Here, Gragg (The Illustrated Confederate Reader--not reviewed) tells a dramatically moving story of the courage and sacrifice shown by soldiers and sailors of North and South in the desperate struggle for Fort Fisher, the "Confederate Goliath" guarding the last major open seaport of the Confederacy--Wilmington, North Carolina. In late December 1864, Sherman had closed the ports of Savannah and Charleston. But outside Wilmington, daring blockade-runners slipped by federal warships at night bringing vital arms, food, and other scarcities to the depleted South in exchange for cotton. As Confederate General Bragg was sent to defend Wilmington, Grant ordered an amphibious assault, under Admiral Porter and Admiral Terry, after a bombardment by federal ships. Gragg gives a vivid account of the fierce hand-to-hand struggle inside the fort as the survivors of the costly Union attack finally breached the strong outer defenses. Bragg, he shows, failed to reinforce the fort's garrison adequately, and also retreated instead of counterattacking. The Union force captured Wilmington and closed the last Southern lifeline to the sea; Lee's half-starved army surrendered a few months later. Gragg's smooth narrative style succeeds in building suspense by his chronological arrangement of letters, memoirs, and articles written by participants; and while he discusses military strategy, he never loses touch with the human element of the drama. A powerful and poignant story.