Confederate Command Gallery

First Defense of Fort Fisher

portrait of Col. William LambCol. William Lamb, Commander, Fort Fisher

Young Colonel Lamb was humbled by the first appearance of the Federal fleet off Cape Fear: "A grander sight than the approach of Porter's formidable Armada towards the fort was never witnessed on our coast . . . With the rising sun out of old ocean there came upon the horizon one after another, the vessels of the fleet, the grand frigates leading the van, followed by the iron-clads . . . . On the vessels came, growing larger and more imposing as the distance lessened between them and the resolute men who had rallied to defend their homes."

portrait of Maj. Gen. WH. C. WhitingMaj. Gen. W H. C. Whiting, District of the Cape Fear

When the Union fleet departed Cape Fear after the failed attempt to capture Fort Fisher, General Whiting was both relieved and concerned: "Thus ended this extraordinary movement — extraordinary in the magnitude of the preparation, the formidable character of the fleet, the severity of the fire, and the feebleness of the enemy's effort on land . . . . That great and irreparable disaster did not overtake us we owe to God . . . but we cannot always hope for such aide from the weather or the blunder of the enemy manifest here from his not landing and occupying [Fort Fisher] . . . and I trust the lesson will not be lost."

portrait of Brig. Gen. William K. KirklandBrig. Gen. William W. Kirkland, Brigade Commander, Hoke's Division

Of the Union landing on the Federal Point peninsula in December 1864, General Kirkland noted: "[Our advance] pressed close upon and drove their skirmish line back upon their main body, which was covered by the guns of at least thirty men of war lying broadside to the beach. It would have been madness to have advanced farther."