America offers many state parks each with their own unique history. On the eastern coast lies a destination known as Fort Fisher. Currently owned by the State of North Carolina, this fort was once a primary location in the war between states. A battlefield hosting an assault over two hundred years ago is visited now by hundreds of people per day. Gift shops, local attractions, and the history alone make this destination a must see if traveling in the southern states. Located on the coast of North Carolina, approximately 30 miles from Wilmington, the legendary Fort Fisher served as a main port defender in the Civil War. Barracks hosted hundreds of Confederate soldiers. There are many unique qualities that a traveler can experience here. From beautiful ocean views, historic lore, camping, and a true feel of the Carolina beaches, the Fort Fisher destination is a must stop for any road adventure.
The year was 1865 and the Confederate ports had been shut down by the Union forces. One fort remained opened to protect all the vessels that would be leaving or entering Wilmington, North Carolina. This was a most important task and one that would end with a major challenge. Fort Fisher would be that fort. The challenge would be an assault lasting two days. After an initial wave of infantry landed, the Union Naval forces began the assault. Supported by 60 vessels, the fort ultimately lost its command and the Union had direct passage to begin pushing into Wilmington. 250 years later the site remains intact.
At first glance the visitor can be immediately taken back to those times. Many of the original features are explorable to the public including cannons, underground bunkers, and a jetty sticking hundreds of yards into the water. The visitor can walk the same trails as those that defended the fort. Some of the buildings remain intact and can be visited. A short climb up stairs, leads to the view soldiers had while keeping watch. One unique feature of this fort was the use of sand. Many of the bunkers were naturally bulletproof due the organic materials used to construct the fort. This is also another reason the preservation is so remarkable. Some of the wood steps and other structures have been renovated over the years but the majority is still original.
Aside from the historical aspects, recreation and tourist attractions are also available. One of North Carolina’s most prominent aquariums is located at Fort Fisher. The beautiful blend of sea animals, plants, and even a butterfly sanctuary make the aquarium one of Fort Fisher’s biggest attractions. They are open yearly and offer student tours, public engagement, and provide plenty of education to help make the coastal lands a healthier place for all that live there. Sharks, turtles, dozens of species of fish, and snakes can be seen easily through the display cases. There is also a petting farm for children and adults to get hands on with horseshoe crabs, urchins, crabs, and stingrays.
Anyone that wishes to visit the beautiful coast and see Fort Fisher will quickly learn that for an area so small, it takes a lot of time to enjoy it all. With the historic state park and the aquarium, someone may need a weekend to experience everything. There are roughly 6 miles of marshes to walk and many areas perfect for the fisherman. Camping is an option you can add that allows you to stay longer and get an even more unique experience. Permits are required but can be obtained by the town office. There is also a military recreation area.
It is a stunning display of Fort Fisher’s tenacity to view it still standing. At one time, this fort was the most technologically advanced in the Confederate Army. It withstood not one, but three attacks from the Union before finally losing command. President Lincoln believed that this fort was a main target in ending the trade of the South. Wilmington was the last operational port and the sole trade route for the South to move weapons and troops. Coincidentally, General Robert E. Lee would surrender unconditionally within 3 weeks of Fort Fisher falling. Hosting the largest naval attack in U.S. history prior to World War 2, the legacy is sealed into the dunes and bunkers that still inhabit the location. Fort Fischer is a great place to spend warm days in the ocean breeze while learning about the history of a great American war.