Saturday, January 15, 2011
The Gibraltar Of The South
Union Major General Benjamin Franklin Butler failed to take Fort Fisher in December, and was relieved of command. Union Major General Alfred Howe Terry was given command of the “Provisional Corps”, along with support of a naval force and ordered to renew the attack on Fort Fisher. Fort Fisher a massive fortification protected the mouth of the Cape Fear River. The Fort had 47 guns, and was built of logs with sand over it, and was known as the “Gibraltar of the South“. On January 13th 1865 Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter directed a bombardment on the Fort, which went on for two days. By noon on January 15th 1865 the bombing had silenced all but four of the Fort’s guns. About 2,000 Sailors and Marines led by Lieutenant Commander Kidder Breese moved on the Northeast Bastion of the Fort where they were routed in an assault. This attack drew Confederate attention away and at 2 pm a second Union attack of about 4,500 men was launched. The Confederate position was strong, despite the bombardment, and the battle went on for hours, lasting until after dark. Sometime after 9:30 that night the Confederates realized the Fort was untenable. They ran up a white flag and Terry received the official surrender from Confederate Brigadier General William Henry Chase Whiting just before 10 pm.
Loosing Fort Fisher took away the last remaining Confederate sea port, sealing the South off.