1865 March 4: Battle of Wilmington and the Capture of Fort Anderson
The Battle of Wilmington was fought February 11-22, 1865 and It fell to Union troops after they overcame Confederate defenses along the Cape Fear River south of the city. These reports come from the March 4, 1865, issues of both The Polk County Press and The Prescott Journal. “Capture of Wilmington” was the headline in the Journal and “Fort Anderson Captured” was the headline in the Press. There are slight variations between the two papers.
Capture of Wilmington.
Fort Anderson Captured.
BALTIMORE, Feb. 22.
Fort Anderson was captured on Sunday by General Schofield [John M. Schofield] and Admiral Porter [David D. Porter]. Most of the garrison escaped towards Wilmington. All the guns were left in good condition. The army was following towards Wilmington, accompanied by two monitors, and it was expected by the messenger that Wilmington would be in our possession on Monday.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 22.
The Navy Department has received the following from Admiral Porter :
U. S. FLAGSHIP, MALVERN, }
Cape Fear River, Feb. 19, 1865. }
To Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy :
SIR :—I have the honor to report the surrender or evacuation of Fort Anderson.
Gen. Schfield advanced from Smithville with 8,000 men, on the 17th inst., and at the same time I attacked the works by water, placing the monitor Montauk close to the works and enfilading them with the Pawtucket, Santee, Unadilla and Pequot, the tide and wind not allowing more vessels to get under fire.—The fort answered pretty briskly, but quieted down by sunset.
On the 18th, at eight o’clock, I moved closer, the Montauk, leading, followed by the Mackinaw, Huron, Sassacuss, Pontoosac, Marratango, Santee, Unadilla, Pawtucket, Osceola, Shawmut, Seneen, Chippewa and Little Ada, and kept up a heavy fire through the day, until late in the afternoon. The enemy’s batteries were silenced by three o’clock, tho’ they kept up fire until dark. We also fired through the night.
In the meantime Gen. [John M. Schofield] was working in the rear of the rebels to cut them off. The latter did not wait for the army to surround them but left in the night, taking five or six pieces of light artillery with them and everything else of any value. At daylight this morning some of our troops that were near by went in and hoisted the flag on the ramparts, when the firing ceased form the monitors.
There were ten heavy guns in the Fort Anderson, and a quantity of ammunition. We lost but three killed and five wounded.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
. .DAVID D. PORTER,
. .Rear Admiral.
Appearing only in the Prescott Journal is the following:
The Tribune’s correspondent says of Fort Anderson : It is a work of great extent, covering nearly as much ground as Fort Fisher. It is a work if immense strength, its sea fronts like that work, being a series of large mounds, or traverses, rising 25 to 30 feet above the waters of Cape Fear river, on which it fronts to the northeast, and extending in alternating mounds, traverses, angled, embrasures and ditch, enclosing an area of about four square miles. It’s importance is greatly embraced , when I state that it was connected with a system of river obstructions, chevaux-de-frise, torpedoes, &c., which it would have been impossible to pass while held by the enemy, and also commands the right of the enemy’s strong lines of work on the opposite peninsula side of Cape Fear river. The capture of this fort, which is the key of their position, necessitates the evacuation of that work, now or until yesterday was held by Gen. Hogg’s division, and the retirement of the whole of Gen. Bragg’s [Braxton Bragg] force to point nearer Wilmington.
WAR DEPARTMENT, }
WASHINGTON, Feb. 24–9:45 A.M. }
To Maj. Gen. Dix [John A. Dix] :
Dispatches just received announce that Wilmington is in possession of our troops.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 24.
The navy Department has just received the following:
U. S. FLAG SHIP MALVERN, CAPE FEAR RIVER. }
Feb. 22, via Fort Monroe, Feb. 24. 9 a. m. }
Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy :
I have the honor to inform you that Wilmington is in possession of our troops.
DAVID D. PORTER, Rear Admiral.