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A VISIT TO FORT FISHER.
of the failure may be found in the lack of co-operation on the part of the fleet with the land forces, at the beginning. During the delay caused by the first three days' waiting for the fleet, at the rendezvous, and the succeeding gale, the Confederates were apprised of the expedition, and took sufficient measures to meet and frustrate it. Wilmington was denuded of troops and the army was waiting off Fort Fisher, at the middle of December, when the garrison of that work consisted of only six hundred and sixtyseven men. It was nine hundred strong when Weitzel stood before it, and at least seven thousand men were within forty-eight hours' march of it. General Bragg had been called back from Georgia, and was in command there, which some Confederate officers say was the reason the whole of the National troops landed on the beach above Fort Fisher were not captured.
The writer was an eye and ear witness to much that is here recorded (and a great deal more) concerning the first attack on Fort Fisher and its dependencies, having been invited by both General Butler and Admiral Porter to accompany the expedition.' He visited Fort Fisher and its vicinity, from the land, after the war, when on his way southward, to the battle-fields and other places of interest in the late Slave-labor States. It was in March, 1866, that the author left Washington City, and journeyed by steamer, on the Potomac, to Aquia Creek, and thence by railway through Fredericksburg, Richmond, Petersburg, Weldon, and Goldsboro', to Wilmington, on the Cape Fear River, where, in the family of his excellent friend, Edward Kidder, he found a pleasant and hospitable home for two or three days.
■ March 27, 1866.
Major Mann, the post commander at Wilmington, kindly offered to take the author, in a government tug, to Fort Fisher, and on Monday morning," in company with that officer and a small party, we made an interesting voyage down the Cape Fear. At almost every mile of the way, we saw the remains of war, in the form of obstructions to navigation, and forts and batteries on the shore. We landed at Fort Anderson, fifteen miles below Wilmington, and visited the ruins of Brunswick Church, within its embankments, which was built before the old War for Independence.
It was well toward noon when we landed on Federal Point (called “Confederate Point," during the war), near Battery Buchanan, and traveled across the moor-like peninsula to Mound Battery and Fort Fisher. There we spent a few hours, examining the fortifications and sketching. It was on our return voyage that we met the colonel of the National Secret Service, mentioned in note 1, page 35, volume II. Early the following morning I left Wilmington, and journeyed into the interior by railway, as far as Florence, where I turned southward and sea-ward, and, by the Northeastern railroad, reached Charleston that evening, at twilight. The latter portion of our journey was a very interesting one. We swept for more than two miles through a blazing pine-forest, and traversed the great swamps along the margins of the Santee River, which we crossed late in the afternoon. Ten days before, I had left Philadelphia in a snow-storm; now I was among
1 See pages 511 and 514, volume I.
2 Among other obstructions were sunken hulks. One of these was the famous Arctic, one of the vessels of the Grinnell Expedition to the Polar Seas, conducted by Dr. Kane, in search of Sir John Franklin, in 1850.
A VISIT TO CHARLESTON HARBOR.
spring blossoms, and the dark swamps were glowing, as with sunlight, with the flowers of the trailing yellow jasmine.
At Charleston the writer was the guest of a friend who had endured the fiery furnace of war through which that city had passed. His elegant residence was in what was lately the suburbs of the city, and beyond the reach of shells from Morris Island. In company with one of his sons, who was in the Confederate army, at Charleston, I visited every place of interest in and around that city and harbor. General Devens, then in command there, kindly gave us the use of the government barge, fully equipped and manned, and in it we visited Castle Pinckney, and Forts Ripley, Johnson, Gregg, Wagner, Sumter, and Moultrie. We lunched at Fort Wagner, and picked delicate violets from the marsh sod among the sand dunes over the grave
of the gallant Colonel Shaw and his dusky fellow-martyrs. We rambled over the heaps of Fort Sumter, and made the sketch of the interior seen on page 465; and then we passed over to Fort Moultrie, which I had visited eighteen years before, when it was in perfect order. Now it was sadly changed. Its form and dimensions had been altered; and missiles from the National fleet had broken its tasteful sally-port and plowed its parapets and parade with deep furrows.
The writer spent a week in Charleston, making notes and sketches, during which time Easter Sunday occurred, and he worshiped in the venerable St. Michael's Church, then decorated with wreaths and festoons of evergreens and the beautiful white flowers of the laurel. Its ceiling, torn by a message carried by Gillmore's "Swamp Angel," was yet unrepaired, and the Tables of the Law in the chancel recess, demolished by the same agency, had not been replaced. The various buildings in which the Secession conventions. were held, were all in ruins. These, and the tomb of Calhoun, within a few yards of the spot where the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession was signed; the statue of William Pitt, in front of the Orphan House; the headquarters of officers in the city, and the National Arsenal, fronting on Ashley Street, were all objects of great historic interest. At the latter place was the little six-pounder iron cannon, made rough as oak-bark by rust,
2 See page 105, volume I.
3 See page 207.
See page 105, volume I.
1 See page 205. 5 The grave of Calhoun is in St. Philip's church-yard (see page 104, volume I.), just back of the ruins of the South Carolina Institute (see page 19, volume I.), and the Circular church. When the writer was in Charleston, at the time we are considering, he was informed by a general officer that once on returning to the Mills House, after a social party, at about midnight, he heard a screech-owl in the ruined tower of the Circular church, making its unpleasant noise, within the distance of the sound of a man's voice from the remains of the grave of Calhoun, the great apostle of Disunion. In the heart of the city which he and his disciples fondly hoped would be the commercial emporium of a great empire founded on human slavery, "the bats and owls" made "night hideous." See note 2, page 158, volume I. It may be mentioned, in this connection, as a curious fact, given to the writer by an old resident of Charleston, that not one of the Palmetto Guard, of which Edmund Ruffin (see page 48, volume I.) was a volunteer, who fired on Fort Sumter, and first entered and took possession of it in the name of the Conspirators (see page 330, volume I.), was living at the close of 1865, or six months after the war ceased.
BEAUFORT, HILTON HEAD, AND SAVANNAH.
which was fired back of the old post-office, in honor of the passage of the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession. It was also fired when news reached Charleston that similar action of the Conspir
ators in other States had taken place. For this reason it was known as the Secession Gun..
The writer voyaged from Charleston to Beaufort, on a beautiful April day, in the steamer Emilie-the same that conveyed Jefferson Davis as a prisoner from Savannah
to Fortress Monroe. We arrived at the latter place toward evening, but in time. for the author to visit and sketch objects of interest in that "Deserted Village." Among these was the house of Edmund Rhett, the reputed gathering-place of plotters against the
Republic, mentioned in
note 2, page 565, volume II. Thence, on the following day, the author sailed in a small yacht to Hilton Head, stopping on the way at Spanish Fort and Smith's Plantation, as mentioned in the note just cited. At Hilton Head he enjoyed the hospitalities of General Burns' and his interesting family. That offi
EDMUND RHETT'S HOUSE.
cer kindly furnished him with a conveyance to Savannah, in the Government steamer Resolute, accompanied by the teachers of the Freedman's School at Mitchelville, and the chaplain of the post, the Rev. Mr. Woart. We had a delightful voyage. We stopped at Fort Pulaski, and arrived at Savannah at sunset. From that city the author journeyed by railway to Augusta and Atlanta, in Georgia, and Montgomery, in Alabama, and thence by steamer to Mobile and New Orleans.
1 See page 412, volume II.
FURTHER DESIGNS AGAINST FORT FISHER.
CAPTURE OF FORT FISHER, WILMINGTON, AND GOLDSBORO. - SHERMAN'S MARCH THROUGH THE CAROLINAS.-STONEMAN'S LAST RAID.
Dec. 6, 1864.
ENERAL GRANT was greatly disappointed by the result of the expedition against Fort Fisher, and in his General Report of the Operations of the Army,"
* July 22,
he severely censured General Butler, and charged him with "direct violation of the instructions given," by the "re-embarkation of the troops and return of the expedition." In those instructions. General Grant had said: "Should such landing [on the beach above the entrance to the Cape Fear] be effected whilst the enemy still holds Fort Fisher and the batteries guarding the entrance to the river, then the troops should intrench themselves, and, by co-operating with the navy, effect the reduction and capture of those places." Instead of doing so, Butler re-embarked his troops, after the reconnoissance to the front of Fort Fisher. He claimed, in justification, that the conditions precedent to intrenching were lacking, in that he had not effected a landing, as only twenty-two hundred of his six thousand five hundred men. had reached the shore, and without a single gun, when the sea ran SO high that no more guns or men could be landed, and that provisions could reach the shore only by being headed up in casks, and sent on rafts. He also said that the navy had nearly exhausted its ammunition, and could not be expected to co-operate with the troops in further assault until supplied; and that he had positive information that Confederate troops, larger in number than the whole military force of the expedition, were nigh at hand. At the request of General Grant, General Butler was relieved, and General E. O. C. Ord was assigned to the command of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina.
On being informed that the fleet had not left the vicinity of Fort Fisher, General Grant wrote to Admiral Porter, asking him to remain, • Dec. 30. and promising to send a force immediately, to make another attempt to capture the Confederate defenses at the mouth of the Cape Fear. He selected for the enterprise the same troops led by Weitzel, with the addition of a thin brigade of fourteen hundred men, and two batteries.1 This force, numbering about eight thousand men, was placed under the com
1 The troops consisted of 3,300 picked men from the Second Division of the Twenty-fourth Army Corps, under General Adelbert Ames; the same number from the Third Division of the Twenty-fifth Army Corps, under General Charles J. Paine; 1,400 men from the First Division of the Twenty-fourth Army Corps, under Colonel J. C. Abbott, Seventh New Hampshire; Sixteenth New York Independent Battery, with four 8-inch guns, and a light battery of the Third Regular Artillery, with six light 12-pounders.
SECOND EXPEDITION AGAINST FORT FISHER.
485 mand of General Alfred H. Terry, with instructions to proceed in transports from Fortress Monroe, as speedily as possible, to the Cape Fear River, and report the arrival to Admiral Porter. To Lieutenant-Colonel Comstock, who accompanied the former expedition, was assigned the position of chief engineer of this. The general instructions did not differ essentially from those given to General Butler. In them, Terry was informed that a siege train would be at his disposal at Fortress Monroe, if he should require it, to consist, as he was told by the Lieutenant-General, of twenty 30-pounder Parrott guns, four 100-pounder Parrotts, and twenty Cohorn mortars, with a sufficient number of artillerists and engineers. General Sheridan was directed to send a division to Fortress Monroe, to follow, in case of need.
The new expedition left Hampton Roads on the 6th of January," and on the 8th rendezvoused off Beaufort, North Carolina, where Porter was supplying his vessels with coal and ammunition. Rough weather kept all the vessels there until the 12th, when they went down the coast, the war-vessels in three lines, accompanied by the transports, and appeared off Fort Fisher that evening. In the same order the navy took position the next morning, and at eight o'clock nearly two hundred boats, besides steam tugs, began the landing of the troops, under cover of the fire of the fleet, a part of which had already attacked Fort Fisher. At three o'clock in the afternoon eight thousand troops were on the shore, their pickets exchanging shots with an outpost of Hoke's division, which was still there.
Terry first wisely provided against an attack in the rear, from the direction of Wilmington, by casting up intrenchments across the peninsula, and thus also securing its free use to Masonboro' Inlet, where, if necessary, troops and supplies might be landed in still water. This was done a short distance above the head of Myrtle Sound, and about four miles from Fort Fisher. The first line was completed at nine o'clock that evening; another was made a mile nearer the fort, and still another within about two miles of the works. At the latter, on the morning of the 14th, the troops were in a defensible position, behind strong breast works, extending from the Cape Fear River to the sea, and partially covered by abatis. This being accomplished without serious difficulty, the landing of the lighter guns was commenced, and was completed that evening. Before morning they were all in battery, mostly near the Cape Fear, where the Confederates, if they should attack, would be the least exposed to the fire of the fleet. Thus a firm footing was gained on Federal Point, near Fort Fisher; and it was made more secure by the seizure of a small, unfinished outwork in front of the west end of the land face of that fortification, by Curtis's brigade of Ames's division, which was thrown forward for the purpose. Whilst making that movement, the brigade captured a small steamer coming down the river with shells and forage for the garrison.
The successful movement, thus far, against the fort, planned by General Terry, partook of all the elements of a siege, without some of its important operations on his part. He landed far up the beach, and made approaches without the necessity of zigzag intrenchments to protect his heavy guns, for none were needed, the batteries for that work being afloat in Porter's fleet.