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give him every facility.

Question. Did you notify him of the time the explosion was to take place ?

Answer. He was there with us.

Question. He was cognizant of it ?

Answer. I Suppose so. They were all told to look out; that the explosion
would take place that night. I sent word around to everybody not to go in ;
and ordered the blockading vessels to prevent anybody from going in, to keep
them out of the way of the explosion. I supposed General Butler was at
Masonboro' inlet.

Part HI 7



98 FORT FISHER EXPEDITION.

Question. Was there anything said between you and General Butler, orariny
officers, in relation to landing marines and sailors ?

Answer. Nothing at all.

Question. Did you form any opinion yourself in relation to the effect to be
produced by the explosion of the powder-vessel ?

Answer. I thought it likely to injure houses at a distance more than it would
injure the fort. I thought it would bring down a number of houses in Wilming-
ton and Smithville. I thought the concussion would be so great that it would
be likely to tumble down some of them. I remarked that the inhabitants at
Smithville certainly would be injured ; and I did suppose that a part of the
garrison of Fort Fisher might be so injured that they would not be able to
defend the fort. But since I have seen the effects of the explosion of powder
down there in Fort Fisher and Fort Caswell, I have come to the conclusion
that the exploding of powder in the open air is a great waste.

Question. How was the powder- vessel exploded ?

Answer. The hold of the vessel was filled with barrels of powder with the
heads taken out. There is what is called a Gomez fuze, which will ignite and
burn very rapidly, at the rate of a mile in seven seconds, and even quicker than
that, at the rate of a mile in four seconds ; seven seconds is the longest time.
After these barrels were opened the powder was put in bags over the barrels,
and the whole piled up below, with this fuze winding through in every direc-
tion. After that was done there was another deck, with the hatches on, and with
holes bored all through, so as to secure good ignition. The same process was
carried out there, so that it could have been nothing but an instantaneous ex-
plosion. Then we had three or four fuzes to be fired by clock-work, one to go
by candle-work, all leading to the Gomez fuze. That was placed in a room
about twenty feet from the powder ; and, to make all things sure, we set fire to
the bulkheads, so that the vessel would burn. According to our time-pieces,
the dock-work failed, but the fire ignited the Gomez fuze, and the explosion
must have been very instantaneous. It was very heavy. But if any one could have
seen the effect of the powder that exploded in those forts down there — in one
case, sixty tons, closely confined — and how little damage it did to anybody,
they would get rid of the delusion of expecting much from the explosion of
powder in the open air. It did not injure any one one hundred and fifty
yards off.

Question. In your opinion, did the whole of that powder explode?

Answer. Yes, sir; it must have done so. At Hatteras inlet, one hundred
and twenty miles off, the houses were shaken so severely that the people thought
there was an earthquake. Why we did not feel more effect from it on the
vessels I do not know.

Question. How soon after the explosion did you commence the attack?

Answer. The powder- vessel was exploded about half after two, and the attack
was commenced about eleven o'clock. There was not time enough for people
to recover from or repair damages.

Question. Did you commence the attack as soon as you could ?

Answer. Yes, sir ; we stood in. The vessels were very slow, for there was quite
a fresh breeze blowing off the land; and to get a large fleet of seventy or eighty
vessels into position is not an easy job in the night. At daylight we stood in
until we got within two miles of the fort. The wind came off the land so strong
that, in anchoring, the vessels anchored bow on. I gave the signal to anchor,
and, when the wind got back to the old place again, I made the signal to up
anchor, which takes time. I think that from the time we commenced moving
in we did not lose any time.

Question. You had steam up?

Answer. Yes, sir. On those occasions steam is always kept up all the time.



FORT FISHER EXPEDITION. 99

Question. You spoke about letting the steam go down at the time of the ex-
plosion.

Answer. It was only a half an hour's work to get steam up. The water in
the boilers was all warm, and the moment the explosion was made they fired up.
Question. You continued to bombard the fort during that day ?
Answer. Yes, sir. We had it completely knocked to pieces, the guns all
silenced, dismounted, or filled up with sand, and the palisading all demolished.
Question. About what time did the transports of General Butler arrive ?
Answer. They commenced coming in by 4 or 5 o'clock, and were all there by
sundown.

Question. Too late to make the landing that night, I suppose.
Answer. Not at all ; they could have landed without any trouble.
Question. Was any proposition made to land]
Answer. I made none ; I let them do as they pleased.
Question. At what time did the landing begin next morning 1
Answer. The order was to commence landing about daylight in the morning.
I ordered the vessels out to anchor, and we made all the arrangements with
General Weitzel the night before. An hour after General Weitzel came on
board the vessels went to the landing place, but not a man was landed before
12 o'clock in the day.

Question. Why was the landing delayed so long?

Answer. It was the fault of the army. The boats were alongside the ves-
sels, ready to receive the men. All the boats were lying there on their oars,
off ship, waiting to be called. They had no system, no plan for landing or-
ganized. Half a division was in one set of vessels, and the other half in another
set. In fact, the whole thing was a bungle ; but that did not make much dif-
ference, for they could have got the men on the beach, and could have organized
them there.

Question. Did you ever hear any reason why they did not land sooner ?
Answer. I did not. Captain Glisson was the officer in charge. He could
tell all about that.

Question. Had you been shelling the fort during the morning ?
Answer. We commenced right early.
Question. Did the fort respond ?

Answer. Only one or two guns when we first stood in. The fort was com-
pletely silenced throughout the day. They fired one or two guns from a place
called Mound battery, which did no harm at all. They had nothing at all to
do with the main fort.

Question. Was it possible for you to have run your vessels by the fort 1
Answer. It was .perfectly impossible. In the first place, there was not water
enough there for an operation of that kind. Yessels can run past batteries only
where there is a known channel and plenty of water. Most of the time there
is two feet less of water on the bar than our vessels draw. Our vessels draw
from nine to ten feet of water, and we have to get our vessels over with a great
deal of care, and with a pilot. After we had buoyed out the channel and knew
all about it, our vessels grounded, and it took us four days to get them the
distance of a mile, pushing them through the mud. When we first went there
nobody knew where the channel was ; and when we had taken the place, we
had boats sunk which were sent to sound the channel.

Question. Did you have any doubts about the success of the expedition ¥
before you left fortress Monroe ?

Answer. Never ; I was as certain of it as of anything in the world.
Question. Did you ever write or express any doubts 1

Answer. Yes, sir ; I did express great doubts if General Butler had anything
to do with the expedition. I thought if there was a possibility of a failure he
would cause it, and I expressed my opinion accordingly.



100 FORT FISHER EXPEDITION.

Question. To whom did you express such an opinion as that 1

Answer. I expressed it to Mr, Fox. I wrote to him and told him what I
thought. When this thing was first proposed, I told General Grant that I
wished it expressly understood that general Butler was to have nothing to do
with the expedition, for if any one in the world would make the expedition fail
he would. I do not think General Butler is a soldier; he is not a man who
should be intrusted with the lives of men. I have been with him a great deal ;
although he has good administrative abilities and all that sort of thing, he is not
a soldier.

Question. How was it in relation to ammunition. Did you have a full sup-
ply during the first assault ?

Answer. Yes, sir; we had to fill up again after we got through, but we had
our ammunition vessels there. We fired away pretty much all we had on the
vessels, and had to haul out and fill up again.

Question. Did you have to send away for ammunition ?

Answer. Yes, sir, to Beaufort ; but we got it down in good time.

Question. Was there enough at Beaufort to keep up the supply ?

Answer. Yes, sir ; I could have kept up the supply every hour, if I had
kept boats enough going. There was no trouble about ammunition except get-
ting it on board the vessels. I never had but one ship that ceased firing for
want of ammunition, and she filled up again in half an hour.

Question. After the bombardment on the 24th and 25th of December, did
you then find yourself exhausted of ammunition ?

Answer. Some of the large vessels were entirely out of ammunition, but I
had thousands of it in Beaufort. I had them all filled up again in a day and a
half after the action, and they took it on board in very bad weather.

Question. How long a time would it take you to supply vessek with ammu-
nition from Beaufort ?

Answer. After firing away every shot, I could fill up again in twenty-four
hours. I had vessels all filled, and steamers to take them in tow and bring
them down, and the vessels help themselves to what they want. It was a mere
matter of smooth weather, as far as that was concerned. I had 60,000 or
70,000 rounds of ammunition down there, and we fired away only about 25,000
rounds, leaving us 50,000 over ; and I had vessels coming every day from Nor-
folk. We fired about 45,000 rounds in the two fights.

Question. Did you have such a supply of ammunition that you could have
protected the army on shore, provided General Butler had landed his men there,
and they had been attacked by the enemy ]

Answer. Yes, sir, for three years ; and not only that, but I could keep off
150,000 men, if they should come against them, without any trouble. The whole
neck of land is only a mile wide, perfectly free of woods and everything else.
We could have kept that clear with musketry. The gunboats lay within 100
yards of the beach, and during the heaviest gale we have had this season we did
not leave there.

By Mr. Loan :

Question. I understood you to say that several guns of the fort had been dis-
abled by your fire.

Answer. About four or five were knocked off their carriages and broken.
The guns were all disabled, the sand being thrown into the muzzles of those
that were not knocked over or broken.

Question. All of them?

Answer. Well they did not fire them.

Question. What means had you of knowing that they were disabled by sand
being thrown into their muzzles ?

Answer. We could judge by seeing the sand thrown over the guns. I have



POET FISHER EXPEDITION. 101

had so much fort fighting to do in this war that I could judge of the effect of
that. That was ahout the nineteenth or twentieth fort I have taken, most all
of them having been disabled in that way. At one fort at Grand Gulf, Missis-
sippi, we buried the guns up so that we had to dig them out ; there was not a
single gun hurt.

Question. What I want is to get a definite statement in regard to the number
of guns that were disabled by the first bombardment, as far as you know.

Answer. All that we know that were knocked off their carriages were four
or five at the most. But from what we saw of the second bombardment, and
from everything else, we know the others were filled up with sand. And not
only that, the sand-bags falling down on the traverses disabled the guns. We
know that from what the prisoners told us.

Question. General Weitzel and Colonel Comstock made a reconnoissance of
the condition of the fort after you had silenced the guns ?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Do you know what means they had for making an accurate re-
connoissance ?

Answer. They were within about 800 yards of the work. They could only
judge by the immense size of the work, and they concluded that the fort was
strongly manned. Only on that ground could they say it was still in a defen-
sive condition, which would have been the case if it had been strongly manned.!

Question. Did they have the same means of knowing the fort was disabled
as you had ?

Answer. I should think they had better, if they looked pretty close. But I
do not think they wanted to think so.

Question. Is General Weitzel recognized as a skilful engineer ?

Answer. Yes, sir ; that is his reputation.

Question. What was the position occupied by Colonel Comstock at that
time?

Answer. He was a colonel on General Grant's staff.

Question. Was he the chief engineer upon General Grant's staff at that time ?

Answer. I do not know whether he was or not. General Weitzel. was not
there in the capacity of engineer, but in the capacity of general; Colonel Corn-
stock was in the capacity of an engineer, I suppose.

Question. Notwithstanding General Weitzel was there in the capacity of a
general, he was still skilled in engineering science ?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And Colonel Comstock was an engineer on the staff of General
Grant, and was there in his official capacity as an engineer]

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. If the guns of the fort were silenced entirely by your fire, why
could you not make soundings and run into Cape Fear river with your light-
draught vessels ?

Answer. Because, in the first place, we did not know where the channel was.
It has been very much altered since the coast survey charts were made. There
is a bar across the channel, and another bar above that on the reef has very
little water on it. There is a heavy fort, called Fort Buchanan, that com-
mands that reef, and was built on purpose to command it. On the opposite
side of the river is a fort called Rives's Fort, built to command that reef also.

Question. What relation had that bar to Fort Fisher 1

Answer. None at all, except as one of the connecting links. This fort was
built expressly to command the bar, where every vessel must bring up.

Question. How far up Cape Fear river is that reef?

Answer. It is under the guns of Fort Fisher, Fort Buchanan, Mound battery,
Rives's Point, and protected by batteries besides. It is only at very high tide
that we can get our vessels over. With the best of pilots our vessels would all



102 FORT FISHER EXPEDITION.

stick badly, except a little tug. And suppose they had got across the bar, they
would have to run a battery of thirty heavy guns. They had an immense num-
ber of batteries in every direction, the least quantity of powder in them being
400 pounds. From the torpedo battery they had a wire 'leading to every one
of these torpedoes. Suppose a vessel goes up — ODly one can go at a time in the
best of weather — a torpedo is exploded; if it misses, then the next one may ex-
plode and sink the vessel, and a single vessel would close up the whole channels
If the vessel gets past all the batteries and torpedoes, then she finds five feet of
water, or six feet at the most, on the reef at low tide. Even the lightest block-
ade runner has to wait a day sometimes to get over the bar; and then the vessel
finds some twenty-odd guns bearing on her from every direction, and any
wooden vessel would be destroyed in ten minutes. In the first place, it is im-
possible for any vessel to go in. The only chance of getting in is with a good
pilot, having the channel all buoyed out, and no torpedoes in the way.

Question. How did you ascertain that those torpedoes were there 1

Answer. We took the torpedoes up.

Question. Did you know the torpedoes were there at the time of the first
attack 1

Answer. We knew it. But still it would not have made any difference ; I,
should not have run by if I had known there were no torpedoes there.

Question. Not knowing that those torpedoes were there, of course they were
no objection to your running by ?

Answer. Not at all. I never stopped at torpedoes; I should never have
hesitated for torpedoes ; the real cause was the inability to cross the bar. If
there had been 5,000 torpedoes there we should have gone in if we could.

Question. What effect had the explosion of the powder-vessel upon your
vessels?

Answer. They were lying about thirteen miles off. The explosion sounded
like a gun fired from some other vessel ; that was the only effect it had, like a
very sharp report of a gun.

Question. It disabled nothing, and had no paralyzing influence upon any of
your men ? ,.

Answer. Not at all.

Question. What quantity of powder was exploded in Fort Caswell?

Answer. As near as we could tell, they had about sixty tons in Fort Caswell ;
and they had about the same amount in Fort Fisher; perhaps a little more,
because that was the main fort.

Question. What was the effect of those explosions in the forts ?

Answer. It had none at all, except just around about it. It killed and blew
up about 100 men. Those who were 150 yardB off were not injured at all.

By Mr. Gooch :

Question. Will you now go on and state all the events subsequent to the
withdrawal of the forces under General Butler, including the second attack
upon and the capture of the fort ?

Answer. I lay there, and filled up with ammunition. I received a letter
from General Grant, in which he says : " Dear Admiral : Hold on, if you
please, a few days longer, and I will send you more troops, with a different
general." I issued general orders to make preparations without delay. In a
few days General Terry came into Beaufort, and communicated with me in-
stantly. We were together all the time. I had written to General Grant,
" There is one thing I want you to impress upon the general, whoever he is
that comes here, I do not wish to interfere with military matters, but I do wish
to give my advice where weather is concerned, for I do profess to know how
weather is on the coast." And General Grant gave him full instructions to be
guided by my opinion in regard to all nautical matters. General Terry came



FORT FISHER EXPEDITION. 103

to Beaufort and asked my advice ; I said, '' It is going to blow a heavy gale
to-night ; hold on where you are. After this gale is over, we will have beau-
tiful weather;" and we planned the whole thing before we left Beaufort. I
had all his general orders printed for him on my flag-ship, and told him how
we would move. When the gale was over and it had cleared off, and all was
smooth, we started off early in the morning and arrived at Tort Fisher in the
night. We anchored within two or three miles of the beach. I sent in gun-
boats that night to anchor along the beach and hold it until daylight. At 4
o'clock in the morning I signalled to get under way and follow me, for at that
time it was getting to be daylight. I went in and put the soldiers ashore. In
five hours they were all landed. I made signal to the fleet to get under way to
attack the fort ; and at 4 o'clock we were hammering away at the fort. I did
it merely to show the troops how easily the tremendous fire of the navy could
stop the fire of the fort. The rebels had re-enforced the fort very heavily.
General Hoke had 8,000 rebel troops on the beach in front of our men ; but
they could not pass down the beach because our gunboats controlled every-
thing. The moment General Terry landed, he threw a line across the neck of
land, and had his men at work ; and in less than an hour after he landed he
had a line of works that could be defended against 30,000 men. The next
day he came on board my vessel. We bombarded the fort all day. He then
told me when he would be ready to assault. I said, " Now, general, I want to
participate in this thing. I do not want it said that I recommended to others
to attack a fort that we are afraid to attack ourselves ; and I will send on shore
2,000 men." He said he should attack the northwest angle of the fort; I said,
" I will take the hardest part, the. sea face, where there are no gates, and if we
don't do any other good, we will draw off a great deal of fire from you;" and-
such was the case. We had settled when the fleet was to stop fire on the fort.
We assaulted together ; the navy went at its face of the fort, and the army
went at its face. We got ahead a little too fast, and had to come back about
as fast as we went up. General Terry first made a feint on them. They
manned their works as well as they could, and partially drove the men back.
Thinking they had driven that party off they rushed to the sea face to drive
back our men. That gave the soldiers an opportunity to get a footing ; and
while the rebels came to drive us navy men away, the soldiers got possession
of about four to six casemates and held on to them. In the mean time the
sailors retreated as well as they could, and relieved the soldiers in front of
Hoke's men, and enabled General Terry to bring up more of his troops. That
gave him a couple of thousand more men. In the mean time I stopped firing
on the fort with the heavy vessels; but the Ironsides fired ahead of our troops,
from parapet to parapet, cleaning out the rebels. In the mean time, notwith-
standing the shells coming in amongst them, they would throw their men in,
and our fellows would be perhaps half an hour taking that part. That is the
way they fought for one mile, for that is the extent of that fort ; fighting from
one end of it to the Other. That was the most remarkable fight, I suppose,
that ever was fought. Every one of those bomb-proofs was a fort in itself,
and there were in that fort 2,300 men, and the most we had engaged at any
one time in the assault was 3,500 men, not counting the sailors, for they were
repulsed almost immediately. I suppose the whole thing was over in fifteen
minntes as far as the sailors were concerned; for they were cut down like
sheep. Never, at any time, did General Terry bring his whole force to bear
upon the fort. He brought in his reserves towards night ; but the whole thing
was over then. That was the end of that fight, commencing at 3 o'clock in
the afternoon. I had been hammering at the fort until there was not a gun on
the sea face that was left mounted. They were tumbled into all kinds of posi-
tions ; some cut in two ; some with their carriages broken, &c, &c. The army
had no guns to contend with. They got into the traverses, and there it was a



104 POET FISHER EXPEDITION.

fight between them and those inside. General Terry communicated all the
time with me by means of signals ; and I knew all the time how he was get-
ting on. At 10 o'clock he made signah " Don't fire any more ; the fort is
ours." General Terry had the same engineer as was down there before —
Colonel Comstock. I do not think Colonel Comstock is a man who would
encourage anybody to do a very daring thing ; he is very prudent, like most
engineers ; but General Terry thinks for himself. He saw how easy it was,
and went in and took it ; and I think there were the same troops all the way
through, and the same generals — Generals Curtis and Ames.



Lowell, Mass., March 11, 1865.

Dear Sir : I take leave to enclose to you a correspondence between myself
and the late rebel General Whiting, who was in command of the enemy's forces
at Port Fisher at the time of both attacks. General Whiting's answers to the
questions propounded may serve to throw some light upon the committee's in-
vestigations. It is true these answers are not made under oath, but they are
given by a man on his dying bed, and under the solemnity of his approaching
death, which has since almost immediately happened, and will therefore carry
the force of moral truth and certainty, although not in the form of judicial
evidence.

If the committee would desire to see me before them, for any purpose of ex-
planation or otherwise, I will appear forthwith.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

BENJ. F. BUTLER, Major General.

Hon. Benjamin F. Wade,

Chairman of the Committee on the Conduct of the War.



Lowell, Mass., February 22, 1865.

Sir : I requested, a short time ago, Lieutenant Davenport, a young gentleman



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