Late in the Afternoon, Union skirmishers advanced to within yards of the fort, supported by the guns of the fleet.
Lt. Aeneas Armstrong, CSN, inside Fort Fisher, later described the bombardment: "The whole of the interior of the fort, which consists of sand, merlons, etc., was as one eleven-inch shell bursting. You can now inspect the works and walk on nothing but iron."
Union Army commanders, however, considered the works too strongly defended to be carried by assault with the troops available, and the soldiers returned to the landing zone and began to reembark. However, some 700 troops were left on the beach there when the weather worsened.
They were protected by gun boats under Captain Glisson, USS Santiago de Cuba, who had lent continuous close support to the landing. By December 27th, the last ones on shore had embarked; the first major attack on Fort Fisher had failed.