The Wilmington Campaign

Parts of the Civil War “Battle of Fort Fisher” were fought across the Federal Point peninsula well north of the Fort itself.  And if you know where to look you can still see remnants of the trenches and embankments today.

Again this year Dr. Chris Fonvielle will lead this popular narrated walk from the Federal Point History Center  (1121 N. Lake Park Blvd.) through the Carolina Beach State Park to Sugarloaf, a landmark on the banks of the Cape Fear River.

The walk will last about 2 hours. A $5.00 donation is requested and can be paid the day of the walk.  There is a limit of 25 participants so everyone can see and hear Dr. Fonvielle’s narration. Reservations may be made beginning March 1 at the Federal Point History Center. Call 910-458-0502.

Sugar Loaf Hill, Carolina Beach, NC
Excerpts from “The Wilmington Campaign” by Chris Fonvielle.

Pg. 34 “Like Old Inlet, New Inlet was also protected by artillery emplacements and earthworks.  Shore batteries guarded the beach strand on Federal Point and Masonboro Sound north of New Inlet.  The most notable of three were Battery Anderson (“Flag Pond Battery” in Union accounts) and Battery Gatlin (“Half Moon Battery” to the Federals because of its crescent shape). Confederate artillerymen used batteries along the beach to duel with Union gunboats and safeguard stranded blockade-runners that had been chased ashore – at least until their cargoes had been salvaged. Protecting the river on the east side was a gun battery on the summit of Sugar Loaf, a large fifty-foot-high sand dune on Federal Point peninsula directly opposite Fort Anderson.  When Wilmington was seriously threatened by attack in 1864, Confederate engineers dug entrenchments from Sugar Loaf across the peninsula to Myrtle Sound, within sight of the ocean.” read more

Oral History -Brenda Coffey – Part 3: ‘Family Meals’

Compiled and edited by Ann Hertzler

Brenda Coffey

Brenda Coffey

Brenda’s father was a big breakfast eater and normally cooked breakfast – eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, grits, toast, or cornbread. Her mother would make biscuits. It was always something totally home made. Lunch was kind of incidental – a sandwich or leftovers from supper the night before.

Dinner dishes were often fried fish, fried chicken, fried pork chops, or roasts, and sometimes baked chicken. When Brenda got married the only thing she knew how to do was fry food. Everyone drank sweetened tea, really sweet. They never had Cokes or Pepsi, unless perhaps at a restaurant. Teenagers drank a lot of soft drinks.

Hardly any food came out of cans (and certainly not freezers). Her mother had a garden as did her grandmother.  They grew vegetables – beans, butterbeans, field peas, green beans, onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, carrots, collards, and potatoes which they mostly boiled. And they had chickens. Brenda had to clean the eggs. She had only seen grocery store eggs and thought all eggs were clean and white. She didn’t know they came out dirty. She didn’t enjoy cleaning eggs a bit and she didn’t like the chickens either. read more

Captain John W. Harper – Obituary

Birth:     Nov. 28, 1856Capt John Harper
New Hanover County
North Carolina, USA

Death:     Sep. 18, 1917
New Hanover County
North Carolina, USA

Captain John W. Harper, of the steamer Wilmington, as thousands knew him, passed away yesterday morning at the James Walker Memorial Hospital, where he had gone for treatment. It is hard to realize that the big-hearted, generous, jovial and popular Captain John Harper is dead and that death has closed a warm personal friendship that has never been varied for nearly thirty years. Yet it is even longer than that since he has been the friend of people in Wilmington from his boyhood days up to now. He counted his warm friends by the thousands, and they are to be found all over North Carolina and far beyond the confines of his own State.

Sorrow, therefore, will be widespread because Captain Harper has passed from this world and has closed a life of great usefulness to Wilmington and to the people of this city and Southport There were sad faces in Wilmington yesterday morning when it became known that the end had come. Many a generous deed is credited up to Captain Harper, for he was a friend upon whom the humblest and highest could depend for sympathy and help. His heart went out to poor people and there was none that could not have an outing on the several excursion steamers that he has operated on the Cape Fear. His name is blessed among thousands, and we cannot recall the death of a man who will be more universally mourned.

Captain Harper was rugged and brave and tender. Invariable courtesy was one of his characteristics, and everybody felt safe when he was at the helm. He practically made Carolina Beach and it was he who made the Cape Fear and Brunswick Bay excursion and outing waters for thousands.

The steamers which he specially popularized were the Sylvan Grove, the Passport, and the Wilmington. His greetings and smiles made him thousands of friends among the children as well as grown people of all classes. He was specially solicitous for the safety and pleasure of women and children, and white and colored can bear testimony to his courtesy, deference and kindness. He was affable and accommodating always, and his memory will be ever cherished by all who knew him.

The death of Captain Harper brings a distinct loss to Wilmington and Southport, but it is his family that has been most sorely bereaved. He loved those who were near to him, and in the sorrow that has befallen them they will have the deep condolence and sincere sympathy of a host of those who admired and loved the genial captain of the outing steamers which he commanded for so many years.

(Wilmington Star, Sept. 19, 1917)

Steamboat Owner and developer of Carolina Beach also ran a train, “Shoo Fly” to Carolina Beach
Family links: Capt John Harper - Gravestone
  William Riley Harper (1816 – 1877)
  Henrietta Lloyd Harper (1820 – 1899)
  Esther Julia Foley Harper (1864 – 1897)
  Ella Chitty Strupe Harper (1877 – 1945)
  Louise Foley Harper Fox (1886 – 1970)*
  John William Harper (1897 – 1918)*
  Catherine Ruede Harper Sewell (1904 – 1985)*
  Ella Chitty Harper (1905 – 1917)*
  James Sprunt Harper (1910 – 1929)*
*Calculated relationship
Burial:Capt John Harper - Gravestone
Oakdale Cemetery
New Hanover County
North Carolina, USA
Plot: Sec R Lot 14
Created by: John Evans
Find A Grave Memorial# 34184608