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tv   To Forge a Thunderbolt  CSPAN  March 19, 2017 10:30am-10:48am EDT

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trained martin van buren whose father was a humble bartender in upstate new york as this rich guy who ran around wearing women's clothing and he has the shrubbery in the front of the white house reshaped they look like the bosoms of amazons. this stuff is really going on so truly, that was a weirder election but that's probably the only one i can think of. >> watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> welcome to wilmington north carolina on book tv located on the cape fear river along the carolina coast, the city was founded in 1737 . due to its proximity to the ocean, wilmington serveds an important trade route during the civil war and was the last atlantic seaport of the confederacy until it fell to union troops in 1865. today, wilmington has a
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population of 112,000 and has become a popular tourist destination with people looking to experience the city's history and nearby beaches. with the help of our charter communications cable partners for the next 90 minutes, we learn about the cities history from local authors. we begin with author chris pineville on fort anderson in the battle for wilmington during the civil war. >> i rolling thunder. [cheering] [applause] >> we are standing on the parapet of fort anderson. it was the largest confederate fort in the lowercase fear in the interior, that part of the
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western land approaches and the river approaches to the seaport of wilmington.the fourth was initially started in march 1862, construction ongoing throughout the war. are still working on it in febrry 1865. the fort was built on top of the old seaport. which was the leading seaport of the river in colonial times, in fact the first enduring settlement on the cape fear river. after the american revolution, it faded into oblivion. the entire site was sold in 1842 for $4.25. and 20 years later, during the civil war, confederate engineers picked this site to build a line of artillery boundaries that western land approaches and the river approaches so beginning in late march in cape fear, they
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came here.with a couple companies of confederate soldiers and americans and they started to clear the site. and build a fort. fort ran from the cape fear river, 1 1/4 miles westward to the edge of porton pond which is actually a lake 12 miles long along the south carolina pond and they use it as kind of a giant float so the earthworks ran to the lake and then you had another five miles of extended area that was impenetrable to ground forces. so the initial line of the work of the builders ran around their and you ran into the area where we are standing now, before it was expanded and strengthened and artillery compartments were built where heavy funds would
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be placed to point downriver in case enemy vessels ever breached the inlets, gone to the river. >> next to charleston, which was the main seaport along the atlantic sea, wilmington was the mostheavily fortified . >> wilmington became the most important support in the south in 1863.it was the largest seaport in north carolina, it was the largest city in north carolina. and when the war broke out. by 1863, when charleston was put under siege by union forces. willington became the most important southern seaport receiving supplies that were smuggled into the confederacy on board vessels known as blockade runners. what's surprising is the union did not go after the fort or make an effort to
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capture wilmington until late 1854. by the spring of 1862, union forces captured and occupied two thirds of the coastal plain of north carolina. we have , c-span. >> all the major river systems and all the river towns. so they controlled everything from southeastern virginia to within 50 miles of wellington. now, wilmington should have been the victim of market but they hopscotch over wilmington and went after charleston and said. austin is where, it was the nest of secession. and public and political interest centered there. even the secretary of the navy jenny wells who had proposed taking wilmington in 1862 when the city was still relatively undefended against
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the week wrote that we should keep wilmington and go after charlestoninstead . >> so they concentrated their efforts militarily on capturing it. poor manpower, resources, naval forces capturing charleston without success. charleston had the largest seizure of the civil war, 587 days and did not fall. even though the federal forces were able to make money, they were uncertain at best. those terms simply transfer their operations 175 miles off the coast to wilmington. by then, wilmington was closed to a major seaport to virginia. and arming and supplying robert e lee's army. in fact, wilmington's importance was so great that
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it became known as lee's lifeline and the lifeline of the confederacy. this main artery of supply for a lee's army, so much so that robert e lee said wilmington must be defended at all hazards. by 1864, he said if wilmington falls i cannot maintain our army. the confederate got good in intelligence that the attack in wilmington was coming by 1864. they knew the attack was going to be against fort fisher so for anderson garrison waslargely depleted , just sending reinforcements to fort fisher so they might have had a company or two of troops here, there would be two attacks on fort fisher. one christmas in 1864 that turned out to be the largest naval bombardment in the civil war. but on the fourth, which is the largest, strongest confederacy classification
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was diffuse and ineffective. so the army that had gone ashore saw the defenses were stl strong. cannons in the port still pointing up the ground that the army was going to have to attack so they aborted the mission. the confederates were victorious. 2 and a half weeks later, they returned with a slightly scaled-down task force. more soldiers, and this time they were determined to capture the port and after 2 and a half days of bombardment, the second largest naval bombardment of the civil war, union ground forces attacked on the afternoon of january 15 and overwhelmed the confederacy. outgunned, how man, exhausted , they put up a good fight but the fork fell that night. then the union forces
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turned their gun sights of the river to capture wilmington. that's when fort anderson came into play. general braxton bragg was partner and commander abandoned the fort south of the river and withdrew them to fort anderson. and that's when the most soldiers were in fort anderson during the war, for about 2300 confederate soldiers here, 4500 confederate soldiers across the river. a division of troops that had been sent by general lee from petersburg alliae to me sure wellington remained in confederate hands. it had to be safeguarded. remember, if wilmington fell, he could not maintain his army troops over here, you've got a river across the cape fear river but general grant forced the capture not just for fisher, closed the harbor to blockade running, he
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needed to capture wilmington. why? well, that time that generals were being defeated at fort fisher in the first attack in 1864, the federals gained an important victory 300 miles to the south. general sherman's army captured savanna after capturing, occupying and destroying atlanta in the fall of 1864, where sherman marched is 3000 army and the entire estate and captured savanna on december 21. then the city, president lincoln, general grant wanted to transfer sherman's army by sea from petersburg, i'm sorry, from savannah to petersburg, one last push against the elite party. the greatly expanded army. so ellington came and us
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grant left from virginia, came to the capefear river and on january 28 , he consulted with the leaders who had captured fort fisher, how do we catch lymington. and the naval task force commander, porter and union general forces captured fort fisher from the south and terry, they said we been here for two weeks now. and we've scouted the confederate positions. the ground on the east side of the cape fear river is a peninsula and to narrow for military operations. strongly defended in our line of works, what we propose is you send us reinforcements, we will transfer them to the west side of the river. we will have reporters filling up the river and provide covering fire for both wings of the army, eastside and westside really there's only one major obstacle between us and
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wilmington, and that's for anderson on the west side but the main one will provide a lot of elbow room for our turning so we can attack for anderson from the river, we can attack it from the south, if possible, we can attack it head on. we can protect it from the navy or if necessary, we can outflank it by going around the defenses and going all the way to the western front. and so that's when the battle occurred on the 18th, early morning hours of february 19. >> admiral porter flotilla of gunboats almost 30 of them, would unleash a bombardment over two days on the fourth, firing 4000 shot shells at the port. one of the vessels in the fleet was a floating cat, and
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monitor montauk. big iron turrets, 15 guns on board and that vessel was able to get within about 800 yards of the port and fire its shells in to the earth works where we are standing now. in the meantime, grants reinforcements were transferred across the cape fear river up to the fort about two miles to the north where they make their landing. and got within 600 yards of the fort, the ground between the fort and tree-lined for 600 yards cleared out for a field of fire and what they discovered when they got there was a very strong earthen fort. attag it head on would be almost murderous. like the attack by the 54th massachusetts battery in austin in 1863 so wildly debated whether or not to attack it straight on, even
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with the protection of the navy, that showed up in their camp late on the afternoon of february 18 and said i know way around the work and fort anderson. so he got in there, he guided the union forces to brigade forces and took the fort to the west, around for pond and position themselves on the night of february 18. the weakness of fort anderson like the weakness of fort fisher was it was a two-sided fort. so union forces on the fourth side of the fort, they could attack it more easily. with less opposition. and union soldiers who were captured and some deserters informed the general that the command of the garrison here would happen so they decided to evacuate the fort and retreat towards wellington.
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so in the early hours of february 19, they packed up their belongings and abandoned the fort and fort wilmington. the united states army overran the fort about donna february 19. they'd heard the alarm south of there, had heard the sounds of evacuation in the early hours of february 19. as soon as the sun started to come up, they fired a volley , charged the fort, stored over the walls of the fort in time to capture 40 or 50 of the confederate rearguard who were protecting the rear of the main army in wilmington. they also found the confederate flag flying on the ground of the fort but union forces by sunrise had captured and occupied for anderson.
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well, the united states navy didn't know that. at sunrise, they renew their bombardment. now their exploding projections in the four where the union soldiers rushed to the top of the fort, down to the river front where we are now and were waving their hands and waving their hats, throwing their bugles, signaling the united states navy that the army had captured before. well, for porter, that's not enough. he has a marine contingent riding to shore. he walks up to the top of the fort. he plants his flag in the fort and declares that the united states navy has captured fort anderson and it's the only incident in the civil war where the united states navy captured a confederate four of the united states army.
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wilmington fell on february 22, 1855, 2 and a half days after fort anderson was evacuated, wilmington fell and ronnie lee surrendered his forces because they were no longer able to maintain his army as he predicted. he was forced to abandon petersburg in early april and retreated westward from what was run down and forced to surrender by us mass forces on april 9 and that was only about six weeks after the fall of wilmington.enough focus their attention on virginia, or in terms of the seaports on charleston. but wilmington played an incredibly important role during the war, not that many people know about for andersut

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