Susi Hamilton Tapped to Lead Natural & Cultural Resources
Hamilton Sworn in on USS North Carolina
Governor Roy Cooper appointed State Representative Susi H. Hamilton of Wilmington as the new Secretary for the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Rep. Hamilton represented parts of Brunswick and New Hanover counties in the General Assembly. Hamilton took the oath of office on January 26, 2017 aboard the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial surrounded by family and friends and her department leadership team. Friends of Fort Fisher Board Chair John Coble, Board member Mike McCarley, Fort Fisher Site Manager Jim Steele and Exec. Dir. Paul Laird were invited to the ceremony and reception that followed. Secretary Hamilton's early career was in historic preservation so she feels as though her appointment is something of a homecoming to the department that oversees all state historic sites and museums, terrestrial and underwater archaeology. Welcome home, Secretary Susi Hamilton!
Secretary Susi H. Hamilton
Friends Annual Meeting Touts Successes
More than 100 Friends members and descendants of soldiers who served and fought at Fort Fisher gathered to celebrate another year of significant accomplishments. Held concurrently with the annual commemoration of the 2nd Battle of Fort Fisher, the Friends met on Saturday, January 14, 2017 in the comfort of the Carolina Beach Courtyard by Marriott hotel.
Following the keynote address by Dr. Chris Fonvielle, Jr., a short business session was conducted. The financial report and audit showed a healthy, well managed and governed organization. A slide show presented projects and donors/sponsors for which $38,000 was raised. These include 5 new wayside trail interpretive markers (sponsors: NC Division UDC and Fort Fisher Chapter, UDC, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Charitable Foundation, Society of the Order of the Southern Cross, and the Laird Family.) A new exhibit case to house the Col. William and Daisy Lamb artifacts was sponsored by a donation from the Brunswick Civil War Roundtable in memory of co-founder Tom O’Donnell. Renovation and repair of the Armstrong Cannon carriage and chassis was completed by Anchor Wood Products of Leland, NC made possible by donations from numerous Friends members. (Anchor Wood also built the Col. Lamb exhibit case.) The biggest project completed in time for the anniversary program was repair and renovation of the site’s working 32 pdr. rifled and banded seacoast mounted cannon in Shepherd’s Battery elevated gun chamber. This difficult project was made possible by donations from Friends members and a generous grant from the Society of the Order of the Southern Cross.
Dr. Chris Fonvielle Addresses Annual Meeting
The Friends honored State Representative Ted Davis, Jr. for working with us through the Master Plan project and then working with the General Assembly’s House leadership to appropriate $400,000 to proceed with advance planning and design for a new Fort Fisher visitor center and museum. Rep. Davis was commissioned an honorary colonel of the 36th NC Regiment (2nd NC Artillery), the primary garrison regiment at Fort Fisher. Rep. Davis also was presented a mounted timber over 300 years old that had been used in the construction of Fort Fisher, 1861-1865. Rep. Davis accepted the honors and reported his enthusiastic support for preserving our heritage, history and Fort Fisher, in particular.
Descendants were assisted with genealogical research by George Davis Camp 5, Sons of Confederate Veterans Commander Justin Ward and Adjutant Glenn Kye and Sons of Union Veterans MG Thomas H. Ruger Camp members Dennis St. Andrew and James Johnson. The audience heard from Friends members Don Kinlaw and Dan Hickman who described their journeys in discovering their ancestors and their ties to Fort Fisher.
Tom Fagart from Concord, NC discussed NC troops whose capture resulted in their confinement in Elmira POW Camp in New York. The mortality rate for the Fort Fisher captives was over 47 percent. Tom is a board member of the non-profit Friends of Elmira POW Camp and is the FOFF liaison with Elmira as we work to bring attention to these largely forgotten Confederates resting in Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira. Tom has ancestors who are among those in Woodlawn. (See our Elmira website page to learn more and sign up if you are interested in receiving information on traveling to Elmira in June 2017 to honor those in Woodlawn and for dedication of a newly reconstructed original prison camp building that will be open to the public for educational purposes.) The meeting adjourned while attendees gathered to talk about mutual ancestors and compare records and then departed to participate in the daylong 152nd anniversary program activities at Fort Fisher State Historic Site. The site reported over 6,100 attendees for the day. By any measure, the Friends Annual Meeting/Descendants Reunion and the 152nd Fort Fisher Anniversary Commemoration were great triumphs.
Rep. Ted Davis, Jr. (right) Recognized For His Support
Donald Kinlaw (right) Discusses his Fort Fisher Ancestors
Friends Rifle Raffle Winner
Sharps Winner George Brann
George J. Brann of Lutz, FL proudly displays his new Model 1859 Sharps Rifle as winner of the Friends of Fort Fisher annual black powder rifle raffle. Mr. Brann held winning ticket 0637 out of over 2,100 tickets sold. Congratulations, and a new raffle for another popular Sharps is underway with that drawing scheduled during the Fort Fisher 153rd Anniversary Commemoration, January 13, 2018.
The Model 1859 Sharps Infantry Rifles were large bore single shot rifles designed by Christian Sharps and renowned for long-range accuracy. The military Sharps infantry model was a falling block, breech loading rifle that used a standard percussion cap and paper cartridge. When the loading level is moved forward, the breechblock "falls" into the lowered position. The rear (breech) end of the chamber is exposed to allow for the loading of an unfired cartridge. By moving the handle back to its starting position, the breechblock moves "up" into the firing position. The rising breechblock opens the cartridge and seals the chamber. When the cartridge is fired, the breechblock seals the rifle from the high pressure and safely transfers the recoil to the action and stock. The Sharps was an expensive rifle to produce, costing as much as three times the standard single shot, muzzleloading infantry rifled musket of the period.
This beautiful rifle was used by the US Marines during their assault on Fort Fisher in January, 1865.
Announcing A North Carolina & New York Partnering Relationship:
Friends of Fort Fisher & Friends of Elmira Civil War Prison Camp
The Fort Fisher Restoration Committee, Inc, was established in 1960 by site supporters in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources as the Centennial of the Civil War approached. It was responsible for much of the funding for programs at the site directly related to Centennial events. FFRC was incorporated in 1991 and recognized by the IRS as a 501(c) (3) in 1997 and by Board action, became Friends of Fort Fisher in 2009.
The Friends of Fort Fisher's mission is to preserve, enhance and interpret the Fort Fisher battleground, promoting an appreciation of Fort Fisher's importance in our nation's history. As the official state sanctioned nonprofit support organization for the historic site, the Friends of Fort Fisher provides financial support to ensure attainment of its stated mission.
"How few realize at what cost our nation's unity has been purchased." Lt. Cmdr. William B. Cushing, USN
A Significant Moment in History
The strategic importance of Fort Fisher and the port of Wilmington was not lost on the Confederacy’s military leader, General Robert E. Lee. He knew that the loss of Fort Fisher and the deepwater port city of Wilmington with its railroad connections would herald the end for his supply starved army in Virginia and doom hopes for an independent Southern nation as well. Indeed, Fort Fisher was the “lifeline of the Confederacy” and precipitated the most extraordinary joint military expeditions in history up to that time to ensure its capture in December 1864 and January 1865.
“As my men would fall, others would take their places. It was a soldier’s fight at that point, for there was no organization, the officers of both forces were loading and firing with their men. If there has ever been a longer or more stubborn hand-to-hand encounter, I have failed to meet with it in history.”
Colonel William Lamb, CSA Commanding, Fort Fisher
Why does Friends of Fort Fisher exist?
Friends of Fort Fisher commemorates and enhances a place where great moments in our national history occurred and important moments in our everyday lives continue to take place. FOFF connects us to our American history. Fort Fisher is a tangible connection to that history that helps us understand our past, appreciate our triumphs and learn from our mistakes.
FOFF exists as the primary partner with the state of North Carolina to help interpret and showcase the strategic importance of Fort Fisher and those who struggled in mortal combat for our nation. FOFF also ensures that quality experiential opportunities are provided to visitors.
Anniversary Program for the Battle of Fort Fisher Saturday, January 13, 2018 The weekend marks 153 years since the South made its last stand at Fort Fisher!