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Fort Fisher
Civil War North Carolina


American Civil War
January 13-15, 1865

After the failure of his December expedition against Fort Fisher, Major General Benjamin Butler was relieved of command. 

Major General Alfred Terry was placed in command of a "Provisional Corps," including Paine's Division of U.S. Colored Troops, and supported by a naval force of nearly 60 vessels, to renew operations against the fort.

After a preliminary bombardment directed by Rear Admiral David D. Porter on January 13, Union forces landed and prepared an attack on Major General Robert Hoke's infantry line.

On the 15th, a select force moved on the fort from the rear. A valiant attack late in the afternoon, following the bloody repulse of a naval landing party carried the parapet.

The Confederate garrison surrendered, opening the way for a Federal thrust against Wilmington, the South's last open seaport on the Atlantic coast.

Result(s): Union victory

Location: New Hanover County

Campaign: Operations against Fort Fisher and Wilmington (January-February 1865) next battle in campaign    Campaigns

Date(s): January 13-15, 1865

Principal Commanders: Rear Admiral David D. Porter and Major General Alfred Terry [US]; General Braxton Bragg, Major General Robert Hoke, and Colonel Charles Lamb [CS]

Forces Engaged: Expeditionary Corps, Army of the James [US]; Hoke's Division and Fort Fisher Garrison [CS]

Estimated Casualties: 2,000 total


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Fort Fisher, NC, Soldiers with Large Gun, Civil War
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One of the heaviest of the Civil War Naval battles was fought at Fort Fisher in 1864. This place guarded the approaches to Wilmington, North Carolina . Troops under Butler and a large fleet under Admiral Porter were destined for this enterprise. An incendiary vessel was exploded close to the works without effect on the 23rd-24th of December, and the ships engaged on the 24th.

The next day the troops were disembarked, only to be called off after a partial assault. Butler then withdrew, and Porter was informed on the 31st that " a competent force properly commanded " would be sent out. On the 8th of January 1865 General Terry arrived with the land forces, and the armada arrived off Fisher on the 12th. On the 13th, 6000 men were landed, covered by the guns of the fleet, and, after Porter had subjected the works to a terrific bombardment, Fisher was brilliantly carried by storm on the 15th. Reinforcements arriving, the whole Union force then marched inland to meet Sherman.

"Second Attack upon Fort Fisher, showing the positions of the vessels, and the lines of fire", 13-15 January 1865

Chart by Walter A. Lane, published in "The Soldier in our Civil War", Volume II.
The positions of 58 ships are represented on the chart. Click to enlarge
Fort Fisher naval attack

Lithograph after a drawing by T.F. Laycock, published by Endicott & Co., New York, 1865, depicting the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron bombarding Fort Fisher, North Carolina, in preparation for its capture. The print is dedicated to Commodore S.W. Godon, USN.
Ships present, as named on the original print, are (from left to right in the main battle line): USS Tacony ; USS Maumee ; USS Ticonderoga ; USS Shenandoah ; USS Tuscarora ; USS Juniata ; USS Wabash ; USS Susquehanna ; USS Colorado ; USS Minnesota ; USS Brooklyn ; USS New Ironsides and USS Mohican .
Ships in the foreground are (left to right, from the center of the view): USS Powhatan ; USS Mackinaw ; USS Vanderbilt and USS Malvern (Flagship of Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter).
Monitors in the right middle distance are: USS Monadnock (with two turrets); USS Mahopac ; USS Saugus and USS Canonicus .

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Sources:
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US Naval Archives