After a brief stint in command at Fort Anderson on the Cape Fear River, Col. William Lamb — a cultured and well educated native of Norfolk, Va. — began the transformation of Fort Fisher in the summer of 1862.
Young Lamb had a keen interest in military history. As a young boy of twenty in the mid-1850s, Lamb became captivated by a farawy war that was then being waged between Russia, Great Britain, and France. His interest in the Crimean War (including Russian practices in the building of defensive fortifications) would help sow the seeds of design for Fort Fisher — a bastion Lamb was destined to command a decade later.
The young scholar-soldier studied works on the subject published by the American government, and the lessons learned would be put to good use. By the time Fort Fisher was first attacked in December 1864, it was the largest and most powerful earthen fort in the Confederacy.
Fisher's design and physical features drew praise from her Federal captors — and more than a few references were made to the Russian fortress of Malakoff (a defensive bastion at Sebastopol that had greatly influenced Lamb's efforts to strengthen Fort Fisher).
William Lamb was just 29 years old when when his creation fell to the Union.