Sometimes referred to as the "Gibraltar of the South" and the last major stronghold of the Confederacy, Fort Fisher had tremendous strategic value during the American Civil War.
Wilmington, North Carolina was the last major port open to the confederacy. Ships leaving Wilmington via the Cape Fear River and setting sail for the Bahamas, Bermuda or Nova Scotia to trade cotton and tobacco for needed supplies from the British were protected by the fort. Based on the Malakoff Tower in Sevastapol, Russia, Fort Fisher was constructed mostly of earth and sand. This made absorbing the pounding of heavy fire from Union ships more effective than older fortifications constructed of mortar and bricks. Twenty-two guns faced the ocean while twenty-five faced the land. The sea face guns were mounted on twelve foot high batteries with larger, forty-five and sixty foot batteries at the southern end of the fort. Underground passageways and bombproof rooms existed below the giant earthen mounds of which the fort consisted.
The fortifications were able to keep Union ships from attacking the port of Wilmington and the Cape Fear River until December 24, 1864 when the Union made the holidays extra jolly by launching a two day long attack that resulted in a declaration that the fort was too strong to attack. They returned in January and bombarded the fort by land and by sea. After two and a half days the fort fell. As a result, Confederate supply lines were cut and the days of the war were soon over.
Most of this information gained from notes taken on my visit to Fort Fisher over the Memorial Day weekend. I thank the good people involved in the restoration for all their input.