Ironclads and Columbiads recounts the exciting battles and events that shook the coast of North Carolina during America's bloodiest war. Throughout the Civil War, North Carolina's coast was of great strategic importance to the Confederacy. Its well-protected coastline offered a perfect refuge for privateers who sallied forth and captured so many Union merchant vessels in the early days of the war that maritime insurance companies in the North went into a panic, forcing the government to mount an expedition against Cape Hatteras. North Carolina's coastal counties and the state's coastal railroad system were vital to the feeding and resupply of Robert E. Lee's army. And even after the tightening blockade and powerful Federal assaults closed off the ports of Charleston, New Orleans, and Mobile, Wilmington continued to provide a haven for blockade runners. That city eventually became the most strategically important location in the entire Confederacy. To subdue Fort Fisher, which stoutly defended Wilmington, the Union was forced to assemble what was then the largest naval and amphibious landing force in American history. William R. (Bill) Trotter is an essayist, book reviewer, and author of The Civil War in North Carolina and A Frozen Hell, among other books, as well as several short stories and novellas, and has twice been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award. He wrote a monthly column called 'The Desktop General' for PC Gamer magazine until 2004. He was the first recipient of the North Carolina English Teachers' Association 'Lifetime Achievement Award.' He lives in Greensboro, NC.