Alfred P. Rockwell, 17 January 1865

Near Fort Fisher, N. C.
January 17th 1864 [1865]

Dear Kate,

I sent you off a line night before last to tell you of our glorious victory & of my safety. It has been a splendid and most valuable victory and hardly won. Our Brigade has lost but few. We were ordered up at the decisive moment and went in when General Ames’ troops were utterly exhausted and fought out and turned the tide or rather finished the work so splendidly begun by the 2d Division.

We went into the corner of the work already won about sunset and were some time getting into position and then commenced driving the enemy from the rest of the work. They fought obstinately and disputed the ground so that each mound or traverse had to be carried in succession. About 9 o’clock the moon rose and in we went in one wild charge and the Fort was ours. We swept over and through it and forming again on the other side, moved down some two miles to Federal Point where Fort [Battery] Buchanan is and here we caught some thousand prisoners who would not go any farther.

Here it was when our victory was complete, that I penciled the note to you by moonlight. You can hardly imagine the excitement of the moment. Everyone was wild with delight at the brilliant victory. The immense fatigue was forgotten and I went on when so tired that I had to have someone drag me along.

We were sent to escort the prisoners back to a point where they were to bivouac for the present; my regiment as guard. This was 4 o’clock in the morning. I threw myself down on the sand by a camp fire and slept till sunrise. I was relieved about noon yesterday and came to my present camp. I have been trying to get into condition again, but am still sore and stiff though well otherwise. All are in such spirits that none are sick.

Reinforcements are coming from the Army of the James and we shall probably soon have Wilmington. Secretary Stanton was returning from Savannah yesterday and came here last night. He expected a failure of the expedition and was wild with delight when he heard of our complete success. [General] Terry was made full Major General on the spot and the four Colonels (Brigade Commanders) Brevet Brigadier Generals. The whole command complimented in a general order.

Fort Fisher is the strongest earth work I know of. I was amazed at its immense strength and am surprised that we ever took it. This victory closes up the only port where the blockade runners could come in and damage the rebels immensely.

I cannot begin to describe the events and scenes of the past few days—the landing—the great fleet—the tremendous bombardment by the Navy—the bloody assault—the last charge—the appearance in and about the Fort by moonlight as we carried it—the march down the beach—the taking of the prisoners and a hundred other things of less moment—all go to make these few days some of the most eventful in my life. I only wish, Kate, that you could have had by some magical process the power of witnessing it all in safety.

I was not in the first assault which was the severest and bloodiest and expect nothing more than a mere complimentary notice and with this I am quite satisfied. It is quite enough for me to have it to say that I was at the taking of Fort Fisher. General Terry thinks we have established our right to our Corps & Division badge the “Bloody Fort.” By the way, not a gun was fired by any other soldiers than those of the Old 10th Corps. Altogether, you see, we think and feel as if a very great thing had been done and as if a vital blow had been struck at the Rebels, and as if we had had a finger in the work.

The Confederacy cannot last six months longer. Sherman is half way from Savannah to Charleston and advancing. Georgia (as Secretary Stanton says) is virtually in insurrection against the Richmond government, the movement commenced at Savannah extending to the other parts of that state. And when George really goes, the game is up with “Johnny Reb.” And here the foreign supplies are stopped by our work. North Carolina is very likely to turn to us. Everything looks favorable for a speedy and brilliant closing of the war. God grant it may be so.

I must hurry for the mail. Goodbye. Yours, — Alfred

A very sad affair occurred yesterday. The magazine in the fort blew up and killed and wounded a large number. None of our Brigade were there. About 2,000 prisoners taken.


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