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What was the Fort Fisher Survivors Association?

Ben Steelman

The Fort Fisher Survivors Association was a group of Confederate veterans who had served at the fort, especially during the Union attack of Jan. 13-15, 1865. It was separate from the Cape Fear Camp No. 254, United Confederate Veterans, although the memberships of the two clearly overlapped.

Col. William Lamb, commander of Fort Fisher during much of the war, was active in the association and frequently traveled down from his Baltimore home to join in its activities. Other active members included R.W. Price (secretary of the association in 1908 and 1909), N.M. Carter, H.C. McQueen, James A. Smith and A.M. Watson.

The group seems to have been most active around the turn of the last century, organizing reunions on the anniversary of the main Fort Fisher battle. In 1907, the Fort Fisher Survivors Association played host to members of the 117th New York Volunteers Association, veterans whose Union regiment had joined in the assault. The veterans of the 117th returned the favor and invited Fort Fisher’s surviving Confederates to attend a celebration Sept. 7-9, 1909, in Utica, N.Y. The Morning Star and other Wilmington papers devoted considerable space to this latter event, publishing letters from local veterans who reported they were having a wonderful time among their former enemies.

In December 1908, Col. Lamb and other association members gathered in Washington to lobby Congress to have Fort Fisher declared a national battlefield, like Moores Creek Bridge. (The effort didn’t succeed; today, Fort Fisher is a North Carolina state historic site.)

The local history room at the New Hanover County Public Library has files of clippings on the association’s activities. Alas, no one seems to know what happened to the group’s records.

User-contributed question by:
Don Hatch

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