Wilmington, NC – “The importance of closing Wilmington and cutting off Rebel communication is paramount to all other questions,” said Gideon Welles, United States Secretary of the Navy, September 15, 1864. President Abraham Lincoln agreed, as Wilmington was the last supply line open to Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
Four months later, in January 1865, 60 Union blockade ships and over 9,000 Union troops, including the 27th U.S. Colored Troops from Ohio, launched an amphibious assault on Fort Fisher to battle for the last open Atlantic port known as “the lifeline of the Confederacy.”
January 17-19, 2014, the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History presents a weekend of hands-on activities dedicated to the 149th anniversary of this massive Union blockade, the final Battle of Fort Fisher, blockade running by the Confederacy, and the last defense for the port city of Wilmington.
The museum’s Civil War History Weekend includes dinner lectures by leading historians, a guided tour of Fort Fisher (with box lunch), a behind-the-scenes tour viewing artifacts preserved by Fort Fisher’s underwater archaeology lab team, historical information about the highest concentration of blockade runner shipwrecks in the world (at the mouth of the Cape Fear River), and a walking beach tour of nearby blockade runner shipwreck sites.
Historians for the Civil War History Weekend include:
Dr. Robert Browning, chief historian for the U.S. Coast Guard the world’s leading scholar of the Union naval blockade;
Dr. Mark Wilde-Ramsing, former Deputy State Archaeologist of the Underwater Branch N.C. Department of Cultural Resources and Project Director of Underwater Archaeology for the Queen Anne’s Revenge Project;
Dr. Chris Fonvielle, Jr., a leading author and historian of Civil War coastal operations, defenses, and blockade running;
Dr. Stephen Wise, author and museum curator, director and cultural resource manager, U.S. Marine Corps, Parris Island, South Carolina.
Each speaker will offer fascinating perspectives of events surrounding this pivotal chapter in Civil War and North Carolina history.
Lectures and presentations will be held at Blockade Runner Beach Resort, named in recognition of over 80 sunken blockade runners in the region. Blockade Runner will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2014.
Proceeds benefit the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History.