KURE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Before it was Fort Fisher, the land was known as Federal Point: a simple peninsula in between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean.
While there is no inlet to the south anymore, "New Inlet" used to separate Federal Point and Bald Head Island making it a perfect access point to the river, and eventually Wilmington.
When war broke out in 1861, Confederate generals knew they had to protect the Port of Wilmington, and construction began on the fort that would guard the entrance to the river. More than 500 Confederate soldiers, slaves, and Native Americans worked on the fort constantly, building up giant mounds of soil. It would take until 1865, near the end of the war, before the fort was completely finished.
The fort became the biggest "earthern" fort of its time, extending across the entire peninsula and was manned with 47 guns, up to 2,000 men, and an underground bomb shelter.
It was named Fort Fisher after Col. Charles Fisher, an early casualty of war at the First Battle of Manassas.
During the last months of the war, Fort Fisher was the Confederacy's last lifelife, as blockade runners routed supplies to troops inland.
On January 13th, 1865 the Union set its sights on capturing the fort. The two-day assault eventually brought the fort to its knees, and sealed the fate of the Rebels. The battle was the largest land-sea battle in history until World War II.
Today, the few mounds that remain from the fort are preserved as an historic site, operated by the state of North Carolina. It is among the most visited Civil War sites in the South.