Since we are the Fort Fisher Chapter of the UDC, I think it is important that we all read at least one book on the Fort’s history, and I highly recommend this month’s selection – Confederate Goliath: The Battle of Fort Fisher by Rod Gragg, published 1991, winner of the prestigious Fletcher Pratt Award presented to the author or editor of the best non-fiction book about the Civil War published during the previous calendar year.
Confederate Goliath is the remarkable story of the men and women caught in one of the most dramatic events of the American Civil War - the Battle of Fort Fisher.
Protector of Wilmington, North Carolina, the South’s last surviving seaport, Fort Fisher was the largest coastal fortification in the Confederacy. Defended by a small but courageous force, in late 1864 and early 1865 the fort became the target of the greatest naval bombardment of the war – followed by a furious and bloody joint assault by thousands of Federal soldiers and sailors.
Gragg crisply recounts the two attempts to blow up and storm Fort Fisher, but rather than a battle narrative, he gives us insights into a place and a people. The story of Fort Fisher is told through a memorable cast of characters – General Benjamin F. Butler, perhaps the most controversial officer in the Northern army; Colonel William Lamb, the brilliant young Southerner who commanded the fort; the cool-headed Federal commander, General Alfred H. Terry, who was admired by Lincoln and handpicked by Grant; Confederate General W. H. C. Whiting, whose adversaries included an invading enemy army and his own superior, the hapless General Braxton Bragg; Rear Admiral David D. Porter, whose thirst for glory led to tragic results on a North Carolina beach – and through the experiences and heroic deeds of many junior officers and enlisted men on both sides.
Based on exhaustive research into official records, unpublished memoirs, diaries, letters, and numerous first-person accounts, Confederate Goliath includes more than fifty period photographs and maps.
It is a powerful, moving narrative, which reports for the first time one of the unforgettable events of America’s bloodiest war.
This award-winning book was made into an Emmy-nominated documentary, aired on public broadcast stations throughout the country, and brings this dramatic battle to life through archival photographs, stunning 35mm cinematography and interviews with leading Civil War historians Rod Gragg, Chris E. Fonville, Jr., and James I. Robertson,Jr.
Both book and DVD are available for sale at Fort Fisher, and the paperback version is available on Amazon for $14.96. Info sources: inside jacket cover & Amazon.com.
Presented 20 January 2011 by Kaye Lavin