Fort Fisher Battle Analysis

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A Comparison of the First and Second Battles of Fort Fisher From the onset of the Civil War one of the Union 's major strategies was to limit trade between the Confederates and the rest of the world. By the winter of 1864 the Port of Wilmington was the last of the Confederacy 's major ports. Situated at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, Fort Fisher protected this vital trade route. In an effort to cut off supplies to confederate forces and put the final nail in confederations coffin, Rear Admiral David D. Porter was ordered to close the Port of Wilmington. Forces lead by Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler, were transported to Fort Fisher by Porter’s fleet. After an initial volley of fire from Porter’s armada, a landing party…show more content…
We see here two battles with the same strategy. The first failed miserably, but the second achieved great success. What determines success or failure of a mission? Many reports credit the failure of the first battle of Fort Fisher on a lack of resolve from Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler. So much so, that His military career was effectively ended as a result of this failure. However there were many differences in these two expeditions. Coordination, timing, leadership, and weather all played a part in the failure or the success of these two…show more content…
Instead of waiting for Porter and his war ships, Butler carried out an ill-fated attempt to destroy part of the fort’s sea-facing wall. This first engagement proved ineffective and likely gave the confederate forces hours to prepare for the next attack. Joined later by the rest of the fleet the attack began but resulted in little damage to the forts defenses. This is most likely attributed to the design of the fort mounds. Made primarily from earth and sand the mounds were very effective at absorbing the impacts from the union shelling. The small landing party then suffered heavy casualties before reporting that the fort had hardy been disrupted by the naval attack. The continual failure must have been extremely demoralizing for the union forces. In contrast the second expedition nearly double in size arrived and carried out a well coordinated attack that left the guns of Fort Fisher in ruins. The destruction delivered by the naval assault paved the way for the ground forces to take the fort. This time they were better prepared having the benefit of learning from the first failure. The Naval forces delivered fewer but far more effective hits to the fort. Army forces were increased by roughly 50%. The naval assault delivered more direct hits to the forts defensive positions destroying all but a few guns, and resulting in roughly 500 personnel killed or wounded. This is a huge increase compared to the 61 personnel killed or wounded from the first expedition, only 3 of which

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