By Susi Clontz
During the American Civil War while the men joined the ranks of the military, women were left behind to care for farms, businesses, and to raise families.
The women learned that war meant being involved, challenged, and committed to their country, their husbands and community. These strong, determined women were the hopes, dreams, and reality that kept these soldiers fighting for a Southern nation.
One such lady was Sarah Anne Chaffee Lamb – known as Daisy.
Daisy was the wife of Colonel William Lamb, the young commander of the earthen Fort Fisher. In 1863 she left her parents home in Rhode Island to share the hardships and uncertain times of the South with her husband.
Traveling under a flag of truce, she courageously set out for her husband’s new home with her two oldest children, leaving the youngest, Willie, with her parents.
Upon arrival she settled into a quaint, but comfortable pine cottage just north of the fort at Craig’s Landing, a dock overlooking the Cape Fear River.
Here she became known as a gracious hostess, entertaining many famous English naval officers and other influential people. She endured herself to the fort’s garrison by helping tend to the sick and wounded soldiers.
On the morning of January 12, 1865, the Federal fleet appeared on the Fort Fisher horizon. Lamb sent a message to Daisy to get herself and the children packed and ready to leave the fort.
When Lamb later checked on his family, he found Daisy in bed not disturbed by the Federal threat. He quickly gathered his family, helped them pack, and escorted them to his barge that carried them safely across the river to Orton Plantation.
After the fall of Fort Fisher on January 15, 1865, Daisy lost contact with her husband. She finally found him in a Federal hospital. Totally devoted to her husband, she stayed there nursing him back to health while he was a prisoner. After his release, they returned to Norfolk, Virginia, where they had a family of eleven children.
[Editor’s Note (1996): This is Susi Clontz ’s first article for the Newsletter; it originally appeared in the June, 1996 issue of Island Moments.]
[Text was originally published in the August 1996 Newsletter – Federal Point Historic Preservation Society
[2015: Additional resources]
Faces of Fort Fisher 1861 – 1864 – Chris Fonvielle, Jr.
Available in the History Center Bookstore
William & Mary Digital Archive:
William Lamb Diary – Typescript of the diary of William Lamb, 1865 (pdf)
Transcript of Diary of Colonel William Lamb: Oct. 24, 1864 to Jan. 14, 1865 (pdf)
Sarah Lamb – NC Historic Sites
Heart, Hearth and Home: The life of Colonel and Mrs. (Daisy) Lamb
By Amy Hotz – StarNewsOnline.com