Siege of Fort Macon, 29 March-26 April 1862

The final major success during General Burnside’s expedition to the North Carolina coast in early 1862. On 14 March he had captured New Berne, one of the state’s major ports. The capture of New Berne also cut the railroad to Beaufort, one of the few ports on the coast still in Confederate hands, but that port was still open. Unlike most ports on the North Carolina coast, Beaufort was close to the open sea. Access to the port was protected by Fort Macon on Bogue Island, a strong stone fort, mounting 67 guns and defended by a garrison 500 strong commanded by Colonel Moses J. White. However, by 1862 the fort was effectively obsolete. The Confederate defeat at New Berne also meant that it could no longer protect Beaufort.

Link to map of North Carolina Coast
North Carolina Coast

Soon after that victory, Burnside turned to Fort Macon. Command of the operation was given to General John G. Parke.  He quickly moved to occupy every key place around the fort. Beaufort itself was occupied on 25 March. On 29 March Federal troops landed on Bogue Island itself, and began to prepare to bombard the fort. Colonel White had made it clear that he was determined to fight it out, refused demands for his surrender.

Parke had three artillery batteries, containing only eleven guns, with which to attack the fort. Eight were mortars (four 8-inch and four 10-inch), and the remaining three were 30-pounder rifled guns. These opened fire on the morning of 25 April. The stone walls of the fort proved to be entirely inadequate against their fire. By the end of the day there were already several breaches in the wall, and seventeen guns had been disabled (casualties were surprisingly low – combined losses on both sides were only 9 dead and 25 wounded). The next morning White surrendered the fort. Union control of this part of the North Carolina coast was now complete. Only Wilmington, in the south of the state, remained open to Confederate blockade runner.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 December 2006), Siege of Fort Macon, 29 March-26 April 1862 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_fort_macon.html

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