Wilmington, North Carolina in the American Civil War

Wilmington, North Carolina In The American Civil War

Wilmington, North Carolina in the American Civil War

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Wilmington, North Carolina, was a major Atlantic Ocean port city for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. A vital lifeline for the fledgling Confederacy to trading partners in Europe, Wilmington was one of the last ports to fall to the Union Army.

Wilmington, located 30 miles upstream from the mouth of the Cape Fear River (which flows into the Atlantic Ocean), was among the Confederacy’s more important cities. It ranked 13th in size in the CSA (although only 100th in the pre-war United States) with a population of 9,553 according to the 1860 census, making it virtually the same size as Atlanta, Georgia, at the time.

Wilmington was one of the most important points of entry for supplies for the entire Confederate States. Its port traded cotton and tobacco in exchange for foreign goods, such as munitions, clothing and foodstuffs. These cargoes were transferred to railroad cars and sent from the city throughout the Confederacy. This nourished both the southern states in general and specifically General Robert E. Lee's forces in Virginia. In its entirety, the trade was based on the coming and going of steamer ships of British smugglers. These vessels were called blockade runners because they had to avoid the Union's imposed maritime barricade.

Mostly, these blockade runners stemmed indirectly from British colonies–such as Bermuda, the Bahamas, or Nova Scotia. Often, they were forced to fly the Confederacy's insignia explicitly because Abraham......
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