Thursday, July 18, 2024

See Fort Fisher the way it looked in 1865

KURE BEACH — A historical double feature is set for Fort Fisher State Historic Site next Saturday. Two events will recall the days just after the fort fell to the Union in early 1865.

The fort will host the program “Picturing Fort Fisher: the 1865 Timothy O’Sullivan Photographs,” on Saturday, June 10.

The program will feature the work of Civil War photographer Timothy O’Sullivan, who documented the results of the famous battle of 1865. O’Sullivan, a nationally renowned war photographer, arrived at the fort in late January 1865, just weeks after the fort fell. The battle is among the most famous of the Civil War battles, as the fort represented the final coastal stronghold of the Confederacy.  The fort served a pivotal role in supplying Confederate troops in Virginia.

Photographer Harry Taylor and one of his 19th-century cameras. (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY OF N.C. DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL AND CULTURAL RESOURCES)
Photographer Harry Taylor and one of his 19th-century cameras. (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY OF N.C. DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL AND CULTURAL RESOURCES)

On display around the site will be enlarged photographs of Fort Fisher taken by O’Sullivan more than 150 years ago.

To demonstrate the magnitude of O’Sullivan’s work, local photographer Harry Taylor will be at the fort, taking photos with his 1860s-era camera equipment and a reproduction darkroom wagon. These, according to a press release from the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, are similar to those used in the day by O’Sullivan and his fellow Civil War photographer Matthew Brady.

“Mr. Taylor will be available to discuss the detailed and fascinating process of creating ‘wet-plate’ negatives and ‘tin-type’ photographs,” the release states.

At 2 p.m., UNCW professor Dr. Chris Fonvielle Jr., an author and historian, will discuss O’Sullivan’s career and the photos he took of Fort Fisher.

Historian and UNCW Professor Dr. Chris Fonvielle Jr. will be at Fort Fisher on June 10 to discuss the work of Civil War photographer Timothy O'Sullivan. (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY OF N.C. DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL AND CULTURAL RESOURCES)
Historian and UNCW Professor Dr. Chris Fonvielle Jr. will be at Fort Fisher on June 10 to discuss the work of Civil War photographer Timothy O’Sullivan. (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY OF N.C. DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL AND CULTURAL RESOURCES)

O’Sullivan traveled with the Union for four years. It is estimated that he may have taken thousands of photographs. In late January 1865, O’Sullivan was dispatched to document the results of the battle that captured Fort Fisher weeks earlier.

Fonvielle will also meet with visitors and sign copies of his books, which will be available for purchase in the museum store. The program is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Fort Fisher programming is paid for by the Friends of Fort Fisher, New Hanover County, the town of Carolina Beach, and the town of Kure Beach.

Fort Fisher State Historic Site is located at 1610 Fort Fisher Blvd. S, Kure Beach. For information, call the site at 910-458-5538. 

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