This is a bit of a trick question since, until its creation in 1875, Pender County was part of New Hanover County. Thus, the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge, on Feb. 27, 1776, technically took place in New Hanover County, although the Moore’s Creek National Battlefield near Currie, N.C., is now in Pender County.
If you go by the present New Hanover boundaries, standard histories record two land engagements in the Revolutionary War and two in the Civil War:
The engagement took place in Rocky Point, near Heron’s Bridge, a remarkable early drawbridge over the Northeast Cape Fear River (not far from the present I-40 bridge),built by Benjamin Heron around 1768. The British, who had the advantage with two 3-pound artillery pieces, managed to surprise the Patriot camp and drive Young’s forces away. Craig then had the bridge burned and marched back to Wilmington.
Sketchy records indicate the Patriots lost three killed, eight captured and an unknown number wounded. British casualties were placed at seven wounded.
According to Chris Fonvielle of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, estimating casualties at Fort Fisher is a tricky business, since sources disagree about how many Confederates were actually there. Lamb, after the war, maintained he had no more than 1,900 men on duty, but Union sources estimate the Confederate garrison at 2,100 or more. Some evidence suggests Lamb might have underestimated the number of South Carolina reinforcements he received on the eve of the battle.
On the Confederate side, some 500 Confederates were killed or wounded in the battle proper, with 1,400 to 1,500 captured. Of these, some 1,100 were sent to the federal prison camp at Elmira, N.Y., where — according to figures compiled by author Richard Triebe in his book “Fort Fisher to Elmira,” – 46 percent of them died before release. Causes of death ranged from pneumonia, smallpox and measles to diarrhea. An exceptionally cold winter and poorly built barracks (in what was originally intended only as a transit camp) took their toll among stressed and often wounded Southerners, unused to Northern weather.
Union casualties from Fort Fisher are just as hard to compute, Fonvielle noted, since official records did not include naval losses — when sailors armed with pistols and cutlasses made a forlorn rush against the surviving cannon on the beach earthworks — or casualties from the 25th Corps of “U.S. Colored Troops.” The federal tally was somewhere between 1,166 and 1,452 killed, wounded and missing. These include 664 casualties from Gen. Adalbert Ames’ division whose three brigades had directly attacked the fort. Another 105 Union soldiers were killed or wounded on the morning of Jan. 16, 1865, when the captured fort’s main powder magazine accidentally exploded.
Date posted: September 9, 2011
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