Fort Macon, located on the eastern tip of the Bogue Banks along North Carolina's central coast, is an early-19th Century fort which has been restored as the centerpiece of one of the state's busiest State Parks.
The fort was constructed as part of a chain of forts which were built along the eastern seaboard between 1817-1865. Intended as a deterrent against naval attack via the Beufort Inlet, construction commenced in 1826 and was not completed until the end of 1834. Prior to the Civil War the fort was manned only sporadically...only 8 of the 26 years preceding the Civil War was it garrisoned. All that changed, however, with the first shots of the war being fired at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861.
Only two days after the beginning of hostilities a small band of militia moved into Fort Macon to seize it for the Confederacy. Knowing that the North would inevitably attempt to take it back they set about reinforcing it and arming it with some 54 cannon over the next year. That inevitable attack came on April 25, 1862. A Union force of about 3,300 men under Brigadier General John G. Parke arrived on the Banks in late March, surrounding the fort by March 29th. For the next few weeks the Union forces constructed a network of trenches and four siege batteries containing 12 cannon in preparation. Opposing the Union force within Fort Macon were only 450 Confederate troops under Colonel Moses J. White. Though outnumbered and surrounded they defiantly refused all offers of surrender. Then came April 25th. With all his guns now in place General Parke gave the order for the bombardment to begin. His 12 land-based siege guns, complemented by four Unoin gunboats offshore bombarded Fort Macon for 11 straight hours, scoring 560 hits on its walls. The damage inflicted on the fort was so great that Colonel White was quickly convinced that further opposition was pointless so, at 4:30pm on the 26th, he surrendered the fort and its garrison. The Union would hold the fort for the remainder of the war.
Following the Civil War Fort Macon entered a period of disuse. Decomissioned in 1877, it was briefly garrisoned during the Spanish-American War before being completely abandoned in 1903. Thankfully, in 1924, the State of North Carolina acquired the fort and surrounding property as its 2nd State Park. Restored by the CCC in the 1930's the fort once again saw service during World War 2, from 1941-1944, garrisoned by Coastal Artillery troops. In 1946 the fort was returned to the state and it has served peacefully since, now welcoming over 1 million visitors per year!
The following album takes you on a walk around the old fort as it exists today. Though the fort and its surroundings have changed a fair bit from its Civil War days it is still gives a fascinating view back to a very different period in our history. Come have a look around with me...