The Wilmington Campaign

Parts of the Civil War “Battle of Fort Fisher” were fought across the Federal Point peninsula well north of the Fort itself.  And if you know where to look you can still see remnants of the trenches and embankments today.

Again this year Dr. Chris Fonvielle will lead this popular narrated walk from the Federal Point History Center  (1121 N. Lake Park Blvd.) through the Carolina Beach State Park to Sugarloaf, a landmark on the banks of the Cape Fear River.

The walk will last about 2 hours. A $5.00 donation is requested and can be paid the day of the walk.  There is a limit of 25 participants so everyone can see and hear Dr. Fonvielle’s narration. Reservations may be made beginning March 1 at the Federal Point History Center. Call 910-458-0502.

Sugar Loaf Hill, Carolina Beach, NC
Excerpts from “The Wilmington Campaign” by Chris Fonvielle.

Pg. 34 “Like Old Inlet, New Inlet was also protected by artillery emplacements and earthworks.  Shore batteries guarded the beach strand on Federal Point and Masonboro Sound north of New Inlet.  The most notable of three were Battery Anderson (“Flag Pond Battery” in Union accounts) and Battery Gatlin (“Half Moon Battery” to the Federals because of its crescent shape). Confederate artillerymen used batteries along the beach to duel with Union gunboats and safeguard stranded blockade-runners that had been chased ashore – at least until their cargoes had been salvaged. Protecting the river on the east side was a gun battery on the summit of Sugar Loaf, a large fifty-foot-high sand dune on Federal Point peninsula directly opposite Fort Anderson.  When Wilmington was seriously threatened by attack in 1864, Confederate engineers dug entrenchments from Sugar Loaf across the peninsula to Myrtle Sound, within sight of the ocean.”

Pg. 80 [General Whiting] “Frequently visited Federal Point to confer with Colonel Lamb about attack against Fort Fisher.  He even pointed out to Lamb the area where the Federals would most likely come ashore if they targeted Federal Point for a beachhead. In obedience to Whiting’s instructions, Capt. Frances Hawks of the Engineer Corps began constructing defenses between Sugar Loaf and Myrtle Sound in order to guard the head of the sound and the Federal Point Road, the main road to Wilmington.”

Pg. 140 [Christmas Eve Battle] “Whiting knew the cannonade was but a preliminary action preceding the real threat to the bastion: the Federal Land force.  He was counting on Robert F. Hoke’s Division of veteran infantrymen to turn back Butler’s troops when they came ashore.  At about the same time Whiting arrived at the fort, the vanguard of his hopes, regiments of Brig. Gen. William W. Kirkland’s Brigade arrive at Sugar Loaf four-and-a-half miles north of Fort Fisher. Kirkland’s troops had pulled into Wilmington about midnight on December 23, and took up a line of march for Sugar Loaf shortly after sunrise.  Kirkland rode ahead of his command on horseback, reaching Sugar Loaf at 1:00 pm. His troops, exhausted after the difficult train trip from Virginia and the fifteen-mile forced march from Wilmington, did not reach Sugar Loaf until three and a half hours later.”

Pg.  208 “General Hoke rushed Kirkland’s Brigade to Wilmington’s downtown docks, where it boarded steamers bound for Gander Hall, a landing two miles north of Sugar Loaf. From there, the infantrymen would march to the sand dune defenses. Hoke’s other three brigades were en route to Sugar Loaf via the Federal Point Road by 1:00 am January 13.”

Pg. 302 “Unlike his hollow response to the Federal attack on Fort Fisher, Bragg was quick to respond to the fort’s fall, instructing all of his force to withdraw to the Sugar Loaf-Fort Anderson line in order to protect Wilmington.”

Engagement at Sugar Loaf - Map