WINNABOW, NC (WECT) – With the exception of a few small skirmishes, most of the major fighting in the Civil War took place on battlefields well inland.
But the four year long war hit our area hard in the last few months of fighting. This weekend, the 149th anniversary of the battle at Fort Anderson will be observed, and there is a new addition coming to the small battlefield.
A Union naval bombardment and assault of the Confederate Fort at the entrance to the Cape Fear River led to the surrender of Fort Fisher in mid January, 1865. And that led Union forces to begin a march up the river to the Port of Wilmington.
However, they first had to get by Fort Anderson, where determined southern soldiers had dug into the high ground along the banks of the Cape Fear. It took three days of fighting, from both the River and on land before the Fort was captured.
Fort Anderson historian Jim McKee says the Union had tried to capture Wilmington many times, but the Confederacy began using torpedoes to damage or destroy many Union ships, but not the type launched by submarines.
"These were more fixed mines, and they were really what the Union Navy was most afraid of," said Fort Anderson historian Jim McKee. "Basically, it was a mind field out in the water, they could be detonated on contact, when a ship hit one, but they could also be detonated electronically from shore."
In the Fort Anderson Visitors Center, there is a display of the various types of torpedoes the Confederates used.
For the past year, a group called "Friends of Fort Anderson" has been working to bring another exhibit to the site. And now, enough money has been raised to purchase a large cannon that CPU;d could launch shells some thirty two pounds in weight, similar to the one that now sits on Battery Buchanan at Fort Fisher.
"The friends just purchased the tube that is being fabricated now, the carriage is being procured now, by the State of North Carolina, and the last phase is the platform and that is in which you will see the gun mounted on in that wooden placement," said Brenda Bryant, Fort Anderson State Historic Site Manager.
And if all goes as planned, the new cannon would be part of Fort Anderson's educational collection before the 150th anniversary of end of the Civil War.
Demonstrations of the torpedo weapons will be given this weekend as part of the Fort's special program. Fort Anderson is located in Winnabow.
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