Join us on Friday, May 15 at 2 p.m. for a Live Lecture with author and historian John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center! Live from his home in Hampton, Virginia, John will give a 15-minute presentation on Fort Fisher and its critical role for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Viewers are welcome to send him any comments or questions during the presentation, and John will answer them following his talk!
By December 1864, Wilmington, North Carolina, became the last major seaport open to blockade runners. This port was vital to the Confederacy as it provided critical supplies and materiel to General R. E. Lee’s army defending Richmond, Virginia. Since the Cape Fear River had two major entrances, the Old Inlet and New Inlet, and many shoals and islands, it was very difficult for the Union to blockade. Two major forts, Fort Caswell and Fort Fisher, guarded these entrances. Fort Fisher was the largest earthen fortification in the Confederacy. It was comprised of a series of earthen mounds which protected heavy artillery like Brooke and Armstrong rifles. Wilmington had long been a target for the Union and an attempt was made in late December 1864 by Admiral D.D. Porter’s fleet, supported by troops commanded by General Ben Butler. The attack featured the infamous powder boat scheme that was planned to knock down the fort’s walls. However, the assault failed, and the Federal forces retreated to Hampton Roads. Nevertheless, the Union would soon return with a vengeance to capture Fort Fisher on January 15, 1865, thereby ending this last Confederate lifeline to the world.