KURE BEACH — The pivotal role of Fort Fisher in the Civil War is underscored in the movie Lincoln, as the president emphasized that it must be captured. Fort Fisher State Historic Site will demonstrate some of the power of the fort in the 148th anniversary program “Sheppard’s Battery: Confederates Defending the Left Flank” on Saturday, Jan. 19. In addition to the military demonstrations, the free program will include author talks and children’s activities.
Fort Fisher was critical to logistics to General Lee’s Army, and was the last entry point for supplies from England and the Caribbean. With a seaface that jutted out into the Atlantic, Fort Fisher was known as “the Gibraltar of the South.” The fort came under the most massive land and sea assault conducted by the United States government until World War II.
Civil War re-enactors will set up camp and demonstrate infantry and artillery skills. The fort’s big gun will be fired, a 32-pounder that launched a grapefruit sized cannonball into the sea toward Federal forces. The 12-pound Napoleon cannon was more commonly used. It fired a 12-pound softball sized shell about a mile, while a 10-pound Parrott rifle lobbed a 3-inch projectile a little more than a mile. Sheppard’s Battery was adjacent to the fort’s River Road entry, also known as the “Bloody Gate” which was the weakest link for Union soldiers to exploit.
A highlight of the day will be dedication of a North Carolina Highway Historical marker in honor of the blockage runner Modern Greece. The British-owned ship was bringing supplies into Fort Fisher in 1862 when it came under Union Navy fire. Badly damaged, it was destroyed by the Confederates to keep the weapons and supplies from the Federals. The shipwreck was discovered in 1962 after an intense storm. Navy divers joined the then Department of Archives and History to recover materials from the wreck, and thousands of artifacts, including rifles, knives, files, and more were recovered. The project gave birth to the state Underwater Archaeology Branch, one of the first such programs in the country.
To learn more call (910) 458-5538. Fort Fisher is located at 1610 Ft. Fisher Blvd. South in Kure Beach, and is within the Division of State Historic Sites. The N.C. Highway Historical Marker Program is part of the Office of Archives and History. Both are within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.