Tuesday, March 27, 2012

On this day in history

I haven't followed the Civil War stories that have been published over the last year. Being the 150th anniversary has meant there are plenty of opportunities but for this son of the South, I felt we'd already had enough of those memorials.

There is a nice blog that has covered the Florida Civil War history, which considering the lack of military action in the Sunshine State has actually been pretty interesting.

This week I saw a newspaper story about the 150th anniversary of the battle of Fort Macon, in the harbor of Beaufort, North Carolina. It caught my eye because we have been to the fort. I also found records that one of my great grandfathers dug out the clay on his land, made bricks and they were used to build the fort. I wrote about that find two years ago.

The Yankee siege of Fort Macon started on March 23, 1861 and lasted a month. The Confederates surrendered on April 26, 1862.

Fort Macon was never considered an important military target. When the war broke out the Confederates took it over but there were only a handful of Union troops and four canons. Beaufort, North Carolina has the distinction of falling to the invaders during all three of the wars fought on US soil. There aren't many cities who can make that claim.

Since I had a number of relatives from the area, I decided to see how many of them participated in the battle of Fort Macon.

William Howard Longest, who was married to my great aunt, Laura Sena Foreman, enlisted in Company H of the 1st North Carolina Light Artillery on May 25, 1861 and was inside Fort Macon when the Yankees sailed into the harbor. He surrendered and was taken as a POW by the Union troops. They only held him for four months before exchanging him for some Union POWs. William Longest was born in 1833 but I'm not sure when he died. There is a marker for him at the Newport River Primitive Baptist Church cemetery in Carteret County, North Carolina but it doesn't have dates on it. It was installed in 1998. Laura was buried there also but there is no marker for her.

William J. Foreman who was the brother of Laura Sena Foreman and my great grandmother, Hope Jane Foreman also enlisted in the North Carolina Light Artillery in 1861 and was at Fort Macon. He didn't stay for the entire battle. The Confederate records show he deserted on April 9, 1862. He was married in May 1862 to Hattie Bell in Beaufort, one month after the fort fell.

William Foreman moved to Manatee County Florida after the end of the war and claimed a homestead on Perico Island. In fact, he and his wife Hattie Bell were probably the first from Carteret County to move to Manatee County. William was born in 1838 and died in 1906 and is buried in Palma Sola cemetery in Bradenton, Florida.

Owen Foreman, another brother of my great grandmother Hope was at Fort Macon as part of the North Carolina Light Artillery and also deserted on April 9, 1862. I'm not sure what happened to him after the war. I've never found any record of him after the battle. Hope Foreman named her son Owen Dewitt Garner, apparently after her brother.

Stephen Bryant Holland who was married to my 2nd cousin Margaret Francis Pigott, was also at Fort Macon. He enlisted in Company G, 10th Regiment of North Carolina Artillery and was a Sergent when the battle started. He was also taken as a POW and exchanged after a couple months. Stephen Holland was born in 1838 and died in 1924. He is buried in the Ferrand cemetery in Carteret County, next to his wife.

James W. P. Fulford who was my 3rd cousin had also enlisted in Company F of the North Carolina Light Artillery. He was taken prisoner when the fort fell and exchanged in August 1862. He married Mary Frances Smith in 1872 and moved to Craven County. He was born in 1838, died in 1907 and was buried in Cedar Grove cemetery in New Bern, NC.

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