American Forts: East

NORTH CAROLINA

Battery Anderson | Camp Anderson (1) | Fort Anderson (1) | Camp Ashe
Camp Badger (2) | Camp Belvidere | Camp Benbow | Battery Bolles | Fort Branch (1)
Brunswick Town Battery | Battery Buchanan | Fort Buchanan | Camp Burgwyn (2)
Fort Campbell (1) | Fort Campbell (2) | Fort Caswell (2) | Charles Towne | Fort Cobb
Camp Davis (1) | Camp Davis (2) | Fort Davis | Fort Fisher | Flag Pond Battery
Camp Florida | Camp French | Fort French | Battery Gatlin | Fort George
Camp Gibbins | Fort Gun Battery | Half-Moon Battery | Camp Heath | Heron's Bridge
Fort Hill (1) | Battery Holland | Camp Holmes (3) | Fort Holmes (2) | Camp Jackson
Fort Johnston | Kure Beach Res. | Battery Lamb (1) | Battery Lamb (2) | Camp Lamb
Fort Lee | Camp Leventhorpe (2) | Fort Meares | Mound Battery | Camp Patterson
Fort Pender | Camp Pettigrew (2) | Camp Pettigrew (3) | Camp Radcliff
Fort St. Philip | Battery Shaw | Battery Stokes | Fort Strong
Sugarloaf Signal Station | Battery Tirza | Topsail Battery | Camp Whiting (1)
Camp Whiting (2) | Wilmington Civil War Defenses | Post at Wilmington
Camp Wyatt (1) | Zeke's Island Battery

Central Coastal North Carolina - page 2 | North Coastal North Carolina - page 3
Central North Carolina - page 4 | Western North Carolina - page 5

Last Update: 25/AUGUST/2010
Compiled by Pete Payette - 2010 American Forts Network

Camp Whiting (2)
(1864), Lockwood Folly Inlet
A CSA camp near Holden Beach.

Fort George
(1776), Bald Head Island
A small British work located near the future 1795 lighthouse. A naval action occurred here in September 1776.

Fort Holmes (2)
(Old Baldy Lighthouse and Smith Island Museum of History)
(1862 - 1865), Bald Head Island
An extensive CSA earthworks fort located west and south of the 1818 lighthouse. The main work was called Battery Holmes (eight guns and two magazines revetted with palmetto logs), located at the extreme western tip of the point. This section has eroded away. Continuing southeast was Battery #1 (one gun and a magazine) and Battery #2 (one gun). These also have eroded away. Along the line northeast to the lighthouse was located Battery #3 (five guns and two magazines), an unfinished battery, and then Battery #4 (four guns and two magazines) surrounding the lighthouse. This portion still exists. The fort was destroyed to avoid Union capture in January 1865. The present lighthouse ("Old Baldy") was built in 1818, replacing an earlier 1795 light. It was darkened during the war, not relit until 1879. Admission fee to lighthouse and museum. Passenger-only ferry from Southport (fee).


COAST DEFENSES of WILMINGTON
North Carolina Coastal Defenses - Cape Fear
Harbor Defense of Cape Fear River - FORT WIKI

Fort Caswell (2)
(1826 - 1865, 1894 - 1926, 1941 - 1946), Oak Island
A small earthwork battery may have been located here in 1813. Construction of Fort Caswell continued until 1838, and it was one of only three masonry forts in the state before the Civil War. It was named in 1833 and captured by the Confederates in April 1861. Built of stone and earthworks, it was partially destroyed in a mine explosion during the Civil War and was abandoned only when Fort Fisher fell in January 1865. Modern coastal defense batteries here are Battery Bagley (1903 - 1925), Battery Caswell (1899 - 1925), which was modified for a swimming pool in 1937, Battery Swift (1898 - 1920), New Battery Madison (1905 - 1917), Battery McDonough (1902 - 1905), Battery Shipp (1901 - 1919), Battery Madison (1899 - 1904), Battery McKavett (1903 - 1920), and New Battery McDonough (1904 - 1925). Several of the original 1890's post buildings remain in good condition and in current use. A pre-WWI fire-control tower still remains, although derelict. Another fire-control tower was once located on Bald Head Island near the present lighthouse, about 220 yards north of the old Bald Head Front Range Light. The post was converted to a resort from 1937 -1941, but WWII intervened and the post then became a Navy Section Base and Army Depot. There were no active gun batteries here in WWII. The fort is on private property, but tours can be arranged through the North Carolina State Baptist Convention, owners of the fort since 1949.

Located to the west of the old fort were the Confederate earthworks Battery Shaw (one gun), and Fort (or Battery) Campbell (1) (both 1862 - 1865). They were destroyed in order to avoid capture. Fort Campbell had 18 guns and a large bomb-proof magazine, and was located about where Battery Shipp is now located. Battery Shaw was located about halfway between Fort Campbell and Fort Caswell, at the present location of Battery Swift.


Fort Johnston
(History of Fort Johnston - Part 1 || Part 2)
(Part 3 || Part 4 by Dr. Michael D. Hogan)
(1748 - 1881/2005), Southport FORT WIKI
Originally built in 1748, it was attacked by the Spanish fleet that same year (September 1748). It was a small wooden square-shaped fort with four bastions and sand earthworks. It was rebuilt beginning in 1754 into a star-shaped stone and tabby fort (30 guns) with four bastions and a dry moat. It had 27 guns in 1771. It was rebuilt again in 1773. Loyalist Colonial Governor Josiah Martin took refuge here in June 1775, then removed the guns. The fort was then destroyed by Patriots in July 1775, but later rebuilt in early 1779 with six guns, with 12 more added later. The British recaptured it in January 1781 only to then abandon it in November 1781. Rebuilt yet again as a Federal fort in 1794 and 1799-1800. It was reported as an eight-gun heavy battery in 1806.
This fort was one of only three masonry forts in the state before the Civil War. The fort was seized by the CSA in April 1861, but by 1862 it was only sand earthworks and sod covered mounds for four guns and two magazines. Renamed Fort Branch (1) in 1863. Renamed Fort Pender in 1864. The Union captured it in January 1865, but until then it helped keep Wilmington open to blockade runners. The town was originally named Smithville until 1887.
New buildings were built in the 1870's, but the post closed in 1881. The stone blockhouse was demolished by 1890. A coastal artillery searchlight position was located here in World War II. The 1810 Garrison House is the only original unaltered structure that remains today, located at 203 East Bay Street. It had variously served as housing and office space for several different federal and military agencies after 1881, until finally closed in 2005. It opened to the public as the Southport Museum and Visitors Center in June 2012. Three other buildings, which include the 1853 Post Hospital at 413 East Bay Street, the house at 120 West West Street, and the house at 216 North Atlantic Ave., also still exist but they had been moved into town and were converted into private houses. The U.S. Army's Sunny Point Military Ocean Terminal (1951 - present), the last military tenant, occupied six acres of the former reservation from 1955 - 2005 for the use of staff officers and families. Although not continuous, this was at the time the oldest and longest-used Army post in the country.

Also of interest here, adjacent to the Garrison House, is the NC Maritime Museum at Southport at 204 East Moore Street.

Battery Island is located offshore (origin of name unknown).

Camp Radcliff
(1861 - 1865), near Southport
A CSA camp.

Battery Lamb (2)
(1862 - 1865), Reeve's Point
Part of the Wilmington outer defenses. It was severely damaged in a magazine explosion in 1865. No remains. It was located at the present-day Sunny Point U.S. Military Ocean Terminal. The area was greatly modified in the 1980's for expansion of the Sunny Point marine terminals.

CSA Camp Benbow was located just to the north.

Fort Anderson (1)
(Brunswick Town State Historic Site)
(History of Fort Anderson - Part 1 by Dr. Michael D. Hogan)
(1862 - 1865), Brunswick Town National Archives MAP FORT WIKI
First known as Fort St. Philip (1862 - 1863), it was built on the ruins of Brunswick Town (1726 - 1776). Well-preserved earthworks still remain. It had ten guns in two batteries in the main work, and three seperate batteries along a line to the west. It held until 30 days after Fort Fisher fell. The fort was originally named after St. Philip's Church, which still exists as ruins. A visitors' center and museum are here. The restoration of the old townsite is in progress. Access may be restricted in times of military emergency, due to its location adjacent to the Sunny Point Military Ocean Terminal.

Just to the south was Brunswick Town Battery (1740's), an old earthwork from the colonial period. The town was attacked by the Spanish in September 1748. This battery was briefly used in 1862 by the CSA as Fort St. Philip was being built.

CSA Camp Belvidere was located about two miles north near Allen Creek.

Fort Fisher (State Historic Site)
(1861 - 1865), Kure Beach National Archives MAP 1 | National Archives MAP 2 FORT WIKI
Originally called Battery Bolles, it was rebuilt in 1862. It covered one mile of the shoreline on the eastern flank (sea-face), composed of eight seperate batteries (Battery Hedrick two guns, Lenoir Battery two guns, Battery Roland two guns, Purdie Battery one gun, Battery Bolles two guns, Columbiad Battery six guns, Cumberland Battery one gun, Battery Meade four guns), and one-third mile of land defense on the northern flank (land-face) (27 guns, including Shepherd's Battery four guns, a two-gun demilune covering the main sallyport, two guns covering the River Road sallyport, and the Northeast Bastion two guns). The 43-foot high two-gun Mound Battery (aka Battery Lamb (1)) was the southern anchor on the sea-face (traces remain). Battery Holland provided a land defense on the northern flank. This fort was the last major stronghold of the Confederacy and was not captured until after several Union attempts in January 1865. It kept the Cape Fear River clear of Union ships. Most of the fort's sea-face has eroded into the sea, as well as the Northeast Bastion, especially after the 1946 hurricane. A stone revetment was constructed along the shore in 1995 to prevent further erosion. Shepherd's Battery and the palisades on the north flank have been reconstructed. The visitor center is located outside the fort's land-face in the WWII airstrip.

Camp Wyatt (1) was located two miles north of the fort, along with a hospital and commissary. Camp Badger (2) was also located nearby. Three miles north along the shore was Flag Pond Battery, or Battery Anderson. Guarding the entrance to New Inlet was once Battery (or Fort) Buchanan, a four-gun elliptical earthwork at the tip of Federal (Confederate) Point. Remnants are still extant near the present-day ferry terminal. There was also Zeke's Island Battery (two guns) to the south of Federal Point (the site no longer exists as it did then). New Inlet has since shoaled over (now "The Basin").
North Carolina Coastal Defenses - Cape Fear


TEMPORARY HARBOR DEFENSES of WILMINGTON

Kure Beach Military Reservation
(Fort Fisher State Recreation Area)
(1942 - 1944, 1955 - 1988/present), Kure Beach
A four-gun 155mm battery in revetments (no Panama mounts) was located to the south of old Fort Fisher to defend the inlet to Wilmington. Several 40mm and 90mm AA guns were also emplaced. Training firing ranges (90mm AA and 155mm) for nearby Camp Davis were also located here. (See also Camp Davis (2) listed below). Three steel observation towers were erected. Several concrete magazines were constructed near old Battery Buchanan, which was damaged as a result. One magazine or bunker is currently located within the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, along the Basin Trail to the south of the North Carolina Aquarium. The "Fort Fisher Hermit" was a local legend that lived in the bunker for 17 years (1955 - 1972). On the north-side of old Fort Fisher was built an auxiliary field for Camp Davis Army Airfield, which post-war became Fort Fisher Air Force Station (1955 - 1988). The grass airstrip and modern-day US 421 have cut through the original land-face of old Fort Fisher. The post commissary and exchange still exist, now in use by the Underwater Archaeology Section of the NC Dept. of Cultural Resources. Of interest nearby is the North Carolina Military History Museum at the NC National Guard Training Center. Also here is the Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Center, the former housing area of the closed Air Force Station.

The Federal Point History Center at 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd. in Carolina Beach has exhibits on the Fort Fisher Firing Point and anti-aircraft artillery training.

Of interest in downtown Wilmington is the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science (admission fee), at 814 Market Street, which was once the former armory for Battery A, 252nd Coast Artillery, NC NG (1936 - 1940). It was converted to a museum in 1969, renovated in 1991.


Battery Gatlin
(1862 - 1865), Carolina Beach
Located on the west-side of Myrtle Grove Sound. The Union referred to it as Half-Moon Battery (six guns). It was part of the Wilmington outer defenses. Site marked and preserved in the Forest-by-the-Sea condo complex.

At Sugarloaf on the east-side of the Cape Fear River (within Carolina Beach State Park) was the fortified Sugarloaf Signal Station. Trenches still remain in the woods.

Charles Towne
(1664 - 1667), Old Town
British settlers from Barbados led by John Vassall attempted an early colony here. Vassall sailed to Cape Fear in May 1664 and selected a site on a high bluff on the west side of the Cape Fear River north of Town Creek. He erected a fortified compound with several buildings. Within two years about 800 people were living in the colony. Many chose to settle along the branches of the river, seeking out the higher ground, some as far as sixty miles from the main settlement. Politics, however, soon favored a new site at Port Royal, SC. Abandoned by 1667. A second "Charles Towne", backed by many of the same Barbadians, arose on the Ashley River in 1670. State marker located on NC 133 at the Town Creek bridge north of Pinelevel.

Post at Wilmington
(1781), Wilmington
British troops under Major James Craig occupied the port city beginning in January 1781. Defensive works were thrown up in several places. British Major General Cornwallis' army encamped near the city in April 1781 for two weeks after marching east from Greensboro / Snow Camp. From here Cornwallis then marched north to Petersburg, VA. A small garrison remained until evacuated in November 1781. The Burgwin-Wright House (1770) at 224 Market Street was used as the British headquarters (admission fee).

Civil War Defenses of Wilmington
(1861 - 1865), Wilmington
The city was surrounded by CSA earthwork batteries beginning in 1862. From south to north were McRae Battery, Parsley Battery, Bellamy Battery, Wright Battery (1), McRee Battery, Dawson Battery, Moore's Bastion (1), Miller Battery, Hobson Battery, Smith's Battery, Andrew Battery, and Green's Battery. Batteries along the riverfront were Batteries 1-5, renamed in 1863 to Batteries Wright (2), Meares, Moore (2), VanBokkelen, and Cowan. The city surrendered in February 1865 only after Fort Fisher fell in January.

CSA camps located in the general area were: Camp Anderson (1) (1861) located within the city, Camp Lamb (1862 - 1865), Camp Jackson (1863 - 1865), and Camp Pettigrew (2) (1862). Undetermined locations: Camp Holmes (3) and Camp Patterson.

To the south along the Cape fear River were Battery Tirza (renamed Battery Stokes in 1863), and Fort Strong (renamed Fort Davis in 1863). Further south were Fort French (three guns) (renamed Fort Lee [two guns] in 1863), Camp French (1862 - 1863) located behind Fort French, Fort Gun Battery (renamed Fort Campbell (2) (five guns) in 1863), and Fort Hill (1) (renamed Fort Meares (five guns) in 1863). All were located at the state port across from Campbell Island. These forts guarded obstructions in the river to block the Federal gunboats. No remains of any of them. Camp Leventhorpe (2) (1862) was located on Fowler's Point (location ?).

To the east in Pine Valley (Forks Road Battlefield - February 1865) are remains of CSA earthworks located at South 17th Street Extension and Independence Blvd.. Markers on the grounds of the Cameron Art Museum. South of the airport across from Smith Creek was CSA Camp Burgwyn (2). Camp Whiting (1) (1863) was CSA winter quarters located two miles east of downtown. Camp Heath was located at Scott's Hill. CSA Camp Davis (1) (1861 - 1864) was located on Middle Sound.

Heron's Bridge Earthwork
(1781), near Mooretown
A Patriot militia defense at a crossing of the Northeast Cape Fear River about ten miles northeast of Wilmington. Attacked unsucessfully by the British in January 1781.

Topsail Inlet Civil War Camps
(1861 - 1865), Topsail Inlet
CSA camps located in the area included: Camp Ashe on Topsail Sound, Camp Florida on Topsail Island, Camp Pettigrew (3) (1863) on Topsail Island. A state marker for Topsail Battery (1862 - 1865) is located on US 17 just south of Hampstead. Traces remain, but much was demolished in the 1950's when US 17 was widened.

Camp Davis (2)
(Camp Davis Marine Corps Outlying Field)
Greetings from Camp Davis by Cliff Tyndall
(1940 - 1945/1954 - present), Holly Ridge
A WWII Coast Artillery anti-aircraft (90mm), seacoast gun (155mm), AA radar, and barrage balloon training center, encompassing over 46,000 acres, including Topsail Island. Originally named Wilmington Anti-Aircraft Artillery Training Center until 1942. Firing ranges were located at Kure Beach (Fort Fisher), Holly Shelter, Maple Hill, New Topsail Inlet, and Sears Landing (four miles east). Negro troops were posted at the separate Camp Gibbins. The Army's sole Antiaircraft Artillery Officer Candidate School was located here, offering advanced training in radar, communications, and tactics. The Camp Davis Army Airfield (aka Holly Ridge Field) was built in 1943 with two 5000-foot paved runways. The Barrage Balloon School was moved to Camp Tyson, Tennessee in February 1942. The U.S. War Department began winding down AAA training in early 1944 and the AAA School and AAA Board transferred to Fort Bliss, Texas in the fall of 1944. The base was then used briefly by the Army Air Corps (mainly as a convalescent hospital) and several other entities, including a German POW camp. By 1947-48 the camp was rapidly disappearing as it was torn down, moved, or surplused. In 1954 the U.S. Marines began using the old runways for supporting helicoptor operations out of nearby MCAS New River, and are now part of the Greater Sandy Run Training Area, a subpost of nearby Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base. Today, few visible remnants of the once huge camp remain in and around Holly Ridge. Glimpses of a few brick chimneys, crumbling asphalt streets, concrete foundations, and a smattering of altered WWII frame buildings are all that remain of the former post. A few buildings became private homes. The Camp Davis Post HQ building was restored as a local restaurant in 1974 (Camp Davis Restaurant at 123 North Lloyd Street, now closed). The post's main chapel was moved to Penderlea after the war (still exists - Potts Memorial Presbyterian Church). A second chapel was also moved after the war to 1626 Lake Branch Drive in Wilmington (still exists - Lake Forest Baptist Church). The water tower was moved after the war to Wilmington at North 17th Street and Princess Place Drive (dismantled 2005). (See also Kure Beach Reservation listed above)
See also Camp Davis History from Skylighters.org || History of Holly Ridge and Camp Davis from Snead's Ferry.com
2012 Site Photos from Mike Legeros

In 1946 - 1948 the former Sears Landing firing range on Topsail Island became the Topsail Island U.S. Naval Ordnance Test Facility, a jet engine and missile research facility. The Missile Assembly Building, now the Missiles and More Museum, is located at 720 Channel Blvd.. There were seven concrete observation towers built by the Navy, all still exist, some now as private homes.
2012 Site Photos from Mike Legeros


Central Coastal North Carolina - page 2 | North Coastal North Carolina - page 3
Central North Carolina - page 4 | Western North Carolina - page 5

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