This Week in the Civil War

This Week in The Civil War for Sunday, Jan. 11: Union closes last Atlantic seaport for Confederacy, storming Fort Fisher in North Carolina.

A heavy Union bombardment and second assault within weeks led to the federal capture of Fort Fisher in North Carolina. For Southerners who only recently rejoiced over an early Confederate success in turning back a Union attack on the fort in December 1864, it was demoralizing news. The fall of the fort effectively shut off the last Confederate seaport on the Atlantic coast. In the attack this month 150 years ago in the war, nearly 60 Union vessels rained hundreds of shells down on the stout parapets. Within two days, the Confederate garrison in the fort was overrun and had surrendered. Union troops would then march inland to ensure Wilmington was shut off from the coast, enduring heavy casualties en route.


This Week in The Civil War for Sunday, Jan. 18: A blow to the Confederacy from winter storms, reports from Fort Fisher.

The Associated Press reported in a dispatch Jan. 16, 1865, that conditions appeared to be deteriorating for Robert E. Lee’s Confederate forces in Virginia. The dispatch said heavy winter rains and flooding had destroyed “every culvert and bridge” along the Danville railroad that was a key supply route for Lee’s army in Virginia. “Lee’s army is likely to be out of rations altogether very soon,” The AP dispatch said, adding that reports foodstuffs were running so low that many Confederates were though to “suffer almost starvation.” It said the wipeout of the key rail supply line to Richmond marked a big blow for the Confederate capital. “As this is their main road by which they get their supplies to Richmond, it would not be strange if the state of affairs in this neighborhood should undergo an important change within a few days.” The AP report did not elaborate further on the possible impact. Meanwhile, reports were just reaching Northern newspapers of the Union’s successful on Fort Fisher in North Carolina. One account cited a report from the U.S. Flagship Malvern as saying big eleven-inch guns were used to bombard the fort hours. The dispatch added that “the fort was reduced to a pulp — every (Confederate) gun was silenced by being injured or covered up with earth, so that they would not work.”

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