Rarely does a new study of such well-plowed ground as the American Civil War create so much interest and have such a stunning effect on the literature as this fascinating account of the Union's long-delayed naval assault on Fort Fisher. Based on exhaustive primary source research, this is the first full history—from a naval perspective—of the fort on North Carolina's Cape Fear River and its little-known significance as both the Achilles' heel of the Union blockade and the lifeline of the Confederacy. It challenges many hoary, hidebound perceptions.
While other accounts have concentrated on the Union army's land assault, Robinson weaves together firsthand reports from previously untapped sources to definitively establish how the maze of earthworks, bomb shelters, and gun emplacements protecting Wilmington developed without opposition and enabled Confederate blockade runners to defy the Union navy for more than two years, allowing matériel to flow to Robert E. Lee's forces on the Virginia front. Traditional explanations for the Union's inaction and the sacking of Adm. Samuel Lee are vigorously disputed with often embarrassing new findings. In a breathtaking, minute-by-minute description of the heaviest naval bombardment and greatest amphibious assault the world had ever seen, Robinson offers new evidence that vindicates the two thousand ill-equipped and poorly trained sailors and marines who for more than 130 years have been unjustly blamed for the failure of their terrible, grisly assault across a mile of open beach.
Unrivaled in its scope, research, and readability, this important new contribution to Civil War history demands attention not only for its heretical new information about this nearly forgotten battle, but also for its disconcerting revelations of political mistakes and shenanigans that lengthened the war and a divided nation's suffering.