JAN. 13TH - 17TH, 1865

     Fort Fisher, N. C., Jan. 13-17, 1865.  Expedition under 
Gen. Terry, and North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Pursuant 
to orders from Gen. Grant, Maj.-Gen. A. H. Terry on Jan. 2, 
selected 1,400 men from the 2nd brigade, 1st division, 24th 
corps, under Col. J. C. Abbott; 3,300 from the 2nd division of 
the same corps under Brig.Gen. Adelbert Ames, 3,300 from the 
3rd division of the 25th corps, under command of Brig.-Gen. 
Charles J. Paine: 4 guns of the 16th N. Y. independent 
Battery, and Battery E, 3rd U. S. artillery, for an expedition 
against Fort Fisher.  The troops were embarked on transports 
at Bermuda landing on the 4th and joined the North Atlantic 
Squadron, under Adm. Porter, 25 miles off Beaufort, N. C. 
Owing to stormy weather the fleet did not reach the vicinity 
of Fort Fisher until late on the afternoon of the 12th and 
landing was postponed until next morning.  Fort Fisher was 
located on the narrow peninsula known as Federal point. 
between the Cape Fear river and the Atlantic ocean, and was 
garrisoned by a Confederate force of some 1,2OO men with 47 
pieces of heavy ordnance.  When the enemy learned of Terry's 
approach Gen. Whiting reinforced the garrison with 600 men and 
Gen. Hoke, with his division of 6,000 infantry and cavalry 
took a position on the peninsula north of the fort to prevent 
the Federals from landing.  About midnight of the 12th the 
gunboats began shelling the fort and at 4 a.m. on the 13th the 
transports moved close to the shore and the work of 
disembarking was commenced.  By 3 p.m. 8,000 men were on 
shore, each with 3 days' rations in his haversack and 40 
rounds of ammunition in his cartridge-box.  Terry's advance 
soon encountered Hoke's outposts and exchanged shots with 
them, the Confederates gradually retiring.  During the night 
Terry threw a line of intrenchments across the peninsula to 
guard against any attack from the rear, and early on the 
morning of the 14th the artillery was brought ashore and 
placed in the works.  Curtis' brigade of Ames' division moved 
toward the fort and gained possession of a small unfinished 
work facing the west end of the land front of the fort.  As a 
result of the reconnaissance Terry determined to attempt an 
assault the next day and sent word to Porter, who at once 
moved his gunboats nearer the fort for the purpose of 
cooperating with the land forces.  At 8 a.m. on the 15th, 
according to Terry's report, "all of the vessels, except a 
division left to aid in the defense of our northern line, 
moved into position, and a fire, magnificent alike for its 
power, was opened."  At 2 p.m. 60 sharpshooters from the 13th 
Ind., armed with Spencer repeating rifles, and 40 men from 
Curtis' brigade, advanced on a run to within 175 yards of the 
fort.  They were provided with shovels, and in the sandy soil 
each man soon had a pit to shelter him while he directed his 
fire to the parapet.  As soon as the sharpshooters had gained 
their position Curtis moved up to a slight ridge about 50 
yards in their rear, Pennypacker's brigade occupied the 
outwork just vacated by Curtis' and Bell's brigade was placed 
about 200 yards in the rear of Pennypacker.  At 3:25 p.m. the 
signal to advance was given.  Curtis' men sprang from their 
cover and dashed toward the fort, Pennypacker occupied the 
position along the little ridge, and Bell moved up to the 
outwork.  With Curtis were a number of axmen who did good 
service in making openings in the palisades, through which 
Curtis' line swept like a tornado and gained the parapet.  At 
the same time a column of sailors and marines, commanded by 
Capt. K. R. Breese, advanced up the beach and attacked the 
northeastern bastion, but were met by a murderous fire and 
compelled to retire to the boats.  As soon as Curtis had 
gained a firm foothold on the parapet Pennypacker was moved up 
to his support and in a few minutes drove the enemy from the 
palisades extending toward the river, after which he took a 
position on Curtis' right on the north face of the fort. 
Bell's brigade was now moved between the fort and the river. 
On this side there was no parapet, but the enemy found shelter 
in the holes from which the sand had been taken to construct 
the fort, and here some desperate hand to hand fighting 
occurred, the enemy falling back from one to another of the 
traverses of the land face of the fort and using these 
traverses for breastworks, from which they fired on the 
advancing Unionists at short range.  The contest for the 
possession of the traverses was continued until about 9 p.m., 
when Abbott's brigade drove the enemy from his last stand and 
Fort Fisher was in the hands of the Federal troops.  Several 
prisoners were captured by Pennypacker in his first assault on 
the palisades and the rest of the garrison surrendered.  About 
4 p.m. Hoke attempted a diversion by threatening an attack on 
Terry's line of intrenchments across the peninsula, but after 
a slight skirmish with the Union pickets abandoned his 
intention.  Terry's loss at Fort Fisher was 110 killed, 535 
wounded and 13 missing.  Gen. Bragg, commanding the 
Confederate forces, reported his loss as about 500 in killed 
and wounded and 2,083 captured.  With the prisoners all the 
stores, cannon, etc., fell into the hands of the Union forces. 
Besides the 47 heavy guns in position there were 122 pieces of 
artillery in the fort, 2,000 stand of small arms, full 
supplies of ammunition and a large quantity of commissary 
stores. Brig.-Gen. N. M. Curtis, Col. Galusha Pennypacker and 
First Lieut. John Wainwright, of the 97th Pa., and Private Z. 
C. Neahr, of the 142nd N. Y., were awarded medals of honor by 
Congress for distinguished bravery at Fort Fisher.  On the 
16th the enemy blew up Fort Caswell and Fort Campbell, and 
abandoned them, as well as their works at Smithville and at 
Reeves' point.

Source: The Union Army, vol. 5