First Battle of Fort Fisher Casualties

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First Battle of Fort Fisher Casualties
(Includes Union and Confederate Forces)

FORT FISHER GARRISON
Forces Engaged:
 
Command Effectives
Garrison Approx. 425
Reinforcements December 21:
C.S. Navy Detachment 28
Reinforcements December 23:
40th NC Regiment 110
2 companies, 10th NC Regiment 110
1 company, 13th NC Batt'n 115
NC Junior Reserves 140
Additional Reinforcements:
4th, 7th, and 8th Battalions, NCJR - December 25 443
Total: Approx. 1,371

Casualties:

 
Personnel December 24 December 25
  Killed Wnd. Killed Wnd.
Commissioned Officers -----

2

-----

3

Non-Comm. Officers -----

3

-----

6

Privates -----

16

3

17

Seamen -----

2

-----

8

Marines ----- ----- -----

1

Total:

-----

23

3

35

Aggregate:

61

Rounds Expended:

 
Magazine December 24 December 25*
No. 1 40 35
No. 2 34 62
No. 3 55 60
No. 4 ---------- 4
No. 5 105 19
No. 6 106 18
No. 7 112 70
No. 8 25 84
No. 9 59 114
No. 10 6 70
No. 11 ---------- 60
No. 14 130 122

Total:

672 718
  Aggregate: 1,390
* Approximately 118 rounds expended on the 25th were grape, canister, and shell fired at Federal boats and ground forces. Fort Fisher Contained some 3,600 rounds when the engagement began.

HOKE'S DIVISION

Forces Engaged:

 

Command

Effectives

Kirkland's Brigade:

1,300

17th, 42nd, and 66th NC Regiments

 
Local units subject to Kirkland's orders:*

4th, 7th, and 8th Battalions NC Junior Reserves

Approx. 800

8th NC Senior Reserves

400

Total:

Approx. 2,500

* Force also includes 2nd Co. I, 10th North Carolina Regiment (Southerland's Battery), the Staunton Hill Artillery (Paris's Battery), and a detachment from the 2nd South Carolina Cavalry. On December 26, after the arrival of a portion of Hagood's Brigade and the remainder of Kirkland's, the arms-bearing force at Sugar Loaf was reported as follows: Connally's Brigade, 600; 2nd SC Cavalry, 350; Paris's Battery, approx. 125; Southerland's Battery, approx. 125; Hagood's Brigade, 720.
Total: approximately 3,398.

Casualties:

 
Unit Killed Wounded Missing Total
17th NC 3 11 1 15
42nd NC 1 2 821 85
66th NC 1 1

-----

2
Reserves -----

-----

2242 224
Artillery ----- 2

-----

2

Aggregate:

5 16 307 328
1Soldiers of Company A, 42nd North Carolina Regiment, captured at Battery Anderson south of Sugar Loaf.
2Captured by the 117th New York Infantry.

UNITED STATES ARMY

Forces Engaged:

 
Command Number
Army of the James

6,500 present*

*Approximately 2,300 troops from three brigades of the Second Division, XXIV Army Corps (Brig. Gen. Adelbert Ames), were landed on Federal Point December 25, 1864. A small detachment of N. Martin Curtis's brigade saw action as skirmishers in front of Fort Fisher.

Casualties:

 
Unit Killed* Wounded Captured Total
142nd NY

-----

11 1 12
*One man drowned in the surf upon re-embarkation. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler reported an additional two men killed.

UNITED STATES NAVY

Forces Engaged:

 
Number of Warships

64

Casualties:

 
Killed Wounded Total

20

63

83

Rounds Expended:

 
Projectiles Weight

20,271

1,275,299 pounds

 

Sources:
United States War Department. The War of the Rebellion, A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.

United States Navy Department. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1900-1901.

Johnson, Robert U. and Clarence C. Buel, eds. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. 4 vols. New York: The Century Company, 1884-1889.

As compiled and tabulated in:
The Wilmington Campaign and the Battles for Fort Fisher.
by Mark A. Moore — (Da Capo Press, 1999).

Credit: ah.dcr.state.nc.us;  Mark A. Moore


(Related reading below.)

Recommended Reading: The Wilmington Campaign and the Battle for Fort Fisher, by Mark A. Moore. Description: Full campaign and battle history of the largest combined operation in U.S. military history prior to World War II. By late 1864, Wilmington was the last major Confederate blockade-running seaport open to the outside world. The final battle for the port city's protector--Fort Fisher--culminated in the largest naval bombardment of the American Civil War, and one of the worst hand-to-hand engagements in four years of bloody fighting. Continued below…

Copious illustrations, including 54 original maps drawn by the author. Fresh new analysis on the fall of Fort Fisher, with a fascinating comparison to Russian defenses at Sebastopol during the Crimean War. “A tour de force. Moore's Fort Fisher-Wilmington Campaign is the best publication of this character that I have seen in more than 50 years.” -- Edwin C. Bearss, Chief Historian Emeritus, National Park Service

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Recommended Reading: Hurricane of Fire: The Union Assault on Fort Fisher (Hardcover). Review: In December 1864 and January 1865, Federal forces launched the greatest amphibious assault the world had yet seen on the Confederate stronghold of Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, North Carolina. This was the last seaport available to the South--all of the others had been effectively shut down by the Union's tight naval blockade. The initial attack was a disaster; Fort Fisher, built mainly out of beach sand, appeared almost impregnable against a heavy naval bombardment. When troops finally landed, they were quickly repelled. Continued below…

A second attempt succeeded and arguably helped deliver one of the death blows to a quickly fading Confederacy. Hurricane of Fire is a work of original scholarship, ably complementing Rod Gragg's Confederate Goliath, and the first book to take a full account of the navy's important supporting role in the assault.

 

Recommended Reading: Confederate Goliath: The Battle of Fort Fisher. From Publishers Weekly: Late in the Civil War, Wilmington, N.C., was the sole remaining seaport supplying Lee's army at Petersburg, Va., with rations and munitions. In this dramatic account, Gragg describes the two-phase campaign by which Union forces captured the fort that guarded Wilmington and the subsequent occupation of the city itself--a victory that virtually doomed the Confederacy. In the initial phase in December 1864, General Ben Butler and Admiral David Porter directed an unsuccessful amphibious assault against Fort Fisher that included the war's heaviest artillery bombardment. Continued below…

The second try in January '65 brought General Alfred Terry's 9000-man army against 1500 ill-equipped defenders, climaxing in a bloody hand-to-hand struggle inside the bastion and an overwhelming Union victory. Although historians tend to downplay the event, it was nevertheless as strategically decisive as the earlier fall of either Vicksburg or Atlanta. Gragg has done a fine job in restoring this important campaign to public attention. Includes numerous photos.

 

Recommended Reading: The Wilmington Campaign: Last Departing Rays of Hope. Description: While prior books on the battle to capture Wilmington, North Carolina, have focused solely on the epic struggles for Fort Fisher, in many respects this was just the beginning of the campaign. In addition to complete coverage (with significant new information) of both battles for Fort Fisher, "The Wilmington Campaign" includes the first detailed examination of the attack and defense of Fort Anderson. It also features blow-by-blow accounts of the defense of the Sugar Loaf Line and of the operations of Federal warships on the Cape Fear River. This masterpiece of military history proves yet again that there is still much to be learned about the American Civil War. Continued below…

"The Wilmington Campaign is a splendid achievement. This gripping chronicle of the five-weeks' campaign up the Cape Fear River adds a crucial dimension to our understanding of the Confederacy's collapse." -James McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom

 

Recommended Reading: Rebel Gibraltar: Fort Fisher and Wilmington, C.S.A. Description: Even before the rest of North Carolina joined her sister states in secession, the people of the Lower Cape Fear were filled with enthusiasm for the Southern Cause - so much so that they actually seized Forts Johnston and Caswell, at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, weeks before the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter. When the state finally did secede, Wilmington became the most important port city of the Confederacy, keeping Robert E. Lee supplied with the munitions and supplies he needed to fight the war against the North. Continued below…

Dedicated soldiers like William Lamb and W.H.C. Whiting turned the sandy beaches of southern New Hanover and Brunswick Counties into a series of fortresses that kept the Union navy at bay for four years. The mighty Fort Fisher and a series of smaller forts offered safe haven for daring blockade runners that brought in the Confederacy's much-needed supplies. In the process, they turned the quiet port of Wilmington into a boomtown. In this book that was fifteen years in the making, James L. Walker, Jr. has chronicled the story of the Lower Cape Fear and the forts and men that guarded it during America's bloodiest conflict, from the early days of the war to the fall of Wilmington in February 1865.

 

Recommended Reading: Masters of the Shoals: Tales of the Cape Fear Pilots Who Ran the Union Blockade. Description: Lavishly illustrated stories of daring harbor pilots who risked their lives for the Confederacy. Following the Union's blockade of the South's waterways, the survival of the Confederacy depended on a handful of heroes-daring harbor pilots and ship captains-who would risk their lives and cargo to outrun Union ships and guns. Their tales of high adventure and master seamanship became legendary. Masters of the Shoals brings to life these brave pilots of Cape Fear who saved the South from gradual starvation. Continued below…

REVIEWS:

"A valuable and meticulous accounting of one chapter of the South's failing struggle against the Union." -- Washington Times 03/06/04

"An interesting picture of a little appreciated band of professionals...Well documented...an easy read." -- Civil War News June 2004

"An interesting picture of a little appreciated band of professionals...Will be of special interest to Civil War naval enthusiasts." -- Civil War News May 2004

"Offers an original view of a vital but little-known aspect of blockade running." -- Military Images 03/01/04

"Surveys the whole history of the hardy seamen who guided ships around the Cape Fear's treacherous shoals." -- Wilmington Star-News 10/26/03

"The story [McNeil] writes is as personal as a family memoir, as authoritative and enthusiastic as the best history." -- The Advocate 11/15/03

“Outstanding and compelling depictions of seamen courage and tenacity...Heroic, stirring, and gripping stories of the men that dared to confront the might and power of the US Navy.” – americancivilwarhistory.org

 

Recommended Reading:  Storm over Carolina: The Confederate Navy's Struggle for Eastern North Carolina. Description: The struggle for control of the eastern waters of North Carolina during the War Between the States was a bitter, painful, and sometimes humiliating one for the Confederate navy. No better example exists of the classic adage, "Too little, too late." Burdened by the lack of adequate warships, construction facilities, and even ammunition, the South's naval arm fought bravely and even recklessly to stem the tide of the Federal invasion of North Carolina from the raging Atlantic. Storm Over Carolina is the account of the Southern navy's struggle in North Carolina waters and it is a saga of crushing defeats interspersed with moments of brilliant and even spectacular victories. It is also the story of dogged Southern determination and incredible perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds. Continued below...

For most of the Civil War, the navigable portions of the Roanoke, Tar, Neuse, Chowan, and Pasquotank rivers were occupied by Federal forces. The Albemarle and Pamlico sounds, as well as most of the coastal towns and counties, were also under Union control. With the building of the river ironclads, the Confederate navy at last could strike a telling blow against the invaders, but they were slowly overtaken by events elsewhere. With the war grinding to a close, the last Confederate vessel in North Carolina waters was destroyed. William T. Sherman was approaching from the south, Wilmington was lost, and the Confederacy reeled as if from a mortal blow. For the Confederate navy, and even more so for the besieged citizens of eastern North Carolina, these were stormy days indeed. Storm Over Carolina describes their story, their struggle, their history.

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