Fort Fisher, North Carolina

   December 1864, three and a half years of war have ravaged and murdered the youth of nineteenth century America. Women widowed, children orphaned, and family bloodlines severed for all of eternity as the American Civil War continued to destroy the fragile lands of the Confederate south. 
 The Confederate Army has courageously fought the Federal juggernaut, trying desperately to stem the tide of defeat looming over their once promising dreams of independence. Out manned and out gunned by the industrious north, their only means of supply was via seafaring trade with England and Europe. The Federal blockade of the southern ports was exacting its intended stranglehold, depriving the south of weapons, gold, and medicine. Blockade runners, ships outfitted for speed to outrun the federal navy, has but one port left open in which to take to sea for the mercy trade missions; Wilmington, North Carolina. The stronghold keeping this port alive was Fort Fisher. 
 South of Wilmington, is a peninsula of land between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean. At the point of this peninsula is Fort Fisher. Contemporary in its design, it was the only Confederate battery left to defend the only open port of the Confederacy. Constructed from mounds of earth and wood, this odd design was able to absorb the concussion from the explosive shells anticipated from the Federal navy. 
 On December 7, 1864, the Federal navy under Adm. David D. Porter began a bombardment of the fort for twenty days. Last minute Confederate reinforcements under Maj. Gen. Robert Hoke discouraged hopes for a Union assault. 
 The resolve of the Federal forces  were  proven when they began their second expedition against the fort on January 13, 1865. For two days the navy pounded the earthen fort while infantry prepared the ground attack.. Low on food and ammunition, the Confederates fought valiantly, but surrendered on the 15th. 
 Very little of the fort remains today.  Time and the elements have been unforgiving to this landmark. One can still walk along the inside of the walls, which resemble little more than large dirt mounds. If you stand upon the parapets during low tide, under the right conditions, you can still see the skeletons of the blockade runners; in eternal slumber beneath the waves. 
 It is said that on certain evenings, the ghostly apparition of a Confederate officer can be seen looking over the parapets toward the sea. Some claim him to be the ghost of Gen. William Whiting, commander of the fort, who was wounded during the attack and later died in a Union prison camp. Visitors have claimed to hear footsteps along the wooden walkway inside the walls when the fort is vacant of other tourists. 
 Although the legends are abundant, the fact remains that two thousand men lost their lives while trying to take and defend the fort. If ever in the area of Wilmington, North Carolina, a visit to this eerie landmark will touch one’s soul as this little area of land reverberates with the emotions of a generation of hopes. 

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