NORTH CAROLINA: Fort Fisher Marks 150th Anniversary with Events

With this year marking the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, the Cape Fear region’s most notable Civil War strongholds—Fort Fisher and Fort Anderson—are celebrating the occasion with respective events.

Photos courtesy N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

Photos courtesy N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

Fort Fisher State Historic Site will mark the 150th anniversary of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher with a two-day event Jan. 17-18. The site, at the southern tip of New Hanover County, will open at 9 a.m. each day and feature activities and lectures throughout the day.

Featured speakers include authors and historians such as Jamie Martinez, Rod Gragg, Chris Fonvielle, Richard Triebe, Michael Hardy and Ray Flowers, as well as noted historian and Civil War battlefield expert Ed Bearss, who will give a keynote address at an opening ceremony Saturday at 11 a.m. at the fort’s Battle Acre.

Free parking will be provided at the Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Base, located a quarter-mile north of the site.

Visitors can board a free shuttle bound that will take them to the museum parking lot. Limited parking at the Fort Fisher site will be reserved for VIPs, shuttle traffic and individuals with mobility restrictions.

Food vendors will be on site, and emergency services will be coordinated by local, county and state law enforcement agencies.

The weekend will feature re-creations of the January 1865 Union attacks on Fort Fisher, with as many as 500 re-enactors representing Union and Confederate soldiers, sailors and Marines. Saturday’s battle reenactment will begin at 1:30 p.m., while Sunday’s reenactment will begin at 10:30 a.m.

National Park Historian Emeritus and Civil War battlefield expert Ed Bearss will be the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony of Fort Fisher’s 150th anniversary commemoration, scheduled Jan. 17-18.

National Park Historian Emeritus and Civil War battlefield expert Ed Bearss will be the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony of Fort Fisher’s 150th anniversary commemoration, scheduled Jan. 17-18.

The two-day event is free, though fees will be charged for tours planned both days. A limited number of tickets for the tours will be sold; more details about the tours and program schedule is planned to be released prior to the event.

The largest earthen fortification in the Confederacy, Fort Fisher once protected the port of Wilmington and the vital blockade running trade on the Cape Fear River. According to a release describing the event, the fort fell to a combined Union amphibious assault on Jan. 15, 1865, after two massive bombardments.

“With the capture of Fort Fisher, the South’s vital shipping port of Wilmington was closed and the war ended less than 90 days later,” the release states.

Fort Fisher State Historic Site is located at 1610 Fort Fisher Blvd. S in Kure Beach. More information is available by calling (910) 458-5538 and on the fort’s website.

Across the river in Brunswick County, Fort Anderson is planning an event to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the fall of the fort. The two-day event will be held Feb. 14-15.

Events include an imagining of what could have happened if Fort Anderson had not been evacuated in the early morning hours of Feb. 19, 1865. As stated in a release, Fort Fisher had just fallen to Union forces, and Confederate troops “were forced to evacuate the last major defensive fortification on the lower Cape Fear.”

“Over the course of the next 72 hours, the port of Wilmington would fall into Union hands,” the release states.

The free program at Fort Anderson will present what the outcome could have been in a dramatic interpretation of the fall of the fort, “Last Stand on the West Bank: The 150th Anniversary of the Fall of Ft. Anderson.” Featuring nighttime artillery fire, the event will take place Feb. 14 from 6-8 p.m. Visitors will be guided on lantern tours departing every 20 minutes featuring interactive vignettes and true tales of the fort’s fall.

More information is available by calling 371-6613. Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site is located at 8884 St. Philips Road SE in Winnabow.

Both sites are managed by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. More information on the department and its events is available here and here.


VIRGINIA: New Faces Come to Appamattox

For years, Appomattox has been preparing for the 150th anniversary of Gen. Lee’s surrender to Gen. Grant, and this April it finally arrives.

Thousands of people are expected to come to Appomattox for the sesquicentennial events, which span from April 8-12. Representatives from the National Park Service, the town, county, community and law enforcement have been working together to figure out how to best accommodate the anticipated crowd.

The events are finalized, but work remains for determining some of the logistics, such as the traffic plan, shuttles and parking.

Updates on the planning process have come before the county’s Board of Supervisors for the past few months and are expected to continue on a monthly basis until the event takes place. The town also is working to secure a planner to help with its part of the anniversary.

Also this year, Appomattox will see new leadership at both the local and county levels.

County Administrator Aileen Ferguson is retiring in June after 17 years in the position and 36 years as a county employee. Officials expect to select her replacement by March so the pair can work together for a bit.

Interim Town Manager Bill Gillespie also is stepping down this spring, after four years in the position. Johnnie Roark, the county’s current community development director, was recently named as his replacement and will assume the position Jan. 20. Gillespie plans to work alongside Roark for a few months as the town’s budget is developed.

Looking ahead to November, three districts will have elections for supervisors and school board representatives. Several constitutional offices also will be on the ballot, including the sheriff, commonwealth’s attorney and treasurer.

This spring, Lindenburg Industries LLC plans to begin operating at the former Thomasville site, with the first phase of the nearly 350 jobs filled in March.


NORTH CAROLINA: Group Seeks Descendants of Civil War POW Camp

The Historic Salisbury Foundation is looking for descendants of Civil War soldiers who were either prisoners or guards at the Confederate prison in Salisbury to contribute to an exhibit that they hope will link the past and present.

“We want this exhibit to create a dialogue about the views and emotions associated with the Salisbury Prison and foster a greater understanding about the interaction between prisoners, guards and civilians during the Civil War — both Union and Confederate, black and white,” Brian Davis from the Historic Salisbury Foundation said in a press release. “This is a way for us to better interpret the role and former site of the prison.”

The prison in Salisbury was the only prisoner of war camp in North Carolina during the Civil War.

Constructed on 16 acres surrounding a former cotton mill, it was designed to hold 2,500 prisoners, largely comprising Union soldiers. Toward the end of the war, more than 10,000 men were detained at the location.

It was closed in February 1865, less than two months before Union Gen. George Stoneman occupied Salisbury and destroyed the prison and its arsenal.

“Stoneman’s short stay saw fighting, destruction, burning, federal occupation and an attempt to cross the Yadkin, which was repulsed by Confederate troops at Ft. York, one of the last Confederate victories of the war,” said Terry Holt of the Rowan Museum.

The exhibit will feature a photo and brief background about each soldier, as well as their descendants. The descendants will share a personal account of what it means to have an ancestor associated with the former prisoner of war camp.

The stories will be displayed at the Rowan Museum, Hall House Museum and at other locations throughout Salisbury on April 12, in time for the 150th anniversary of Stoneman’s Raid.

“The role of all of our historical groups is to preserve, share and educate our citizens about events that have shaped our county and city,” Holt said.

Descendants of soldiers with a connection to the Salisbury Civil War Prison are encouraged to contact Historic Salisbury Foundation at 704-636-0103 or by Feb. 20.