I received the following from Sec. of the Navy, Gideon Welles. Adm. Porter believes still that Fort Fisher can be taken. He writes,
Washington, D. C., December 29, 1864-9.30 p.m.
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,
City Point, Va.:
The substance of dispatches and reports from Rear-Admiral Porter, off Wilmington, is briefly this: The ships can approach nearer to the enemy’s works than was anticipated. Their fire can keep the enemy away from their guns. A landing can easily be effected upon the beach north of Fort Fisher, not only of troops, but all their supplies and artillery. This force can have its flanks protected by gun-boats. The navy can assist in the siege of Fort Fisher precisely as it covered the operations which resulted in the capture of Fort Wagner. The winter season is the most favorable for operations against Fort Fisher. The largest naval force ever assembled is ready to lend its co-operation. Rear-Admiral Porter will remain off Fort Fisher, continuing a moderate fire to prevent new works from being erected, and the ironclad have proved that they can maintain themselves in spite of bad weather. Under all these circumstances, I invite to such a military co-operations as will insure the fall of Fort Fisher, the importance of which has already received your careful consideration. This telegram is made at the suggestion of the President, and in hopes that you will be able at this time to give the troops which heretofore were required elsewhere. If it cannot be done, the fleet will have to disperse, whence it cannot again be brought to this coast.
Secretary of the Navy.
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 185
O.R., I, xlii, part 3, p 1091