W.L. DeRosset, of Wilmington, Explains Early Defenses of Confederate Point, 1861

[Source: The Wilmington Weekly Star, Wilmington, N. C., July 22, 1881, provided by Bill Reaves]

Wlliam Lord DeRosset Image courtesy of Cape Fear Historical Institute

Wlliam Lord DeRosset
Image courtesy of Cape Fear Historical Institute

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: “Mr. Editor – In your editorial on Fort Fisher, in this morning’s issue, the “facts” have gotten a little “mixed,” and as I had official connection with the defense of Confederate Point in its earliest stages, I have concluded to state what I know of my own knowledge and what I heard actors on the scene.

Capt. C.P. Bolles, under orders from headquarters, erected a battery on the Point in April and May, 1861, a short distance nearer the river than the point at which the famous Blakely gun was mounted in 1864. This battery was intended for two 24-pound Barbette guns, and about May 13th I was ordered with my company (the Wilmington Light Infantry) to proceed from Fort Caswell and occupy and complete the defenses then proposed.

I found the battery entirely devoid of everything necessary for its defense and for preparing therefore, and was told that the guns were lying near low water mark in the river, about one mile from the battery.

The boys went for them with a will, and without implements of any kind, save about 100 feet of seine rope and four pieces of 4×4 scantling, the evening of the second day found the two guns in position and ready for the enemy, as soon as we were supplied with ammunition.

The battery was known as “Battery Bolles,” I think by orders from headquarters. My men constructed breast works for fifty yards on each side of the battery, and thus, the works stood when I was promoted to Major of Third NC Troops and was ordered to Garysburg to take command of the camp of instruction.

At some time during the summer, Col. S.L. Fremont was placed in charge of the construction of other works on the Point, and the result was the casemate battery you refer to and a covered way connecting with Battery Bolles, and the name of the whole works was then changed to Fort Fisher.

My recollection is (having visited the Fort) that there were no rifled guns, but the casemates were supplied with three or four either Dahlgren or 8-inch Columbiad guns.

Fort Fisher, as it finally stood, with the exception of the a mound battery, was planned by General Whiting, I have no doubt. The mound was suggested and built by Colonel Lamb, and is still a monument to his skill and perseverance.

Two 10-inch Columbiads were first mounted there, and no doubt prevented any attempt on the part of the enemy’s ships to enter. The battery at Zeke’s Island was built in part by the engineer forces, and improved and completed by Col. I.J. Hedrick, and commanded by him until he was transferred to Bald Head to build Fort Holmes.

The bricks and stones referred to I understood to have come from the foundation of the old Light House. You will see from the above recollections, which are verified by several of my old command, that accounts of doing on Confederate Point have got a little mixed, and that this statement will serve to give credit to each one interested at any time where credit is due.”

signed: Wm. L. DeRosset.

[Feb. 2015: The above text was originally published in the April 1997 – FPHPS Newsletter (pdf)]

Colonel William Lord DeRosset – Cape Fear Historical Institute

William Lord De Rosset – NCpedia – a Wilmington native