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.
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,
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 241
O.R., I, xlii, part 1, p 970