Blockade Runners


civilwar_blockaderunner (1)

Blockade Runner Modern Greece

Run Aground Near Fort Fisher in 1862

When I was a young boy growing up near Greensboro, North Carolina, there were still reminders of the Civil War around us.  It was 65 only years in the past, less time than now separates us from the Korean War.  There were a few aged Confederate veterans in the county, and some of them had their old rifles mounted above a fireplace.  My own grandfather had served under Lee, but he had passed away 20 years before my birth.

When we moved to Carolina Beach in 1938, there were many more evidences of the war between the states.  Less than 100 yards offshore the remains of a blockade runner were clearly visible.  When they dredged the sound near our house to create a yacht basin, cannon balls were discovered in the mud and sand, mementos of shellings in December 1864 and January 1865.  In the woods not far away there were still some signs of the desperate fighting that had taken place there.

 Five miles to our south were the ruins of Fort Fisher.  The fort had been built to protect the entrance to the Cape Fear River and keep the harbor at Wilmington open.  The fortifications were taken by land assault in January 1865 following the heaviest naval bombardment in history up until that time.  Our home on Canal Drive was located on a narrow strip of land between ocean and sound, and Federal troops had landed in this place and formed a line to cut off Fort Fisher from reinforcements.

Yes, there was a lot of history around this area.  Wilmington was the last major Southern port to remain open, and blockade runners continued to run up the river to Wilmington until Fort Fisher fell. Blockade running was extremely hazardous, and many runners were sunk or captured.  The bones of many of these ships are scattered up and down the coast.  Despite the risks, however, potential profits were enormous.  One successful run might more than pay for the loss of a ship.

Blockade runner 

A Blockade Runner



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