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tv   To Forge a Thunderbolt  CSPAN  March 18, 2017 12:01pm-12:20pm EDT

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always by sarah young and followed by this life i live by rory feick. rounding out publishers weekly bestsellers book is big agenda, president trump's plan to save america by david horowitz. that's a look at some of the current best-selling nonfiction books according to publishers weekly. some of these authors have and will be appearing on book tv on c-span two. you can watch them on her website. >> welcome to wilmington north carolina on book tv located on the cape fear river along the carolina coast this city was founded in 1737 due to its proximity to the ocean, wilmington served served as a important trade route during the civil war and was the last atlantic seaport of the confederacy until it fell to union troops in january 1865. today wilmington has a population of about 112,000 and has become a popular tourist
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destination for people looking to experience the city's history and nearby beaches. with the help of our charter communication partners for the next 90 minutes will learn about e city's history from local authors. weegin with author chris bonneville on for interested in the battle for wilmington during the civil war. [inaudible] were actually standing on the path of the crest of fort emerson. this was the largest confederate fort in the lower cape fear interior that guarded the western land approaches in the river approaches to the seaport
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of wilmington. the fort was initially started in march of 1862, construction was ongoing throughout the war and there were still working on it when it was attacked in february of 1865. the fort was built on top of the old seaport of brunswick. this was the leading seaport on the cape fear river in colonial times, in fact it was the first enduring settlement on the cape fear river. after the american revolution brunswick faded into oblivion and the entire site was sold for $4.25. twenty years later during the civil war confederate engineers picked to the site to build a line of artillery batteries to protect the western land approaches to wilmington and the river approach beginning in late march, they came here with a
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couple of companies of confederate soldiers and enslaved african americans and they started to clear the site and build the fort. the fort iran from cape fear river one and a quarter miles west westward to orton pond, this this was actually a lake 5 miles long and they used orton as a giant moat. the earthworks iran to the lake and then you had another 5 miles of extended area that was. that was built over six weeks and for the remainder of the war in the area where were standing now the fort was greatly expanded and strengthened and artillery compartments were built where heavy guns were placed to.downriver in case
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enemy vessels ever breached the inlets and got into the river to attack wilmington. next to charleston, which was the main southern seaport along the atlantic seaboard, wilmington was the heavily fortified of the southern seaports. wilmington became the most important seaport in the south in 1863. it was the largest seaport in north carolina on the eve of the war, it was the largest city in north carolina when the war broke out. by 1863, when charleston was put under siege by lease forces, wilmington became the most important southern seaport for receiving supplies that were smuggled into the confederacy aboard vessels known as blockade runners. surprisingly, the union did not go after the fort or made an effort to capture wilmington until late 1864.
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by the spring of 1862, union forces had captured and occupied two thirds of the coastal plain of north carolina. the outer banks, the pamlico sound, the major river systems and all the river towns. they controlled everything from southeastern virginia to within 50 miles of wilmington. wilmington should have been the next target.but instead they hopscotch over wilmington without the charleston after it instead charleston was where the war had begun, it was the nest of secession, and public and political interest centered there. even the secretary of the navy, gideon wells who had proposed taking wilmington in 1862, when the city was still relatively undefended and defenses were weak loved that we should skip wilmington and go after
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charleston instead. charleston was satan's kingdom. they concentrated their efforts of militarily on capturing charleston. they poured manpower, resources, naval forces naval forces into capturing charleston without success. charleston underwent the longest siege of the word 587 days and did not fall. even though federal forces were able to make blockade running their uncertain at best, those firms transfer their operations hundred 75 miles of the course to wilmington. by then, wilmington was the closest major seaport to virginia. army and supplying, robert e lees of northern e virginia. in fact, wilmington's importance was so great that it became known as lee's lifeline. it was the lifeline of the confederacy.
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this was a main artery of supply for robert e lee. so much so that by 1863 wilmington must be defended at all hazards. by late 1864, late 1864, he said if wilmington falls i cannot maintain my army. confederates got good intelligence with the attack of wilmington was coming by october of 1864. they knew that the attack was planned against fort fisher and so fort anderson's garrison was largely depleted to send reinforcements to fort fisher. you might have had a company or two of troops here, there would be to attacks on fort fisher. one christmas of 1864 that turned out to be the largest naval bombardment of the civil war but the fight on the fort which is the largest strongest battery was largely diffused and ineffective.
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the army that had gone ashore approach the fort, saw the defenses were still strong, the cannons and the court still pointing up the ground through which the army would have to attack so they at aborted the mission. confederates were victorious. two and a half week later they returned with a slightly force, more soldiers and they were determined to capture the fort. after two and a half days of bombardment the second largest naval bombardment in the civil war, union ground forces attacked late in the afternoon of january the 15th and overwhelmed the confederate defenders. they were outgunned, outmanned, exhausted and they put up a good fight but the fort fell that night. then the union forces turned their gun sights up river to capture wilmington and that's when fort anderson came into
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play. general braxton bragg who was the departmental commander abandoned the forts at the mouth of the river and withdrew them to fort anderson. that's when the most soldiers were in fort anderson during the war. about 2300 confederate soldiers here, about 4500 soldiers across the cape fear river. a division of troops that have been sent by generally from the petersburg line to make sure that wilmington remains in confederate hands. it had to be safeguarded. remember, if wilmington felt he could not maintain his army. you got troops here, troops directly across the cape fear river but general grant wants to capture not just fort fisher and close the harbor to blockade running but he needs to capture wilmington. why? at the time the federals were
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being defeated at fort fisher in the first attack at christmas 1864 the four the federals gained an important victor re- 300 miles miles is off. sherman captured savanna. after capturing, occupying and destroying atlanta and fall of 86 ford fort general sherman marched his 60000 man army the entire breadth of the state and captured savanna on december 21. he. he presented the city to president lincoln as a christmas gift. now save on the seacoast, general grant wanted to transfer sherman's army by c from petersburg -- i'm sorry from savannah to petersburg one last push against robert e lee's army. the great expanded army. wilmington became so important that us grant left virginia, came to the cape fear river and on january the 28th he consulted with the leaders would
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captured fort fisher and asked how do we capture wilmington. the naval task force and the union general, alfred terry said we been here for about two weeks. we've scouted the confederate positions. the ground on the east side of the cape fear river is a peninsula. it is too narrow for military operations. it strongly defended by a log of works known as the sugar works line. what we propose is that you send us reinforcements, will transfer them to the west side of the cape fear river and will have admirable provide covering fire for both lines of the army on the east side and west side of the river but really there's only one major obstacle between us and wilmington and that's fort anderson on the west side.
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the main will provide a lot of elbow room for our army. we can attack fort anderson from the river, we can attack it from the south. if possible we can attack it had on, with the protection of the navy or if necessary, we can outflank it by going around the defenses that go all the way toward more orton pond. that's when the battle occurred, february 17, 1965. admiral flotillas gunboats almost 30 of them would unleash a bombardment over two days on the fort, about 4000 shots on the fort. one of the vessels was a floating tank the monitor montauk. 15-inch guns on board and that
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vessel was able to get within 800 yards of the fort and fire its big cells into the earthworks where were standing right now. in the meantime, grant sent reinforcements that were transferred across great fear river, approached the fort about 2 miles from the north and got within 600 yards of the fort. the ground between the fort and the tree line had been cleared out for a field of fire and what they discovered when they got there was this is a very strong earthen fort. attacking it head-on would be almost murderous. like the attack by the 54 massachusetts on battery in 1863. why they debated to attack it straight on even with the protection of the name he, an
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african-american showed up at their camp on february 18 and said i i know a way around north pond. he got it in, he guided the union forces to brigade the forces around the fort to the west around orton pond and position themselves on the north side on february the 18th. the weakness of fort anderson, like the weakness of fort fisher was that it was a two-sided work. if union forces could get on the north side of the fort they could attack it more easily with less opposition. union soldiers that were captured and deserters informed the general who commanded the garrison here what had happened and they decided to evacuate the fort and retreat towards wilmington. early morning hours every 19th federal forces packed tir
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belongings and abandon the fort and headed towards wilmington. the united states army overran the fort about dawn on february february 19. they had heard the army just south of the fort, heard the sounds of evacuation throughout the early morning hours of february the 19th. as soon as the sun started to come up, they had their bayonets and muskets, charge the fort, stormed over the walls of the fort in time to capture about 40 or 50 of the confederate rearguard that were protecting the rear of the main army and retreat toward wilmington. they also found the garrison flag flying on the ground but union forces by sunrise had captured and occupied fort anderson. the united states navy didn't know that. when it was sunrise they knew
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their bombardment. now their exploding projectiles in the fort among the union soldiers who rushed to the top of the fort, down to the river front where we are now in there waving their hands, waving their hats, blowing their bugles to signal the united states navy that the army has captured the fort. well, for admiral porter that is not good enough. he has a marine contingent row him to shore, he walks up to the top of the fort. he plants his flag in the fort and declares that the united states navy has captured fort anderson. if the only incidents in the civil war where the united states navy captured a confederate fort from the united states army. wilmington fell on february 202, 1865.
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just two days after fort anderson was evacuated, wilminon fell anwhen robbie e lee surrendered his forces because he was no longer able to supply he was forced to andon petersburg in early april and retreated westward into what was run down and forced to surrender on april the ninth two grant forces. that was only about six weeks after the fall of wilmington. most historians focus their attention on virginia or in terms of the seaports of charleston but wilmington played an incredible important role during the war, not that many people know about fort anderson. they hear about the fort's guarding wilmington and the hear about fort fisher and understandably so. if the site of the largest amphibious until the day but we
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have this great earthen fort that is very very important in guarding the city too. we're here in the riverwalk in historic wilmington north carolina. as we continue our look into the city's nonfiction literary culture, culture, will hear one author story about the 1898 clinical to spark by racial tensions here. >> standing right here in front of the 1898 memorial which is put up on the hundredth anniversary of the events here that occurred at wilmington in november 1898. it's a long time coming. it was controversial it was controversial because there are many citizens both black and white that wanted to forget the whole thing and in the black community was thought that if they brought it up too much it might being further repercussions and there was fear of that. the white community preferred to


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