Fort end of 1864. It’s importance was stressed
Fort Fisher was a fort belonging to the Confederacy during the duration of the Civil War. It was the only fort that protected the trading routes of the port at Wilmington, North Carolina. Due to the Union blockade along the coast and the loss of many of the Confederacy’s vital ports, it was the last major port by the end of 1864. It’s importance was stressed by Robert E. Lee, who told the commanding officer at the time, Colonel William Lamb, that without the fort he would not be able to supply his army. The Confederacy relied on foreign support, such as that from Britain in order to gain resources and supplies. Though the Union did not place Fort Fisher as a priority throughout the war, Lincoln realized the importance of Wilmington’s port to the Confederate war effort near the end. Union forces then launched an attack on Wilmington’s only defense, the heavily fortified Fort Fisher.The first battle of Fort Fisher actually took place not in January, but the previous year from December 23rd to December 27th. It was organized by Major General Benjamin Butler, whom was assigned as the commanding officer, and Rear Admiral David Porter whom was put in charge of the navy. In order to demolish the fort’s walls the Union navy attempted to detonate a ship filled with powder, but failed as it had barely made a dent in the Confederate fort’s defences. They then launched a two-day bombardment in order to demolish for and compel surrender, but resulted in little damages to the defences of Fort Fisher. On the second day of the attack Butler decided to deploy army troops to begin the siege, but got news of enemy reinforcements approaching. With worsening weather conditions and angry debates among the army, he ultimately decided to abort the operation much to Admiral Porter’s chagrin, and retreated the Union forces. General Butler was relieved, General Terry replaced him as the commanding officer of the assault.The second battle started like the first, the Union began with heavy artillery bombardment. Though this time with more accuracy in aim and of larger scale than of the first battle, due to already being aware of the location of Confederate artillery. Unlike the first attack this time Fort Fisher was taking heavy damage. During the bombardment both Colonel Lamb and General Whiting were wounded, and Major Reilly replaced them as commanding officer. By January 15th 1865, two days after the bombardment, General Terry signaled for the siege to start and began to march on land. Reilly desperately called for counterattack but failed, with constantly depleting weaponry and resources taking away his soldiers. He ended up finally offering his sword to Union Captain E Lewis Moore in surrender, but Fort Fisher wasn’t officially surrendered until General Whiting relinquished control of the fort to General Terry. The Union success at Fort Fisher made it easy to capture the port at Wilmington, the only major seaport left open to the Confederacy. They marched into Wilmington on February 22nd, 1865 and took possession over the city, Lee losing his last dependable connection to the outside world. The loss of Fort Fisher caused decrease in morale of Confederate soldiers, and caused political critics of Confederate President Jefferson Davis to pressure into negotiation. The Union had upper hand in negotiation due to blockade, as supplies for the Confederacy would be harder to come by. President Lincoln, realizing that the fall of Fort Fisher and the resulting isolation of the Confederacy signaled a near end to the war, refused the terms offered by the Confederacy and demanded a complete surrender. The fall of Fort Fisher was an essential win for the Union, as it was one of the events that brought them closer to the end of the Civil War. By taking control of the port that had connected the Confederacy to the outside world, they lost their major source of support. This lead to the surrender of Robert E. Lee and the Confederate forces, which would take place three months later on April 9th, 1865.