“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

“I will endeavor to be back again with an increased force and without the former commander”

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.

Admiral PORTER,

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,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 190-1

O.R., I, xlii, part 3, p 1100-1

Sec. Navy Welles: “A landing can easily be effected upon the beach north of Fort Fisher”

I received the following from Sec. of the Navy, Gideon Welles.  Adm. Porter believes still that Fort Fisher can be taken.  He writes,

NAVY DEPARTMENT,

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.

GIDEON WELLES,

Secretary of the Navy.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 185

O.R., I, xlii, part 3, p 1091

“The Wilmington expedition has proven a gross and culpable failure”

Someone must be held accountable for the failure of the Wilmington expedition.  I wrote President Lincoln,

CITY POINT, VA., December 28, 1864-8.30 p.m.

A. LINCOLN,

President of the United States:

The Wilmington expedition has proven a gross and culpable failure. Many of the troops are now back here. Delays and free talk of the object of the expedition enabled the enemy to move troops to Wilmington to defeat it. After the expedition sailed from Fort Monroe three days of fine weather was squandered, during which the enemy was without a force to protect himself. Who is to blame I hope will be known.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 177-8

O.R., I, xlii, part 3, p 1087

Butler: “I withdrew the forces and ordered a re-embarkment”

I have received the following dispatch from Gen. Butler.  He has abandoned the expedition against Fort Fisher despite my direct orders to besiege it if it could not be taken.  He writes,

HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,

Fort Monroe, December 27, 1864-8 p.m.

(Receive 10 p.m.)

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,

City Point, Va.:

I have just returned from the expedition. We had a storm from Monday until Friday, which was the earliest hour I could get out of Beaufort, where I had put in for coal, most of the transport fleet having got out coal and water. Without waiting for my return, Admiral Porter exploded the torpedo at 1 o’clock on Friday morning, and commenced his attack at 12.55 in the afternoon, twelve hours afterward. He continued the bombardment of the fort until night.

I arrived in the evening and commenced landing on the beach the next morning. Got a portion on shore about 2 o’clock. Weitzel moved down upon the works, capturing 300 men and 10 commissioned officers. He brought his picket-line within fifty yards of the work, where he was opened upon by canister and musketry. He found seventeen guns bearing upon the beach, which was only wide enough for an assault of 1,000 men in line, the guns protected by traverses and but one dismounted, notwithstanding the fire of the fleet had been opened upon them for five hours.

In the meanwhile the surf had so arisen as to render further landing nearly impracticable. After a thorough reconnaissance of the work, finding it utterly impracticable for a land assault, and that at least two brigades of Hoke’s division from before Richmond had arrived there and that the rest was on the road, I withdrew the forces and ordered a re-embarkment, and had got on board all of the troops with the exception of about 300, when the surf was so high as to prevent either getting on or off the shore.

I lay by until morning and took measures for their relief as soon as the sea might go down. They were under cover of the gun-boats, and I have no doubt they are all safely off. Our loss when I left was but twelve wounded, ten of whom were by the shells of the navy on our picket-line near the fort. I will be up in the morning.

BENJ. F. BUTLER,

Major-General, Commanding.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 176

O.R., I, xlii, part 3, p 1085-6

“Your confidence in being able to march up and join this army pleases me, and I believe it can be done”

Gen. Sherman has proposed to march his army north to join the Army of the Potomac and bring all our weight to bear on Lee.  I wrote him,

HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,

City Point, Va., December 27, 1864.

Major General W. T. SHERMAN,

Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:

GENERAL: Before writing you definite instructions for the next campaign, I wanted to receive your answer to my letter written from Washington. Your confidence in being able to march up and join this army pleases me, and I believe it can be done. The effect of such a campaign will be to disorganize the South, and prevent the organization of new armies from their broken fragments. Hood is now retreating, with his army broken and demoralized. His loss in men has probably not been far from 20,000, besides, deserters. If time is given the fragments may be collected together and many of the deserters reassemble; if we can we should act to prevent this. Your spare army, as it were, moving as proposed, will do this.

In addition to holding Savannah, it looks me that an intrenched camp ought to be held on the railroad between Savannah and Charleston. Your movement toward Branchville will probably enable Foster to reach this with his own force. This will give us a position in the South from which we can threaten the interior, without marching over long narrow causeways easily defends, as we have heretofore been compelled to do. Could not such a camp be established about Pocotaligo, or Coosawhatchie?

I have thought that Hood being so completely wiped out for present harm, I might bring A. J. Smith here with from 10,000 to 15,000 men. With this increase I could hold my lines and move out with a greater force than Lee has. It would compel Lee to retain all his present force in the defenses of Richmond, or abandon them entirely. This latter contingency is probably the only danger to the easy success of your expedition. In the event you should meet Lee’s army, you would be compelled to beat it, or find the sea-coast.

Of course I shall not let Lee’s army escape if I can help it, and will not let it go without following to the best of my ability.

Without waiting further directions, then, you may make preparations to start on your northern expedition without delay. Break up the railroads in South and North Carolina, and join the armies operating against Richmond as soon as you can.

I will leave out all suggestions about the route you should take, knowing that your information, gained daily in the progress of events, will be better than any that can be obtained now.

It may not be possible for you to march to the rear of Petersburg, but failing is this you could strike either of the sea-coast ports in North Carolina held by us; from there you could take shipping. It would be decidedly preferable, however, if you could march the whole distance.

From the best information I have, you will find no difficulty in supplying your army until you cross the Roanoke. From there here is but a few days’ march, and supplies could be collected south of the river to bring you through. I shall establish communication with you there by steam-boat and gun-boat. By this means your wants can be partially supplied.

I shall hope to hear from you soon, and to hear your plan and about the time and starting.

Please instruct Foster to hold on to all the property captured in Savannah, and especially the cotton. Do not turn it over to citizens or Treasury agents without orders of the War Department.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 168-170

O.R., I, xliv, p 820-1

“Freddy reached here yesterday all well”

My son Fred has arrived to spend the week with me here at City Point.  I wrote Julia to let her know that he arrived safely.

City Point, Va, Dec. 26th 1864,.
Dear Julia,
Freddy reached here yesterday all well. I telegraphed you immediately on his arrival but you may not have received the dispatch. I had just ordered my horse to take a ride when he and Will Smith made their appearance at the head of the steps coming up the river bank. I at once sent for another horse and took Fred, with me. He has gone to-day with Capt. Hudson and two or three other officers to Gen. Meade’s Hd Qrs. To-morrow he and his Uncle Fred go up to see Gen. Ord by special invitation. Altogether I think he will have a good time of it while he stays here. I will start him back promptly on New Years day so that he shall loose no time at, or from, school.

I do not know whether the PayMasters will have any money to pay at the end of this month so I will write to Russell Jones to send you all he has of mine. It must amount to several hundred dollars besides the gold.

All well here now. The good news received from Sherman is worth a great deal at this time. The rebels are very despondent and say, some of them, their cause is already lost. Love and kisses for you and the children.
Ulys.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 166-7