The formidable defenses of Fort Fisher helped keep Wilmington
open as the last major Confederate seaport. The fort and the city
fell to Union forces in January and February 1865.
A. L I N C O L N F O U R Y E A R S A N D 4 2 D A Y S
In the last year of peace in America,
1860, there were 4 million enslaved men,
women and children. When President
Abraham Lincoln takes office March 4,
1861, seven southern states have already
left the Union.
By the end of 1864, the American
Civil War has been raging for close to
four years. A staggering 620,000 soldiers
have died on both sides. The last major
open seaport in the South is Wilmington,
North Carolina. Union access into and up
the Cape Fear River to Wilmington can
only be achieved by taking Federal Point
or Confederate Point with the well-forti-fied
Confederate garrison Fort Fisher and
its Battery Buchanan on the point.
In the second of two Union assaults,
that leave over 2,000 soldiers killed and
wounded, Fort Fisher and Battery Buchanan
were captured January 13-15, 1865.
(The remaining Cape Fear River
Defense System batteries and entrench-ments
soon fall as does Fort Anderson in
Brunswick County by February 19, 1865.)
Following great political maneuver-ing
by Lincoln, the 13th Amendment to
the Constitution of the United States of
America passes the House on January 31,
1865. (Once ratified, it abolishes slavery.)
Three weeks later, February 11-22, 1865, Wilmington falls to Union forces that include 1,600 United States
Colored Troops in five regiments at the Battle of Forks Road.
Forty-six days later, on April 9, 1865, the War Between the States ends with the South’s surrender.
Six days later, Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, is dead, killed by an assassin’s bullet. The
incumbent president’s second term lasts just 42 days, from March 4 - April 14, 1865. — Pat Bradford
For more on the Civil War and Wilmington, see Wrightsville Beach Magazine’s The Gathering Storm by Dr. Chris
E. Fonvielle Jr., February 2008 and Storm of War: The Battle at Fort Fisher, Part II March 2008.