Thursday, June 30, 2011

Those Places Thursday--Fort Macon, Beaufort, NC

Following the 2007 Peter James Hyman Reunion, 

my husband and I had the opportunity to visit Fort Macon in Beaufort, Carteret County, North Carolina, where his great grandfather, Isaac Carter, had been stationed during the Civil War in Company B & G of the 14th USCT Heavy Artillery from 12 March 1964 to 11 December 1865.

On the path leading up to the fort is a sign, 
detailing some of the fort's history:

"This fort, guarding the entrance to Beaufort Harbor, was built between 1826 and 1834 as one of a series of seacoast fortifications for national defense. Local secessionist militia forces seized the fort on April 14, 1861, at the outbreak of the Civil War.
"In March 1862, Union Gen. John G. Parke's brigade of Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside's Coastal Division captured Carolina City, Morehead City, and Beaufort. Confederate Col. Moses J. White, commanding Fort Macon's 403-man garrison, refused three Union surrender demands. Parke established 22 companies of U.S. infantry and artillery at Hoop Pole Creek, five miles west of Fort Macon, and besieged the fort. Parke's troops constructed emplacements for two mortar batteries and one rifled cannon battery about 3/4 mile from the fort. Four U.S. Navy gunboats offshore assisted in the siege, along with floating batteries positioned northeast of the fort.

"On April 25, the Union batteries and gunboats bombarded For Macon for eleven hours. By afternoon, the powerful rifled cannons had breached the fort's walls and endangered its magazines. The Confederates ran up the white flag at 4:30 p.m., and White formally surrendered to Parke's forces the following morning. Seven Confederates were killed and eighteen wounded, while the Federals lost one killed and two wounded. U.S. forces occupied the fort and Beaufort Harbor for the remainder of the war."
After viewing the cannons at the fort, I thought it rather strange that they seemed so small when my great grandfather-in-law's Pension File stated that he sustained injuries falling from "the Big Gun." After a few inquiries, I discovered that "the Big Gun" was no longer at Fort Macon...that the 100-Pounder Parrot Rifle had been sent to Spartanburg, South Carolina for a war memorial, but that it had been melted down for scrap metal during World War I.

I was able to locate this photo, and the following articles, Siege Artillery in the American Civil War and Parrott Rifle, explain that this particular gun required a seventeen man crew, and "was a potent siege gun capable of great accuracy and long range with heavy projectiles." It is quite likely that Isaac Carter's position was that of the soldier perched atop the carriage rails.

If you're interested in further information about Fort Macon, check out Paul Branch's book, Fort Macon: A History.

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