The Story of Blackbeard’s Shipwreck: Queen Anne’s Revenge

by Nancy Gadzuk

Mark Wilde-Ramsing, former Director of the Underwater Archaeology Unit at Fort Fisher, spoke at the January 21, 2019 meeting of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society.

 

Mark and Leslie Bright, Director of the History Center, worked together as a team for many years at Fort Fisher, and the Underwater Archaeology Unit there is the oldest in the country. Mark spoke on The Story of Blackbeard’s Shipwreck: Queen Anne’s Revenge. He was also promoting his new book, Blackbeard’s Sunken Prize: The 300-Year Voyage of Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Edward Teach, better known as the pirate Blackbeard, was notorious in the early 1700’s, a prime time for privateers and pirates.

In 1717 he commandeered the French frigate the Concorde and renamed it Queen Anne’s Revenge. Fast and well-armed, it became Blackbeard’s flagship, and he and his crew stole as much bounty as they could from other less notorious privateers and pirates.

But not for too long, as Blackbeard ran the ship aground in 1718 outside of Beaufort, North Carolina, possibly to evade capture by the British. There the ship sat underwater until the wreckage was discovered in 1997.

It took almost ten years of environmental review and geological research to determine if bringing up these relics from the past was important enough to warrant disrupting the ocean floor. Apparently it was.

Full recovery took from 2006 to 2015, as salt and water made recovering artifacts difficult. Each item had to be kept wet until it could be cleaned, documented, and preserved in a laboratory. More than 400,000 artifacts were recovered, including pieces of fine glassware, jewelry, intricate weapons, pewter plates, medical tools, and more.

These artifacts came from all around the world: England, France, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, China, and Africa. Thirty cannons were also recovered, which explains how Queen Anne’s Revenge was able to amass such a trove of riches in only six months.

Leg shackles were also recovered, suggesting that Blackbeard and his crew may have been slave traders as well as upscale, high-end thieves.

Mark shared pictures of some of the artifacts from the recovery and entertained a short question and answer before signing copies of the book he’d brought and made available for sale.

 

Fort Fisher Reenactment – January, 2019

Thanks to all the volunteers! 

This year we made $705.35 after expenses at the Fort Fisher Reenactment on January 12. 

Reenactment Day Crew: Leslie Bright, Darlene Bright, Steve Arthur, Jay Winner, Jim Dugan, Mary Ann Targonski, Susan Foy, Linda Kuharcik, Jim Kohler, Cheri McNeill, Don Snook, and Sylvia Snook.

Cookie Bakers: Doris Bame, Juanita Winner, Mary Ann Targonski, Cheri McNeill, Pam Capel, Elaine Henson, Nancy Gadzuk, Brenda Coffey, Ramona Hovey, Sylvia Snook, Steve Arthur, Beth Ann Burns, and Darlene Bright.

And, a HUGE thanks to Darlene Bright, Cheri McNeill, and Steve Arthur for spending so much time getting all the supplies and equipment ready for the sale.

Thanks to John Moseley and the staff of the Fort Fisher State Historic Site for continuing to support us by allowing us to conduct this most important fundraiser.  Thanks, also, to A & G Barbeque and Chicken for donating the slaw for our condiment bar.

 

Visit the New Fort Fisher State Historic Site Exhibit

The Federal Point Lighthouses

One never needs a reason to visit the Fort Fisher State Historic Site, but as of January there’s another one.  They have opened a new exhibit featuring the three Federal Point Lighthouses.

From 1817-1880, a series of three lighthouses guided mariners through the hazards at New Inlet, but none stand today. Two were destroyed by fire and one fell victim to the Civil War.

Fort Fisher State Historic Site collections manager and exhibit coordinator, Becky Sawyer, developed this exhibit.

The exhibit itself will showcase artifacts from the 1963 Stanley South archaeological dig of the lighthouse keeper’s cottage and the 2009 archaeological dig of the 1837 Federal Point Lighthouse.

These artifacts have never been on display until now! Sawyer holds her MA in public history from UNCW and has over 20 years of Civil War experience.

History of the Federal Point Lighthouses

 

 

 

 

2018 “Beat the Heat” Lecture Series ~~ Saturdays At 2:00

All Programs at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site

June 16: “The Faces of Fort Fisher” –  The stories of Fort Fisher detail the struggle for the Fort. But just as important are the stories of the people who populated the fort and its two battles. Join us as Dr. Chris Fonvielle discusses the people who lived, worked, fought, and died at Fort Fisher. Copies of his books will be on sale and can be signed by the author.

June 23 : “The WASP Program and Fort Fisher” – During World War II, the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP, were the first women trained to fly our military’s front line arsenal. In July 1943, the first 25 specially selected women arrived at the Camp Davis Army Air Field with orders to provide targets for the Anti-Aircraft training happening in the area. Join us as Assistant Site Manager, John Moseley, presents this unique story and its connection to Fort Fisher’s Antiaircraft Firing Point.

June 30: “The Roots of Colonial Resistance to Stamp Act and the Road to Revolution”  – Parliament’s Stamp Act of 1765 focused colonial resistance to Great Britain’s attempts to impose new taxes on the colonies without the consent of colonial legislatures. The rise of colonial resistance was also based on fiscal policy leading to an attempt to arrest British officials in Brunswick Town and placed Governor Tryon under a short house arrest. Join us as Fort Fisher Interpreter, Rick Morrison, a retired US Navy Captain, discusses this unique facet in our local history.

July 7: “The Silent Sentinels” – We pass them all the time. They dot our State’s roads, parks and cemeteries. John Winecoff, of the North Carolina Military History Society, has spent years documenting all the military memorials in North Carolina’s 100 counties. They are the silent  witnesses to the sacrifices of our men and women in over 243 years of our country’s history.

July 14: “At the Mercy of the Angel of Death: The 1862 Wilmington Yellow Fever Epidemic” –  During the Civil War, the mosquito carried a dark and deadly secret. Learn how this little bug and its pathological comrades waged their own biological warfare upon unsuspecting soldiers and citizens. Shannon Walker, Interpreter at Brunswick Town Fort Anderson State Historic Site, will be here to discuss this insect and the deadly Civil War medical issues it brought.

July 21: “General Lee’s Immortals” –  During the Civil War, North Carolina fielded numerous infantry, artillery, and cavalry units. One of those units was the Brach-Lane Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia. The unit formed in 1861 and fought from the Seven Days’ battle to the final surrender at Appomattox. Join historian and author, Michael C. Hardy, and explore this history of one of North Carolina’s storied units in the Civil War.

July 28: “Welcoming Sherman: Wilmington and the Cape Fear” –   With the fall of Wilmington, Federal forces were able to use the Cape Fear River as a much needed supply base.  Mr. Wade Sokolosky, a retired career army officer, will discuss the US Navy and Army’s use of  the Cape Fear River to support  Sherman’s troops in Fayetteville. Copies of his book on the Battle of Wyes Fork will be on sale and can be signed by the author.

August 4: “A Post-War Confederate Sailor: Finding H.S. Lebby, Blockade Runner and Privateer”  – Sailors’ Snug Harbor, New York, a retirement home for the purpose of caring for ‘worn out and decrepit sailors,” opened its doors in 1833 on Staten Island to all seamen from all countries. Henry Sterling (H. S.) Lebby noted on his application he had worked on merchant vessels for the US. And yet, it is clear from records in South Carolina, H.S. Lebby was not the man he claimed to be.  Who is Captain Lebby and why is he in New York living out his last years at Sailors’ Snug Harbor?

 

Boyhood Book Helped Forge Chris Fonvielle’s Career

 

Civil War historian Chris Fonvielle is retiring from UNCW at the end of the spring 2018 semester.

When Chris Fonvielle was 8 years old, the Civil War centennial broke out, and he received a young readers’ edition of the American Heritage “Golden Book of the Civil War.” From thereon, he was hooked.

“I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in history,” said Fonvielle, an associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

In fact, Fonvielle, a Port City native, almost literally wrote the book — or books — on the Civil War in the Lower Cape Fear. His master’s thesis became “The Wilmington Campaign: Last Rays of Departing Hope,” a scholarly account of the battles that led to the fall of Wilmington.

His “To Forge a Thunderbolt” chronicled the rise and fall of Confederate Fort Anderson near Colonial Brunswick Town. “Fort Fisher 1865″ studied the prints of Civil War photographer Timothy H. O’Sullivan, whose images in 1865 provide the only known visible record of the Civil War fortress guarding the entrance to the Cape Fear River.

“His dedication to the Wilmington area and its history is extraordinary,” said Lynn Mollenauer, chairman of the UNCW history department.

For years, Mollenauer said, Fonvielle has been “the public face of the history department,” speaking to local civic groups and giving tours of Civil War sites for the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society and others.

This spring, the 65-year-old Fonvielle is retiring after more than 20 years at UNCW. He and his wife, Nancy, are planning a series of trips, including a long-anticipated tour of Scotland.

Fonvielle will not be giving up on history. He’s completing a different project: a history of the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge, the 1776 conflict in which area Patriot militias scattered Loyalist Highlanders marching from what is now Fayetteville toward Wilmington.

Mastering the Revolutionary War era has been “a steep learning curve,” Fonvielle said, but he’s had fun. It gave him a chance to learn new history — for instance, that the prefix “Mac-” means “son of” in Scottish names.

Fonvielle said he also wants to finish a biography of William B. Cushing, “Lincoln’s Commando,” a dashing U.S. Navy officer who, among other exploits, floated a fake gunboat, or monitor, past Fort Anderson to trick the defenders and draw their fire.

Growing up in Wilmington, Fonvielle remembered traveling out with his mother — WWAY-TV news personality Jane Fonvielle — to see the excavations of Brunswick Town and Fort Anderson by the famed archaeologist Stanley South. “He gave me a trowel and put me in the basement of one of the colonial houses and told me, ‘See what you can find,’” Fonvielle recalled.

After graduating from New Hanover High School (where, he proudly notes, he was the first soccer-style place kicker in North Carolina football history), Fonvielle moved on to UNCW, where he earned an anthropology degree.

He headed the Blockade Runner Museum at Carolina Beach from 1979 until its closure in 1983, then worked briefly at Cape Fear Museum, which had acquired the artifacts.

After earning his master’s degree and Ph.D. and briefly teaching at ECU, he returned to UNCW in 1997. He’s been there ever since.

“I’ve had a great career, and I wouldn’t change a thing,” Fonvielle said. “I’ve worked in my home town and taught at my alma mater.”

Reporter Ben Steelman can be reached at 910-343-2208 or Ben.Steelman@StarNewsOnline.com.

 

http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20180518/boyhood-book-helped-forge-local-historians-career

Upcoming Events – Walk to Sugar Loaf and Walk of Fame

Walk the “Sugar Loaf Line-of-Defense” with Chris Fonvielle

Saturday March 17, 2017  – 2 pm to 4 pm

Donation $10.00

To register call 910-458-0502.

Including the entrenchments in the proposed “Ryder Lewis Park”

 

 


Don’t Miss the 2018 ‘Walk of Fame’ Ceremony

 Saturday March 24, 2018

1:00 pm

At the Carolina Beach Lake

 

Fort Fisher 153rd Anniversary

Living History Program Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018

On Saturday, January 13, 2018, Fort Fisher State Historic Site will host the program ‘Exploding shells and a blaze of musketry’: The 153rd Second Battle of Fort Fisher Commemoration.

Outside the museum, reenactors dressed in period garb will bring history to life as they discuss camp life, garrison duty, and conduct the manual of arms. The program will also feature large and small artillery firings throughout the day, including the site’s 32-pounder rifled and banded cannon.

Live 19th century music will be provided by Masonboro Parlor and local photographer Harry Taylor will demonstrate 1860s wet-plate photography.

In the afternoon, two special programs will be held in the site’s auditorium.

At 12:30 pm, Dr. Keith Holland will introduce visitors to the fascinating story behind the Maple Leaf, a Union troop transport ship that sank April 1, 1864 and later bore countless historically and cultural significant artifacts.

At 2:30 pm, NC Division of State Historic Sites and Properties director, Keith Hardison, will present “Confederate Commander: The Military Qualifications of Jefferson Davis.”

The living history program is free and open to the public and will be held from 9 am to 4 pm. Donations are appreciated. All Fort Fisher programming is made possible by support from the Friends of Fort Fisher and its sustaining members, as well as from support from New Hanover County, the Town of Carolina Beach, and the Town of Kure Beach.

 

Cookies Needed for Reenactment

FPHPS will be selling hot dogs, drinks and snacks at the Reenactment again this year.

We need people to bake cookies as well as people to work our booth on Saturday January 13.

Please call Rebecca or Cheri at 458-0502 to let us know you can help.

Howard Hewett’s Legacy

from James Hewett:
“My cousin Howard Hewett passed away Monday Oct 6th in Vermont. His funeral will be Saturday in Texas.”

Howard Hewett

Between 2014 and 2015 from his home in Jones Creek, TX, Howard actively wrote many articles for the Federal Point History Center recalling his childhood years living just outside the gates to Fort Fisher.

Howard was a great writer with the amazing ability to recall details from his younger years on Federal Point.

Howard last visited Carolina and Kure Beach in November, 2015 and was the guest speaker at the Federal Point History Center.

Share some of Howard’s memories of Federal Point here.

Fort Fisher for Kids

2017 Summer Kids Activities
10 am to 2 pm

Saturday, July 14: The Anti-Aircraft Artillery Gunner.  From 1941 to 1944, Fort Fisher was home to a US Army Anti-Aircraft training base. Soldiers from around the country were here to learn to shoot down enemy aircraft from the sky. Find out about this period in Fort Fisher’s history and find out if you have what it takes to be an AA gunner.

Saturday, July 21: Archaeology at Fort Fisher. Explore the history of Fort Fisher with Maritime archaeologist from the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Lab. Find out about the amazing historical finds in the Cape Fear Region. Educational and hands-on activities will focus on the role of Archaeologists in understanding Fort Fisher’s history and how they accomplished their important work.

Saturday, July 28: Civil War Communications. How did Civil War units send messages over large distances without texting or cell phones? How could units be sure these messages would not fall into enemy hands? Come to Fort Fisher to learn the “Wig Wag” flag system to send messages and encrypt your own messages using cipher disks that you can take home!

Saturday, August 4: Protecting the Blockade. Join the Fort Fisher Signal Corps and learn how blockade runners supplied the Confederacy with much needed supplies under the protection of the Fort’s guns. Be your own blockade runner and see if you can safely transport goods to and from the Port of Wilmington. What will you decide is worthy of such risky transportation?

Saturday, August 11: The Whole Garrison has Gone to Gardening! The garrison at Fort Fisher had a big issue with fresh food to eat. To supplement their diet, the soldiers were ordered to create company gardens. Learn about how the soldiers at Fort Fisher fed themselves and fought off disease and take home their own potted plant!