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!

 

First North Carolina Heritage Dive Site – Dedication June 16, 2017

June 16 Official Dedication

NC Secretary of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susi H. Hamilton and the Friends of Fort Fisher, Inc. invite you to the dedication of North Carolina’s first Heritage Dive Site for the Civil War Blockade Runner Condor.

North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Branch Director John W. Morris and Dr. Gordon P. Watts with the Institute for International Maritime Research will join Secretary Hamilton to dedicate the dive site and to discuss the Condor project and how the public can provide stewardship of our underwater cultural resources.

The dedication will take place at Battle Acre on the oceanfront at Fort Fisher State Historic Site in Kure Beach, NC. Dedication set for 10:30 a.m. on Friday, June 16, 2017.

Special Guests:                                                                                               

Gordon Watts


Susi Hamilton

RSVP: Friends of Fort Fisher, Inc.
910-612-7067
info@friendsoffortfisher.com
www.friendsoffortfisher.com

March Meeting – Medal of Honor Recipients of the Lower Cape Fear

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, March 20, 7:30 p.m. at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

This month John Moseley will present his talk “Medal of Honor Recipients of the Lower Cape Fear.”

By the summer of 1861, the US Congress created the only award to recognize the acts of bravery by Union enlisted Navy, Marine Corps, and Army personnel during the Civil War. By war’s end, this award would be issued to 1,523 members of the Federal Army and Navy.

Between June 1864 and January 1865, seventy-two sailors, soldiers and Marines awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions at Fort Fisher. During the Civil War the US Marine Corps were awarded 17 Medals of Honor.

The struggle on the beach in front of Fort Fisher witnessed 6 of those Marine Medals of Honor. In addition, 35% of the recipients of the Medal of Honor for actions at Fort Fisher were foreign nationals.

Today, the Medal of Honor is the highest distinction that can be awarded by the President, in the name of the Congress, to members of the Armed Forces who have distinguished themselves conspicuously by gallantry and courage at the risk of their lives above and beyond the call of duty. In its history, 19 North Carolinians have been recognized for their actions with the Medal of Honor. New Hanover County recognizes four citizens of our Nation’s highest award.

John Moseley is the Assistant Site Manager at Fort Fisher State Historic Site. He received his undergraduate degree in History from The Citadel in Charleston, SC, in 1989. He then spent the next decade and a half working in the for-profit and non-profit business world. During the 1990s, he spent large amounts of time researching North Carolina’s role in the American Revolution and 18th century medical and dental history.

He began working at Fort Fisher in 2011 and is currently in charge of the educational programming for the State Historic Site.

Since the summer of  2012, John has been the historian with “Tasting History” where he leads a walking tour of Carolina Beach focusing on the history of Federal Point and sampling local restaurants.

Currently, he continues working on Fort Fisher’s Medal of Honor recipients and the role of Fort Fisher during World War 2.

 

Society Notes – February, 2017

By Darlene Bright, History Center Director

Fort Fisher 152nd Reenactment – Fundraiser!

We had a great year at the Reenactment this year.  Sold 480 hotdogs along with tons of sodas, chips, and homemade cookies!

A huge THANKS goes out to everyone who donated time and energy to making this a very successful fundraiser.

 

At the Fort (ALL DAY!)                                           Baked Cookies

Darlene and Leslie Bright                   Juanita Winner                       Doris Bame
Demetria and Phil Sapienza               Jane Dugan                             Jean Stewart
Cheri McNeill                                        Kitty Slebodnik                       Elaine Henson
Jim Dugan                                             Nancy Gadzuk                         Ann Green
Jim Kohler                                             Demetria Sapienza                 Cheri McNeill
Paul Slebodnik                                      Darlene Bright                        Rebecca Taylor
Rodney Jones                                        Sylvia Snook

  • The History Center recorded 51 visitors in January. We had 49 in attendance at the January Meeting. The gift shop took in $141.00.
  • The History Center was used for meetings held by the Got-Em-On Live Bait Fishing Club, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, The Carolina Beach Walk of Fame Committee and the Lewis Civil War Park Committee this month.
  • New Members: Linda Ogden of Carolina Beach, George Eckenrode and Candace Kelley of Wilmington, Don Hatch of Spring Grove, IL, and Frances and Daniel Parham of Wilmington.
  • Our sympathies go out to Nancy McGwier and her family at the loss of her son, Cam Miller.

Fort Fisher 152nd Reenactment

Saturday January 14, 2017

Fundraiser!

We’ll be selling hot dogs, sodas, snacks and homemade cookies again this year.  The reenactment is on Saturday January 14, from 10am – 4pm.

We need volunteers to “work the line” serving food as well as people to help set up and tear down.  We also need donations of homemade cookies to go with the meals for the reenactors.

If you can volunteer your time and/or bake a batch of cookies please call the History Center at 458-0502. Leave a message on the machine if Rebecca or Cheri isn’t there.

 

Seabreeze Part 5: The 40’s

By Rebecca Taylor

By the 1940’s Seabreeze had its own hotels, restaurants, amusement parks, and dance halls.  Drawing crowds from all over seabreeze-warfNorth Carolina it became known as the “National Negro Playground.” Among the local businesses – many of them run by Freemans or members of other families linked by marriage – were bathhouses where visitors could rent bathing suits for the day.

Daley’s Breezy Pier Restaurant was a two-story covered pavilion at the end of a pier where bands played and people fished and crabbed.

An amusement park opened in the summertime with a Ferris Wheel, a hobbyhorse (like a merry-go-round), chair planes, a carousel, the Octopus, and the Caterpillar. A fellow named Charlie ran the gambling tables. A Native American known as the Snake Man set up a sideshow tent, and one of the attractions he offered was “the Woman with No Body,” which was actually his extremely short wife in a darkened setting that only revealed her head. He also ran a candy store and a small circus and mounted an impressive snake display.

Summers were especially busy when church groups packed buses for a day’s amusement along the waterfront, then turned the beach over to the juke joint crowd at night. Farmers from inland counties would ride dozens of their field hands, on flatbed trucks, to Seabreeze for a day off. Seabreeze was so well known that it even attracted people from all over North Carolina and South Carolina. Some years people would even come on buses from Philadelphia and New Jersey.”

seabreeze-cabinsDuring segregation, Carolina Beach police refused to allow Seabreeze visitors to pass through the town to visit the ocean side of the Freeman property, known as Freeman’s Beach, so the family bought a boat to haul people there, letting them off in the marsh leading to the beach. You had to walk over the marsh lands – get mud in your feet and everywhere else.

Later Captain Rick Wilson – who later became the first black party-boat operator to get a slip at the Carolina Beach marina – ran a speedboat out of Seabreeze, offering rides for 50 cents a head.   Others, including Margaret Green, ran ferries to take visitors across the sound to the ocean beach on the outlying barrier  island. As the local economy recovered from the Great Depression, the Seabreeze community and its’ recreation area were fully developed.

Bruce’s Tavern was a two-story restaurant and dance hall with a fishing pier owned by Bruce Freeman. There was also Daley’s Pier with a restaurant and pier for fishing and crabbing. At Barbecue Sam’s, the proprietor raised pigs, butchered them, and smoked them on premises. Several bathhouses existed that seabreeze-womanallowed people to come out of the ocean, take a shower, get dressed, and go to the pavilions to dance.

There was a row of vine covered cottages which were used for overnight stays for people unable to drive and even an unofficial community jail. Photographers’ shops, where visitors could have their pictures taken as mementos of their summer visits to Seabreeze were scattered throughout the area.

William Freeman who was born in 1941 and grew up in Seabreeze says, “It was fun, it was fun, it was fun. For black people to be able to come to a place like this, they came and danced and kicked up and had fun the whole weekend. That had to be a great thing for us psychologically. All these places, blacks owned it all. It was far more valuable than we realized it was.”

WWII
In January of 1942 a meeting was called to inform “all negro citizens“ of the Sea Breeze area and to organize civilian defense units. The meeting was held at the Freeman church and Sheriff C. David Jones and the Mayor of Carolina Beach were the invited speakers.

In April 1942, the Federal Works Agency (FWA) allocated $12,800 for the construction of a bath house for the military. It included showers, locker rooms, and a lounge area.

In 1941, Camp Davis opened in Holly Ridge. It rapidly grew to include as many as 100,000 soldiers being trained in a variety of assault specialties. One section trained black soldiers in anti-aircraft artillery while an auxiliary base called Montford Point became the first training base for black Marines. wwii-marinesAs the war intensified the military presence became notable.

Black servicemen stationed nearby headed to Seabreeze on leave. There were even some training maneuvers that took place in the waterway. One long time resident reports that there were rumors among the residents that even the FBI trained along the undeveloped beach.

Black soldiers from the Fort Fisher training base would come up to Seabeeze. Some of the Freeman girls married some of the guys that used to be down at Fort. Fisher.

By the summer of 1943 a special “Jim Crow loading zone” was set up at the main bus terminal in Wilmington to handle the large crowds of black servicemen coming to Wilmington on leave. Another group was drawn to Carolina Beach, as well. Suddenly boys too young for the draft, but too old for parental supervision, flocked to Carolina Beach to work in the busy restaurants and hotels. White teenagers had learned to dance to ‘race music’ from blacks in the Hayti district of Durham.

While both Carolina Beach and Seabreeze owners were glad to cash in on the war boom, both beaches gained a reputation as somewhat “unruly.” As one white woman who was a teenager during the war remarked; “there was a general feeling that these boys were facing the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country and therefore deserved to cut loose before being shipped out.” 

Walk the Civil War Sugar Loaf Line of Defense

SPECIAL EVENT!

Saturday March 12, 2016. 2pm – 4pm
Starting at Federal Point History Center
1121-A N. Lake Park Blvd., Carolina Beach, NC 28428

Donations requested to Ryder Lewis – Sugar Loaf Civil War Park
Walk limited to 25 people – call 910-458-0502 to register.

Join Chris Fonvielle and John Moseley for a guided history tour of the Confederacy’s last line of defense on the Federal Point peninsula.

Chris Fonvielle Walking TourDr. Chris E. Fonvielle Jr. is professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. John Moseley is the Assistant Site Manager and Education Director at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site.

Walkers will gather at 2 pm at the Federal Point History Center behind the Carolina Beach Town Hall. They will then walk to the Carolina Beach State Park, ending at Sugar Loaf, along the Cape Fear River.  Along the way Dr. Fonvielle will point out the remains of this important remnant of our local history.  John Moseley, will be in Civil War costume and will demonstrate the firing a period gun.

CB Earthworks Clearing - March 2014The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society is currently working with the Town of Carolina Beach and other local history organizations to create a park around some of the remnants of this line of trenches that are located between N. Lake Park Blvd. and St. Joseph St.  Donations to the walk will go into the fund for use in establishing this park.

The importance of the Sugar Loaf Line:
As Union forces prepared to attack Wilmington by way of Fort Fisher in the autumn of 1864, Major General W. H. C. Whiting expanded existing defenses to meet the threat. He selected a “strong position” stretching from the sound (modern Carolina Beach canal) to Sugar Loaf hill on the Cape Fear River, for an extensive line of earthworks.

Engagement at Sugar Loaf - MapSugar Loaf itself was a natural sand dune that stood 50 feet in height on the riverbank. Whiting planned to place a battery of artillery on the summit of the hill.

By December 1864, the earthen fieldworks of the Sugar Loaf line ran for more than one mile from the sound to the river. Confederate forces continually strengthened them in the winter of 1864-1865.

During the first Union attack on Fort Fisher at Christmas 1864, approximately 3,400 Confederate troops defended Sugar Loaf, including 600 Senior Reserves commanded by Colonel John K. Connally.

General Lee sent Major General Robert F. Hoke’s Division of 6.400 Confederate troops from Virginia to try and prevent the fall of Wilmington.

General Alfred H. Terry’s forces that captured Fort Fisher 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.  [Source: “Historical Significance of the Sugar Loaf Civil War Earthworks” by Chris Fonvielle]

For more information call: Rebecca Taylor, Manager, Federal Point History Center, 910-458-0502 or email: rebecca@federal-point-history.org