“it was never contemplated that General Butler should accompany the expedition”

I wrote to Sec. Stanton with a report of my intentions regarding the expedition against Fort Fisher.

HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,

City Point, Va., January 7, 1865.

Respectfully forwarded.

To avoid publicity of the time of sailing and destination of the expedition against Fort Fisher, my orders to General Butler to prepare it were given verbally, and the instructions to the commanding officer of the expedition were made by him and submitted to me. I append to the report a copy of General Butler’s instructions to General Weitzel, together with copies of my written dispatches and instructions to General Butler, relating to the expedition.

It will be perceived that it was never contemplated that General Butler should accompany the expedition, but that Major General G. Weitzel was specially named as the commander of it. My hopes of success rested entirely on our ability to capture Fort Fisher (and I had even a hope of getting Wilmington) before the enemy could get troops there to oppose us. I knew that the enemy had taken nearly the entire garrison of Wilmington and its dependencies to oppose Sherman. I am inclined to ascribe the delay, which has cost us so dearly, to an experiment-I refer to the explosion of gunpowder in the open air.

My dispatches to General Butler will show his report to be in error where he states that he returned after having effected a landing in obedience to my instructions. On the contrary, these instructions contemplated no withdrawal, or no failure after a landing was made.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 241

O.R., I, xlii, part 1, p 970

“say to Sherman that if Foster will go to work and organize colored troops they can garrison the forts and islands”

I received the following from Sec. Stanton,

WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington City,

January 5, 1865.

Lieutenant-General GRANT, Fortress Monroe:

 

I think it would be useful if you would write to Sherman, urging him to give facilities to the organization of colored troops. He does not seem to appreciate the importance of this measure and appears indifferent if not hostile.

 

EDWIN M. STANTON,

Secretary of War.

 

I replied,

Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War, Fort Monroe, Va.:

 

I am just in receipt of a letter from Sherman, asking me to re-enforce Foster so that he will not be compelled to leave a division of his army there. Please say to Sherman that I will send the division now embarking at Baltimore. They probably will reach him two days after you do. I wrote to Sherman some time ago to direct Foster to organize negro troops to do garrison duty.

Please say to Sherman that if Foster will go to work and organize colored troops they can garrison the forts and islands, leaving all of his white troops for Savannah and the camp at Pocotaligo, enabling the division which I now send to return in the spring, if necessary.

 

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant- General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 237-8

O.R., I, xlvii, part 2, p 16,18

“I will start in a few minutes for Fortress Monroe to see the fleet sail from there”

I am heading to Fort Monroe to see the troops depart for Fort Fisher.  I wrote Sec. Stanton,

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War:

I will start in a few minutes for Fortress Monroe to see the fleet sail from there, and to complete instructions if anything further should be required. It will get to sea this afternoon. When the troops sent by Sheridan are embarked please order them to rendezvous at Fort Monroe and report by telegraph to me for further orders.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 236

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 38

“I am constrained to request the removal of Major General B. F. Butler from … command”

I wrote to Sec. Stanton requesting the removal of Gen. Butler from duty.

CITY POINT, VA., January 4, 1865.

Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

I am constrained to request the removal of Major General B. F. Butler from the command of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina. I do this with reluctance, but the good of the service requires it. In my absence General Butler necessarily commands, and there is a lack of confidence felt in his military ability, making him an unsafe commander for a large army. His administration of the affairs of his department is also objectionable.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 223

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 29

“I cannot go myself so long as General Butler would be left in command”

I am trying to accumulate men to send for our next attempt on Fort Fisher.  I wrote Sec. Stanton,

CITY POINT, VA., January 2, 1865-3 p. m.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War:

General Sheridan proposed sending another division of troops here, but I suspended his action. Let him get them to Baltimore now as soon as possible, and all the infantry on vessels that can go to Wilmington ready for orders. Should I send his troops there I will send him with them. I cannot go myself so long as General Butler would be left in command. I will state that the former expedition was put under Weitzel by order, and I never dreamed of Butler going until he stopped here on his way down the river. The operations taking place within the geographical limits of his department, I did not like to order him back.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 204-5

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 9-10

“Every preparation is now going on to get troops back to the mouth of Cape Fear River as soon as possible”

I wrote Sec. Stanton concerning further attempts on Fort Fisher.

CITY POINT, VA., January 1, 1865.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.:

Herewith I submit a statement lately drawn up by Lieutenant-Colonel Comstock, of my staff, who was with the expedition which moved against Fort Fisher. It was his views of the situation, and no one had a better opportunity of seeing than he had, and no one is more capable of judging. The fact is there are but two ways of taking Fort Fisher, operating from the water: One is to surprise them whilst there is but a small garrison defending the place; the other is for the navy to send a portion of their fleet into Cape Fear River whilst the enemy’s batteries are kept down by the fire from the balance. Troops can then land and hold the point until the troops in the fort surrender. With Cape Fear River in the hands of the enemy they have the same command over the sand spit on which Fort Fisher is built that we have. In the three days of good weather which elapsed after the army had reached the scene of action, before the navy appeared, our troops had the chance of capturing Fort Fisher whilst it had an insufficient garrison to hold it; the delay gave the enemy time to accumulate a force.

Every preparation is now going on to get troops back to the mouth of Cape Fear River as soon as possible. The enemy may by that time have withdrawn Hoke’s division, which went from here to Wilmington. If not, Admiral Porter will have to run a portion of his fleet by the batteries, as suggested before, or there will be no earthly use in landing troops.

The failure before was the result of delays by the Navy. I do not say unavoidable, for I know nothing of the cause, since the work to be done is likely to require much greater risk on their part than if the delay had not occurred. I know Admiral Porter to be possessed of as fine judgment as any other officer, and capable of taking as great risks. It will be necessary, however, that he should know and appreciate the situation in all its bearings, and be ready to act according to the emergency. I will write to him fully or send him a copy of this, and also send the same staff officer that accompanied the expedition before, who will lay the whole thing before him.

It seems to me proper that these views should be laid before Admiral Porter by the Secretary of the Navy also.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 197-8

O.R., I, xlvi, part 2, p 3