FEBRUARY 21-22ND, 1865: The gunboat fleet of Rear Admiral Porter closed Fort Strong and opened rapid fire "all along the enemy's line" to support the army's assault ashore as it had all throughout the soldiers' march up both banks of the Cape Fear River.
The next day, February 22nd, the defenders evacuated the fort and Porter's ships steamed up to Wilmington, which earlier in the day had been occupied by General Terry's men after General Bragg had ordered the evacuation of the now defenseless city.
On the 22nd, Porter wrote Welles: "I have the honor to inform you that Wilmington has been evacuated and is now in possession of our troops....I had the pleasure of placing the flag on Fort Strong, and at 12 o'clock noon today shall fire a salute of thirty-five guns this being the anniversary of Washington's birthday."
As Admiral Raphael Semmes later wrote: "...we had lost our last blockade-running port. Our ports were now all hermetically sealed. The anaconda had, at last, wound his fatal folds around us."
Getting Sadder and Sadder. --Old B-Runner