The Civil War Connections Blog

Sealing the Confederate Coffin

Hi everyone, and welcome to the Civil War Connections blog! My name is Kelly, and I’ll be blogging this semester as an intern at The Mariners’ Museum.  I’m currently a senior at Christopher Newport University, and I’m studying both History and English Literature. As a self proclaimed history nerd, I’m a huge fan of studying the Civil War. Last semester I wrote my senior thesis on German memory of the Holocaust, so I’m excited to switch gears (and wars) and focus on American history once more. I also have a love of history trivia, and in the interest of full disclosure I have the History Channel’s “Ultimate History Quiz” app on my phone that I sometimes play when I can’t fall asleep. Judge all you might like, but I would really like to think that I’m not the only person out there who does that…right?

Today is an exciting day, not only because it is my first day in The Mariners’ Museum, but also because on this day in 1865, Fort Fisher in North Carolina fell to Union troops in the Second Battle of Fort Fisher.[1] I understand I’m getting a little ahead of myself in the 150th anniversary dates, but I can’t help but be excited that there is a significant naval victory that shares the anniversary of my first day. Who would have thought that another history nerd app that tells you “what happened on this day during the Civil War” would come in so handy?

 

Map of Fort Fisher, color coding indicates the location of Union and Confederate forces.

Plan of Union attack on Fort Fisher, color coding indicates the location of Union and Confederate forces. From the collections of the Virginia Historical Society, accessed through the Library of Congress online.

 

In all seriousness however, the fall of Fort Fisher was a hugely significant achievement for the Union troops. After a failed December attack in the First Battle of Fort Fisher, Major General Benjamin Butler was removed from his command of the Virginia and North Carolina areas, and ordered home by General Ulysses S. Grant. Following the removal of Butler, Major General Edward Ord was put in charge of Butler’s previous command. Union troops launched a major attack beginning January 13th, 1865 that continued for the next few days. In a joint effort, naval attacks including almost 60 ships occurred at the same time as land attacks, and the combined pressure proved to be successful on the 15th.[2] The fall of Fort Fisher was a seriously influential victory for the Union army. Fort Fisher was the first line of defense on the Cape Fear River, and with its capture, Union troops were able to move up the river and take control of Wilmington, North Carolina. This marked the fall of the last open Confederate port on the Atlantic Ocean, and cut off Confederate troops from blockade runners who had been providing them with supplies that they desperately needed. In some of the articles I found about this battle, it is argued that the Confederate loss of this battle really determined their fate because it successful ended any potential opportunity for European support of the Confederacy.

I hope everyone enjoyed my first blog post, despite my getting ahead of myself in my celebration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. I’m really excited to be working on the blog for the next couple of months, and look forward to sharing more stories and interesting tidbits about the Civil War and American society during it!

 


[1] “The Second Battle of Fort Fisher.” Civil War Trust, Accessed January 15, 2013. http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/fort-fisher.html.

[2] “Fort Fisher: Engagement Chronology” NC Historic Sites, Accessed January 15, 2013. http://www.nchistoricsites.org/fisher/battle-2.htm