North Carolina

Fon Casusell

I 'he effect of the explosion will be JL ... very severe, stunning men at a distance of three or four hundred yards ... and making them unable to stand for any length of time a fire from the ships ...I think that houses in Wilmington will tumble to the ground and I think if the rebels fight after the explosion they have more in them than I gave them credit for."

Admiral Porter predicting the effects of the U.S.S. Louisiana's detonation.

By the end of 1864 Wilmington, North Carolina, was the last important port still in Confederate hands. Its approaches were guarded by Fort Fisher's powerful batteries, which were well-protected by mounds of sand. Fields of fire were well covered, and troops protected by bomb proofs.

On December 20, the largest number of Federal warships ever assembled in the war arrived off Fort Fisher, with Admiral Porter in command. General Butler was in charge of land forces.

As a preliminary to the assault, the navy packed the gunboat Louisiana with tons of explosives and on December 24, detonated her 450 yards from the fort. It accomplished nothing.

At midday on the 24th, Porter's fleet began the bombardment. For over five hours they laid down a volume of fire sometimes reaching 115 rounds per minute. Butler's troops landed on the beach north of the fort. As they neared the fort, the naval fire ceased. To his astonishment, Butler discovered the fort still intact and the defenders relatively unharmed. The weather now began to worsen, and concerned that a storm would isolate his forces from their naval support, Butler withdrew. The first assault on Fort Fisher was a failure.

On January 13, a Federal fleet with Porter again in command, and accompanied by

Essential to Union victory was the strangulation of Lee's supply routes. Most of the supplies reaching his army were carried by blockade runners whose access to Wilmington was guarded by the enormous Fort Fisher (right). Built of sand and dirt over a log framework, the fort absorbed shells far more effectively than stone fortifications such as Fort Sumter.

Dec 25 2.30 pm: The first Union attack, on the fort is thrown bad The Union commander Brig. Gen. G.G. Weitzel also discovers approaches covered by torpedoes, (mines)

6 pm: Weitzel withdraws and hts troops are troops are taken off by Porter's boats

\ Dec 27: Col. Lamb repairs damage to fort correctly suspecting that the Union fleet will return

Jan 12: The Union fleet returns. Before dawn on Jan ESthe ironclads move in close and open fire. Confederate guns return fire revealing their posiuons on the sand wail

\ J Dec 24 1.40 am: USS Louisiana explodes causing negligible damage to the forL

12 noon: Union fleet bombards fort firing almost 115 shells per minute from 627 guns. The fleet fires almost 1 00C shells during the five hour bombardmerj t

Jan 15 3 pm: The bombardment ceases

®and the land force attacks the North and N. East walls

After the first assault on the fort, Benjamin Butler bad complained that the naval gunnery bad been ragged and ineffective. This failure was largely due to the attempts of Porter's gunners to knock down the Confederate flag by aiming high (left). Porter ensured that this fault was rectified in the subsequent assault.

g Jan 13: At sunrise the union fleet moves ^ into positron and bombards the confederate gun positions on strict orders from Porter

Jan 13 8 am: Gen. A. Terrv lands his troops

' and prepares a defensive line facing north to block possible Confederate reinforcements, meanwhile Porter bombards all day and into the night

Jan 14: Lamb receives reinforcements: 700 soldiers and 50 sailors. Jan 15 a further 350 make it before their ship is driven off by Union bombardment

Wilderness j'.,! Cuyler w j IM J Mpmirmza

^Rhode Island

f /'/Montgomery mr Keystone State - (\ d) The army attack succeeds in breaching ^Quaker' wa^s anc' despite fierce Qlty counter attacks. The Marines and Naty landing force are "hung up" on Che

Porter's fleet (above) leaving Chesapeake Bay for Fort Fisher, December 13, 1864. Consisting of nearly sixty warships plus troop transports, the fleet was the largest assembled during the war. The attack was delayed when the fleet was scattered by strong winds on December 22. The squadron's seven monitors anchored and weathered the storm but the remainder of Porter's ships were dispersed over a wide area.

j . Jan 1510 pm: After a day and a night of bitter contest Fort Fisher surrenders. The

Union losing 1341 soldiers and sailors, Col. Lamb's command losing just over 500 men

Col. W. Lamb, garrison commander of Fort Fisher.

Wilderness

y"''Osceola

^Rhode Island

\i]Moniicello j

f /'/Montgomery

mr Keystone State - (\ d) The army attack succeeds in breaching ^Quaker' wa^s anc' despite fierce Qlty counter attacks. The Marines and Naty landing force are "hung up" on Che

Porter's fleet (above) leaving Chesapeake Bay for Fort Fisher, December 13, 1864. Consisting of nearly sixty warships plus troop transports, the fleet was the largest assembled during the war. The attack was delayed when the fleet was scattered by strong winds on December 22. The squadron's seven monitors anchored and weathered the storm but the remainder of Porter's ships were dispersed over a wide area.

12,000 soldiers led by General Alfred Terry, attacked Fort Fisher for the second time.

Porter had learned from his mistakes: this time he moved his vessels closer to the target and concentrated his fire on the fort's land face, where the main attack would take place. To assist in the assault, Porter sent marines and sailors ashore.

The bombardment continued throughout the 13th and into the night, thus preventing the defenders repairing the damage. Terry landed his force, and while the sailors and marines moved on the sea face of the fort, his men charged from the north. Although the attack on the sea face was repulsed, Terry broke through and entered the fort. Fierce hand to hand combat followed. The battle continued throughout the 14th until finally, at 10 p.m., the Confederates surrendered.

The fall of Fort Fisher ended Wilmington's usefulness as a Confederate port. On February 22 1865 the city itself fell to Federal forces.

j . Jan 1510 pm: After a day and a night of bitter contest Fort Fisher surrenders. The

Union losing 1341 soldiers and sailors, Col. Lamb's command losing just over 500 men

" reat cannon were broken in two, vJT and over their ruins were lying the dead; others were partly buried in graves dug by the shells which had slain them if there has ever been a larger or more stubborn hand-to-hand encounter, I have failed to meet with it in history."

Col. W. Lamb, garrison commander of Fort Fisher.

March 16: Hardee's Confederates; : up Slocum. until thcv withdraw to: . -

being Hanked (see map left)

Clashes in N Carolina

March. H-2I. 1S6S

Rocky Mour

March 19-21: Available Confederate forces concentrate at BeTKcrrpilir and again attack Slocum. In die ensuing battle the Confederate forces lose over 2,600 irreplaceable men (see mapkEi tarboro

Bennett He

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