For eleven days, Union troops, operating out of nearby Fort Fisher, have been on the offensive against Confederate defenders along the Cape Fear River south of Wilmington. Today the Battle of Wilmington concludes in a Federal victory.
With the fall of the city imminent on the 21st, Confederate General Braxton Bragg, before leaving the city to the Union, burns the city’s storehouses, sending tobacco, cotton, other supplies and equipment up in flames. The shipyards and docked ships are also torched.
About 1 a.m. Bragg and his forces retreat as much of Wilmington burns. Seven hours later Federal forces march into the city, the Union victory serving to close the last Confederate port on the Atlantic coast. The Union blockade of the Confederacy is now complete.
Bragg and his men march toward Goldsboro, where they plan to rendevzous with forces commanded by General Joseph Johnston. In the days to come Bragg is criticized throughout the Confederacy for allowing Wilmington to be taken. So, too, is Confederate President Jefferson Davis, of whom the mounting criticisms serve as more than a whiff of the finality of the Confederacy that is nigh.
With the fall of Wilmington the voice of white North Carolina Southern Baptists via the Biblical Recorder newspaper is silenced for the duration of the war and many months afterward.