Monday, December 17, 2012

Fort Fisher

We saw the new movie about Lincoln and several parts of it made me uneasy. My wife and friends said I shouldn't expect it to follow the facts because it was historical fiction. I'm not sure what that means, I've always assumed a story was one or the other.

Anyway, one scene from the movie reminded me of a family story that I thought I would share. Towards the end of the Civil War the Yankees decided to capture Wilmington, North Carolina as it was the only southern port still controlled by the Confederates.

Now they could have done this earlier if they really wanted but North Carolina had been mostly by-passed by the northern troops. It wasn't until the Confederate Capitol of Richmond, Virginia was in their sights that they decided to close off the only obvious southern supply line still open to the Caribbean and Europe.

On Christmas Eve 1864 the Union Army and Navy attacked Fort Fisher and bombarded it for two days. Every other southern sea fort had fallen with less effort but in this case the Confederate troops fought off the Yankees with over four dozen expertly placed and manned cannon.

Christmas is normally a time of truce during wars but this was not the first exception on U.S. territory. No doubt the Union generals expected a victory that would bring them the same fame as it had George Washington four score and eight years earlier on the Delaware, but it was not to be.

A large part of the credit goes to two relatives who were commanding southern troops in Fort Fisher. The 10th North Carolina regiment was also known as the First Regiment, North Carolina Artillery. Companies F and K were manning the cannon at Fort Fisher. Lt. Thomas Arendell was in charge of Company F and Lt. Irvin Fulford in charge of Company K.

The excerpt shown above is from the book, "Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1864-1965" which was published in 1901.

After the December defeat the Northern forces came back in January with a new General in charge and more troops and boats and were able to overpower the Confederates.

Thomas Arendell (1831-1911) was the husband of my 2nd cousin Abigail Fulford, the daughter of William Fulford and Civil Pigott. Abigale was also the first cousin of Irvin Fulford. Thomas Arendell lived in Carteret County after the war and taught school for over 50 years. He is buried in Bayview Cemetery in Beaufort, NC.

Irvin Fulford (1839-1872) was my 2nd cousin, the son of Absalom Fulford and Naomi Rumley of Carteret County, North Carolina. Irvin never married and died soon after the war. He was living in Washington, Beaufort County, listed as a Merchant and Manufacturer of Coaches in the Branson's North Carolina Business Directory of 1869. He is buried in the Old Burying Grounds in Beaufort, NC.

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