Fort Fisher

Fort Fisher
Fort Fisher, NE Bastion. Frank Vizetelly (National Geographic)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Blockade-Runner Chameleon Runs Into Cape Fear and Then Out Again

JANUARY 19TH, 1865:  The blockade-runner Chameleon (formerly the raiser CSS Tallahassee) under Lt. John Wilkinson, from Bermuda ran into the Cape Fear River loaded to the rails with commissary stores and provisions for General Lee's Army.

The ship had departed on this special  mission on December 24, 1864, during the First Battle of Fort Fisher.

Upon his return, Wilkinson successfully ran the blockade again (as he had done on 21 separate occasions during 1863 in the blockade-runner Robert E. Lee) and had entered the harbor before learning that Union forces had captured Fort Fisher during his absence.

The Chameleon reversed course and rushed safely back out to the sea.

He gave credit to his escape only because the ship had twin screws, which "enabled our steamer to turn as if on pivot in the narrow channel between the bar and the rip."

After an unsuccessful attempt to enter Charleston and in the absence of orders from Secretary Mallory, Wilkinson took the Chameleon to Liverpool and turned the ship over to Commander Bulloch, the Confederate naval agent.  Ironically, he arrived on 9 April, the same day Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox.

Quite An Escapade.  --Old B-R'er

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