Changes to the Federal Point Landscape

[Originally published in the March, 1995 – FPHPS Newsletter]

Erosion at Ft. Fisher

Erosion at Ft. Fisher

Mr. Gehrig Spencer, site manager at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site, presented a program at the February, 1995 meeting of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society on how the effects of weather and war have reshaped the southern end of Federal Point. Mr. Spencer also discussed how the current implementation of a Seawall is expected to prevent any further deterioration of the fort.

According to Mr. Spencer one of the earliest events having a major impact on the landscape of Federal Point occurred in 1761 when a hurricane opened the passage known as New Inlet between the ocean and the Cape Fear River. Over the years the relatively shallow inlet shifted course slightly to the south.

New Inlet played an important role during the Civil War as an entrance for sleek, fast, blockade runners to slip past the Union fleet and enter the river under the protective guns of Fort Fisher. These ships were able to successfully deliver their valuable cargoes to Wilmington and on to the rest of the Confederacy until late in the war.

It was the events of man that brought about the next major change to the Federal Point landscape. While natural erosion of Federal Point remained relatively stable during the Civil War, the construction of Fort Fisher drastically changed its appearance.

Sea Face - Fort Fisher

Sea Face – Fort Fisher

Under the supervision of Col. William Lamb, Fort Fisher with its massive land and sea faces took shape as the largest earthen fortification on the east coast.

The landscape of Federal Point changed forever as the builders used great quantities of sand and a covering of marsh and cut sod in the construction of the fort. One single mound known as Mound Battery rose sixty feet in height.

Following the war Federal Point again underwent a major transition in appearance when the US. Army Corps of Engineers began a decade-long process of closing New Inlet.

The Rocks 1

“The Rocks” from Zeke’s Island towards Battery Buchanan

The closing of the inlet allowed the currents to naturally deepen the river channel. During the 1870s, the Corps built a stone structure in two sections across the inlet and swash known as the “The Rocks.”

The length of the upper section of the dam extended from Battery Buchanan on Federal Point to Zeke’s Island, a distance of 5,300 feet.

The continuation of the lower section known as the Swash Defense Dam from Zeke’s Island to Smith’s Island, 12,800 feet, made the entire closure just over 3 miles in length.

The Rocks measured from 90 to 120 feet wide at the base. The average depth of the stone wall was 30 feet over three-fourths of its length. The Rocks still separate the Cape Fear River from the ocean.

Serious erosion problems occurred at Federal Point after the state removed coquina rock from the shore just north of the earthworks during the 1920s for use as road construction fill. Since that time approximately 200 yards of sea front has been lost to wave action.

This loss forced the state in the early 1950s to realign the very same highway that had been built with the use of the coquina rock. As a means of preventing any further erosion of what remained of Fort Fisher, the North Carolina Highway Department added concrete and other construction debris along the sea front during 1969 and 1970.

3,200-foot seawall completedat Fort Fisher Museum

3,200-foot seawall completed
at Fort Fisher Museum and Earthworks

The latest effort [1995] in the fight to protect Fort Fisher and Federal Point being claimed by the ocean will be the construction of a 3,200-foot seawall [revetment]. Work on construction of the seawall by a private contractor is expected to begin this spring [1995].

Sand re-nourishment of the beach will not be part of the preservation plan since it might damage or destroy ecologically sensitive areas along the Cape Fear River.

The seawall [revetment] is expected to halt ocean side erosion of Federal Point for the next fifty years.


March 1995 Newsletter (pdf) – Federal Point Historic Preservation Society (FPHPS)

Fort Fisher Revetment Project Nears Completion (March 1996)  (FPHPS)

Local Events: Civil War Sesquicentennial

Updated Sunday, Feb 1, 2015

Click for details

Click for details

♦  Sugar Loaf Civil War Earthworks – by Chris E. Fonvielle Jr.

After General Alfred H. Terry’s forces captured Fort Fisher in Jan 1865, he quickly turned upriver to strike Wilmington. They reconnoitered and probed the Sugar Loaf lines for a weak spot.

On January 19, 1865, the Federals attacked with two brigades of troops, including Colonel John W. Ames’ regiments of U.S. Colored Troops. Unable to break through, they launched an even bigger assault on February 11.

U.S. Colored Troops played a major role in what became known as the battle of Sugar Loaf, although the Confederate defenses again proved to be too strong to overrun. .. Read more ..

♦  The Stonewall of Forks RoadGeneral Robert F. Hoke and the Battle of Forks Road

Subsequent to the fall of Fort Fisher on January 15, 1865, Northern forces began a cautious advance on the city of Wilmington from both sides of the Cape Fear River.

After the evacuation of Fort Anderson on the west side of the river on February 19, Major General Robert F. Hoke had to abandon his defensive position across the river from that fort, at Sugar Loaf.

Without any strong fortifications to fall back on, Hoke knew that making a stand between the enemy and Wilmington would be difficult. … Read more ..

♦  The Battle Of Forks Road – Wilmington, Feb 7 and 8, 2015

♦  Civil War historian, Dr. Chris Fonvielle, will talk about his new book, ‘To Forge a Thunderbolt, Fort Anderson and the Battle for Wilmington’. Monday, February 16, 2015

♦  What a Cruel Thing is War” The final Civil War Sesquicentennial symposium, co hosted by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, will be held in the Lower Cape Fear, February 27-28, 2015.


♦  The North Carolina Civil War Experience (excellent resource)

♦  Maps at

♦  Fort Fisher State Historic Site  (extensive images, video, text)

♦  Brunswick Town/Ft. Anderson State Historic Site


♦  Black re-enactors tell their side of the story |
♦  Civil War Monuments & Markers – Wilmington
♦  This Week in the Civil War(AP Feb 1, 2015)

The Closing of New Inlet (The Rocks) 1870-1881

... and the Swash Defense Dam 1881-1891

By Sandy Jackson

[Originally published in the November, 1995 – FPHPS Newsletter]

The Rocks

The Rocks
Zeke’s Island to Fort Fisher

In 1870 the Corps of Engineers made a postwar survey of the Cape Fear River under Gen. J. H. Simpson.

The results of Simpson’s survey supported closing New Inlet, south of Fort Fisher, prior to any dredging in the river, since sand washed in the inlet would quickly refill the channel.

The River Improvements Act of July 11, 1870, appropriated funds for the Cape Fear improvements. General Simpson and Colonel Craighill of the US. Engineers devised a work at the New Inlet breeches to intercept the sand being washed into the river by the northeasterly gales and to then prevent the spilling of vast volumes of water through the breaches.

The works were intended to close the small inlets contiguous to the main inlet, thus forcing the water into the main channel of the Cape Fear River and scouring the channel to a capacity to admit vessels.

The first step undertaken to close the inlet was the erection of a 500-foot deflector jetty from Federal Point on the northern side of New Inlet, that followed a southwesterly line of shoals.

The Rocks - Zeke's IslandThe work of closing the breaches between Smith [Bald Head Island] and Zeke’s Islands, was under the supervision of Maj. Walter Griswold and consisted of placing large, heavy wooden cribs, filled with stone, across the bottom.

The line of crib works started at the northernmost extremity of Smith Island and extended toward Zeke’s Island. For the greater part of its 1,200 feet length, the works were built upon the remains of a stone dike, constructed by Captain Daniel P. Woodbury in 1853.  At the commencement of the work the water on the bar had diminished to the nominal depth of only 8 feet with a narrow channel.

The Rocks3

The Rocks – up to Battery Buchanan

During the 1870-1871 fiscal year the Corps of Engineers reported that a 607-foot section of the breakwater and superstructure had been completed across the most difficult breach that contained the deepest and strongest current. In addition to the construction of the breakwater, Griswold also began erecting sand fences and planting shrubbery and other vegetation on Zeke’s Island to prevent further erosion.

In 1873 the Corps reported that the closing of the breaches between Zeke’s and Smith’s Islands had been completed. The jetty extended 4,400 feet in length and was protected from the currents by sunken flats and thirty thousand sand bags.

Upon inspection it was found that sand had quickly accumulated, forming shoals around the jetty and further strengthening the structure. As a result of the building sand at the breakwater and sand fences, Zeke’s Island was being thoroughly merged into Smith’s Island beach and returning to its former shape before the 1761 storm that caused it to open.

Federal Point, however, and the outer point of Smith Island beach continued to wear. By 1877 Zeke’s Island had entirely lost its identity.

In 1872 the Corps made a proposal to completely close New Inlet, and a board of engineers met in Wilmington, to consider the idea. After careful review the board recommended closure of the inlet. Congress appropriated an additional one hundred thousand dollars for the continued task.

Building 'The Rocks'

Building ‘The Rocks’

Work began on completely closing New Inlet in 1874 by placing an experimental cribwork along a line of shoals 1,700 feet long to the deep water of the channel. The cribwork consisted of a continuous line, or apron, of wooden mattresses-composed of logs and brushwood, loaded with stone, and sunk—that formed the foundation for a stone dam.

Each section of the mattress was 36 feet wide and 36 feet long and was floated out to its proper position and held in place by anchors. Having proceeded at a cautious pace, the Corps of Engineers halted the construction after two years of difficult work and the construction of only 500 feet for further consideration.

Bill Reaves - Carolina Beach The Oceanic Hotel - Rocks - May 15 1893

Click – to read

While reevaluation of the project was under way, it was decided to use any remaining funds to dredge the channels of the river at Horseshoe shoal, the Bald Head bar, and the “Logs,” a submerged cypress stand 7 miles below Wilmington to a depth of 12 feet.

When work on closing New Inlet continued in 1876 the project proved difficult because of the depth of the water and the amount of stone required to be piled on top of the wooden mattresses. The last mattress raft was sunk in June 1876, and it was estimated that 6,200 cubic yards of riprap stone would be required to be placed on the mattresses just to raise the dam to the low water mark.

The first load of stone was dumped on the dam in January 1877. The work continued year to year by piling small stone rip-rap on and over the foundation. As the dam lengthened, the amount of rip-rap needed increased as the current scoured the mud and sand from around the dam, increasing the depth of water.

The Rocks4By 1879, under direction of Asst. Eng. Henry Bacon, the dam had been built to the high water mark for its entire length of 5,300 feet; and one small middle section that had been left open for navigation was closed. More than 122,000 cubic yards of stone had been placed on the dam, and still more was needed to raise the dam to two feet above the high water.

At the suggestion of Bacon to Chief Engineer Craighill, heavy granite capstones were placed on top of the rock dam. The Corps successfully completed the closure of New Inlet in 1881.


Swash Defense Dam 1881-1891

While the Corps of Engineers was engaged in the closing of New Inlet, a storm in 1877 opened a breach between New Inlet and the closed Smith’s – Zeke’s Islands swash.

In order to prevent the purpose of the dam from being corrupted by the new opening, it was decided to close the breach by artificial means. The first attempt, made by Engineer Bacon in February 1881, proved to be of insufficient strength and collapsed.

The Rocks2

The Rocks
– walking toward Zeke’s Island

A second attempt to build a sturdier structure followed during the spring and summer of 1881. During that effort over “400 heavy piles eight feet apart in two lines nine feet apart” were driven in a line across the breach. Sand quickly accumulated on the ocean side of the defense, reinforcing the structure.

A series of storms in August and September 1881, however, broke through the beach on the north side of the breakwater, flanking the defense and forcing its abandonment. In order to save the work, Bacon recommended that a line of defense be completed that extended from Zeke’s Island over the shoal water to reduce the tidal difference.

The Corps approved Bacon’s recommendations for the extended defense; without them the effectiveness of the New Inlet dam would have been severely compromised and a great deal of money and time expended with little more than a temporary improvement. A row of mattresses, 40 to 60 feet wide, was laid along the line earlier proposed. On top of the mattresses they piled stone, similar to the New Inlet dam, up to the high-water mark.

Storms again plagued the defense project and forced another swash to open just north of the other two and nearer New Inlet Dam.  As a result, Bacon was forced to lengthen and modify the line of mattresses.

Contractors finally delivered the first load of stone to the works in December 1884 from a quarry on nearby Gander Hall plantation. The placement of the stone continued over the next several years, with minor delays caused by the occasional storm. By 1891 the Corps had completed the 12,800-foot Swash Defense Dam to its proper height and width.

From Battery Buchanan out to The Rocks

From Battery Buchanan
down to The Rocks

The length of the upper section of the dam extended Battery Buchanan on Federal Point to Zeke’s Island, a distance of 5,300 feet. The continuation of the Swash defense dam from Zeke’s Island to Smith’s Island, 12,800 feet, made the entire closure just over 3 miles in length.

“The Rocks,” as the entire dam was eventually called, measured from 90 to 120 feet wide at the base, and for three-fourths of the line the average depth of the stone wall was 30 feet from the top of the dam. The Corps of Engineers topped the Rocks with concrete during the 1930s. The Rocks still separate the Cape Fear River from the ocean.





[Editor:  Claude V. (Sandy) Jackson III included this article in a book he later published, ‘The Big Book of the Cape Fear River‘.  

In the ‘The Big Book’, there are 22 pages detailing Historic Navigation and Dredging Projects on the lower Cape Fear including  Snow’s Cut with descriptions, locations and pictures.]



Hartzer, Ronald B.
1984 “To Great and Useful Purpose; A History of the Wilmington District US. Army Corps of Engineers“. Wilmington: Privately printed.

Rayburn, Richard H.
1984 “One of the Finest Rivers in the South: Corps of Engineers Improvements on the Cape Fear Below Wilmington, 1870-1881.” Lower Cape Fear Historical Society, Inc. Bulletin 27, no. 3 (May): 1-6.

1985 “One of the Finest Rivers in the South: Corps of Engineers Improvements on the Cape Fear Below Wilmington, 1881-1919.” Lower Cape Fear Historical Society, Inc. Bulletin 28, no. 2 (February): 1-6.

Sprunt, James.
1896 “Tales and Traditions of the Lower Cape Fear 1661-1896“. Wilmington: Lerin Brothers; Reprint, Spartanburg, S.C.: The Reprint Co., 1973.

US. Army Corps of Engineers
1870 “Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers to the Secretary of War.”  Washington: US. Government Printing Office

Wilmington Star (Wilmington, NC.) 1873, 1876, 1877, 1886

Wilmington Weekly Star (Wilmington, NC.) 1872

[Additional Resources]

‘The Rocks’ Arial View:  Fort Fisher to Zeke’s Island to Bald Head
Google Maps: ‘The Rocks
Images: Zeke’s Island
Zeke’s Island – NC Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve
The Rocks’ 1761 – 1950: from the Bill Reaves Files
‘The Rocks’ in the News

November 1995 Newsletter (pdf) – Federal Point Historic Preservation Society


Shipbuilding along the Cape Fear River

By Sandy Jackson

[Originally published in the September, 1995 – FPHPS Newsletter]

Native Americans - Hollowed Out LogsThe earliest watercraft along the lower Cape Fear River were dugout canoes, or log boats, used by the native population. The dugout canoe was commonly built from a single cypress or pine log, quite common within the coastal swamp forest. Cut from a large section of tree, the canoe was shaped by ax or adze and hollowed to its appropriate thickness by slow-burning embers.

Early colonists to the region in the late seventeenth century used steel tools to adapt the dugout canoe to fit their own needs. By splitting a canoe down the middle and installing boards in the bottom, it could be enlarged. This larger version, about 4 or 5 tons, was known as the periauger and could be fitted with either masts for sails or oars for rowing. The larger of the craft were capable of carrying forty or barrels of pitch and tar. Periaugers were sometimes used by the inhabitants as ferries across rivers or larger creeks.

Types of Sailing Ships Built on the Cape Fear River

Types of Sailing Ships
Built on the Cape Fear River

During the early eighteenth century, settlement of the lower Cape Fear River quickly increased as royal governors granted to various individuals large sections of land along the liver and major tributaries.

On these large sections of land, called plantations, crops or naval stores were often produced and transported by flat, also called a pole boat, to deep-water points, where they were loaded aboard seagoing ships. The flatboat, so named because of its flat bottom and squared sides, was larger than the earlier periaugers and built of boards.

The majority of those transport vessels and small sailing craft were constructed at plantation landings. Often flats were used as ferries across major waterways.

Deep-water sailing craft known as sloops gradually became the watercraft commonly used to transport products between coastal ports. Sloops were as small as 5 tons burthen, or as large as 60 to 70 tons. They had a single mast with a large mainsail and one or more headsails on a bowsprit. The larger sloops were primarily used in long ocean voyages and had one or more square sails in addition to the usual fore-and-afi sails .

Second in popularity and use after the sloop was the brigantine or brig, from 30 to 150 tons. The rig of this craft has varied with time and location. Generally, before 1720, the brigantine has been described as being a two-masted vessel, square-rigged on the foremast, fore-and-aft rigged on the main, but also with a square topsail.

After 1720, the main square topsail was omitted in most brigantines. Other vessel types in use during the late seventeenth and eighteenth century included the ship, schooner, bark, snow, pink, and shallop.

Single-masted sloops were eventually found to be too small to carry the increasing amount of commerce on the Cape Fear River. The need for a larger vessel capable of transporting more cargo led to the development and use in the early eighteenth century of a two-masted, fore-and-aft-rigged craft known as the schooner.

The Schooner allowed distribution of the sail canvas on two masts and made it feasible to build this type of craft in tonnages exceeding those of the sloops. The smaller sail sizes also required fewer crew to operate. The design and operation of the two-masted schooner proved both popular and economically beneficial. The schooner quickly became the most common vessel type until the mid-nineteenth century. Sloops and schooners were constructed at several of the shipyards located along the lower Cape Fear River. Some of the last wooden schooners built during the early twentieth century at Wilmington were four-masted.

In the early decades of the nineteenth century steam-powered vessels began plying the waterways of eastern North Carolina and effectively replacing much of the sail- or oar-powered craft in use. Large, and often dangerous, steam engines and boilers converted, steam into a mechanical motion that turned wooden side or stem paddlewheels. Fueled by either coal or firewood (found plentifully along the river banks), the shallow-drafted steamboats proved to be an efficient means of transporting produce and other farm goods plantation landings to market.

As a result of the improved means of transportation, steamboat companies developed and provided regular scheduled service for passengers and the transportation of freight between coastal ports, plantations, and river towns. Until the early twentieth century steamboats of a wide variety of sizes and designs were the most popular form of transportation on the Cape Fear River. Several shipyards within the Wilmington vicinity specialized in the construction and repair of this type of vessel.

Naval technology developed significantly in response to the Civil War. The success of early vessels of a new type known as ironclads brought about changes in the materials and methods used for the construction of ships. The building of wooden vessels highly susceptible to fire, decay, and destruction by enemy attack during war slowly declined as an increasing number of iron ships were constructed.

During the Civil War at least three ironclads were built in Wilmington. While the upper structure of this class of vessel was covered in iron, the lower portion of the hull below the waterline was wooden. The need for vessels completely encased in iron ended with the conflict, but the method of ship construction established with the ironclads continues to this day.

Beery Shipyard - just North of Memorial Bridge

During World War I, Wilmington was established as a prime shipbuilding location for a new method of building vessels of concrete. In April 1918 the US. Shipping Board selected Wilmington as one of its sites for a government yard. Seven concrete ships were planned to be built at the city. The larger of the vessels, 7,500 tons, would be used as tankers with capacities of 50,000 barrels of oil. The smaller, 3,500-ton, vessels would be cargo ships.

The new type of cargo vessel, or “stone ship,” required approximately 300 tons of concrete and was poured in three sections-bottom, sides and decks. Drying of each section had to occur before the next section could be poured. When all three sections were complete, the vessel had to “set” for a month before launching. Some of the last large wooden ships were also constructed at Wilmington during this period.

Liberty Ships - built in Wilmington

Liberty Ships – built in Wilmington

The greatest boom in shipbuilding on the Cape Fear River occurred during World War II.  Wilmington was again selected as the site for construction of cargo ships needed for the war effort. Two types of cargo vessels were built in Wilmington: Liberty ships and Victory ships.

The Liberty ships were officially designated as the EC-2 (Emergency Cargo) type. The standard Liberty was more than 441 feet in length, with a beam of 56 feet and a draft of 27 feet. Libertys often carried more than their stated capacity of 9,146 tons of cargo with a full load of fuel. The ship had five holds: three forward of the engine spaces and two aft. One hundred twenty-six of these class vessels were produced at the Wilmington shipyard.

1949 - Mothballed Liberty Fleet in Wilmington

1949 – Mothballed Liberty Fleet
along Brunswick River in Wilmington

The second vessel class, the C-2 or Victory ship, was also constructed at the Wilmington yard. It was hoped that this type of vessel could be used as merchant ships following the war. The C-2 ships were 460 feet long, 63 feet in beam, and had a dead-weight tonnage capacity of 8,500 tons. The North Carolina Shipbuilding Company produced 117 vessels of the C-2 type.

There were many variations in the C-2 design that caused considerable delays when compared to the amount of time required to build an EC-2-type vessel. Each variation of the C-2-type ships required different means of propulsion and prevented standardization. The Liberty ship was much easier to produce by comparison.

Mothballed Libertys - Brunswick River


Shipbuilding along the river drastically declined during the last half-century.

When military vessels were not being built in Wilmington, private shipbuilding companies constructed small river craft, yachts, or speedboats on the sites of the abandoned war shipyards.

Presently only fishing boats or small craft for government use are built along the shores of the lower Cape Fear River.


[Editor:  Claude V. (Sandy) Jackson III included this article in a book he later published titled: ‘The Big Book of the Cape Fear River‘.  

Following this article in the ‘The Big Book’, there’s an extensive (42 page) listing of all the Shipyards, Boatyards, Repair Yards and Marine Railways along the lower Cape fear River, along with descriptions, locations and pictures.

All but one of the images included on this page are from ‘The Big Book of the Cape Fear River‘.

Google Maps: Brunswick River in Wilmington, NC


September, 1995 (pdf) – FPHPS Newsletter]

The Confederate Ironclads Raleigh and North Carolina – built in Wilmington

Alford, Michael B.
1990 “Traditional Work Boats of North Carolina“. North Carolina Maritime Museum. Harkch Island, N.C.: Hancock Pub.

Chapelle, Howard I.
1935 “The History of American Sailing Ship“. New York: Bonanza Books.

Johnson, F. Roy.
1977 “Riverboating in Lower Carolina”. Murfreesboro, N.C.: Johnson Publishing Company.

Still, William N., Jr.
n.d. “Shipbuilding in North America: A Case Study in the South’s Maritime Heritage.” Unpublished data base.

Wilmington Dispatch (Wilmington, NC.) 1918, 1919.

Wilmington Star (Wilmington, NC.) 1918, 1919, 1941.

Wilmington News (Wilmington, NC.) 1941.

Fort Fisher 150th Anniversary – Jan 17 & 18, 2015

Ft Fisher 150th Re-enactment 2015

Ft Fisher 150th Re-enactment 2015

Fort Fisher 150th Anniversary Saturday, Jan 17th. (Facebook images)

Civil War Reenactment Fort Fisher – By TLC
A visual candid approach with the participants.




(For full-screen images or image slide-show – click any image below)

Beverly Tetterton and Dan Camacho – January Meeting

Beverly Tetterton and Dan Comacho

Beverly Tetterton and Dan Camacho

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, January 19, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

This month’s speakers are business partners Beverly Tetterton and Dan Camacho who are publishers of a series of “apps” for smart phones and tablets focusing on the history of Wilmington. The wihi app uses your device’s GPS map to lead you down beautiful tree-lined streets to our  many rich historic sites. At each stop you listen to a 3-5 minute history and scroll through fascinating historic pics. Begin when you want. Walk at your own pace. Take a break with a cool drink. Even continue tomorrow if you want. It’s easy!

wihi cover photo

Civil War Wilmington Tour

A longtime friend of the Society, Beverly Tetterton was a research librarian in the North Carolina Room at the New Hanover County Public Library for 31 years. She was a pioneer in digital archives, creating the first in North Carolina. She went on to create numerous digital archive collections which include thousands of historic photographs of the Cape Fear Region. In 2001, the Raleigh News & Observer named her Tar Heel of the Week. She and her husband Glenn live in a 100 + year old house in Wilmington’s historic district.

Dan Camacho has an MBA from Northwestern, an MFA in Creative Writing from UNC Wilmington, and has worked at Hewlett Packard,,,, and  He has not received nearly as many awards as Beverly, but he does live in an older house (160+ years) with his wife Lori and two children.

Watch Beverly & Dan talk about starting Wilmington History Tours:


If yogoogle logoApp store logogu have a smartphone or tablet, you are welcome to bring it along as Beverly & Dan will be available to help people download and install the apps.

For more information about their products visit:

Civil War goes digital in Port City walking tour app

From the President: January, 2015

<i>Elaine Henson</i>

Elaine Henson

by Elaine Henson

Since this month marks the 150th anniversary of the fall of Fort Fisher, I chose cards that depict the battle and its site.

As always, my good friend and FPHPS member, Dr. Chris Fonvielle, was my consultant on these and most any question I might have on the Civil War.


Naval bombardment of Fort Fisher

Naval bombardment of Fort Fisher

This card shows the naval bombardment of Fort Fisher. [Click image for hi-res]

At the far left on the horizon, you can see the Mound Battery.

According to Dr. Fonvielle, this image was taken from a drawing by T. F. Laycock and produced as a lithograph by Endicott of New York, NY.

On the bottom left, C.W. Yates was a Wilmington photographer who owned a shop on Market Street where he sold his work and that of others, stationary, post cards and office supplies.


Fort Fisher Postcard

Northeast Bastion – Fort Fisher

This white border card, postmarked in 1924, shows the Northeast Bastion where the sea and land faces met. On January 15, 1865 the fort was attacked from the ocean side by U.S. Naval forces.

Under the leadership of Colonel William Lamb and General W.H.C. Whiting, 500 Confederate soldiers actually turned back the 2,000 sailors and Marines. At the same time 4,700 Union soldiers attacked from the land face and ultimately prevailed resulting in the surrender of the fort.


Last month I shared a post card of Carolina Beach Presbyterian Church when it was on Charlotte Avenue. The first service in this building was held on March 17, 1946. The church’s web site has a link to their history under “About Us/History”. It is very interesting; check it out at


Battle for Fort Fisher – 150th Re-enactment

Saturday January 17th – 9 am to 9 pmfort fisher #5

Sunday January 18th –    9 am to 5 pm


The program will span two days and will be packed with events, Civil War re-enactors, speakers, tours and vendors. This year’s theme will look at the sacrifice made by both sides and the recognition by veterans of the fight that there was “glory enough for all” to go around during the second attack on Fort Fisher in January 1865.

Fort Fisher #1

An official opening observance is scheduled for 11:00 am on Saturday prior to the battle tactical. It will feature National Park Service Historian Emeritus Ed Bearss and selected State officials. A closing commemoration will be following the Sunday morning tactical.

During the day on Saturday and Sunday, Civil War Era music will be provided by The Shanty Men and The Huckleberry Brothers.

fort fihser #2Saturday night, Fort Fisher Historic Site will be offering a guided lantern tour at which visitors will  hear about the first hand experiences of individuals connected to Fort Fisher and the battle.

During the weekend, Fort Fisher State Historic Site will feature national and local historians and authors covering topics varying from North Carolina’s soldiers in the Civil War, the African-American experience in the Civil War, the attacks on Fort Fisher, Fort Fisher’s role in the Wilmington Campaign and Fort Fisher’s role in the end of the Confederacy.

Confirmed speakers scheduled for Saturday and Sunday are Ed Bearss, Rod Gragg, Chris Fonvielle, Michael Hardy, Jamie Martinez, and Richard Triebe. The authors have been invited to remain at the site during the program to meet the public and sign copies of their books.

fort fisher #6The highlight of the 150th commemoration will be a tactical demonstration of the Union attack on Shepherd’s Battery.

Conducted only once every five years, over 300 re-enactors are scheduled to give spectators an idea of what the scene might have looked the afternoon of January 15, 1865.

The battle reenactment will start promptly at 1:30 pm on Saturday and 10 am on Sunday. Viewing positions for the spectators will be indicated due to need for safety of the spectators.

Fort Fisher Program Jan 17-18, 2015Before and after the battle-tactical program, the United States Marine Corps Historical Company will be across US 421 South in the grove of trees adjacent to the ocean. They will be discussing the role of the US Marine Corps in the attack on Fort Fisher. They will be conducting the 1860 Marine Corps drill and conducting firing demonstrations. During the weekend, they will also be illustrating the process for loading and firing a bronze 6-pound cannon. This is a non-firing demonstration and will include opportunities for pictures and hands-on learning.

During the day on Saturday and Sunday, there will be kid’s activities conducted on the south airstrip. The activities will include learning about being a soldier, signal flags and chippers and codes.  A demonstration of the Confederate Torpedo service and how it protected the Cape Fear River and was suppose to protect Fort Fisher will be conducted on the Fort’s land face.

After the battle tactical on Sunday, artillery and infantry units will be on hand to talk with visitors about camp life, garrison duty and conduct the manual of arms and firing demonstrations.

The artillery will consist of the Historic Site’s Rifled and Banded 32-pound cannon and the Site’s bronze 12-pound Napoleon cannon. The schedule will alternate between the infantry and Artillery drill. Also on site will be Harry Taylor, who will be available to take wet plate photography as well as many Civil War sutlers (merchants.)
fort fisher #3Fort Fisher State Historic Site will also be dedicating a new exhibit called “Colonel Lamb: Guardian Angel of Blockade Runners.” This exhibit will look at Col. William Lamb’s role in constructing Fort Fisher to protect the Confederacy’s blockade running ships and the Port of Wilmington.

The program is free and open to the public.

The site encourages visitors to arrive early to allow time for a trolley departure from the event parking lot at the Air Force Recreation Base, which is just north of Fort Fisher State Historic Site on US Hwy 421.

All Fort Fisher programming is made possible with the support of the Friends of Fort Fisher and its sustaining members. The Friends of Fort Fisher is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing this national treasure.


Carolina Beach Walk of Fame – Dedication January 3, 2015

Walk of Fame - McKee Family

[Thanks to Island Gazette and WWAY for their great coverage of this event.]

CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY)– A dedication of the Walk of Fame in Carolina Beach was held Saturday afternoon. Commemorative stones were placed around the lake to recognize the names of individuals who made major contributions in the history and development of the town.

Walk of Fame - Tom ConnollyAlthough it was a gloomy day on Pleasure Island, everyone had smiles across their faces as the community gathered together.

Chair of the Walk of Fame, Sarah Efird, said the event was “to honor all citizens or people of Carolina Beach that have done outstanding things for the town or for the community, or for the resort part.” The day was extra special for one man whose dream for many years finally came true.

Tom Connolly is the founder of the Walk of Fame. He was a police officer for 22 years and started many youth programs in Carolina Beach. His vision for the Walk of Fame came several years ago with the intention of bringing notoriety and acknowledgment to those who helped shape the community.

Connolly expressed his reasoning for the dedications by saying, “People in our past that were not recognized and I felt they needed recognition for all they have done for Carolina Beach and this is the way to pay them back.”

Walk of Fame - Harper MarkerWalk of Fame - Connolly MarkerWalk of Fame - Winner Marker

During the unveiling ceremony, 10 people were honored. The list includes Tom Connolly, Joseph and Anna Winner, Capt. John W. Harper, John W. Plummer, James R. and Amanda L. Bame and family, Glenn Tucker, Robert “Bob” Weeks, Pat Efird, Kimberly Barbour Munley and the McKee Family. Some people who were recognized dated back into the 1800’s and some who were there to share the memories with their loved ones.

Walk of Fame - Darlene BrightSarah Efird’s mom was honored at the ceremony. “My mother is being honored and she was on the town council for 34 years,” Efird said. “She’s really done a lot to help change this town, I think for the better, and she loved it.”

Each year 5 more people will be chosen for the award and the recipients will be honored with a granite stone.

Tax deductible donations for the continuing work on this project can be made to FPHPS/Walk of Fame and send to the Federal Point Historical Society at P.O. Box 623, Carolina Beach 28428

Walk of Fame - Elaine HensonDedication Remarks – January 3, 2015

Society President – Elaine Henson

 On behalf of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society, I would like to welcome Mayor Dan Wilcox, town officials, Walk of Fame Committee, family and friends to the first Carolina Beach Walk of Fame presentation ceremony.

Our society is dedicated to the preservation of the history of Federal Point and our beaches. In addition to gathering and preserving historical records and archives, we also operate the History Center and Museum adjacent to Town Hall and invite you to visit us on Tuesday, Friday or Saturday from 10-4.

As I said, keeping our history is what we are about. This Walk of Fame is exactly the kind of project we are proud to support. The men and women we honor today have left their stamp on our community in many and varied ways. Some lived in the horse and buggy days of the late 1800s, some through the roaring 20s and the Great Depression, some through the second half of the twentieth century and some are living today. They have served as visionaries, business owners, government officials, civic workers, volunteers and heroes, but all have made this community a better place to live.

We want to thank the Town of Carolina Beach for their financial support for the Walk of Fame and the Walk of Fame Committee for doing the work of getting it started.   We are proud to be a part of honoring our recipients today and are so pleased you could all be here.


(For full-screen images or image slide-show – click any image)

Drifter’s Reef Motel

Drifter's Reef Motel

Drifter’s Reef Motel

Featured Business of the Month
January, 2015

by Tony (Lem) Phillips

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society sends out a very warm welcome to our newest Business Member, Drifter’s Reef Motel in Carolina Beach.

Drifter’s Reef Motel is centrally located in Carolina Beach just a few blocks from our beautiful sandy beaches, old fashion boardwalk with amusement rides, fabulous restaurants, shopping, and great fishing.

At Drifter’s Reef Motel, they offer comfortable nicely decorated motel rooms at affordable prices and a friendly staff that treats you like family.

The Drifters Reef Motel In Carolina Beach offers a fun filled family vacation spot and a clean uncrowded beach. The Carolina Beach boardwalk offers great restaurants, shopping, entertainment, and a family Amusement Park with Thursday night fireworks and kids rides. The Carolina Beach boardwalk and beach are all within a few short blocks and easy walking distance.

Visitors love staying at the Drifters Reef Motel in Carolina Beach because it is convenient to everything that the beach has to offer, and there is so much to do. So, when you decide to come to Carolina Beach for vacation or some fishing, beach fun or just to breathe the fresh salt air, call the Drifters Reef Motel. Book your Carolina Beach Vacation at affordable prices!

And….they are located within a few blocks of the Federal Point History Center.

For reservations today! Call 910-458-5414