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February 2015

January 2015

This week in the Civil War for January 11, 1865

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.

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This week in the Civil War for January 4, 1865


The Richmond Enquirer, in the final months of the Civil War, exulted in early January over news that Confederate troops at Fort Fisher near Wilmington, North Carolina, had successfully rebuffed a Union attack. According to the Southern paper, initial "apprehensions in the community were that Wilmington our last seaport would succumb to the immense force sent against it." But the paper noted that Union forces were turned back, boosting Southern moral. It said "the enemy having expended their utmost strength on Fort Fisher, an outpost of Wilmington, (has) been badly beaten" in a "most gratifying triumph" for the Confederacy in defending its last major seaport. Nonetheless, that news was tempered in the South by fresh reports about Union troops in Savannah, Georgia, which was captured by Maj. Gen. William Sherman. "Where the next blow will be struck is not developed; but every man in the army talks of a grand and overwhelming march" into South Carolina, reports speculated on Sherman's next moves. In the North, meanwhile, some were already seeking to profit from past tales of war, including a veteran of the 1st Regiment of New York Mounted Rifles who promoted sales of a story called "Life in The Saddle" with "most graphic, exciting and thrilling portraiture" of past military campaigns in Virginia.