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STORY XXI.

CAPTURE OF FORT HATTERAS.

A NAVAL and military expedition was fitted out and sailed from Hampton Roads on Monday, the 26th of August, 1861, without notifying the New York reporters, and, consequently, the public were not advised of it, either North or South, in time to frustrate the purposes of the Government.

The destination of the armament was Forts Hatteras and Clark, which commanded Hatteras Inlet, the principal entrance to Albemarle and Pamlico Sour and key to the North Carolina interior coast, the principal rendezvous and headquarters of the pirates and smugglers.

The fleet consisted of the frigates Minnesota and Wabash, the sloop-of-war Pawnee, the Cumberland, the Susquehanna, the Monticello, the Harriet Lane, the steamers Adelaide and George Peabody, two propellers, a large number of schooners, barges, and other small craft. The fleet was under command of Flag-Officer Stringham. Its armament was upwards of 100 guns.

The land forces, commanded by General Butler, were shipped on board the Adelaide and George Peabody, and consisted of 500 of the Twentieth New York, Colonel Weber; 220 of the Ninth New York, Colonel Hawkins; 100 of the Union Coast Guard, Captain Nixon, and 60 of the United States Artillery, Lieutenant Larned commanding; constituting a total force of 880 men, designed to operate, in conjunction with the fleet, against the Rebel forts.

The fleet arrived off Hatteras Inlet late on Tuesday afternoon, and the next morning, at day-break, dispositions were made for an attack upon the forts by the fleet and for landing the troops, which was found to be a difficult matter, owing to the previous prevalence of southwest gales, which caused the breaking of a heavy surf upon the beach.

Though a laborious effort was made to land the troops, only 315 were landed, including 55 marines from the fleet and a number of regulars. Fortunately, a rifled 12-pounder cannon and a 12-pound howitzer were also landed, when, the boats all being broken up or swamped and the wind rising, further landing was rendered impracticable. The landing had been eff under cover of shells from the Monticello and Harriet Lane, and those who reached the shore were thoroughly wet.

The bombardment was commenced by the Minnesota, about two miles and a half distant, on Wednesday, at eleven o'clock, A. M., and she was soon after joined by the whole fleet.

The scene was magnificent. The bombardment from the fleet was incessant, and the shells pitched into the forts and exploded with terrible effect; the forts responding at long intervals. After about three hours, the nearest fort (Fort Clark) was silenced, and its flag struck, the garrison abandoning it and taking refuge in Fort Hatteras.

A small party of the Coast Guard, led by Mr. Wiegel, a volunteer aid, advanced and took possession of the abandoned fort, and raised the American flag.

The Monticello which, to protect the land force, had reached the inlet and unfortunately grounded, became the object of a terrible fire from Fort Hatteras, to which she replied sharply with shell, and held her own for fifty minutes, in which time she threw fifty-five shells, partially silencing her assailants. She finally succeeded in getting off, and withdrew for repairs, having had seven 8-inch shells shot through her, one of them below water, and one or two men slightly bruised, but no others hurt.

As night was approaching, and the weather appeared threatening, prudence required the ships to make an offing. It was reluctantly done, leaving the troops on shore, a part of them in possession of Fort Clark, and the rest bivouacked on the beach near the place of landing, about two miles north of the forts.

At eight o'clock next morning, the fleet having approached as near as the depth of water would permit, the firing upon Fort Hatteras was renewed, first by the Susquehannah, and, in a few minutes, the fire of the entire fleet was concentrated upon that fort, which, for near half an hour, failed to reply, and after that its shots all fell short.

A large steamer came down the sound with reinforcements for the fort, but was prevented from landing by Captain Johnson, of the Coast Guard, who, with two guns that had been landed, and a 6-pounder found on shore, had constructed a sand battery, from which he opened fire upon the steamer, compelling her to retire.

The bombardment from the fleet continued without intermission till half-past eleven o'clock, when our shells began to range accurately upon the bomb-proof, where they were deposited with rapidity, and one of them actually passed down the ventilator into a room next to the magazine, where some three hundred terrified

Rebels had taken refuge from the bursting shells; but, fortunately for them, this unwelcome visitor failed to explode.

At this stage of imminent danger and great terror and excitement in the fort, a white flag was displayed in token of surrender; when our land forces under Colonel Weber, and those at Fort Clark, with loud shouts, started up the beach and were met by a flag of truce, and a signal was at the same time made for the flag-ship to cease firing.

General Butler, who was proceeding on board the propeller Fanny for the purpose of landing the rest of the troops, passed over the bar of the inlet into the channel just as the white flag appeared at the fort, and the Rebel steamer Winslow, with a large Secession force on board, which she had been prevented from landing, escaped up the sound, a shot from the Fanny failing to reach her.

General Butler then sent Lieutenant Crosby on shore to demand the meaning of the white flag. The boat soon returned bringing Mr. Wiegel, with the following note from the commandant of the fort:

Memorandum. Flag-officer Samuel Barron, C. S. Navy, offers to surrender Fort Hatteras, with all the arms and munitions of war; the officers allowed to go out with side arms, the men, without arms, to retire.

S. BARRON, Commanding naval defence, Va. and N. C. Fort Hatteras, August 29, 1861.”

He also sent, at the same time, a verbal communication purporting “that he had in the fort 715 men, and 1,000 more within an hour's call, but that he was anxious to spare the effusion of blood.” General Butler replied as follows:

706439

Memorandum. Benjamin F. Butler, Major-General United States Army, commanding, in reply to the communication of Samuel Barron, commanding the forces at Fort Hatteras, cannot admit the terms proposed. The terms offered are these—full capitulation; the officers and men to be treated as prisoners of war. No other terms admissible. Commanding officers to meet on board the flag-ship Minnesota, to arrange details,

August 29, 1861."

Lieutenant Crosby returned in three-quarters of an hour, bringing with him Captain Barron, Major Andrews, and Colonel Martin, of the Rebel forces, who informed General Butler that they accepted the terms proposed by him, and had come to surrender themselves and their commands as prisoners of war. The General replied, that as the expedition was formed of the army and navy, the surrender must be made on board the flag-ship, to Flag-officer Sringham, as well as to himself. They then went on board the Minnesota, where articles of capitulation were signed.

The surrender was in conformity with General Butler's proposal, unconditional, saving the stipulation that the officers and men should receive the treatment due to prisoners of war.

The capture comprised Forts Hatteras and Clarke, 35 cannon, 1,000 stand of arms, five stands of colors, a quantity of ammunition, hospital stores, two schooners, one loaded with tobacco, and the other with provisions, one brig loaded with cotton, two light-boats, two surfboats, 45 officers, several being of high rank, and 670 privates; the Rebels admitting a loss of 8 killed and 35 wounded. On our part there was no casualty whatever worthy of notice. This was owing mainly to our

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