ECW Weekender: Fort Anderson

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Anderson-PhillipsWhile its nearby “sister fort,” Fort Fisher, is better known, Fort Anderson likewise played an important role in the defense of the Cape Fear River. Built in 1862, Fort Anderson sat on the west bank of the river, several miles upstream from Fort Fisher and several miles downstream from the vital port of Wilmington, North Carolina.

After the fall of Fort Fisher on Jan. 15, 1865, Confederates crossed the Cape Fear River and made their way up the west bank to consolidate at Fort Anderson. There, they made another stand against Federals. Designed to resist attack from the river, the fort’s right flank was protected only by a chain of ponds connected by lines of earthworks between. Federals captured the fort by outflanking the ponds. The collapse of the fort led to the capture of Wilmington, the last major Confederate seaport, just days later.

Today, Fort Anderson is operated as a North Carolina Historic Site, open Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (closed Sunday and Monday). A small museum and visitor center orients visitors to the action there. Also on site are the remains of one of the earliest settlements in North Carolina, Brunswick Town.

For more information, including a map of the various river fortifications, see “Building a Confederate Fort.” My thanks to Mike Powell and Wally Rueckel of the Brunswick Civil War Roundtable for taking the time to show me Ft. Anderson and Brunswick Town. What follows are a few photos of the interior of the fort.

This map of the fort comes from one of the park's waysides.
This map of the fort comes from one of the park’s waysides.


This bombproof can be seen on the map above. Find the left-most “Rifled 32-pdr.” Beneath it, an edge of the fort slants down and away to the right. The bombproof juts out from the bottom lip of that slant.
The interior of the fort, looking northward.
The interior of the fort, looking northward
The flagpole in the interior of the fort
The flagpole in the interior of the fort
The swampy environs and Spanish moss give Fort Anderson a “Deep South” feel. Even after 150 years, the works dwarf the artillery they were built to protect.



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