The fighting for Fort Fisher actually involved two separate but related battles. The first attack, in December , failed utterly, and it provides many good examples of bad planning and execution. The second effort, during January , succeeded magnificently; it stands as a sterling example upon which to build an amphibious tradition.
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The efforts had drawn more than black slaves from nearby plantations. Some Native Americans , mostly Lumbee Indians, also had been impressed to assist with work on the fortifications. After the improvements, Fort Fisher became the largest Confederate fort. In November , President Jefferson Davis visited the facilities. In , the complete regiment of the 36th North Carolina quartered inside Fort Fisher.
In October , Battery Buchanan was built. As a rule, the Union's warships could not sidestep Fort Fisher's massive presence, and they were forced to remain far from shoreline because of the coastal artillery. The land defense extended 1, feet m , over fifteen mounds. The mounds were connected by an underground network which could not be penetrated by artillery. Below, the refuge was also used as an arsenal.
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In front of the walls, a 9-foot 2. The sea defense extended one mile 1. It consisted of 22 guns at 12 feet 3. Two ancillary pieces were built at two smaller mounds. They housed a telegraphic office and a bomb-resistant hospital.
U.S. Marines in Battle: Fort Fisher, December 1864-January 1865
Battery Buchanan was a small but impressive fortification which was constructed in at the furthest tip of the peninsula Confederate Point , overlooking Cape Fear's New Inlet. Barbettes were installed around each of the cannon, and the cannon were placed along both faces of Shepherd Battery and Mound Battery.
The land defenses included 4. The middle sally port along the fort's land face was protected by two pounders. By September , a variety of sources—such as the Confederate intelligence and some Union newspapers—conjectured an imminent Union attack on either Charleston or Wilmington.
They were insufficiently trained for defending against a land attack. Because of demands from other battlefronts—particularly Richmond—the defenders were being slowly replaced by local forces from North Carolina.
For example, the Cape Fear River was further filled with "torpedoes", and a breastwork was built at the northern end of the fortification in order to contain any landing forces. Because of his alleged alcoholism and other personal problems, Whiting was removed from command by Lee, and General Braxton Bragg was assigned as commander for the region.
In November , Bragg was ordered to join the battle against William T. Sherman in Georgia.
U.S. Marines in Battle
For this, Bragg detached 2, troops from the already feeble Wilmington defensive lines. When Ulysses S.
Grant was informed about this specific maneuver, he began formulating the definitive plan of invasion. On December 15, , Jefferson Davis supposed that Wilmington had not yet been attacked because it would have demanded "the withdrawal of too large a [Union] force from operations against points which they deem more important to us. Also, Hoke took command of all Confederate forces in the Wilmington area.
The Union attack started on December 24, with a naval bombardment. The firepower of Fort Fisher was temporarily silenced because some of its gun positions exploded. This allowed the Navy to land Union infantry. The landing force was intercepted by the arrival of Hoke's troops. The Union attack was effectively thwarted and, on December 27, Benjamin Butler ordered the withdrawal of his 1, soldiers who were still on the beach.
This was in disobedience to Grant's orders, which were to besiege the fort if the assault failed. Because Butler disobeyed his orders, he was relieved of command by Grant. Butler was replaced by Major General Alfred Terry , and the operation was dubbed "Terry's expedition. They waited until January 12, , for the second attempt. The new attack started with a heavy, continual bombardment from Porter's 56 ships.
This initially targeted both of Fort Fisher's fronts. On January 13, Porter shifted fire to the fort itself, while Terry's infantry force of 8, soldiers commanded by Adelbert Ames landed north of the fort. By mid-afternoon, the fort was effectively isolated. Porter's ships fired throughout the night and the following day.
On January 15, a second force of 1, sailors and Marines commanded by LCdr. Kidder Breese was landed to the northeast of the fort. At the same time, Breese's landing force attacked the fort's northeast bastion the point where the land face met the sea face. Breese's attack was repulsed, but not before drawing the defenders' attention from the attack on the northern face. There the Union infantry entered the fortification through Shepherd Battery. The Confederate defenders found themselves battling inside their walls, and were forced to retreat. Altogether, the land battle lasted six hours.
He was then imprisoned, and died in prison on March 10, Those Confederates that were wounded were admitted to Hammond General Hospital and upon recovery were discharged and transferred to the main prison complex. The soldiers are seated reading letters and papers and playing cards. A regimental fife-and-drum corps. Winter quarters; soldiers in front of their wooden hut, "Pine Cottage.
Engineers of the 8th New York State Militia in front of a tent , The 26th U. The 21st Michigan Infantry, a company of Sherman's veterans.
Ringgold, Ga. Army blacksmith and forge, Antietam, Md.