Civil War Times

THE LAST LIFELINE

BY THE CLOSE OF 1864, Wilmington, N.C., was the only port still controlled by the Rebels. Despite the Federal blockade, an estimated 80 percent of the sleek, low-lying blockade-runners made it through with valuable goods. To guard against Federal attacks via the mouth of the Cape Fear River, 30 miles south of Wilmington, the Confederates in 1861 had erected Fort Fisher, the “Gibraltar of the South,” along more than a mile of land on the peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River. On January 12, 1865, the Federals launched the war’s final waterborne invasion, totaling more than 9,000 soldiers,, which participated in every major battle of the Pacific Theater in World War II. The nine-story ship is now moored across from the historic waterfront. Another notable waterfront feature is a whimsical, oversized Venus Flytrap, emblematic of the region’s unique natural treasure—carnivorous plants that grow nowhere else in the world.

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