Travis Lecture at Ft. Anderson on Jan. 18 Details Battles for Coastal Forts

Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site in Winnabow will present local historian Jack Travis, who will speak on “Jumping the Gun: The January 1861 Captures of Forts Caswell and Johnston” on Tuesday, Jan. 18, from 7-9 p.m. at the Southport Community Building on the grounds of Fort Johnston. Travis is the author of “Men of God, Angels of Death: A History of General Lee’s Premier Artillery Battery.”

For more information, call the historic site at (910) 371-6613.

A major pre-Revolutionary port on North Carolina’s Cape Fear River, Brunswick Town was razed by British troops in 1776 and never rebuilt. Colonial foundations dot the present-day tour trail, which crosses the earthworks of the Confederate Fort Anderson. In 1861 the Confederate States of America decided to build a large fort on the old village site as part of the river defense of Wilmington. The Cape Fear was an essential route for supplies moving by rail from Wilmington to Petersburg and Richmond for General Lee’s army.

The Confederate army used manual labor to construct the large sand fortification originally called Fort St. Philip’s. There were two batteries, each with five cannons overlooking the shipping channel and providing protection to blockade runners.

In February 1865, following the fall of Fort Fisher at the mouth of the river, Union forces repositioned to attack Fort Anderson. Federals attacked from the land and river. After three days of fighting, the Confederates evacuated the fort at night. Union gunboats started firing at first light, unaware that Federal soldiers were breaching the walls of the fort. The infantry frantically waved sheets and blankets to stop the deadly fire from their own forces. There was a one-day fight north of the site at Town Creek before the Federals occupied Wilmington on George Washington’s birthday, Feb. 22, 1865. 

The commemoration of North Carolina’s Civil War 150th anniversary (http://www.nccivilwar150.com/ ) is sponsored in part by the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities, and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. For information on other Civil War-related events, see the sesquicentennial calendar at http://hscal.ncdcr.gov/civilwar150/default.aspx. For more information on Cultural Resources, visit www.ncculture.com.

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