‘By Secrecy the Enemy May Be Lulled’ – Grant Plans Once More

December 30, 1864 (Friday) Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, found himself in a quandary. Though the army wasn’t his branch, his navy had been drawn into the drama surrounding the debacle that was the almost-battle of Fort Fisher. General Benjamin Butler had landed a few thousand troops and then decided to call off theRead More

‘A Gross and Culpable Failure’ – Washington Reacts to the Fort Fisher Fiasco

December 28, 1864 (Wednesday) When General Grant had approved Benjamin Butler’s plan to take Fort Fisher, along Cape Fear, North Carolina, he was specific about what he expected. “My instructions to him, or to the officer who went in command of the expedition,” wrote Grant in his memoirs, “were explicit in the statement that toRead More

‘We Could Walk Right Into the Fort’ – Porter Unloads about Butler

December 27, 1864 (Tuesday) Admiral David Porter was not over-happy with General Benjamin Butler’s performance two days prior. Rather than stewing silently in his own anger, on this date, he vented to Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles. What follows is his complete letter. Sir: My dispatch of yesterday will give you an account ofRead More

‘Nothing Further That Can Be Done’ – Butler, Porter, and the (Almost) Battle of Fort Fisher

December 25, 1864 (Sunday – Christmas Day) The assault upon Fort Fisher was to be grand. True, it was not the first plan – that had been little more than a fizzle when a barge loaded with gunpowder was exploded near the fort to no effect at all. This second plan consisted of a landingRead More

‘Driving them All to their Bombproofs’ – The Bombardment of Fort Fisher

December 24, 1864 (Saturday – Christmas Eve) The idea to destroy a fort via a nearby explosion was hardly something new in the annals of warfare. When trying to convince the Lincoln administration to allow him to do just that against Fort Fisher, North Carolina, General Benjamin Butler’s Chief Engineer came up with a dozenRead More

‘In the Midst of Disasters All Around’ Wilmington and Fort Fisher to be Attacked!

December 23, 1864 (Friday) Since the blockade began with the start of the war, Cape Fear, along the North Carolina shore, had been more or less continually open. Contraband flowed freely into Wilmington, thirty miles up the Cape Fear River. The port was protected under the guns of Fort Fisher. Over the course of theRead More