Fall of Fort Anderson to Union Forces

An 1865 map of Fort Anderson

An 1865 map of Fort Anderson

On February 19, 1865, Fort Anderson in Brunswick County was captured by Union forces under the command of Gen. Jacob D. Cox. The fall of Fort Fisher in January spurred the Wilmington Campaign and virtually assured the capture of the Cape Fear fortifications and Wilmington.

Cox was directed to move up the west bank of the Cape Fear River and advance on Wilmington from the west. The primary obstacle before the town was Fort Anderson. Designed much like Fort Fisher, it boasted over a mile of earthen fortifications and artillery chambers in addition to batteries that guarded the water approach to the city. The fort made use of the natural terrain, using swampland and ponds as moats and protective defenses along its battlements.

Cox arrived in front of Fort Anderson on February 16. For two days the opposing forces engaged in heavy skirmishing. On the afternoon of February 18, a large Union force was marched around the head of Orton Pond to flank the Confederate stronghold. After a combined bombardment from the river and land attack, the Confederates realized their position was indefensible and the post was evacuated in the early morning hours.

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