On-site Activities

All Educational Programming Components are available to all classes. Some components are staff guided while others are teacher-led. Depending on the size of the group, components will not necessarily be experienced in this order. Classes may see the orientation program if it is not viewed prior to their visit, the exhibits in the Visitor Center including the fiber-optic map and either a guided or self-guided tour of the remains of the fort. This will take approximately 1 ½ - 2 hours including a stop at the gift shop. Other components may be added if time is available. Please allow time for bathroom breaks, gift shop sales and transition from station to station in your planning. Every effort will be made to satisfy your requests, however, staff reserves the right to alter planned programming due to inclement weather or unanticipated staff shortages.

  1. Exhibits on the Battle of Fort Fisher – Inside the Visitor Center, students will see Civil War exhibits and a ten minute fiber optic map program which outlines the troop movements during the battle. Artifacts from the fort are on display as well as information on blockade running and the Cape Fear River Defenses. (Approximately 15 minutes)
  2. Fort Fisher Tour – Students will be led on a half-mile guided tour through the fort. A historical interpreter will explain the importance of the fort, blockade-running, and the port of Wilmington. This tour will also include the story of the capture of the fort in January 1865. (Approximately 45 minutes, maximum 50 participants per tour; larger groups will be divided.)
  3. Self-Guided Tour - Teachers may opt for a self-guided tour with 14 wayside exhibits explaining the history of the fort. At the conclusion of the self-guided tour, classes may participate in one of the following optional activities. Fort Fisher Tour Map (PDF) (Approximately 30 minutes)
  4. Additional Educational Activities:
  • "Cannoneers: Attention!" – Interpreters will teach students about Civil War artillery and how the changes in technology influenced fort construction. Students will have the opportunity to learn the period drill on the site's Napoleon cannon. (Approximately 30 minutes, maximum 50 participants; larger groups will be divided.)
  • "Secret Signals" – Using a classroom set of 2'x2' signal flags, students will learn how messages were sent between the fort and incoming blockade runners. Students will then send their own messages across the site encoded with cipher discs. Not quite as efficient as texting today but nevertheless, an important form of communication during the Civil War. (Approximately 30 minutes, maximum 50 participants; larger groups will be divided.)
  • "Ready, Aim, Fire" – Students will learn about Civil War small arms, including those brought in through the blockade, with a costumed interpreter. The demonstration will conclude with a firing of a reproduction 1853 Enfield Rifle. (Approximately 15 minutes, maximum 75 people; larger groups will be divided.)
  • Rainy Day Option – Morse Code scavenger hunt activity in the exhibit hall. (Approximately 20 minutes)