I wrote to Adm. Porter to urge him to maintain his presence near Fort Fisher while I organize a new landing expedition.
CITY POINT, VA., December 30, 1864.
Commanding North Atlantic Blockading Squadron:
Please hold on where you are for a few days and I will endeavor to be black again with an increased force and without the former commander. It is desirable the enemy should be lulled into all the security possible, in hopes he will send back here or against Sherman the re-enforcements sent to defend Wilmington. At the same time it will be necessary to observe that the enemy does not intrench further, and if the attempts it to prevent it. I will suggest whether it may not be made to appear that the ordinary blockading squadron is doing this. You, however, understand this matter much better than I do.
I cannot say what day or troops will be down. Your dispatch to the Secretary of the Navy, which informed me that you were still off Wilmington, and still thought the capture of that place practicable, was only received to-day. I took immediate steps to have transports collected, and am assured they will be ready with the coal and water on board by noon of the 2nd of January. There will be [no] delay in embarking and sending off the troops.
There is not a soul here except my chief of staff, assistant adjutant-general, and myself knows of this intended renewal of our effort against Wilmington. In Washington but two persons know of it, and, I am assured, will not. The commander of the expedition will probably be Major-General Terry. He will not know of it until he gets out to sea. He will go with sealed orders. It will not be necessary for me to let troops or commander know even that they are going any place until the steamers intended to carry them reach Fortress Monroe, as I will have all rations and other stores loaded beforehand.
The same troops that were with the first expedition, re-enforced by a brigade, will maintain themselves until re-enforcements can be sent.
Please answer by bearer and designate when you will have the fleet congregated.
U. S. GRANT,
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 190-1
O.R., I, xlii, part 3, p 1100-1