Admiral Porter writes to Sherman that he hopes Sherman hurries to North Carolina to take Fort Fisher, after Butler bungled it. Apparently Porter doesn’t have a very high opinion of political generals. Unfortunately I think that Porter is unaware of the change of plans that will have Sherman marching to South Carolina rather than moving by ship.
At Sea, off coast of North Carolina, December 29, 1864.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN, U. S. Army,
Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:
MY DEAR GENERAL: I send Captain Breese to communicate with you, and tell you about matters and things in this quarter. I congratulate you on your success, which I knew was sure when you started. I told the world you would be off Savannah on the 10th, and you were not far off on that day. I feel certain that you are in Savannah to-day, or will be there in a week.
When you have captured that place I invite you to add to your brow the laurels thrown away by General Butler after they were laid at his feet by the navy, and which neither he nor those with him had the courage to gather up. I felt sure that it would be so when we started on the expedition. We attacked Fort Fisher, silenced it, blew it up, burned it out, and knocked it to pieces. An officer belonging to the small skirmishing party of twenty men sent out by the force that landed on the beach went on the parapet of Fort fisher and brought away the flag that we had shot down. A sergeant went through the sally port into the fort, and met there a rebel orderly ready to mount a horse for the purpose of carrying a letter. He killed the orderly, searched his body, found the dispatch, mounted the horse and rode out of the fort. Another soldier went in and brought out a mule that was stowed away in a bomb-proof; another fired his musket at a crowd of covering wretches stowed away in the bomb-proof.
Notwithstanding all this General Butler decided not to attack Fort fisher, “as the navy fire has not injured it as a defensive work!” Great heavens! what are we coming to? Well, I think that Providence intended it to be so; and it rests with you to add new honors to your name, already famous, notwithstanding the newspaper reporters. This is merely on your way to Richmond.
Take this place and you take the “creme de la creme” of the rebellion. I leave to Captain Breese to tell you all my views; and I do hope, my dear General, that you will second me here and let our people see the folly of employing such generals as Butler and Banks. I have tried them both, and God save me from further connection with such generals. With you I feel sure of success, and shall bless the day when I shall once more see your esteemed self in our midst. A host of old friends are here to welcome you, and show you the most magnificent naval fight you ever laid your eyes on. I hope soon to see you here. I have much to tell you that will astonish you.
Very truly and sincerely, yours,
DAVID D. PORTER,