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1862 May 7: Capture of Fort Macon

May 11, 2012

This same article on the capture of Fort Macon appeared in both The Prescott Journal and The Hudson North Star on May 7, 1862. 

The North Carolina State Parks website for Fort Macon State Park sums up the Battle of Fort Macon:

Early in 1862, Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside swept through eastern North Carolina, and part of Burnside’s command under Brig. Gen. John G. Parke1 was sent to capture Fort Macon.  Parke’s men captured Morehead City and Beaufort without resistance, then landed on Bogue Banks during March and April to fight to gain Fort Macon.  Col. Moses J. White2 and 400 North Carolina Confederates in the fort refused to surrender even though the fort was hopelessly surrounded.  On April 25, 1862, Parke’s Union forces bombarded the fort with heavy siege guns for 11 hours, aided by the fire of four Union gunboats in the ocean offshore and floating batteries in the sound to the east.

While the fort easily repulsed the Union gunboat attack, the Union land batteries, utilizing new rifled cannons, hit the fort 560 times.  There was such extensive damage that Col. White was forced to surrender the following morning, April 26, with the fort’s Confederate garrison being paroled as prisoners of war.  This battle was the second time in history new rifled cannons were used against a fort [the first time being Fort Pulaski], demonstrating the obsolescence of such fortifications as a way of defense.  The Union held Fort Macon for the remainder of the war, while Beaufort Harbor served as an important coaling and repair station for its navy.

T h e   C a p t u r e   o f   F o r t   M a c o n.


NEW YORK, May 3.

Three hundred and forty Prisoners Taken—A Port of Entry Secured.

John Grubb Parke, from the Library of Congress

NEW YORK May 3.—A special despatch to the Tribune, giving an account of the capture of Fort Macon, says the fire of our batteries dismounted 13 guns, and tore up the glacis and ramparts in the most effective manner.

Of 11,000 shot and shell thrown by them at the fort, 560 struck the forts. The guns of the fort were worked with skill and courage; the sand hills of our position afforded complete protection to the men.

The hoisting of the white flag was followed by a conference with Gen. Parks [sic] and a suspension of hostilities until the following morning.

During the night the disposition to surrender was communicated to Gen. Burn[s]ide, and in the morning articles of agreement were signed.

The garrison surrendered as prisoners of war, and were released on parole and were allowed to take their private effects with them.  The officers retained their side arms.  These were the terms originally proposed by Gen. Parke but refused by Col. White, commandent [sic] of the Fort.

The surrender of Fort Macon gives Gen. Burnside a port of entry which secures anchorage for his heaviest vessels.  It gives the Government another of the stolen fortifications, with 50 guns, 20,000 pounds of powder, shot and shell proportion, and 400 stand of arms, a large store of provisions, 430 prisoners and 30 horses.

 It releases a portion of the blockading fleet for service elsewhere, and ensures the retention of this district.

General Burnside, in a general order congratulating General Park[e] on his victory, commands that the name of Fort Macon be inscribed on the colors of the 4th and 5th Rhode Island Regiments, and the 8th Connecticut Regiment.

The command of the fort was offered to captain Lewis O. Morris, 1st Artillery, after the surrender but declined; and Colonel Rodman, of the 4th Rhode Island, was placed in charge.

1.  John Grubb Parke (1827-1900) graduated from West Point and was a career military officer, serving as an U. S. Army engineer.Parke’s Civil War service was closely associated with General Burnside, often serving him as chief of staff in major engagements. Parke commanded a brigade in the operations on the North Carolina coast in early 1862. He received a brevet promotion for the Battle of Fort Macon.
2.  Moses James White (1835-1865), a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, graduated from West Point. White served as Assistant Ordnance Officer at the Baton Rouge Arsenal in 1859 and went on as commander of the Fort Union Ordnance Depot, New Mexico, during 1859-60.  During 1860-61, however, he was forced to take a sick leave of absence due to epilepsy. In the spring of 1861 he joined the Confederate Corps of Artillery and in the fall of that year the Confederate War Department promoted Lieutenant White to the rank of temporary Colonel and transferred him to the Department of North Carolina to take command of Fort Macon.

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