Saturday, August 20, 2011

River Runaways in the Wilmington Area-- Part 3

The commander of Fort Fisher, Col. William Lamb, lost one of his slaves which led to a big security breech at the fort.

In May 1864 Charles Wesley, one of Lamb's slaves, made a beach escape and was picked up by thee USS Niphong. Having helped to build the fort, he proceeded to explain the fort's layout, artillery, the fact that the garrison fluctuated, and that it consisted of a mixture of artillerymen, regular troops and junior and senior reserves.

This information was used several months later when Union forces attacked Fort Fisher.

In all, 180,000 black men fought in the war. Eighty-two from Wilmington joined the Union Army or Navy and a dozen of them were at the final Battle of Fort Fisher.

Nearly a third of the Army soldiers who stormed Fort Fisher belonged to United States Colored troops regiments, mostly made up of former slaves. They were held in reserve in the initial fighting, but very much involved in the final struggle.

One veteran of the 37th USCT, raised in Kinston, marched into Wilmington the next month and saw his mother among the cheering crowds of blacks. She remarked that he had left home as a slave, but now returned as a soldier and a free man.

An Interesting Story. --Old B-Runner

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