The Civil War, Day by Day

Admiral David Porter


Adm. Porter, US, attacks Fort Fisher

With the loss of this coastal fort, there were no remaining ports available to Confederate blockade runners. The attack began January 14, 1865, and was considered by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens to be “one of the greatest disasters which had befallen our cause from the beginning of the war.”

In the fall of 1864, Admiral Porter assembled one of the largest war fleets for an all out effort against Fort Fisher. General Benjamin Butler was the Commander of the infantry. Unfortunately, Butler bungled the mission by exploding a ship loaded with gunpowder too far away from the fort to cause any damage…an act which General Ulysses S. Grant deemed a “gross and culpable failure.” Heeding Grant’s advice, President Abraham Lincoln ordered Butler’s retirement, replacing him with General Alfred Terry to lead an attack on Fort Fisher. The partnership of Porter and Terry proved successful. While Porter’s fleet of 59 ships pounded Fort Fisher, Terry’s men defeated General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate forces north of the fort at Sugar Loaf. The South then surrendered Fort Fisher after sustaining 500 casualties. The Union suffered about 1,300 combined deaths and injuries, but took approximately 1,900 Confederate prisoners. The Confederates held Bragg primarily responsible for their capture, for he was too late in defending his position against the Union onslaught.





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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.