By Jeannette Holland Austin
Fort Fisher near Wilmington possessed one of the largest Confederate earthen works forts, with Colonel William Lamb as its commander. In fact, it was Lamb who redesigned the fort similar to the Russian Crimean War fort called Malakoff Tower. It was heavily armed and its earth and sand mound construction readily absorbed bombardment by heavy artillery. In December of 1864, the Union Navy blew up a ship packed with explosive in front of the fort, with slight damage to the fort itself. Determined to close the port of Wilmington to Confederate blockade runners, General Grant ordered a second attack in January of 1865. During January of 1865 Confederate defenders repelled one part of the Union attack on Fort Fisher. However, when Federal units penetrated the defenses of the fort in another sector, they captured the fort. The fall of Fort Fisher closed the part of Wilmington, which was the last fort open to the Confederacy.
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