Wilmington, a city and port of entry of New Castle co., Delaware, the chief city of the state, at the confluence of Christiana and Brandywine creeks, 28 m. S. W. of Philadelphia; pop. in 1850, 13,979; in 1860, 21,258; in 1870, 30,841, of whom 5,152 were foreigners and 3,211 colored; in 1875, 39,750, or, including suburbs, about 42,500. The city is built principally upon the hilly ground between the creeks, which rises gradually from them on three sides to a height near the N. W. boundary of 243 ft. above tide water. The junction of the Christiana and Brandywine is about one mile above their united entrance into the Delaware, and half a mile below the built portion of the city, but within its boundaries, which now extend to the shore of the Delaware as well as beyond the other streams. The city is regularly laid out, with streets at right angles, the principal ones paved with stone, and all lined with brick sidewalks. The buildings are uniformly of brick, made of excellent clay underlying and surrounding the city. The public buildings are the city hall, the county almshouse, the custom house and post office, the Wilmington institute and public library, and the opera house.
There are several handsome church edifices, including the Central and West Presbyterian and Grace (Methodist) churches, and the church of the Sacred Heart (German Catholic). The old Swedes church, a stone edifice erected in 1698, is still in a fair state of preservation. The city is supplied with excellent water from the Brandywine. The streets are lighted with gas and traversed by horse cars. In a distance of 4 m. terminating within the limits of the city the Brandywine falls 120 ft., affording great water power. On its banks are extensive flouring mills, celebrated powder mills, and numerous and large cotton, bleaching and dyeing, paper, and other mills. But the pity is especially noted for the extent and variety of its manufactures by steam power, including carriages, morocco, cars, cotton goods, iron castings, iron steamships, plate, bar, and sheet iron, engines and boilers, a great variety of other articles of iron and steel, phosphates and sulphuric acid, wooden vessels, boots and shoes, leather, etc, and vulcanized fibre, the result of a chemical process for utilizing paper for various purposes in which leather, wood, and iron have heretofore been employed.
Wilmington was the first place in the country where iron ship building was carried on, and it is still a leading seat of that industry. In the manufacture of passenger cars Wilmington ranks first in the country, while it is among the first in its annual production of morocco and carriages. The total amount of capital invested in manufactures in 1873 was $12,725,000; value of annual products, $21,150,000; number of hands employed, 7,000 to 8,000. The statistics of the principal branches were as follows:
The Old Swedes Church.
Value of products.
Powder and chemicals
Iron ship building
Flour, corn meal etc...............
Leather, other than morocco
Foundery work and car wheels.....
Tobacco, snuff, spices, parlor matches.....
Sash, blinds, etc...................
Boots and shoes...................
Wilmington lies directly in the great thoroughfare of travel and traffic between the north and south, of which the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore railroad forms so important a part. Railroad facilities are also afforded by the Delaware, the Wilmington and Reading, and the Wilmington and Western lines. Steamers run to Philadelphia and New York. The Christiana admits vessels drawing 18 ft. and the Brandywine those drawing 7 ft. to the head of tide. There is considerable trade by sailing vessels between the city and ports on the Atlantic coast and in the West Indies. There are four national banks and one state bank, with an aggregate capital of $1,250,000; two savings banks, deposits $750,000; three fire insurance companies; and 23 building and loan associations, which have greatly aided the growth of the city. The total assessed value Of real estate in 1873 was $23,000,000, and the estimated value of personal property $18,500,000. The city has a police force, and a fire department provided with seven steam engines and improved apparatus. There are five charitable institutions. The city contains 17 public schools, including a high school, with nearly 6,000 pupils, and 16 private schools and academies.
The Delaware historical society, the mechanics' institute, and the Wilmington institute have libraries, the last containing 11,500 volumes. Five daily and eight weekly newspapers are published. There are 45 churches, viz.: 5 Baptist, 8 Episcopal, 2 Friends', 1 Lutheran, 15 Methodist (7 African), 7 Presbyterian, 5 Roman Catholic, 1 Swedenborgian, and 1 Unitarian. - Wilmington was founded in 1732, when the site was partially laid out and the first house was erected. It was incorporated as a borough in 1740, and as a city in 1832. On Christiana creek, about half a mile from the original town, but within the present city limits, is a small rocky promontory upon which the first Swedish colony in America landed in April, 1638, and around which was planted the first permanent European settlement in the valley of the Delaware.
Wilmington, the principal seaport and largest city of North Carolina, county seat of New Hanover co., on the E. bank of the N. E. branch of Cape Fear river, at its junction with the estuary of that river, 20'm. from the sea and 110 m. S. S. E. of Raleigh; lat. 34° 11' N, lon. 78° 10' W.; pop. in 1850, 7,264; in 1860, 9,552; in 1870, 13,446, of whom 7,920 were colored; in 1876, locally estimated at from 17,000 to 18,000. It has a court house, city hall, and theatre. Street cars run through the principal streets to the railroad depots and to Oakdale cemetery. The Sound, a place of summer residence, is 7 m. distant. The city is the terminus of three railroads, viz.: the Wilmington and Weldon, the Wilmington, Columbia, and Augusta, and the Carolina Central. The last runs through the S. portion of the state to its W. border; the others connect with other lines running N. and S. Wilmington has an extensive commerce both coastwise and foreign; the latter has largely increased within the last three years. There are regular lines of steamers to Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. Vessels drawing 16 ft. can load at the wharves; when the improvements on the bar now in progress are completed, the depth of water will be materially increased.
The principal articles of shipment are lumber, turpentine, rosin, tar, pitch, spirits of turpentine, shingles, and cotton. Wilmington has long been the leading market for naval stores in the world. The value of imports from foreign countries for the year ending June 30, 1875, was $151,925; of exports to foreign ports, $3,015,069. The chief items of export were 3,553,606 gallons of spirits of turpentine, valued at $1,201,888; 14,623 bales of cotton, $938,501; 289,340 barrels of rosin and turpentine and 14,142 of tar and pitch, $710,108; and 6,809,000 ft. of boards, etc, and 2,960,000 shingles, $149,107. The number of entrances was 171, tonnage 46,074; clearances, 235, tonnage 61,958; entrances in the coastwise trade, 277, tonnage 149,475; clearances, 210, tonnage 129,249; belonging to the port, 66 vessels, tonnage 5,597. The shipments to domestic and foreign ports in 1875 amounted to about $10,000,000. There are three banks, marine railways, a cotton compress company, a cotton factory, five saw and planing mills, a rice mill, four flour and grist mills, nine turpentine distillers (running 29 stills), an iron foundery, and a sash and blind factory. The principal charitable institutions are a seamen's home and a marine hospital.
There are 12 academies and schools, a library, five newspapers (three daily), and 22 churches. - Wilmington was laid out in 1733, under the name of Newton. The name was changed in 1739. It was incorporated as a borough in 1760 and as a city in 1866. During the civil war, and especially in 1864, it was the principal confederate port accessible to blockade runners. Although 50 blockading vessels were cruising off the adjacent coast, 203 vessels succeeded in entering the port, and 194 in leaving it, during the 15 months ending Dec. 31, 1864, while about 60 were captured or run ashore. New inlet, the principal entrance to Cape Fear river, was protected by Fort Fisher, an earthwork of great strength, and beyond it the narrow and intricate channel was filled with torpedoes and commanded by forts and batteries. In December, 1864, a combined naval and military expedition under Admiral Porter and Gen. Butler was sent against Fort Fisher. After an unsuccessful attempt to injure the fort by the explosion of several hundred tons of powder from a vessel, followed by a severe bombardment, the troops returned to Hampton roads. The fleet remained behind to cooperate with a new and stronger military expedition.
This, numbering about 8,000 men, was committed to Gen. Terry. It reached its destination Jan. 12, 1865, and on the next day began to debark under cover of a heavy fire from the fleet. The bombardment was kept up until the afternoon of the 15th, when the fort was assaulted and taken. Of the garrison, 2,300 strong, 2,083 surrendered, the remainder being killed or wounded. The Union loss was nearly 1,000; besides which, on the next day, the magazine of the fort was accidentally blown up and more than 200 men were killed or wounded. Wilmington was now useless as a port for blockade runners, but was still held by a confederate force. Gen. Schofield had in the mean time been sent to North Carolina with 23,000 men. Moving up the bank of the river, he turned the fortifications commanding the city, which was abandoned Feb. 21. The Union loss in this operation was about 200, that of the confederates about 1,000, including prisoners.