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At the dawn of the American Civil War, the Confederacy took control of...
At the dawn of the American Civil War, the Confederacy took control of land in southeastern North Carolina near one of the two outlets to the Atlantic Ocean from the Cape Fear River. Fort Fisher was the largest earthwork fortification in the Confederacy and was constructed to protect this vital opening. Ships running the Federal blockade of the port of Wilmington, known as blockade runners, supplied necessary goods to Confederate armies inland. By late 1863, the supply line through Wilmington was the last remaining supply route open to Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.
The Federal Army and Navy attacked Fort Fisher December 24, 1864. After two days of fighting with little headway, Federal commanders concluded that the fort was too strong to assault and withdrew their forces. However, they returned for a second attempt on January 12, 1865. For two and one-half days, Federal ships bombarded the fort on both land and sea face. On the fifteenth, more than 3,300 Union infantry, including the 27th U.S. Colored Troops, assaulted the land face. After several hours of fierce hand-to-hand combat, Federal troops captured the fort that night.
The Confederate army evacuated their remaining forts in the Cape Fear area, and within weeks Union forces overran Wilmington. Once Wilmington fell, the supply line of the Confederacy was severed, and the Civil War was soon over.
This site has been declared national historic landmark. Along with a restored palisade fence, approximately ten percent of the fort still stands. Guided tours, outside panel makers and museum exhibits provide a historical point of reference. Shaded by gnarled live oaks, a scenic trail leads tourists from the visitor center past the gigantic earthworks and around to the rear of the fort. Visitors are invited to tour the remains of the fort's land face featuring an impressive reconstruction of a 32-pounder seacoast gun at Shepherd's Battery. Fort Fisher State Historic Site is located in Kure Beach on what was then known as Federal Point and today as Pleasure Island.