Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/173

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told the men to keep up the fire upon the enemy and cheer as much as they could, hut if they were hard pressed to fall back from pine to pine in the direction of Wilmington, and not let the enemy cut us off.

( inicral Butler's forces, being thus very promptly checked, began at once to throw up breastworks on the sand shore. As they con- sisted of at least six times our number we could not have prevented their advance. Hut ( ieneral Butler greatly exaggerated our force, and I have always believed that his examination of Captain Koontz had something to do with his false impression. As it was, these two

incuts held his army at bay (or at ocean, perhaps I should say)

the entire day, which was Christmas, 1864. By pushing our line close to his we escaped much injury from the ships' guns, their shells passing over our heads. We had the help of Sutherland's Battery of artillery and Lipscomb's South Carolina cavalry. During the night the troops began to come in from our division. But a recon- noissancc the next morning showed that (ieneral Butler had taken advantage of the darkness, re-embarked his army, and abandoned his expedition.

The navy had bombarded Fort Fisher for two days, but inflicted slight loss. Kirkland's bold and spirited defense must have con- vinced Butler that we had a large force, as Koontz had told him that Longstreet was there with his three divisions Hoke, Field, and Kershaw.

The fact is, that we did not have two thousand men of all arms to oppose him, and no infantry except the two regiments of Kirkland's Brigade. Why Butler was considered fit to be a general I don't know, unless his tyranny and oppression of non-combatants qualified him for "crushing out the rebellion."

Soon after this battle, General Bragg, the department commander, ordered Hoke's Division to Wilmington, not expecting a renewal of the attack on Fort Fisher. We marched, with colors flying and bands playing, into the city, and were enthusiastically received by the people as their victorious defenders. General Bragg reviewed the division and made preparations for a new campaign for the cap- ture of Newbern, N. C. This was kept a secret, but it came to my knowledge. Our brigade had orders to prepare three days' rations, and all got ready for a march destination unknown. But during the very night previous to this intended movement we were suddenly ordered to move to the wharf and take boats down the river to Sugar Loaf, Kirkland's Brigade again in the advance, as the enemy had reappeared in front of Fort Fisher, the army this time being