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Fisher. This was a matter left entirely to the discretion of the commanding officer. The expedition sailed from Fort Monroe on the morning of the 6th, arriving on the rendezvous, off Beaufort, on the 8th, where, owing to the difficulties of the weather, it lay until the morning of the 12th, when it got under way and reached its destination that evening. Under cover of the fleet the disembarkation of the troops commenced on the morning of the 13th, and by 3 p.m. was completed without loss. On the 14th a reconnaissance was pushed to within 500 yards of Fort Fisher,and a small advance work taken possession of and turned into a defensive line against any attempt that might be made from the fort. This reconnaissance disclosed the fact the front of the work had been seriously injured by the navy fire. In the afternoon of the 15th the fort was assaulted, and after most desperate fighting was captured with its entire garrison and armament. Thus was secured, by the combined efforts of the navy and army, one of the most important successes of the war. Our loss was: Killed, 110; wounded, 536. On the 16th and 17th the enemy abandoned and blew up Fort Caswell and the works on Smith's Island, which were immediately occupied by us. This gave us entire control of the mouth of the Cape Fear River.*
At my request Major General B. F. Butler was relieved, and Major General E. O. C. Ord assigned to the command of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina.
The defense of the line of the Tennessee no longer requiring the force which had beaten and nearly destroyed the only army threatening it, I determined to find other fields of operation for General Thomas's troops - fields from which they would co-operate with other movements. General Thomas was therefore directed to collect all troops not essential to hold his communications at Eastport in readiness for orders. On the 7th of January General Thomas was directed, if he was assured of the departure of Hood south from Corinth, to send General Schofield with his corps east with as little delay as possible. This direction was promptly complied with, and the advance of the corps reached Washington on the 23rd of the same month, whence it was sent to Fort Fisher and New Berne. On the 26th he was directed to send General A. J. Smith's command and a division of cavalry to report to General Canby. By the 7th of February the whole force was en route for its destination.
The State of North Carolina was constituted into a military department, and General Schofield assigned to command, and placed under the orders of Major-General Sherman. The following instructions were given him:
CITY POINT, VA., January 31, 1865.
Major General J. M. SCHOFIELD:
GENERAL: * * * Your movements are intended as co-operative with Sherman's through the States of South and North Carolina. The first point to be attained is to secure Wilmington. Goldsborough will then by your objective point, moving either from Wilmington or New Berne, or both, as you deem best. Should you not be able to reach Goldsborough, you will advance on the line or lines of railway connecting that place with the sea-coast, as near to it as you can, building the road behind you. The enterprise under you has two objects: The first is to give General Sherman material aid, if needed, in his march north; the second, to open a base of supplies for him on his line of march. As soon, therefore, as you can determine which of the two points. Wilmington or New Berne, you can best use for throwing supplies from to the interior, you will commence the accumulation of twenty days' rations and forage for 60,000 men and 20,000 animals. You will get of these as many as you can house and protect to such point in the interior as you
*Subordinate reports of Terry's expedition will appear in Vol. XLVI.
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