of heavy navy fire, by three deployed brigades, following one another at intervals of about three hundred yards, and each making its final rush for the west end of the land-face, from a rough rifle-pit about three hundred yards from the work.

At the point attacked the palisading was less injured than elsewhere, it being partially hidden, and it was necessary to use axes to cut and timbers to batter it down, in order that the troops might pass rapidly through it. Powdersacks, for blowing these palisades down had been prepared, but were not used.

After seven hours' fighting, gaining traverse by traverse, the work was won.

Fort Fisher consists of two fronts-the first, or land-front, running across the peninsula at this point, seven hundred yards wide, is four hundred and eighty yards in length, while the second or sea-front runs from the right of the first parallel to the beach to the mound battery, a distance of thirteen hundred yards. The landfront is intended to resist any attack from the north, the sea-front to prevent any of our naval vessels from running through New Inlet or landing troops on Federal Point.

1. Land-Front.-This front consists of a half bastion on the left or Cape Fear river side, connected by a curtain with a bastion on the ocean side. The parapet is twenty-five feet thick, averages twenty feet in height, with traverses rising ten feet above it, and running back on their tops, which were from eight to twelve feet in thickness, to a distance of from thirty to forty feet from the interior crest. The traverses on the left half bastion were about twenty-five feet in length on top.

The earth for this heavy parapet and the enormous traverses at their inner ends, more than thirty feet in height, was obtained partly from a shallow exterior ditch, but mainly from the interior of the work. Between each pair of

traverses there was one or two guns. The traverses on the right of this front were only partially completed. A palisade, which is loopholed and has a banquette, runs in front of this face at a distance of about fifty feet in front of the foot of the exterior slope from the Cape Fear river to the ocean, with a position for a gun on the left of the front and the river, and another between the right of the front and the ocean. Through the middle traverse on the curtain was a bomb-proof postern, whose exterior opening was covered by a small redan for two field-pieces, to give flank fire along the curtain. The traverses were generally bombproofed for men or magazines. The slopes of the work appeared to have been revetted with marsh sod, or covered with grass, and to have had an inclination of forty-five degrees, or a little less. On those slopes most exposed to navy fire the revetment or grassing has been entirely destroyed, and the inclination reduced to thirty degrees.

The ends of traverses as they rise above the parapet are very ragged. Still all damage done to the earthwork can be readily repaired, its strength being about the same as before the bombardment. The damage done by the navy fire was, first to the palisades, which were so injured as in most places to be little obstacle to assaulting troops; second, to guns and carriages. There were originally on the front twenty-one guns and three mortars. Of these three fourths were rendered unserviceable by injuries to either gun or carriage. The gun in the right bastion, the field-pieces in front of the postern, and one or two mortars, were used against the assaulting troops.

There was a formidable system of torpedoes two hundred yards in advance of this front, the torpedoes being about eighty feet apart, and each containing about one hundred pounds of powder. They were connected with the fort by three sets of wires; fortunately the sets leading directly to those over which the army and navy columns moved had been cut by shells and no torpedo was exploded.

2. Sea-Front. This front consists of a series of batteries mounting in all twenty-four guns, the different batteries being connected by a strong infantry parapet, so as to form a continuous line. The same system of heavy traverses for the protection of the guns is used as on the land-front, and these traverses are also generally bomb-proofed.

Captain N. Adams, Fourth New Hampshire volunteers, and First Lieutenant J. H. Price, Fourth United States colored troops, commanding pioneer companies of Ames' and Paine's divisions, and First Lieutenant K. S. O'Keeffe, commanding company of Fifteenth New York volunteer engineers, have, with their commands, been of great service in the construction of batteries and defensive works. First Lieutenant A. H. Knowlton, Fourth New Hampshire volunteers, has rendered valuable assistance in making

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On the night of the second the division, which had just returned to its camp from a demonstration against this point, received orders to prepare for a second expedition. It left camp on the third, and embarked on ocean transports at Ber muda Hundred, between the hours of seven and nine P. M., on the fourth instant.

The transport fleet sailed from Fortress Mon roe on the morning of the sixth, and the troops disembarked some four miles north of Fort Fisher on the thirteenth instant.

At three o'clock P. M. on the fifteenth we stormed Fort Fisher. Brevet Brigadier-General N. M. Curtis' brigade (the First) made a lodgement on the north-west angle of the fort. I immediately ordered up Colonel G. A. Pennypacker's brigade (the Second). The enemy was at once driven from behind the palisading extending from the fort to the river, and about one third of the work, its north-west angle, occupied by us. I then ordered up Colonel Bell's brigade (the Third), and moved it forward against and in rear of the sea-face of the work, the ground being much obstructed by the ruins of the barracks, lumber, and other rubbish; the enemy being protected by traverses, and taking advantage of the cover afforded by magazines, &c., checked our advance.

Fighting of a most obstinate character continued till after dark, during which time we made considerable advancement on the left, and captured about four hundred prisoners.

About eight o'clock P. M., Colonel Abbott with his brigade completed the occupation of the face of the work, extending from the ocean to the river. A general advance was now made, and the fort occupied without opposition.

The conduct of the officers and men of this division was most gallant. Aided by the fire of the navy and an attacking column of sailors and marines along the sea beach, we were able to pass over the open ground in front of the fort, through the gaps in the palisading in the

ditch made by the naval fire, and finally to carry the work.

Major J. R. Lawrence, Thirteenth Indiana volunteers, and Lieutenant-Colonel J. A. Colvin, One Hundred and Sixty-ninth New York volunteers, also behaved in the most gallant manner, and rendered efficient service in collecting and organizing the troops which had become sepa

Where the name of every officer and man engaged in this desperate conflict should be submitted, I shall at present only be able to give a few of those most conspicuous. It is to be hoped they all may be properly re-rated from their commands in the charge, and warded.

Brevet Brigadier-General N. M. Curtis, commanding First brigade, was prominent throughout the day for his bravery, coolness and judgment. His services cannot be over-estimated. He fell a short time before dark, seriously wounded in the head by a canister shot.

Colonel G. A. Pennypacker, commanding Second brigade, was seriously wounded while planting his colors on the third traverse of the work. This officer was surpassed by none, and his absence during the day was most deeply felt and seriously regretted.

Colonel L. Bell, commanding Third brigade, was mortally wounded while crossing the bridge in advance of the palisading. He was an able and efficient officer, one not easily replaced.

I here submit the names of the regimental commanders; and in connection with the brigade commanders is the credit due them for the heroic conduct of their men.

in leading them to positions where important advantages were gained. Captain G. W. Huckins, Fourth New Hampshire volunteers, and First Lieutenant J. Konig, Seventh United States colored troops, aids on the staff of Colonel L. Bell, commanding Third brigade, were untiring in their labors, and rendered valuable services in the absence of my staff offi cers, who had been stricken down in the early part of the engagement.

Privates Ulric_ Chapin and James Spring, company G, One Hundred and Forty-second, Ď. C. Hotchkiss, company A, and O. R. Kingsland, company D, One hundred and Twelfth New York volunteers, volunteered to approach to a point considerably in advance of our skirmish line, which they did do, and by this step valua ble information with reference to the ditch was gained. Privates James Cadman, wounded; William Cabe, company B; George Hoyt and S. R. Porteus, company C; D. H. Morgan and Edward Petue, company E; E. H. Cooper, company G, wounded; Silas Baker, company H, missing. George Merrill and William J. McDuff, company I; Z. C. Neahel and Bruce An

second New York volunteers, volunteered to advance with the head of the column and cut down the palisading.

Regimental commanders: First brigade, One Hundred and Forty-second New York volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel A. M. Barney; One Hundred and Seventeenth New York volun-derson, company K, One Hundred and Fortyteers, Lieutenant-Colonel F. H. Meyer; One Hundred and Twelfth New York volunteers, Colonel J. F. Smith; Third New York volunteers, Lieutenant E. A. Behna. Second brigade, Copies of the reports of the brigade comForty-eighth New York volunteers, Lieutenant-manders will be forwarded. In them will be Colonel W. B. Coan; Seventy-sixth Pennsyl- found lists of officers and men who particularly vania volunteers, Colonel J. S. Littell; Forty- distinguished themselves. It is recommended seventh New York volunteers, Captain J. M. that medals be bestowed upon all enlisted men McDonald; Two Hundred and Third Pennsyl-mentioned. vania volunteers, Colonel J. W. Moore; Ninetyseventh Pennsylvania volunteers, First Lieutenant J. Wainwright. Third brigade, One Hundred and Sixty-ninth New York volunteers, Colonel Alonzo Alden; Thirteenth Indiana volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel S. M. Zent; Fourth New Hampshire volunteers, Captain J. H. Roberts; One Hundred and Fifteenth New York volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel N. J. Johnson. Colonel J. W. Moore, Two Hundred and Third Pennsylvania volunteers, behaved with the most distinguished gallantry. He was killed while passing the second traverse of the fort in advance of his regiment, waving his colors. Few equalled, none surpassed this brave officer.

Lieutenant-Colonel S. M. Zent, in command of the Thirteenth Indiana, with his own regiment and a detachment of volunteers from the First brigade, numbering in all one hundred men, deployed within two or three hundred yards of the fort and by their fire materially aided our advance.

To my staff officers I am particularly indebted for their zeal and gallantry throughout the day; they were constantly passing to and fro, and exposed to the hottest fire.

I would respectfully recommend that they be brevetted for their services. Captain Charles A. Carleton, A. A. G.; Captain A. G. Lawrence, Acting A. D. C.; Captain H. C. Lockwood, A. D. C.; Captain R. W. Dawson, Assistant Inspector-General; Captain J. S. Mathews, Provost Marshal; Captain B. B. Keeler, Mustering Officer.

Captain Lawrence was the first man through the palisading, and while extending his hand to receive a guidon which he intended to place on the parapet of the work, a shell exploded near him, taking off his left arm and seriously injuring his throat. He was afterward shot in the right arm. For his services on this occa|sion, as well as those on a former one, I most earnestly urge his promotion. Captain Dawson was disabled by a wound in the left arm. To Captain Lockwood, General Whiting and

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