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Full text of "A maritime history and survey of the Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear rivers, Wilmington Harbor, North Carolina"

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The Cape Fear — Northeast Cape Fear Rivers 

Comprehensive Study 




A Maritime History and Survey 

of the 
Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear Rivers, 
Wilmington Harbor, North Carolina 




Volume 1 
Maritime History 



Claude V. Jackson 



96-5653 



NS.DOGUMBflSr^ 
CLEARINGHOUSE 



The Cape Fear — Northeast Cape Fear Rivers 

Comprehensive Study 

A Maritime History and Survey 

of the 
Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear Rivers, 
Wilmington Harbor, North Carolina 

Volume 1 
Maritime History 

Underwater Archaeology Unit 

State Historic Preservation Office 

Division of Archives and History 

P.O. Box 58 

Kure Beach, North Carolina 28449 

and the 



U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 

Wilmington District 

P.O. Box 1890 

Wilmington, North Carolina 28402 



Claude V. Jackson 



April 1996 



North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources 

Division of Archives and History 

1996 



This report was compiled from published sources indicated and from original records 
held by the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. Unauthorized reproduction 
of the entire report is expressly prohibited. Permission is hereby granted to publish 
brief extracts from this work. This authorization is not to be construed as a surrender of 
copyright, literary right, or any other property right that is or may be vested in the state 
of North Carolina. 



Cover Illustration: View of Wilmington, North Carolina. 
From Gleason's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion, c. 1853. 



Abstract 

This work presents the findings of the cultural resource component of the Cape Fear- 
Northeast Cape Fear Rivers Comprehensive Study conducted from March 1993 to 
October 1994 as a cooperative project among the North Carolina Department of 
Environment, Health, and Natural Resources; the Underwater Archaeology Unit (UAU) 
of the Department of Cultural Resources; and the Wilmington District, U.S. Army Corps 
of Engineers (USACOE). The need for the comprehensive study arose from projected 
deepening and widening of the 33.8-mile-long Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear 
Rivers navigation channel in New Hanover and Brunswick Counties, North Carolina. A 
comprehensive historical overview of the Cape Fear River was produced, as well as 
annotated maps of the rivers that showed areas of maritime activity, ferries, bridges, 
plantations, lighthouses, quarantine stations, fortifications, dredging activity and 
historically documented and known shipwreck sites. Based on this compiled historical 
documentation, portions of the river were designated as priority areas according to their 
potential to yield significant underwater archaeological sites. A remote sensing survey 
and archaeological investigation was conducted at each of the established priority 
areas, resulting in the documentation of several previously unrecorded shipwreck sites. 
More than 150 dives were made on 102 different remote sensing targets. Several 
targets proved to yield historically significant shipwrecks, among them the Civil War 
ironclads North Carolina and Raleigh, the blockade-runner Kate, and the early 
twentieth-century schooner barge Belfast. Findings from the cartographic and historical 
research and the cultural survey are presented in two volumes, as well as 
recommendations on the protection of sites threatened by the proposed improvements 
to the navigation channel and their potential eligiblity for listing in the National Register 
of Historic Places. 



in 



Acknowledgments 

To undertake a project of this magnitude required the assistance and expertise of 
several people. While it is not possible to mention everyone involved, the following 
persons deserve special recognition. We are grateful for the support and cooperation 
provided by the Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources (DEHNR) 
of the North Carolina Division of Water Resources, and particularly John Morris and 
John Sutherland for their work on many aspects of this project. Equal appreciation is 
extended to the Wilmington District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE), for 
recognizing the need for a comprehensive study of the Cape Fear River and providing 
support, personnel, equipment, and technical assistance. Many thanks to everyone at 
the USACOE that assisted on this project, including Col. Robert Sperberg, Lawrence 
Saunders, Richard Kimmel, Frank Snipes, Coleman Long, Glenn Boone, and Hugh 
Heine, Ed Turner, Marc Reavis, Ed Summers, and the crews of the Wanchese and the 
Gillette. 

Special thanks go to those tireless individuals within our own Department of Cultural 
Resources for their help. Without the continued support from Secretary Betty McCain, 
Bill Price, David Brook, Wilson Angley, Sarah Freeman, Sondra Ward, Renee Gledhill- 
Earley, Steve Claggett, Bob Topkins, Lang Baradell, and others in the Division of 
Archives and History, this project could not have been completed. To the rest of our 
colleagues at the Underwater Archaeology Unit — Mark Wilde-Ramsing, Leslie S. 
Bright, Julep Gillman-Bryan, and Barbara Brooks — the authors wish to extend their 
personal thanks for all the work performed in all phases of this project. Our deepest 
appreciation and thanks go to the field crew of Glenn Overton, Howard Scott, and 
Martin Peebles. We are grateful to John Kennington for doing the initial computer 
maps. An extra acknowledgment is extended to Mr. Peebles for the numerous excellent 
drawings used in this report. 

For the generous use of his equipment and providing technical support, Gordon Watts 
of Tidewater Atlantic Research is specially recognized. Thanks go as well to the staff at 
Carolina Beach State Park for allowing us the use of its marine facilities during this 
project. The enormous task of compiling the vast maritime history of the Cape Fear 
River was greatly aided by the knowledgeable assistance from such individuals as 
Beverly Tetterton at the New Hanover County Library and historian William Reaves. To 
all those other individuals who contributed valuable assistance, we are deeply 
appreciative. 



Claude V. Jackson 

Richard W. Lawrence 

Glenn C. Overton 

September 1, 1995 



IV 



Contents 

Volume 1 (Maritime History) 

List of Figures 
List of Tables 

Introduction 1 

Environmental Setting of the Lower Cape Fear and Northeast Rivers 7 

General Setting 7 

Climate 7 

Geology 8 

Historical and Cartographic Research Methodology 9 

Historical Research 11 

Prehistory 11 

Contact Period 14 

Explorers and Regional Settlement 17 

Geographic Names 39 

Plantations 85 

Fortifications 131 

Lightships and Lighthouses 161 

Ferry and Bridge Crossings... 179 

Quarantine Stations 197 

Shipbuilding along the Lower Cape Fear River 203 

Shipyards, Boatyards, Repair Yards and Marine Railways 209 

Shipwrecks and Derelicts 255 

Historic Navigation and Dredging. 291 

Current Navigation Project..... 317 

Cartographic Research 323 

Historical and Cartographic Research Conclusions 373 

References Cited 383 

Appendices 

Appendix 1A: List of Shipwrecks Lost in the Cape Fear River 
Appendix 1B: Cartographic Sources 



List of Figures 

Figure 1. Map Sections of the lower Cape Fear River 3 

Figure 2. Illustration of Native American fishing techniques 16 

Figure 3. Sautier 1769 Plan of the Town of Wilmington 25 

Figure 4. Geographical Locations: Smith Creek to Town Creek 41 

Figure 5. Geographical Locations: Town Creek to Reaves Point 43 

Figure 6. Geographical Locations: Reaves Point to Southport 45 

Figure 7. Geographical Locations: Southport to Cape Fear 47 

Figure 8. Plantations: Smith Creek to Town Creek 87 

Figure 9. Plantations: Town Creek to Reaves Point 89 

Figure 10. Plantations: Reaves Point to Southport 91 

Figure 11. Plantations: Southport to Cape Fear 93 

Figure 12. Photograph of Orton Plantation 119 

Figure 13. Fortifications and Obstructions: Smith Creek to Town Creek 133 

Figure 14. Fortifications and Obstructions: Town Creek to Reaves Point.... 135 

Figure 15. Fortifications and Obstructions: Reaves Point to Southport 137 

Figure 16. Fortifications and Obstructions: Southport to Cape Fear 139 

Figure 17. Civil War Photograph showing Fort Fisher 151 

Figure 18. Lighthouses, Ferries & Quarantine Stations: Smith Creek 

to Town Creek 163 

Figure 19. Lighthouses, Ferries & Quarantine Stations: Town Creek 

to Reaves Point 165 

Figure 20. Lighthouses, Ferries & Quarantine Stations: Reaves Point 

to Southport 167 

Figure 21. Lighthouses, Ferries & Quarantine Stations: Southport 

to Cape Fear 169 

Figure 22. Photograph showing Bald Head Lighthouse 171 

Figure 23. Photograph showing Price's Creek Lighthouse 175 

Figure 24. Illustration of Market Street Ferry 183 

Figure 25. Photograph of the ferry John Knox at Wilmington 186 

Figure 26. Photograph showing construction of World War I ship 205 

Figure 27. Photograph showing schooners under construction 206 

Figure 28. Illustration showing Beery Shipyard on Eagles Island 218 

Figure 29. Historic Shipwrecks: Smith Creek to Town Creek 257 

Figure 30. Historic Shipwrecks: Town Creek to Reaves Point 259 

Figure 31 . Historic Shipwrecks: Reaves Point to Southport 261 

Figure 32. Historic Shipwrecks: Southport to Cape Fear 263 

Figure 33. Civil War River Obstruction 303 

Figure 34. Civil War River Raft Obstruction 305 

Figure 35. Photograph showing dredging by H. G. Wright 313 

Figure 36. Photograph showing shipwreck of unknown schooner 379 

Figure 37. Photograph showing shipwrecked steamers 380 



VI 



List of Tables 

Table 1-1. Chronological list of Navigation Improvements on the 

Cape Fear River 320 

Table 1 -2. Types of Historic Vessels Lost in the Cape Fear Vicinity 378 

Table 1-3. Causes of Shipwrecks in the Cape Fear Vicinity 381 



VII 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

LYRASIS members and Sloan Foundation 



http://www.archive.org/details/maritimehistorysjack 



Introduction 

From March 1993 to October 1994 the state of North Carolina and the Wilmington 
District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE), conducted a cultural resource 
survey as part of the Cape Fear-Northeast Cape Fear Rivers Comprehensive Study. 
The need for the comprehensive study arose from findings by the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers in its May 1991 (revised May 1992) Reconnaissance Report on 
Improvement of Navigation Cape Fear-Northeast Cape Fear Rivers Comprehensive 
Study conducted under authority of a United States House of Representatives 
resolution adopted September 8, 1988, by the Committee on Public Works and 
Transportation (USACOE 1992, Vol. lll:A-36-38; USACOE 1994:1). In the report, 
existing channel depths and widths were found to be inadequate for the deep-draft 
vessels that called at the Port of Wilmington. Public concern was specifically directed 
toward increasing the channel depth over the ocean bar and up to Wilmington and 
widening the channel with the placement of a 6.2-mile-long passing lane to accomodate 
two-way river traffic. The reconnaissance report concluded that improvements to the 
Lower Cape Fear River, or Wilmington Harbor, were practical and called for a feasibility 
study that included a cultural resource survey and an Environmental Impact Statement. 
Under mutual consent the North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and 
Natural Resources (DEHNR) agreed to fund the Underwater Archaeology Unit (UAU) of 
the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources (DCR) in conducting a historical 
and cartographic study and a submerged cultural resources survey as part of the Cape 
Fear River feasibility study (Memorandum of Agreement, March 17, 1993). 

Wilmington Harbor is a Federal navigation project located along the Cape Fear and 
Northeast Cape Fear Rivers in New Hanover and Brunswick Counties, North Carolina 
(Figure 1). The navigation project extends from the Cape Fear River ocean bar 
upstream to a point 1 .7 miles above the Hilton Railroad Bridge at Wilmington on the 
Northeast Cape Fear River. Total length of the existing Wilmington Harbor project is 
approximately 33.8 miles (including the 3-mile Bald Head ocean channel). Over the last 
one hundred years navigable depths and widths within the harbor have increased to 
their present capacity for oceangoing vessels. Currently there are forty-seven major 
piers, wharves, docks, and mooring dolphins in Wilmington Harbor. Fourteen of the 
major docking facilities are owned by the North Carolina State Ports Authority. The 
State Ports Authority facilities include eleven berths and approximately 6,800 feet of 
berthing (USACOE 1994:7). Deep-draft and oceangoing vessels account for 
approximately 82 percent of the commerce of Wilmington Harbor, almost equally 
divided between foreign and coastwise trade. Petroleum products and industrial 
chemicals constitute the majority of the tonnage (USACOE 1992:3). 

The existing Corps of Engineers Federal Project at Wilmington Harbor is authorized to 
maintain a main channel of 40 feet deep and 500 feet wide from the Atlantic Ocean 
through the ocean bar and entrance channels. Because of dredging inaccuracies and 
rook obstructions, however, the authorized depth of 40 feet has not been achieved at 



Smith Island or Baldhead Shoal channel. From the entrance channels to the upper end 
of the anchorage/turning basin at the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge the Corps has been 
authorized to maintain the main channel at 38 feet deep and 400 feet wide. From the 
Cape Fear Memorial Bridge to the Hilton Railroad Bridge over the Northeast Cape Fear 
River, a channel of 32 feet deep and 400 feet wide is maintained and includes a turning 
basin of the same depth. The channel is maintained at 25 feet deep and 200 feet wide 
from the Hilton Railroad Bridge to a point 1 .7 miles above the bridge. A turning basin 
located 1.25 miles above the Hilton Railroad Bridge is also dredged to the same depth 
(USACOE 1994:7). 

The Corps of Engineers considered several alternative improvements to the Cape Fear 
and Northeast Cape Fear Rivers prior to this study. Of the options the recommended 
plan for further study at Wilmington Harbor included improvements at three reaches. 
Reach 1 is the main navigation channel from the ocean bar to the Cape Fear Memorial 
Bridge at the State Port; Reach 2 extends from the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge to the 
Hilton railroad bridge; and Reach 3 extends from the Hilton railroad bridge to the 
upstream limits of the Federal project on the Northeast Cape Fear River (USACOE 
1996:11). 

At Reach 1 the recommended plan includes deepening the ocean bar channel and 
entrance channels to 44 feet and maintaining the existing width of 500 feet The river 
channel would be deepened from 38 to 42 feet from the Lower Swash Channel to the 
Cape Fear Memorial Bridge. Other improvements recommended for further study 
include widening the existing 400-foot channel to 600 feet and constructing a 6.2-mile- 
long passing lane that would extend from river mile 10 upriver to river mile 16.2. An 
anchorage/turning basin upriver from the North Carolina State Port would also be 
widened from 1 ,200 feet wide to 1 ,500 feet wide (USACOE 1 996:1 1 ). 

Deepening of Reach 2 from its current depth of 32 feet to 38 feet was authorized as 
part of the Northeast Cape Fear River project The recommended plan includes no 
further deepening of this reach on the present project (USACOE 1996:1 1). 

At Reach 3 the recommended plan includes deepening the river from the existing 25- 
foot depth to 34 feet. Channel deepening would begin at a point 750 feet upstream from 
the Hilton Bridge. The existing 200-foot channel would be widened to 300 feet. 
Widening of the upper turning basin from 700 to 800 feet and dredging to 34 feet is 
also included in the recommended plan (USACOE 1996:11). 

The cultural resource component of the Cape Fear-Northeast Cape Fear Rivers 
Comprehensive Study consisted of a cartographic, site records, and literature review, a 
submerged cultural resources survey; and the production of a final report. This work 
represents the results of the cultural resource study in two volumes. The first volume 
details the historical and cartographic investigations, while the second contains the 
results of the survey investigation. 



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Figure 1. Map Sections of the lower 



Smith Island or Baldhead Shoal channel. From the entrance channels to the upper end 
of the anchorage/turning basin at the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge the Corps has been 
authorized to maintain the main channel at 38 feet deep and 400 feet wide. From the 
Cape Fear Memorial Bridge to the Hilton Railroad Bridge over the Northeast Cape Fear 
River, a channel of 32 feet deep and 400 feet wide is maintained and includes a turning 
basin of the same depth. The channel is maintained at 25 feet deep and 200 feet wide 
from the Hilton Railroad Bridge to a point 1 .7 miles above the bridge. A turning basin 
located 1.25 miles above the Hilton Railroad Bridge is also dredged to the same depth 
(USACOE 1994:7). 

The Corps of Engineers considered several alternative improvements to the Cape Fear 
and Northeast Cape Fear Rivers prior to this study. Of the options the recommended 
plan for further study at Wilmington Harbor included improvements at three reaches. 
Reach 1 is the main navigation channel from the ocean bar to the Cape Fear Memorial 
Bridge at the State Port; Reach 2 extends from the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge to the 
Hilton railroad bridge; and Reach 3 extends from the Hilton railroad bridge to the 
upstream limits of the Federal project on the Northeast Cape Fear River (USACOE 
1996:11). 

At Reach 1 the recommended plan includes deepening the ocean bar channel and 
entrance channels to 44 feet and maintaining the existing width of 500 feet The river 
channel would be deepened from 38 to 42 feet from the Lower Swash Channel to the 
Cape Fear Memorial Bridge. Other improvements recommended for further study 
include widening the existing 400-foot channel to 600 feet and constructing a 6.2-mile- 
long passing lane that would extend from river mile 10 upriver to river mile 16.2. An 
anchorage/turning basin upriver from the North Carolina State Port would also be 
widened from 1 ,200 feet wide to 1 ,500 feet wide (USACOE 1 996:1 1 ). 

Deepening of Reach 2 from its current depth of 32 feet to 38 feet was authorized as 
part of the Northeast Cape Fear River project The recommended plan includes no 
further deepening of this reach on the present project (USACOE 1996:1 1). 

At Reach 3 the recommended plan includes deepening the river from the existing 25- 
foot depth to 34 feet. Channel deepening would begin at a point 750 feet upstream from 
the Hilton Bridge. The existing 200-foot channel would be widened to 300 feet 
Widening of the upper turning basin from 700 to 800 feet and dredging to 34 feet is 
also included in the recommended plan (USACOE 1996:11). 

The cultural resource component of the Cape Fear-Northeast Cape Fear Rivers 
Comprehensive Study consisted of a cartographic, site records, and literature review, a 
submerged cultural resources survey; and the production of a final report. This work 
represents the results of the cultural resource study in two volumes. The first volume 
details the historical and cartographic investigations, while the second contains the 
results of the survey investigation. 



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Figure 1. Map Sections of the lower Cape Fear River. 



Investigations during the cartographic, site records, and literature review phase of the 
study included a thorough examination of maps, shipwreck records, and historical and 
archaeological reports concerning the Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear Rivers. 
Research materials were obtained from the Wilmington Corps of Engineers office, the 
North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Unit, New Hanover County Library and 
Museum, the North Carolina State Archives, and the National Archives. During this 
phase a comprehensive historical overview of the Cape Fear River was produced, as 
were computer-generated maps of the river that showed areas of maritime activity such 
as plantation and fortification sites, lighthouses, ferries, quarantine stations, historically 
documented and known shipwreck sites, and other areas of related maritime 
significance. 

Based on the historical documentation, areas within the rivers were assigned a high, 
medium, or low potential for containing significant underwater archaeological sites. 
Recommendations were then made concerning the type and intensity of survey needed 
for each portion of the river. Based on their potential to yield submerged cultural 
resources, twelve priority areas were selected for a remote sensing survey. Each area 
was selected on the basis of the accuracy of historical documentation of likely 
shipwreck locations or from known activity during historic times. 

The UAU and the Corps of Engineers conducted the systematic submerged cultural 
resources survey of the Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear Rivers during the fall of 
1993. The USACOE provided a vessel, magnetometer, positioning equipment, and staff 
to conduct part of the remote sensing survey and provide the data analysis. The UAU 
then utilized that information to conduct a side-scan sonar survey and diver 
investigation. Technical personnel, a dive boat, diving equipment, and excavation and 
site documentation equipment were provided by the Underwater Archaology Unit. 
Within the established priority areas more than 150 dives were made on 102 different 
remote sensing targets. A complete description of the survey methodology can be 
found in the Fieldwork Methodology Section of Volume 2. Based on the findings of the 
survey, recommendations were made to the Corps of Engineers in the form of an 
illustrated report that showed those sites threatened by the proposed improvements to 
the navigation channel and their potential eligiblity for listing in the National Register of 
Historic Places. 



Environmental Setting of the Lower Cape Fear River 



General Setting 

Wilmington Harbor is located along the lower Cape Fear River, New Hanover and 
Brunswick Counties, North Carolina, within the lower part of the Atlantic Coastal Plain 
Physiographic Province. Elevations range from sea level to 60 feet (Dept. of Agriculture 
1977:1). The geomorphology of the Cape Fear area was created by events such as 
emergence and submergence of the Coastal Plain, deposition and erosion of 
sediments, development of the Cape Fear River, and wave and current action of the 
Atlantic Ocean. Wilmington Harbor is North Carolina's largest deepwater port. 

The Cape Fear River is formed by the union of the Deep and Haw Rivers on the 
Chatham-Lee county line. From there the Cape Fear River flows south-southeast 
through several counties, including Brunswick and New Hanover, and empties into the 
Atlantic Ocean about 5 miles northwest of Cape Fear. The river, including the Deep 
River, its longest tributary, has a total length of about 320 miles and a total drainage 
basin of about 9,140 square miles. At Wilmington the river is approximately 600 feet 
wide. Its width increases gradually downstream to one mile at a point just below the 
mouth of the Brunswick River; thence, to the ocean, it varies from one mile to 2% miles. 
The ocean bar is about 2 miles seaward of the river mouth. Frying Pan Shoals extends 
outward from Cape Fear, creating a navigation hazard. Below Wilmington the river is a 
tidal estuary 28 miles long, with an incremental drainage area of about 350 square 
miles. The average tidal range is approximately 4 feet. Surface waves of less than 3 
feet are typical within the estuary (USACOE 1977:14; USACOE 1989:28). 

The Northeast Cape Fear River begins in northwest Duplin County about 2 miles south 
of Mount Olive. It flows generally south-southeast through several counties for 
approximately 130 miles until it joins with the Cape Fear at Wilmington in New Hanover 
County. The Northeast Cape Fear River appears as the Northeast Fork and North East 
River on the Collet (1770) map (Powell 1968:355). Another tributary, the Brunswick 
River, branches off the Cape Fear River 3 miles above Wilmington, flows southeasterly 
5 1 >4 miles, and rejoins the main stream about one-quarter mile below the city. The 
Intracoastal Waterway enters the Cape Fear River from the east about 15 miles above 
the mouth, follows the river southwesterly to a point near Southport, 4 miles above the 
mouth, and then continues westward (USACOE 1977:14). 



Climate 

Wilmington Harbor is in a maritime location that makes the climate unusually mild for its 
latitude. The coastal area is frequently cooled by ocean breezes. Both winters and 
summers generally tend to be mild, with average temperatures ranging from a low of 
47.9 degrees in January to 80.0 degrees in July. Extremes have been recorded at 5 
degrees in February 1889 and 104 degrees in June 1952. Average annual rainfall is 



51.29 inches and, though slightly heavier during the summer months, tends to be 
evenly distributed throughout the year (USACOE 1977:14-15; Dept. of Agriculture 

1977:1). 



Geolog y 

The Coastal Plain is comprised of sediments in the shape of a large wedge, with the 
thin edge at the "Fall Line" and the thicker edge toward the Atlantic Ocean. Those 
sediments overlie Paleozoic-Precambrian-age rock. The Fall Line is the boundary at 
which the coastal sediments interface with the older Paleozoic-Precambrian-age rocks 
of the Piedmont. The sediments dip to the southeast at about 13 feet per mile at Cape 
Fear and range in age from Cretaceous Period sediments exposed in the west and 
recent sediments exposed in the east (USACOE 1989:C-2). 

The soils of the Cape Fear area reflect coastal deposition. Those types of depositions 
may be barrier, backbarrier, marsh-swamp, open ocean, or marginal marine. Most of 
the Atlantic coast from Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, to the North Carolina-South 
Carolina border is flanked by predominantly Holocene-age (10,000 years ago to 
present) barriers. The soil and rock types of the Cape Fear area can be categorized 
into three groups: 1) surficial sand (Holocene), 2) Pleistocene sediments, and 3) Castle 
Hayne limestone. The uppermost sediments generally tend to be poorly graded surficial 
sands, buff colored and Holocene in age. Those Holocene sands may be 
indistinguishable from the underlying buff-colored Pleistocene-age Socastee sand that 
is most often found near the coast. Underlying the Socastee formation is the Canepatch 
formation. It consists of admixtures of sand, clay, silt, and peat, and in some areas 
coquina is present. Silty and sandy blue to gray clay is present. Shell fragments or 
layers of shell fragments may be found in the Socastee and the Canepatch formations. 
The Canepatch formation acts as an aquitard between the surficial or upper aquifer 
sands and the underlying Waccamaw and Bear Bluff formations. 

The boundary between the Waccamaw and Bear Bluff formations is difficult to 
distinguish and is considered as a single unit. The Waccamaw and the Bear Bluff form 
the marine sand aquifer. The Waccamaw and the Bear Bluff are usually composed of 
green-gray to blue-gray silty sand or sand. The sand may have varying degrees of 
induration and may contain an abundance of mollusk and echinoid shells. Finally, the 
Castle Hayne formation is a poorly to well-cemented limestone, sometimes argillaceous 
in places. It is occasionally very fossiliferous, with echinoderm fragments. In other 
places it may have numerous mollusk casts and molds (USACOE 1989:C-2,3). 



8 



Historical and Cartographic Research Methodology 

The cartographic, site records, and literature review phase of the study included a 
thorough examination of maps, shipwreck records, and historical and archaeological 
reports concerning the Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear Rivers. The findings of 
that research are presented in the following Historical and Cartographic Research 
sections. When possible, the information in each category follows a chronological 
progression. Research materials were obtained from many sources including the 
Wilmington District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the North Carolina Underwater 
Archaeology Unit; New Hanover County Library and Museum; the North Carolina State 
Archives, and the National Archives. Much of the historical information was obtained 
from accumulated local newspaper accounts in the William Reaves Collection 
maintained at the Underwater Archaeology Unit. 

A major portion of the Historical and Cartographic Research sections involved the 
documentation of areas and features along the river associated with maritime activity. 
Following an overview of the prehistoric and contact period of the lower Cape Fear 
River, several historic structures and locations have been described. They include: 
plantations, fortifications, lighthouses and lightships, historic and recent river channels, 
ferries, and historically documented and known shipwreck sites. Each topic has been 
completely discussed except for shipwreck locations. Since all of the three hundred 
documented ship losses known to have occurred in the Cape Fear could not be 
individually described, a representative sample of thirty-two known or predicted sites 
have been discussed. A complete listing of the vessel losses can be found in Appendix 
1A 

Documentation of the historic features along the river began with the acquisition of 1 39 
maps of the Cape Fear River from various federal, state, and private collections. A 
number of the maps, which ranged in date from 1585 to 1992, covered only a portion of 
the river, while others documented the entire lower Cape Fear in its entirety. Upon 
examination of each map, the key historical features were first entered in a database 
file, then presented in text as cartographic descriptions. When known, the earliest use 
of a place-name has been noted in the historical sketches and indicated in the text in 
quotes as such place-names appear on the historic maps. When a change occurred in 
the spelling or location of a place-name, the change was noted. Through the process of 
chronicling historic man-made and natural features across a large collection of 
cartographic sources, the researchers were able to document the first occurrence, 
subsequent changes, and length of usage for many of the places and structures along 
the Cape Fear. This approach allowed the researchers to later evaluate all of the 
accumulated cartographic information in conjunction with historical information in 
determining the placement of survey, or priority, areas, and especially in testing 
hypotheses about shipwreck location. 



To illustrate the distribution and occurrence of maritime-related man-made and natural 
features, several computer-generated drawings showing most types of historic 
structures such as plantations, fortifications, and shipwrecks and prominent geographic 
locations were produced for the report. For each subject, the length of the Cape Fear 
River from Wilmington to the mouth has generally been divided into four map sections 
for illustration. Historically documented and known shipwreck locations have been 
numbered on the drawings and corresponding tables that show the name and 
background information of each wreck. 



10 



Historical Research 



Prehistory 

The prehistoric occupation along the shores of the Cape Fear River, within the Coastal 
Plain, follows temporal divisions similar to those established by archaeologists for the 
eastern United States: Paleo-lndian, Archaic, and Woodland. Each temporal division is 
distinguished by the climate, technology, and subsistence patterns characteristic of the 
period. The Coastal Plain physiographic province can also be divided into two cultural- 
spatial units, the North Coastal and South Coastal regions, based upon cultural 
differences that appear to begin near the end of the Late Archaic period. The Cape 
Fear River vicinity is located within the South Coastal region (Phelps 1983:16). 



The Paleo-lndian Period (12000 - 8000 B.C.) 

The Paleo-lndian period of eastern North Carolina is the earliest and least known of the 
cultural divisions. The adaptive subsistence of nomadic Paleo-lndian groups who lived 
during this period is generally associated with specialized hunting and gathering, or 
megafauna hunting during the end of the Wisconsin glaciation, when its retreat brought 
about climatic and environmental changes (Willey 1966:37-38). Evidence of the period 
is almost entirely limited to the surface distribution of projectile points. For the most 
part, Paleo-lndian sites have been recorded in the uplands, where a combination of 
extensive agricultural disturbance, soil erosion, lack of soil accumulation, and no deep 
stratification have developed. These sites lack the stratification needed for comparative 
analysis and dating. At the time of their occupation during the Paleo-lndian period, 
sites would have been located on the Inner Coastal Plain (Phelps 1983:20). The 
environment of the Coastal Plain during the Paleo-lndian period was one of broad river 
valleys with braided stream channels around numerous sandbars, freshwater marshes 
along the stream edges, and a boreal pine-spruce forest on the interstream uplands 
(Whitehead 1972:313). With the retreat of the last glaciers, the sea level rose to near 
its present level, inundating coastal sites. 

The Paleo-lndian settlement patterns, which consist of short-term-activity sites and 
longer-utilized base camps, appear to be associated with access to lithic materials for 
tool manufacture, such as quartz, quartzite, slate, rhyolite, chert, and jasper, which 
were brought down from the mountains and Piedmont areas by river currents (Phelps 
1983:21). Other factors that influenced site location included access to water, habitats 
favorable to game, and sunlight exposure (Thompson and Gardner 1979:23). Many 
sites located near water are likely buried or inundated. Archaeologically, the Paleo- 
lndian period is most readily identified by a distinctive form of fluted projectile point. 
The retreat of the Wisconsin glaciation brought about changes in the flora and fauna 
communities, particularly the disappearance of the megafauna. In response to these 
warmer, drier environmental conditions, small bands of Paleo-lndian hunters and 



11 



gatherers appear to have increased their reliance on a more diversified resource base 
(Gardner 1977: 288:257-263). 



The Archaic Period (8000 - 1000 B.C.) 

The second major division of eastern United States prehistory is the Archaic Period, 
which developed from the preceding Paleo-lndian Period about 8000 B.C. With the 
change in climate following the glaciation, better efficiency and success in exploiting 
the local resources resulted in a slight increase in human population. The density of 
Archaic sites found within the Coastal Plain is higher than for any other prehistoric 
period. Those sites can be found in all microenvironments, from saline estuary shores 
to stream margins and their tributary systems, as well as pocosins and floodplain 
swamps. There is a strong relationship between site location and accessibility to 
streams. Surveys that have documented Archaic sites in the Coastal Plain indicate that 
the majority of sites represent short-term-activity localities evenly distributed along 
streams. Fewer base camps, found near the confluence of major streams, may indicate 
seasonal utilization of available resources. Most sites, however, are found in the inner 
Coastal Plain, which may in large part result from burying, or inundation, of sites similar 
to those of the earlier period. Stratified Archaic sites are scarce but probably do exist in 
select undisturbed areas within the inner Coastal Plain (Phelps 1983:24). 

During the Archaic Period the population utilized a wider range of habitats for 
subsistence and thus likely a wider range of plants and animals. A transition in climate 
brought pines, hemlock, birch, and northern hardwoods such as beech and maple, 
replacing the earlier boreal forests. A diversity in faunal and plant types would also 
have accompanied these habitat changes (Phelps 1983:23). Hunting strategies 
adapted to the diversification in faunal species are reflected in changes of lithic spear- 
point styles. Other lithic tools, such as scrapers, blades and drills used for the 
processing of bone and hides, are also identifiable to the Archaic Period. 

An environmental change known as the hypsithermal brought warmer and drier weather 
to the eastern United States and marks the beginning of the Middle Archaic (5000 - 
3000 B.C.) subperiod. During that time the pine-birch-hemlock forests of the Coastal 
Plain were replaced by oak and hickory hardwood forests. The number of habitation 
sites increased slightly from the Early to Middle Archaic. Lithic point types experienced 
a transition in shape, while other new types appeared and are believed to represent 
introduction and possible trade with other areas. Polished stone and semilunar spear- 
thrower weights also appear for the first time. The Middle Archaic terminated with an 
increase in sedentism and new technologies. 

The Late Archaic (3000 - 1000 B.C.) is represented by less diversification and a higher 
degree of sedentism, believed to be a result of improved subsistence adaptation. The 
appearance of steatite (soapstone) vessels for cooking and storage, as well as fiber- 
tempered ceramic wares, appear to support this belief. A distinction between the North 
Coastal Plain and the South Coastal Plain can be based on the distribution of this ware 



12 



(Phelps 1983:26). Site diversity appears to have remained relatively stable into the 
Late Archaic, but some localities show a noticeable reduction of Late Archaic site 
density along smaller tributary streams (Phelps 1983:25). 



The Woodland Period (1000 B.C. - A.D. 1650) 

The Early Woodland Period (1000 - 300 B.C.) is marked by further diversification in 
subsistence strategies and widespread use of ceramics that began to appear during 
the Late Archaic Period. Little is known, however, about settlement patterns or 
subsistence strategies on the Coastal Plain during this transition. Settlement patterns 
are believed to be continuous with the preceding period, however. It is thought that 
cultigens are also introduced during this period, but their immediate effect is not readily 
seen in the archaeological record. Lithic projectile points are of the small-stemmed 
variety, considered transitional from an older Archaic type (Phelps 1 975:68). 

In the South Coastal region, New River is the named phase during the Early Woodland 
Period. There is a similarity between the New River phase and the Deep Creek phase 
for the North Coast, but the New River phase is believed to carry on characteristics 
found only in the southeast United States. From the beginning of the Woodland Period, 
culture of the South Coastal region is presumed to be Siouian territory, while the North 
Coastal region is Algonkian and Iroquoian territory with the language and customs 
distinctive to each region (Phelps 1982:37, 47). 

The Middle Woodland Period (300 B.C. - a.d. 800) is better understood than the 
preceding period. Phase names for that period are Mount Pleasant for the North 
Coastal region and Cape Fear for the South Coastal region. The Cape Fear phase is 
less well known than the Mount Pleasant phase. Sedentary villages represent the 
largest single settlement type of the period. This shift in pattern from hunting and 
gathering camps is generally attributed to an increased dependence on domesticated 
plants, especially maize, and the collection of shellfish. During the Middle Woodland 
period ceramic types are similar between the North Coastal and South Coastal regions. 
The distinguishing trait between the two appears to be the manner of human burial. 
Found in the South Coastal region is an extensive distribution of low sand burial 
mounds unique to the region. The high frequency of secondary cremation, platform 
pipes, and other objects in the mounds and the fact that at least some of the mounds 
appear to be placed away from their contemporaneous habitation sites point to 
southern influence into the South Coastal region during this period (Phelps 1983:32- 
35). 

Fully developed horticulture characterized the Late Woodland (a.d. 800-1650), 
although protein was still obtained from hunting and fishing (Hay 1982:11). Ceramic 
variations were frequently stylistic, although technological aspects such as tempering 
agents and firing techniques served as temporal and locational indicators. Lithic 
technology was a continuum of triangular points that generally decreased in size as the 
Woodland Period progressed. Siouian-speaking Waccamaw and Cape Fear tribes 



13 



occupied the South Coastal region at the time of European contact. The settlement 
pattern during the Late Woodland was relatively dispersed, with site locations found 
along the sounds, estuaries, major rivers, and their tributaries. Most of the sites that 
occurred away from the barrier islands are found adjacent to streams or other bodies of 
water on high banks and ridges of sandy loams. Types of sites include capital villages 
(chiefdoms), villages, seasonal villages, and camps for specialized activities, as well as 
farmsteads likely occupied by extended families. Except for the camps, which appear to 
be directly related to seasonal gathering of shellfish, fishing, and perhaps collecting, all 
seasonal and larger villages are located where agriculture, hunting, gathering, and 
fishing could all be accomplished within the site catchment area. Exploitation of a wide 
range of habitats provided the needed food sources. Maize; hickory nuts; faunal 
remains of bears, deer, and a wide variety of small animals; alligators; terrapins and 
turtles; fish; and both marine and riverine shellfish have been found at excavated sites 
of this period. By the end of the Late Woodland period, cultigens of squash, beans, and 
sunflowers were being grown, as observed by European explorers (Phelps 1983: 39- 
40). 



Contact Period 

The Indian tribes traditionally associated with the coastal area of southeastern North 
Carolina at the time of European contact were the Cape Fear and Waccamaw 
(Swanton 1946:103, 203; South 1960:9). Other, less prominent, tribes included the 
Woccon, Saxapahaw, and Warrennuncock. In reference to the Woccon, Saxapahaw, 
Cape Fear, and Warrennuncock Indians, one nineteenth-century ethnographer 
accounts: "Of the North Carolina tribes bearing the foregoing names almost nothing is 
known, and of the last two even the proper names have not been recorded. The 
Woccon were Siouan; the Saxapahaw and Cape Fear Indians presumably were 
Siouan, as indicated from their associations and alliance with known Siouan tribes; 
while the Warrennuncock were probably some people better known under another 
name, although they cannot be identified" (Mooney 1894:65). 

Although no native name has been preserved for them, the Cape Fear Indians most 
likely were affiliated with the Siouan peoples located farther to the south. Only the 
name of a village, Necoes, and a chief, Wat Coosa, have been clearly identified with 
the tribe. It was probably the Cape Fear tribe that encountered the first Europeans who 
attempted to settle along the Cape Fear River in the 1660s. Those early colonists 
bestowed the name on the Indians they found occupying the lands at the mouth of the 
Cape Fear River, and particularly the peninsula that presently forms the southern 
portion of New Hanover County. In December 1662 William Hilton, leader for the 
Charles Town settlement, met with Chief Wat Coosa on Big Island, in the Cape Fear 
River, where he purchased the river. It is doubtful whether the Indian population of the 
peninsula ever exceeded a few hundred (Swanton 1946:103; South 1960:9; Sprunt 
1992:14-15; Wilmington Star-News July 4, 1975). A nineteenth-century historian 
described the Indians as follows: 'The men are thrifty, industrious and peaceable; 
engaged principally in fishing during the shad season, and in cattle-raising upon the 



14 



same range that was occupied two hundred years ago by their . . . ancestors" (Figure 
2) (Sprunt 1896:54-55). 

It is also possible that the name "Cape Fear Indians" applied to all the Indians living 
along the Cape Fear River, regardless of their tribal connection. In 1731 Dr. John 
Brickell, a naturalist and historian, traveled through the state and mentioned by name 
other tribes in the Cape Fear vicinity. In his published work, Brickell wrote: "the 
Saponas live on the west branch of the Cape Fear River; the Toteras are neighbors to 
them; the Keyawees live on a branch that lies to the northwest" (Brickell 1731; Sprunt 
1992:25). Historian Samuel A. Ashe wrote in 1908 that "the Cape Fear Indians along 
the coast were Southern [Siouan]. The Saponas who resided higher up were probably 
Northern [Algonkian or Iroquoian]" (Ashe 1908:211-215; Sprunt 1992:14). Other 
accounts claim that "the Indians on the lower Cape Fear are said to have been 
Congarees, a branch of the old Cheraws," and that soon after the settlement at Charles 
Town they were driven away (Sprunt 1992:16, 25). 

In The Indians of the Southeastern United States John Swanton writes about the 
Waccamaw Indian tribe of southeastern North Carolina: 

The name of this tribe possibly occurs in^a list of "provinces" furnished by 
Francisco of Chicora in 1521 in the form "Guacaya." When the English 
established themselves in South Carolina in 1670, the Waccamaw were 
living along the river which bears their name [Waccamaw in southeast 
North Carolina] and on the lower course of the Pee Dee, in close 
association with the Winyaw and Pedee tribes. They were somewhat 
remote from the white settlements, and did not play much of a part in the 
history of the province until the Yamasee War broke out. They joined the 
hostilities, but during the same year, as we learn from the South Carolina 
archives, "the Waccamaws and other nations bordering on the sea . . . 
made peace with us fearing the Cherakees." In 1717 this tribe had moved 
south of Black River . . . (Swanton 1946:103). 

At about the time of the Charles Town settlement on the Cape Fear, the Waccamaw 
would have occupied lands west of the Cape Fear River in what is now western 
Brunswick County. During the Tuscarora War (1711-1713) the first major conflict 
between native Carolinians and white colonists, Yamassee warriors from South 
Carolina were promised slaves in exchange for their assistance against the North 
Carolina Tuscarora (Perdue 1985:29). The northern Tuscarora defeated the smaller 
southern Cape Fear and Waccamaw tribes which forced those tribes to move from 
southeastern North Carolina into South Carolina (Ashe 1908:213). Local tradition along 
the Cape Fear holds that in 1725, after having his plantation attacked, Roger Moore 
and a small force of neighbors and servants spotted the Indians "who lived on the Cape 
across from the plantation, at play and bathing in the river near Big Sugar Loaf, 
marched up the river out of sight, crossed over, and taking the savages by surprise, 
exterminated the whole tribe" (Sprunt 1896:63; South 1960:16). 



15 




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16 



Another reference that indicates that the Indians were gone from the Cape Fear area 
by 1 730 is found in Hugh Meredith's work, An Account of the Cape Fear Country 1731 . 
Meredith had once been in partnership with Benjamin Franklin, before Franklin bought 
him out. When Meredith later visited the Cape Fear region, he wrote two letters back to 
Franklin in Pennsylvania, who had them published in a local newspaper: 

One great Discouragement to settling this Place is now quite removed, to 
wit, the Indians , who drove away or cutt off those who attempted the 
settling it. . . . But now there is not an Indian to be seen in the Place; the 
Senekas , (who have always liv'd in Amity with the English) with their 
Tributaries Sesquehanah and Tuskarora Indians, having almost totally 
destroy'd those called Cape Fear Indians, and the small Remains of them 
abide among the thickest of the South Carolina Inhabitants, not daring to 
appear near the out settlements, for the very Name of a Seneka is terrible 
to them . . . ( Pennsylvania Gazette , May 6, 13, 1731). 

James Sprunt (1916) cites an account of a young gentlemen traveling to South 
Carolina in 1734 who stated that at least some of the Cape Fear and Waccamaw 
Indians still resided near Lake Waccamaw, 30 miles west of the Cape Fear River: 
'There is an old Indian field to be seen, which shows it was formerly inhabited by them, 
but I believe not within these fifty years, for thelre is scarce one of the Cape Fear 
Indians, or the Waccamaws, that can give any account of it" (South 1960:12). 

Archaeological and historical evidence further indicates that some Indians continued to 
exist in the Cape Fear region until the early nineteenth century. By 1808 only one 
identifiable member of the Cape Fear Indians survived (South 1960:12, 61; Sprunt 
1992:14; Swanton1946:103). By the mid-nineteenth century the last of the historic 
native population had disappeared, and only their modern-day descendents in South 
Carolina and western North Carolina, along with the archaeological remains of their 
settlements, remained. "Large Mounds of oyster-shells, many pieces of broken wicker 
pottery, arrow-heads, and other relics of the red men are still found on the peninsula 
below Carolina Beach. Remains of Indian settlement were frequently unearthed by the 
Confederates engaged upon the intrenchments around Fort Fisher" (Sprunt 1896:54- 
55). Archaeological evidence from those past inhabitants can still be found along the 
shores and tributaries of the Lower Cape Fear River (South 1960; Wilde-Ramsing 
1978). 



Explorers and Regional Settlemen t 

The first known European exploration of the Carolina coast occurred in 1524, when 
Francis I, king of France, sent Italian Giovanni da Verrazano to search for a passage to 
Asia. On completing his westward passage across the Atlantic Ocean from France, 
Verrazano sighted land in early April at about 34 degrees north, probably near Cape 
Fear. Verrazano did not linger long in the Cape Fear vicinity before heading his ship 
toward the region of the Outer Banks (Lee 1965:12-15; Cumming 1957:9). Prior to 



17 



continuing his exploration northward, Verrazano penned what may be the earliest 
known written description of any part of the Lower Cape Fear region. His account reads 
in part: 

This land is in latitude 34 degrees, with good and wholesome ayre, 
temperate betweene hot and colde, no vehement windes doe blowe in 
those Regions, and those that doe commonly reigne in those coasts, are 
the Northwest and West windes in the summer season, (in the beginning 
whereof we were there) the skie cleere and faire with very little raine: and 
if at any time the ayre be cloudie and mistie with the Southeme winde, 
immediatly it is dissolved and waxeth cleere and fayre againe. The Sea is 
calme, not boysterous, the waves gentle: and although all the shore be 
somewhat sholde and without harborough, yet it is not dangerous to the 
saylers, being free from rocks and deepe, so that within 4 or 5 foote of the 
shore, there is 20 foote deepe of water without ebbe or flood, the depth 
still increasing in such uniforme proportion. There is very good ryding at 
Sea: for any ship being shaken in a tempest, can never perish there by 
breaking of her cables, which we have proved by experience. For in the 
beginning of March (as is usuall in all regions) being in the Sea 
oppressed with Northern windes, and ryding there, wee found our anchor 
broken before the earth fayled or mooved at all . . . (Hakluyt 1927:X:3-4). 

Another early exploration occurred in 1525-1526 by Spaniard Lucas Vasquez de 
Ayllon, a judge on the appeals court at Santo Domingo, the present capital of the 
Dominican Republic. In 1521 Ayllon and another official, Diego Caballero, outfitted a 
vessel and sent it northward from Hispaniola. Somewhere near the Bahama Islands, 
Ayllon's ship, under the command of Francisco Gordillo, came upon another vessel, 
commanded by Pedro De Quexos. Together the two captains sailed their ships west 
toward the mainland. When the two captains returned to Hispaniola they reported to 
Ayllon positive accounts of the land and native population. They brought several Indian 
slaves back to the island, against the instructions of Ayllon. Inspired by their report, 
however, Ayllon requested and received consent from the crown to establish an 
extensive settlement on the mainland that included the land of Chicora. Ayllon outfitted 
six vessels at Santo Domingo with the intention of establishing a settlement on 
mainland north of Florida. Under his direction the vessels returned in 1525 but instead 
landed farther north, at the mouth of a large river he called the Jordan — presently 
known as the Cape Fear River (Oviedo: 1855:627-633; Morison 1971:332-334; Lee 
1965:3-4). 

The six ships that sailed with Ayllon were his flagship; a merchant ship named La 
Bretona, another merchant ship, named the Santa Catalina; a third merchant vessel, 
called La Chorruca; a brigantine; and a "patax," or lighter. Aboard the vessels were 500 
men, women, and children, including a number of friars and black slaves, and eighty to 
ninety horses. While attempting to cross the bar into the river, the flagship grounded 
and was lost. The expedition spent at least enough time along the river to build a new 



18 



ship, the first by Europeans in North America. That expedition, however, established a 
temporary settlement in what came to be called the "land of Ayllon." Whether this 
settlement, known as San Miguel de Gualdape, occurred along the shores of the 
Jordan (Cape Fear) River or southward some 120 miles at Waccamaw Neck, at the 
mouth of Winyaw Bay, has never been determined. In either case, the expedition failed 
in its attempt to establish a permanent settlement. Problems with the Indians, who 
refused to provide food, as well as cold weather and disease, produced an 
undisciplined group of settlers. The final blow came when Ayllon died of a fever on 
October 18, 1526. The remaining colonists chose to return to Santo Domingo. During 
the return voyage one ship foundered, and only 150 disillusioned survivors reached 
home (Oviedo: 1855:627-633; Morison 1971:332-334; Lee 1965:9-11; Lee 1971:3-4; 
Watson 1992:4). 



Charles Town Settlement 

Following the death of Ayllon and the abandoned attempt at settlement, nearly a 
century and a half passed before the English arrived at the Cape Fear River. In the fall 
of 1662 William Hilton, commander and agent for a group of people from the 
Massachusetts Bay Colony, which was interested in moving from New England to the 
Cape Fear area, arrived at the cape aboard the Adventure. Hilton gave to the 
prominent cape at the mouth of the river the name "Cape Fear" and also called the 
adjacent Jordan River the "Charles River." On the morning of October 4, 1662, Capt. 
Hilton sailed his ship into the river, where he remained for three weeks, favorably 
reporting on the region and purchasing from the local Indians much of the surrounding 
area. Reaching as far upriver in the Adventure as the fork in the river (present-day 
Wilmington), Hilton and some of his crew proceeded in a small boat up the Northeast 
River, which he mistakenly took to be the main channel. Hilton also explored the 
Brunswick River, which he named in his own honor. His report of the voyage indicated 
that he explored "Hilton's River" for several miles and found it to be "as fair, if not fairer 
than the Northeast branch. ..." A map prepared by Nicholas Shapley of Massachusetts 
Bay in 1662 to accompany the written report by William Hilton upon his return to New 
England is the first map to show the lower Cape Fear in any detail. Cape Fear is not 
labeled, although it was called "Cape feare" in Hilton's report (Sprunt 1992:30-32; Lee 
1965:28-33; Lee 1971:4-5; Lee 1978:12; Reaves 1988:1; USACOE 1977:14). 

Encouraged by the favorable report submitted by Hilton, a group of colonists was 
quickly organized and returned to the Cape Fear that winter, where it briefly 
established a colony called Charles Town on the western shore of the Cape Fear at the 
mouth of Indian (Town) Creek. A lack of adequate organization contributed to the 
Charles Town settlement's being abandoned by April 1663. It was during that time that 
the king of England granted all of the country south of Virginia to his eight Lords 
Proprietors of Carolina. Promoters for the new colony from both New England and 
Barbados petitioned the Lords Proprietors for the right to establish settlements in the 
lower Cape Fear region, by then known as Clarendon County, after Edward Hyde, earl 
of Clarendon, one of the Lords Proprietors. For a brief period of time the waterway 



19 



became known as the Clarendon River (Powell 1968:87,99,107; Angley 1983:1-4; 
Herring and Williams 1983:4; Sprunt 1992:6; Hall 1980:xix; Lee 1965:4-5; Lee 1971:4). 

In 1664 the Lords Proprietors granted a colony from Barbados permission to occupy 
the former settlement of Charles Town. John Vassall, the leading promoter of the joint 
enterprise of colonists from Barbados and New England and London merchants, was 
appointed surveyor and deputy governor for the colonists. On May 24, 1664, the first 
settlers from Barbados arrived to reoccupy the abandoned Charles Town settlement at 
the mouth of Town Creek. Others from New England and Barbados followed, until the 
number of colonists reached eight hundred. The Proprietors soon selected from 
Barbados Col. John Yeamans as governor for the colony. To show his favor, the king 
knighted Yeamans. After losing a ship while trying to enter the Cape Fear, Sir John 
reached the colony in November 1665 and found it in a state of unrest. A dispute with 
the local Indians had developed as a result of New England men's having sold some 
Indians into slavery. The colonists from Barbados also voiced a resentment to the 
regulations imposed by the Proprietors, especially the regulation not allowing them to 
select their own governor, as the settlers from Massachusetts had done. Sir John 
chose to return to Barbados, leaving Vassall in command and responsible for holding 
the group together. The settlers, already feeling abandoned, lost additional English 
support when England went to war with Holland. The Charles Town colonists, seeing 
no other recourse, abandoned their settlement in the Cape Fear during 1665 and 
traveled overland to the established colonies in the Albemarle and Virginia (Powell 
1968:99,107; Angley 1983:1-4; Sprunt 1992:30-32; Lee 1965:5-6; Lee 1971:5; 
Gascoyne 1682; Lea 1695; Lawson 1709; Wimble 1733; Wimble 1738; Lewis 1795; 
Price and Strother 1807; USGS 1979b). 



Brunswick Town 

In 1725 Maurice Moore, son of Gov. James Moore of South Carolina, founded 
Brunswick Town on the western shore of the Cape Fear River approximately 13 miles 
above the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Named for King George I, duke of Brunswick 
and Lunenberg, the town became the first permanent settlement along the Cape Fear 
River. Maurice Moore, who owned property in Beaufort, North Carolina (1713), and 
later in Bath (1715), first came to the Cape Fear vicinity in 1715 when he passed 
through the area to aid South Carolina during the Yamassee War. Moore crossed the 
Cape Fear River at the Haulover, near Sugar Loaf, and landed at the site that 
subsequently became Brunswick Town. Several years later, in early 1724, when 
George Burrington became governor of the colony, the Lords Proprietors were still 
prohibiting settlement on the Cape Fear. Ignoring that prohibition, Burrington began 
granting individuals tracts of land along the river until the ban was lifted later that year. 
On June 3, 1725, Governor Burrington granted to Maurice Moore 1,500 acres of land 
on the west side of the Cape Fear River. It was on that land that Moore set aside 320 
acres and divided a portion into half-acre lots for the town of Brunswick. Moore divided 
the town into 336 lots, involving slightly more than half of the 320 acres. Later Roger 
Moore, Maurice's brother, added another twenty lots to the northern edge of the town, 



20 



bringing the total number to 356. Each lot measured 82 1 /4 feet in width by 264 feet in 
depth (South 1960:1-2; Powell 1968:66-67; Carson 1992:19-20; Ashe 1905: II, 293; 
Logan 1956:37; Moseley 1733; Wimble 1733; Wimble 1738). 

Two named streets were laid out in the town that paralleled the river — Front Street and 
Second Street. A connecting street was sometimes described as "the alley," or "a 
crossing street." "Once Maurice Moore had divided his town into lots, he began selling 
them on the condition that a habitable house 16 by 20 feet be built on the lot within 
eight months" (South 1960:3-4). Moore sold the first two lots, numbers 22 and 23, to 
Cornelius Harnett Sr. on June 30, 1726. Harnett, who later went on to fame in the 
American Revolution, built houses on those lots during that summer. By 1769 Harnett 
had constructed thirteen buildings on his two lots. It may have been from one of those 
lots that Harnett operated a ferry between Brunswick Town and the Haulover (see 
Brunswick Ferry). Only a small number of the remaining lots within the town were ever 
sold. One of largest structures at Brunswick was the six-room "Publick House" on lot 
27, which measured 1 8 feet by 70 feet. The structure may have also been used as a 
tailor shop (South 1960:3-4, 8, 10-11; Hyrne 1749; Sauthier 1769). 

From the time of its founding until the American Revolution, Brunswick Town served as 
a political, social, and commercial center of the lower Cape Fear region. Port Brunswick 
became one of the leading shipping points in North Carolina not long after its founding. 
By 1731 , when New Hanover County authorized the construction of a courthouse within 
the town, Brunswick also served as a legislative center. Nevertheless, Gov. Gabriel 
Johnston, elected in 1734, chose to have a courthouse and jail built in the newly 
formed town of Wilmington, where he moved the seat of government in 1740. 
Brunswick Town once again became a county seat when Brunswick County was formed 
from New Hanover County in 1764. A hurricane that struck Brunswick five years later 
destroyed the Brunswick County courthouse (South 1960:22-23; Sauthier 1769). 

In 1748, during the conflict between England and Spain known as King George's War, 
Spanish forces attacked Brunswick. In the early evening of September 3, three Spanish 
sloops, including the 1 30-ton Fortuna, sailed into the Cape Fear River. The Spaniards 
entered the river guided by pilots taken hostage, with the intention of taking "the 
negroes that were at work" on Fort Johnston, then under construction. Being early on a 
Sunday, "few or none" of the Negroes were to be found at work on the fort, most having 
been taken to Brunswick Town. Realizing their mistake, the Spaniards forced the pilots 
to guide them to Brunswick Town. Four miles below the town the Spanish put ashore a 
large number of men for an attack. The Spanish sloops proceeded "till they anchored 
before the town." The people of Brunswick, taken completely by surprise, fled from the 
combined land and sea attack, leaving their town and several vessels in the harbor to 
be captured ( Charleston (South Carolina) Gazette, October 31, 1748; Lee 1965:232; 
Green 1992:17; Powell 1968:66-67). 

The inhabitants sent out an alarm for assistance. On Monday, the fifth, William Dry, 
captain of the local militia, organized "about 25 or 30 men" in an attempt to recapture 



21 



the town. Most of the men were unable to arm themselves, however, since their guns 
and ammunition were captured in the attack, delaying any action for a day. The 
following day, Captain Dry, with reinforcements from the countryside, sailors and 
slaves, and a few more arms, led a counterattack on the Spanish, most of whom were 
busily looting the town. While the Fortuna shelled the town to cover the Spaniards 
retreat, one of the cannons aboard the vessel ignited a fire. The fire apparently spread 
to the magazine, for the vessel soon exploded violently. The remaining Spanish 
vessels fled downriver and out to sea ( Charleston (South Carolina) Gazette , October 
31, 1748; Boston Weekly News-Letter , October 20, 1748; Lee 1965:232-233; Green 
1992:19-20). 

Although the Brunswick colonists suffered major damage to their town, the Spanish had 
paid heavily for their raid. Nearly half of the Spanish force were killed, the invaders had 
lost the sloop Fortuna, and most of the plunder from the town went down with the 
vessel. Fortunately, the Fortuna had sunk in shallow water, and the inhabitants of 
Brunswick Town were able to salvage a considerable amount from the wreck ( Boston 
Weekly News-Letter , October 20, 1748; Clark XXIII:535; Sprunt 1992:50; Lee 
1965:234; Green 1992:20; Military Collections, N.C. State Archives). 

The finest of the Brunswick Town residences was Russellborough, located just to the 
north of the town. Begun and named about 1751 by Capt. John Russell, an officer of 
the sloop Scorpion, then stationed at Brunswick Town to defend the river and its 
shipping, it was acquired and completed in 1758 by Gov. Arthur Dobbs, who renamed it 
Castle Dobbs. Governor Dobbs later sold or gave the dwelling to his son, Edward 
Bryce Dobbs, who conveyed it by deed to Arthur Dobbs's successor, Gov. William 
Tryon, on February 12, 1767. Governor Tryon moved into the vacant house he called 
Castle Tryon and remained until workers completed Tryon Palace at New Bern. The 
brick walls of St. Philips Church, begun about 1754, comprise the only extant structure 
from colonial Brunswick. The dimensions of the church have been described as being 
"76 feet 6 inches long, 53 feet 3 inches wide, standing walls 24 feet 4 inches high." 
"There are 11 windows and three large doors." In 1760 the North Carolina Assembly 
enacted a law stating that certain proceeds from the sale of goods recovered from the 
wreck of the Spanish sloop Fortuna be used to help finance the completion of St. 
Philips Church in Brunswick and St. James Church in Wilmington. After years of delay, 
St. Philips Church was finally completed in 1768 (Sprunt 1896:73-74; Sprunt 1992:59- 
60; South 1960:22-23, 51-54, 62; Lee 1978:55; Sauthier 1769; Collet 1770; Mouzon 
1775). 

With the growth of the newer port of Wilmington, the importance of Brunswick soon 
declined. The location of Brunswick farther downriver had afforded it little protection 
over the years from strong gales or hurricanes, while its proximity to low marshy areas 
provided malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Brunswick Town began a steady rate of decline 
following the 1748 Spanish attack, and by the onset of the American Revolution the last 
of the remaining residents had fled. In 1776 the British burned the deserted town. A few 
families returned to Brunswick following the war, but by 1830 the town was in total ruin. 



22 



Several years later the owner of Orton Plantation purchased the site of the former town 
for $4.25 (South 1960:87-89). 

The ruins of Brunswick Town lay undisturbed for almost a century before the 
Confederate States Army ordered the construction of Fort St. Philip, named for the 
church located there. The fort, later renamed Fort Anderson, lay diagonally across the 
site and consisted of two five-gun batteries and small emplacements along the length of 
protective sand mounds. Confederate troops at the fort — housed in wooden barracks 
with chimneys made from stone and brick salvaged from the old ruins — guarded the 
Cape Fear River that led to Wilmington. Little activity occurred near the fort until 
Federal troops attacked Fort Fisher in late 1 864. On February 1 9, 1 865, a month after 
the fall of Fort Fisher, a severe bombardment by the Union navy forced the 
Confederates to abandon Fort Anderson. The fort was never reoccupied (Sprunt 
1896:73-75; Powell 1968: 66-67; South 1960:58, 102-112). 

Today historic Brunswick Town, Russelborough, and Fort Anderson are maintained as 
the Brunswick Town State Historic Site (Kitchin 1778; Holland 1794; Lewis 1795; Price 
and Strother 1808; Mac Rae and Brazier 1833; U.S. Coast Survey 1856; CSAE 1864c; 
U.S. Coast Survey 1864; USGS 1970a; NOAA 1992). 

Wilmington (New Carthage, New Liverpool, New Town, Newton) 

In 1731, six years after Gov. George Burrington granted Maurice Moore the site of 
Brunswick Town, John Maultsby and John Watson were each granted by the governor, 
640 acres of adjoining property opposite the 'Thoroughfare" near the confluence of the 
Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear Rivers. By late 1 732 a few other men had settled 
on Maultsby's grant with the intention of carrying out trade along the rivers. In April 
1733 James Wimble, one of those enterprising men, "Drafted and Layd out" on the east 
bank of the Cape Fear a settlement he called New Carthage. Other owners of adjcent 
property soon joined Wimble in enlarging New Carthage, at the same time changing 
the name to New Liverpool. "For the most part, however, residents of the area and 
especially those with ties to Brunswick Town referred to the new community simply as 
New Town, a name that was soon corrupted to Newton." Within the next few years the 
few inhabitants of the village chose to call their community Wilmington, after Spencer 
Compton, earl of Wilmington, and patron of royal Governor Gabriel Johnston, during 
whose administration the town was chartered. In 1740 the North Carolina Assembly 
passed an act formally designating the town as Wilmington. At that time Wilmington 
replaced Brunswick as the county seat of New Hanover (Stick 1985:25; Lee 1971:12- 
13; Sprunt 1896:15-16; Sprunt 1992:45-46; Powell 1968:537; Wimble 1733, 1738; 
Anonymous 1750; Mouzon 1775; Kitchin 1778; Holland 1794; Lewis 1795; Potts 1797). 

Based on the first official plan of Wilmington adopted in 1745, the limits of the town 
included "Campbell Street on the north, Wooster Street on the south, Fifth Street on the 
east, and the river on the west. The area within those bounds was divided into squares 
separated by unpaved streets. The squares, in turn, were divided into lots uniform in 



23 



size except for those that extended from Front Street to the river; those varied in depth 
according to the meandering of the shoreline." In 1769 C. J. Sautier produced a "Plan 
of the Town of Willmington" (Figure 3). From the time of its incorporation in 1740, the 
government of Wilmington consisted of commissioners. After 1745 the number was 
fixed at five, elected annually by the townspeople. For a period in the 1760s 
Wilmington was a borough governed by a mayor (John Sampson served as the first 
mayor), a board of aldermen, and a common council. By 1768, however, the old 
commission system had been reinstated as the form of government until the Civil War 
(Lee 1971:12-13; Reaves 1977:3). 

The early growth of Wilmington arose in part from the abundance of products obtained 
from the immense pine forests of the surrounding country. Naval stores in the form of 
tar, pitch, and turpentine, along with shingles, barrel staves, and lumber, were 
commonly produced along the Cape Fear River. In order for England to support its 
large maritime industry, the crown often granted subsidies to producers of naval stores 
within New Hanover County. "More pine tar, pitch, and turpentine were shipped to 
England from the port of Brunswick than from any other port in the British Empire" (Lee 
1971:14-16). 

Shipping and trade constituted the "lifeblood of the Cape Fear economy" and the 
majority of the commerce on the river passed through either Wilmington or Brunswick 
Town. Vessels that sailed to and from those two communities formed a trade network 
with other coastal ports, the West Indies, and points as far away as Europe. The 
vessels that entered the river varied in size, and this had an important bearing on the 
development of New Hanover County. The larger ships could not cross over the shoals 
known as The Flats, located just above Brunswick Town. As a result, Brunswick Town 
became the center of overseas shipping, while smaller vessels, generally those in the 
coastal and West Indian trade, proceeded over the Flats to Wilmington. All ships 
entering and leaving the river were required to clear at Brunswick Town (Lee 1971:16- 
17: Logan 1956:37-40). 

Before the existence of passable roads, the local inhabitants purchased property along 
navigable streams, which they used for travel and to transport their goods to market. 
Some of the earlier craft used for the transportation of goods included rafts, flatboats, 
and small sailing vessels. As the availability of land along the banks of navigable 
streams decreased and the local population grew, inland roads were built to improve 
travel. These early roads, however, were generally little more than narrow clearings 
through the forests, sandy ruts in dry weather and quagmires in wet. Ferries facilitated 
travel between Wilmington and Brunswick Town. By 1764 an oar-propelled ferry 
transported wagons, coaches, and teams of horses and mules across the Cape Fear 
River from the foot of Market Street to Eagles Island. A crude road across the marshy 
island connected with a second ferry over the Brunswick River. On the western shore 
the road split, with one branch leading northward to Cross Creek (Fayetteville) and the 
other leading southward by way of Brunswick Town into South Carolina. There was 



24 













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also a road that ran from Wilmington southward along the east bank of the Cape Fear 
to the Brunswick Ferry (Reaves 1977:3; Lee 1971:16-18). 

News reached Wilmington on May 8, 1775, of the April 19 confrontation at Lexington 
and Concord between colonial militiamen and British soldiers and the start of the 
American Revolution. By the following summer the British had brought military action to 
the Cape Fear vicinity. In early May 1776 British forces under two generals, Sir Henry 
Clinton and Lord Charles Cornwallis, arrived at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. From 
their vessels the generals sent raiding parties ashore from time to time. The most 
destructive of those raids came against the nearly abandoned town of Brunswick and 
Kendall plantation. The British burned Brunswick Town and it was never occupied 
again (Lee 1971:26-27). 

Following the raids along the lower Cape Fear, the generals and their troops left, and it 
was almost five years later before the British returned. In early 1781 a British 
detachment under the command of Maj. James Craig left Charleston by sea to secure 
Wilmington as a base for General Cornwallis's return. On January 9 Craig landed 
below Wilmington and moved in practically unopposed and occupied the town. A 
traveler through Wilmington earlier in the war had described the town as being 
"situated in a sandy Hollow surrounded with Sand Hills" from which the town could 
defend the river "by a Battery of 9 nine Pounders, & another of 8 Guns from 5 to 12 Prs 
. . . [and] also two Iron Field Pieces on traveling Carriages." Craig and his men 
disarmed the inhabitants of Wilmington, placed them on parole, and let them go about 
their business. The British then set about to strengthen the defensives against an 
attempt to recapture the town. On April 12 General Cornwallis arrived in Wilmington 
and briefly established his headquarters before he decided to continue his campaign in 
Virginia. Less than two weeks later, Cornwallis and his men marched out of 
Wilmington, leaving Major Craig in control of the town. Before the end of the year, 
Cornwallis had surrendered to Gen. George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia, and 
Major Craig's troops had fled Wilmington. No further British threat took place in New 
Hanover County before the end of the war in 1783 (Johnson 1959:379; Lee 1971:27- 
29; Reaves 1977:4). 

The first federal census in 1790 indicated that New Hanover County (which then 
included what is now Pender County) had a population of seven thousand persons, 
including approximately one thousand individuals who resided in Wilmington. Many of 
the inhabitants of Wilmington continued to make their living as merchants, sea 
captains, seamen, or in other occupations related to trade and shipping following the 
war. The economy of the town returned to its prewar activities; naval stores, lumber, 
and other timber products continued to be the most important products, with only rice 
being a significant commercial crop. Before the Revolution most ships that left the 
Cape Fear River had cargoes destined for the West Indies. A lesser number of ships 
carried cargoes to coastal ports, especially in the northern colonies. The effects of 
hostilities with Britain drastically changed trade patterns. By 1783 almost all ships 
leaving the Cape Fear went to Charleston, South Carolina, where few had previously 



26 



traded. The "Port of Brunswick" resumed trade with England following the war but never 
reached its prewar levels. Merchants offset their decrease in business with England by 
opening new markets in the northern United States, with Charleston, and with the West 
Indies. The number of ships that entered the Cape Fear River and proceeded up to 
Wilmington steadily increased. The significant growth of Wilmington as a commercial 
center was indicated when the name of the "Port of Brunswick" was changed to the 
"Port of Wilmington" (Lee 1 971 :33, 50-56). 

Along with the expansion of trade came the need for improvements in land and water 
transportation. The roads that existed within New Hanover County remained crude and 
unpaved, while the vehicles for transporting goods were often inadequate in size and 
reliability. Rail service to Wilmington was still several years away. The main 
dependence continued to be on water transportation. In 1817 the first steamboat 
arrived on the Cape Fear River. Known as the Prometheus, the stem-wheel vessel had 
been built in Beaufort by Capt. Otway Burns for a firm in Wilmington to operate from 
Wilmington to both Fayetteville and Smithville (Southport). The following year a second 
shallow-draft steamboat, the Henrietta, also began service on the river, making runs 
between Fayetteville and Wilmington. Steamboat traffic was better suited to the Cape 
Fear than any other North Carolina river for two reasons. First, the seasonal fluctuation 
of the river was not as great as that of other rivers in the state and thus did not as 
seriously impede navigation. Second, many roads in the Piedmont already led to 
Fayetteville at the head of navigation on the Cape Fear. In 1818 James Seawall, 
builder of the Henrietta, organized the Clarendon Steamboat Company with exclusive 
rights to operate steamboats on the Cape Fear for a period of seven years. Other 
vessels made their appearance on the river, and in 1822 another steamboat line, the 
Cape Fear Steamboat Company, was incorporated. The arrival of several steamboats 
on the Cape Fear River marked the beginning of a new era for Wilmington commerce 
and a call for improvements in river navigation (Lee 1971:16-18, 36-38; Reaves 1977:5; 
Sprunt 1992:138-139; Logan 1956:82). 

About 1819 the local Board of Internal Improvement hired Hamilton Fulton, an English 
civil engineer, to direct improvements to the river below Wilmington. In 1823, two years 
after completing the first detailed survey of the river, the board approved a plan 
submitted by Fulton for improvement of the river channel between New Inlet and 
Wilmington. The first serious attempt by the state at completing improvements in the 
navigation of the river yielded a gain of two feet in channel depth below Wilmington. 
The state lacked sufficient funds to conduct the mammoth task of improving the existing 
channel from Wilmington to the ocean, however, and by 1829 the federal government 
assumed the responsibility for the improvements to the river ( Carolina Observer and 
Fayetteville Gazette , February 13, 20, March 20, August 7, 1823; Sprunt 1992:145). 

In 1 834 the state legislature issued a charter that authorized the construction of the 
Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad. Capital for the project was supposed to have been 
jointly provided between the two towns. When the people of Raleigh failed to raise their 
share of the funds, the charter was amended and the destination of the road changed 



27 



from Raleigh to Weldon, on the Roanoke River, where it joined with other east coast 
lines. Construction began on the rail line in October 1836. When completed on March 
7, 1840, near present-day Goldsboro, the 161 1 /2-mile track was the longest single line 
in the world. In 1855 the rail line officially changed its name to the Wilmington and 
Weldon Railway and subsequently became known as the Atlantic Coast Railroad. As 
Wilmington grew and became an important connection for north-south travel, other rail 
lines that extended into the western reaches of the state were added to the town. The 
several rail lines, along with steamer connections and the improving network of interior 
roads, brought increased trade and prosperity to Wilmington and New Hanover County 
(Lee 1971:38-40; Sprunt 1992:149-156). 

The period of expanding trade and growth for Wilmington came to an abrupt end in 
1861 with the beginning of the American Civil War. Because the South was 
predominantly agricultural, the Confederacy had to import much of its needs from 
abroad. Aware of this fact, Pres. Abraham Lincoln ordered a blockade of southern ports 
in 1861. As a means of avoiding the blockade and bringing in cargoes vital to the life of 
the South, the Confederacy developed blockade-runners, fast, sleek vessels to slip 
past the Union ships under cover of darkness. At the beginning of the war the South 
maintained important ports, including Norfolk, Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, and New 
Orleans, but none proved more important to blockade-running than Wilmington on the 
Cape Fear. Blockade-runners had access into the Cape Fear, and on to Wilmington, 
through entrances either at the mouth of the river or New Inlet. Union warships found it 
difficult to patrol and prevent access to blockade-runners through those entrances, 
which were located several miles apart. Rail lines that connected Wilmington to several 
other southern cities provided ideal opportunities for the handling of arriving or 
outgoing cargoes (Lee 1971:61). 

When hostilities began in 1861, two existing fortifications protected the main entrance 
to the Cape Fear River. On April 16, 1861, four days before North Carolina seceded 
from the Union, Confederate forces seized Forts Johnston and Caswell. The aged Fort 
Johnston, constructed between 1748 and 1764, guarded the western shore of the river 
at Smithville. Later, the much larger and more heavily armed Fort Caswell, begun in 
1825 on Oak Island, eclipsed Fort Johnston. By 1836 both forts had been evacuated. 
Reactivated briefly during the Mexican War, Fort Johnston was again abandoned in 
1852. From that time until the eve of the Civil War, it was under the solitary care of an 
ordnance officer. Fort Caswell, covered in masonry and railroad iron, originally 
mounted sixteen guns but later added six others. Although Fort Caswell was engaged 
in little conflict during the Civil War, it played a crucial role in defending the river 
entrance, thus allowing blockade-runners to enter the channel (Hall 1975:237-239; Hall 
1980:93; Sprunt 1992:379-380; Powell 1968:178-179; Herring and Williams 
1983:13,21,48; USACOE 1865d; Angley 1990:7). 

Confederate forces constructed two forts in 1861-1862 for the protection of New Inlet. 
Fort Fisher, the largest fortification along the Cape Fear River, was located on the tip of 
Confederate Point (now Federal Point). The fort was bounded on the west by the Cape 



28 



Fear River, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the south by New Inlet. The 
strategic placement of the fort at the southern end of the peninsula enabled it to guard 
both New Inlet and the river approach to Wilmington. Construction of Fort Fisher began 
in April 1861 under the direction of Capt. Charles P. Bolles. The other fortification 
constructed near New Inlet was Fort Anderson (originally known as Fort St. Philip), 
which stood on the western shore of the river on the former site of Brunswick Town. 
Fort St. Philip consisted of two five-gun batteries, designated as Battery A and Battery 
B, with smaller emplacements along the length of the fortification. Other smaller 
fortifications and batteries were placed for the defense of Wilmington and the two inlets 
along the Cape Fear (South 1960:79; Barrett 1963:247; Powell 1968:179; USACOE 
1865a, b, g). 

In late December 1 864 Fort Fisher became the objective of a massive Union assault, 
which led to its capture and subsequently seizure of the other Cape Fear River 
defenses and ultimately Wilmington. Union control of the last remaining Confederate 
stronghold would seriously hamper the South's ability to fight and possibly bring about 
an end to the lengthy Civil War. After the first attempt to capture the fort failed, a 
second, larger, combined land and sea effort was undertaken the following month. Fort 
Fisher finally fell to Union forces on January 15, 1865. Within weeks of the capture of 
the main fortification, all other forts along the river were abandoned. In February 1865 
Union forces easily occupied Wilmington. 'Unable to be adequately supplied, the 
southern forces surrendered a few months later, thus ending the war (Lamb 1896:371- 
377; Fort Fisher Master Plan 1974:57-58; Sprunt 1992:493-494; Trotter 1989:370,396). 

In addition to the fortifications, Wilmington also provided for its own defense with the 
construction of two Confederate ironclad steamers. The Beery family built the North 
Carolina at its "Confederate Navy Yard" on Eagles Island, across from Wilmington, in 
1862, and J. L. Cassidey and Sons built the other ironclad, the Raleigh, at its shipyard 
at the foot of Church Street the following year. The Confederates destroyed a third 
locally built ironclad, the Wilmington, to keep it from falling into enemy hands just prior 
to the occupation of the town in 1865. None of the ironclads was ever engaged in 
serious battle with the Union fleet, but their presence in the river did contribute to 
Wilmington's being one of the last major southern ports still open late in the war (Farb 
1985:322; Shomette 1973:333,352-353; Hall 1980:339). 

By early 1866, with the hostilities of war now months behind them, Wilmington 
residents began a period of reconstruction and sought to regain some of the benefits of 
their pre-war commerce and growth. One of the first successful efforts was political and 
came on February 20, 1866, when the North Carolina General Assembly granted a new 
charter changing the name from the town of Wilmington to the city of Wilmington. The 
charter also provided for a new system of government by a mayor and board of 
alderman. On the first election, held on March 8, the citizens elected A. H. Van 
Bokkelen the first mayor of the city. In the spring of 1868 the people of North Carolina 
adopted a new constitution for the state, and the following July the state was readmitted 
into the Union (Lee 1 971 :77-79). 



29 



Recovery in the postwar years came gradually as planters and other labor-intensive 
industries adapted to a new slaveless society. Naval stores and lumber continued to be 
the principal local exports, but cotton also found its way onto ships leaving the Cape 
Fear. Cotton shipped through Wilmington, in addition to that locally grown, also came 
from Georgia, South Carolina, and other parts of North Carolina. In 1871 Wilmington's 
cotton export, principally to northern ports, exceeded 95,000 bales — nearly half the 
amount for the entire state. Cotton remained an important local export until about 1930. 
Of the various prewar products, rice alone failed to make a postwar recovery. Because 
of insufficient labor, rice production almost ended in North Carolina by the end of the 
century. Naval stores, the principal local industry and export of Wilmington before the 
war, continued in large quantities. Tar, rosin, and turpentine production in southeastern 
North Carolina made Wilmington the leading exporter of naval stores in the world. The 
lumber industry continued to produce large amounts of timber products; staves of white 
or red oak; and shingles of cypress, juniper, and cedar. The timber exports went both to 
domestic and foreign markets, with most going to the West Indies and to Central and 
South America. By 1880, however, both industries were in decline. The vast local 
forests of pine had been noticeably depleted, and a general reduction in the number of 
sailing ships, which required naval stores in their construction and operation, had taken 
place. Wilmington's foreign imports consisted primarily of salt and iron from Europe and 
fruit and molasses and guano from the West Indies (Lee 1971: 86-87; Sprunt 1992:512; 
Logan 1956:96-97, 104-107). 

The Port of Wilmington had remained open during most of the Civil War and, therefore, 
was quickly able to reestablish trade connections when peace returned. In fact, 
commerce with foreign countries was regained before that with northern ports. In 1872 
the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce reported that both agricultural and 
manufacturing trade was "steadily and constantly increasing" and that improvements in 
Wilmington harbor would greatly hasten the growth by increasing the number and size 
of vessels calling at the city. According to the chamber, vessels drawing more than 12 
feet were required to be lightered to and from a point outside the main entrance to the 
river. Improvements at the main bar, removal of obstructions in the river, and efforts to 
close New Inlet all had a positive effect on increasing the depth of water by several 
feet. Another improvement, the completion of the Wilmington, Charlotte, and Rutherford 
Railroad, which came in 1875, also benefited Wilmington's port trade. As predicted by 
the chamber of commerce's 1872 report, that measure played a key role in increasing 
the shipment of cotton from the port (Lee 1971: 86-87; Sprunt 1992:512-514; Logan 
1956:99-100). 

Several changes occurred in Wilmington's commerce by 1885. Foreign tonnage 
continued to grow. Ships engaged in Wilmington's foreign trade averaged about 400 
tons per vessel. One prosperous area involved the increasing use of fertilizer, which 
led to a considerable import of raw materials such as potash, nitrates, phosphorus, and 
sulphur. Several guano plants opened in and around Wilmington after the Civil War, 
and by the 1880s nearly three-fourths of the value of Wilmington's foreign imports was 



30 



in fertilizer material. The industry remained until after the turn of the century. By 1885 
the city had two cotton compresses in operation, a new cotton seed oil factory, and two 
fertilizer plants. An important change in the cotton trade was that by then seven-tenths 
of the total amount was shipped to Europe, whereas ten years earlier almost four-fifths 
had gone to New England. This overseas demand for United States cotton created a 
greater need for deeper draft vessels to carry the commodity abroad and contributed to 
the need for improvements in the Cape Fear for deeper draft vessels (Logan 
1956:107). 

By 1910 the export of cotton from Wilmington had reached a peak. During that year 
more than four hundred thousand bales were exported. The economy of New Hanover 
County received another boost in 1917 when the United States entered World War I 
and shipbuilding facilities were established at Wilmington (Logan 1956:118). The U.S. 
Shipping Board in the summer of 1917 selected Wilmington as one of its sites for the 
fabrication of steel ships. A shipbuilding plant was subsequently erected in the vicinity 
of Sunset Park, south of the city. It was built and operated by the Shipping Board. 
Lorenzo C. Dilks, president of the Carolina Shipbuilding Company, signed a contract on 
April 17 for his company to construct twelve 9,600-ton steel cargo vessels. Four 
shipways, a ship-fabricating plant, a mold loft, and various other buildings were erected 
on the 1 00-acre site. The first of twelve steel ships to be readied for launch was the 
Cranford, named for Cranford, New Jersey, Home of Mr. and Mrs. Dilks before moving 
to Wilmington. The steel-ribbed freighter, the first of its kind to be launched in 
Wilmington, left the shipway at the Carolina yard on Labor Day, September 1, 1919 
( Wilmington Dispatch , April 17, 1918, September 2, 1919; Wilmington Star , April 19, 
May 30, 1918, September 1, 1919). 

At the same time the Carolina Shipbuilding Company was building fabricated steel 
ships for the World War I effort, the Liberty Shipbuilding Company began building 
concrete vessels at the foot of Greenfield and Willard Streets. In April 1918 the U.S. 
Shipping Board selected Wilmington as one of the sites for a government yard. The 
government planned for seven concrete ships to be built at the city, with three to be 
3,500 tons and four to be 7,500 tons. The larger vessels would be used as tankers with 
capacities of 50,000 barrels of oil. Each of the tankers would have 2,800-horsepower 
engines. The smaller, 3,500-ton vessels, would be cargo ships ( Wilmington Dispatch , 
February 10, March 28, April 6, June 6, 1918; Wilmington Star , April 6, 1918). 

A change in the plans for the types of ships to be constructed at the shipyard occurred 
in late 1918. The Liberty Shipyard would not build six of the larger, 7,500-ton tankers, 
but rather only two 3,500-ton cargo vessels of concrete. The signing of the Armistice 
and cessation of World War I activities made the additional vessels unnecessary 
( Wilmington Dispatch , November 22, 1918). The Liberty Shipyard, at the foot of 
Greenfield Street, was nearly complete by late January 1919 ( Wilmington Star , January 
25, 1919). Pouring of the first concrete vessel, or "stone ship," to be called the 
Rockmart, began on January 28, 1919 ( Wilmington Dispatch , January 27, 28, 1919; 
Wilmington Star , January 29, 1919). In June 1919, at the request of the Wilmington 



31 



Chamber of Commerce, the name of that vessel was changed to the Cape Fear. All 
preparations for the launch of the vessel were completed in July, and on July 31, 1919, 
the hull of the Cape Fear slipped sideways into the river ( Wilmington Dispatch , 
February 20, June 1 5, 1 91 9; Wilmington Star , August 1,18,1919). 

It was during that period that the last two of the large wooden schooners were built in 
Wilmington. The Wilmington Iron Works received, just prior to the United States' 
involvement in the war, a contract to build two four-masted schooners — the Hoppauge 
and the Commack — at its marine railway, the "Naul yard," on Eagles Island 
(Wilmington Star, May 18, 1916; Wilmington Dispatch , May 17, 1916). The Hoppauge 
was afloat only a short time before it fell victim to a German submarine in early 1918 
( Wilmington Star , June 7, 1918; Wilmington Dispatch , June 9, 1918). The Commack 
ended its career when it was wrecked off Sandy Hook, New Jersey, in January 1 925 
( Wilmington News-Dispatch , February 2, 1925). 

Following World War I Wilmington's foreign trade increased over that from the prewar 
years. By 1925 fertilizer constituted about 90 percent of the imports, with cement and 
molasses making up the remaining 10 percent. Cotton now constituted nearly all of the 
Port of Wilmington's exports. In that year more than one hundred thousand bales of 
cotton were shipped. Just prior to 1930, however, the market for cotton in Europe 
started to decline as a result of high tariffs on imported manufactured goods. European 
manufacturers sought other markets, and fewer foreign ships arrived in the United 
States. Consequently, the exchange of manufactured goods for raw materials such as 
cotton declined. Along with a decline in the production of cotton came the lack of 
dependence on fertilizers. That import also began its decline during this period. The 
export of tobacco partially compensated for that decline. Although tobacco greatly 
increased the value of Wilmington's exports, its tonnage was in no way comparable to 
that of cotton in previous years. What emerged by 1935 as Wilmington's greatest 
import was petroleum products, making up 80 percent of coastwise receipts. Fish and 
fertilizer made up the remaining 20 percent. Wilmington then imported nearly four times 
as many goods as it exported (Logan 1956:125-127). 

North Carolina commerce, and particularly that of Wilmington, suffered another setback 
when the United States entered another world war in December 1941. In the early 
years of the conflict, Atlantic shipping suffered severe losses to German U-boat 
warfare. Numerous cargo ships that crossed the ocean or traveled without armed 
escort between eastern ports fell prey to this form of destruction. Such losses were 
greatly reduced when trans-Atlantic conveys under the protection of U.S. warships 
were established later in the war. Wilmington's restricted commerce caused by the war 
was partially offset by the city's being once again selected as the site of wartime 
shipbuilding. 

As early as 1938 local citizens of Wilmington were requesting the aid of their state 
senators in securing ship construction at local shipyards as a means of furthering 
economic recovery. The city organized the Shipyard Committee of Wilmington in 1939 



32 



or early 1940. On the recommendation of Adm. Emory S. Land, the U.S. Maritime 
Commission chose Wilmington as one of the sites for construction of two hundred 
emergency cargo vessels. The Newport News Shipbuilding Company assumed 
responsibility for building ships at Wilmington under a subsidiary known as the North 
Carolina Shipbuilding Company ( Wilmington News , May 4, 1938; Wilmington Star , 
January 10,1941; Still n.d.:2) 

The site chosen for the shipyard was the old Carolina Shipyard property 3 miles south 
of the city. Two types of vessels were constructed at the yard during the war. The first 
was officially designated as the EC-2 type and became well known as the "Liberty 
Ship." The North Carolina shipyard produced one hundred twenty-six of this class of 
vessel. The first Liberty Ship to leave the ways of the North Carolina Shipbuilding 
Company yard was the SS Zebulon B. Vance, launched on the ominous date of 
December 6, 1941 ( Wilmington Star , January 10, April 3, 5, 23, October 2, December 
6, 1941; Wilmington News , May 22, 29, 1941; Still n.d.:4-5). 

The Wilmington yard also constructed a second vessel class, the C-2, or "Victory Ship." 
The North Carolina Shipbuilding Company produced 117 vessels of the C-2 type. It 
was hoped that this type of vessel could be used as merchant ships following the war. 
( Wilm ington Star, April 3, 5, 23, 1941; Wilmington News , May 22, 29, 1941; Still n.d.:4- 
5). The Newport News Shipbuilding Company closed the North Carolina Shipbuilding 
plant in Wilmington in 1946 after five years of wartime operation. Many of the shipways 
and docks were destroyed following the war to make way for oil storage tanks and the 
North Carolina State Port Terminal. 

The trade that Wilmington lost during the war years began to make a comeback in 
1945. Foreign imports still exceeded exports, although the difference was less than it 
had been ten years earlier. Tobacco leaf remained the important overseas export trade, 
while fertilizer still dominated as the leading overseas import. Coastal shipping in 1945 
was made up entirely of petroleum products and accounted for half the total commerce 
of Wilmington (Logan 1956:130). Wilmington received a needed boost in its commerce 
in 1945 with the creation of the North Carolina State Ports Authority, with terminals at 
Wilmington and Morehead City. The state docks opened in 1954. By 1970 the U.S. 
Army Corps of Engineers had provided a channel depth of 38 feet to accommodate 
large-draft vessels calling at Wilmington. The existing Corps of Engineers Federal 
Project at Wilmington Harbor is authorized to maintain a main channel of 40 feet deep 
and 500 feet wide from the Atlantic Ocean through the ocean bar and entrance 
channels, although this depth has not yet been achieved (Lee 1971:91-93; USACOE 
report 18 September 1992). 



Southport (Smithville) 

In the early eighteenth century the area on the west side of the Cape Fear River near 
the main entrance was uninhabited and perhaps only occasionally visited by crews of 
passing ships. In the vicinity of what would much later become Southport, the deepest 



33 



part of the Cape Fear River flowed along the western shore and around the eastern 
end of Oak Island. That location, somewhat protected from the winds and tides that 
came in through the mouth of the Cape Fear, provided for a relatively safe environment 
for vessels to anchor. Some of the first ships to take advantage of that harbor to make 
repairs or to ride out a storm were pirate ships that operated along the eastern coast. In 
the late summer of 1718, Stede Bonnet, known as the Gentleman Pirate, entered the 
Cape Fear River aboard the sloop Royal James along with two captured vessels. While 
off the coast of North Carolina, the Royal James sprang a leak and needed immediate 
repair. After anchoring within the river, Bonnet and his crew of pirates discovered that 
the hull of the sloop needed several new planks; so they captured a small vessel that 
sailed by, put its master and crew ashore, and broke the ship up for its timbers. During 
the two months that it took for the repairs to be made, word of the presence of the 
pirates in the Cape Fear River reached the governor of South Carolina. The governor 
dispatched two ships under the command of Col. William Rhett to the Cape Fear to 
capture the pirates. A brief battle ensued near the mouth of the river, and Bonnet and 
his men were taken prisoner. In November 1718 Bonnet and thirty-four of his fellow 
pirates were tried in Charleston, South Carolina. All were found guilty and sentenced to 
death by hanging. Tradition holds that Bonnet's Creek at present-day Southport was 
the site of the pirate's battle with William Rhett (Carson 1992:19; Wilmington Star- 
NfiWS, July 4, 1975). 

Permanent settlement along the Cape Fear did not take place until after 1723, when 
George Burrington became governor of North Carolina and began granting individuals 
tracts of land along the river. On June 3, 1725, Governor Burrington granted to Maurice 
Moore 1,500 acres of land on the west side of the Cape Fear River. It was on that land 
that Moore set aside 320 acres for the town of Brunswick. Six years later, in 1731 , John 
Maultsby and John Watson were each granted 640 acres of adjoining property near the 
confluence of the Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear Rivers. It was from this 
beginning that the town of Wilmington developed (South 1960:1-2; Powell 1968:66-67; 
Moseley 1733; Sprunt 1992:45-46). 

The inhabitants of Brunswick and Wilmington felt vulnerable without an adequate 
means of defense as hostilities between England and Spain escalated. In response to 
Spanish attacks along the coast of the North Carolina colony in the 1740s, the colonial 
legislature empowered Gov. Gabriel Johnston to appoint a council on the defense of 
the Cape Fear. By 1745 continued fears of Spanish attack along the Cape Fear River 
prompted the colonial assembly and the governor to authorize a defensive installation 
to be built near the entrance to the river, where Southport is today. The site, selected 
by Johnston himself and a group of prominent political leaders and referred to as 
"Johnston's Fort," was to be large enough for twenty-four cannons and was to be 
financed by powder money collected at Port Brunswick. Construction did not begin on 
Fort Johnston until 1748 and continued with several delays and improvements until 
1764. The fortification was still under construction and consequently of little use when 
the Spanish attacked Brunswick Town in 1748. In the year following the attack on 
Brunswick, the defenders declared that Fort Johnston was finished, although it 



34 



mounted only four rusty cannons. In 1751 the fort received a new status as a 
quarantine station for vessels arriving at the river from southern ports (Carson 1992:20- 
22; Powell 1968:179; Sprunt 1992:52-55; Angley 1990:1-2, 4). 

The defenses of Fort Johnston increased over the next few years, but the fort saw no 
other activity until the American Revolution. As the rebellion intensified during the 
summer of 1775, royal Governor Martin fled from the Governor's Palace in New Bern 
and went to Fort Johnston for protection. Martin did not remain at the fort long and soon 
moved on to a British warship in the harbor. In mid-July 1775 a whig force of 
approximately five hundred armed men led by Robert Howe moved downriver from 
Brunswick Town and attacked the British fort. Fearful that the fort would be used as a 
staging area for attempts to seize private property and incite slaves against their 
masters in the lower Cape Fear River, the colonists burned Fort Johnston and its 
ancillary structures, except for the Garrison House. With the abandonment of Fort 
Johnston, the Cape Fear River was left defenseless during the Revolution (Carson 
1992:20-22; Powell 1968:179; Sprunt 1992:52-55; Angley 1990:1-2, 4). 

Encouraged by the presence of river pilots residing near Fort Johnston since before the 
Revolution, the General Assembly in 1784 enacted legislation providing for each 
licensed pilot to be allotted one acre of land for residential use. In 1792 the General 
Assembly formally enacted "An Act to lay off and establish a town near Fort Johnston." 
The town was incorporated as Smithville, (named for Benjamin Smith) and included 150 
acres, which incorporated the destroyed fort and pilots' places of residence. In March 
1 794 Congress enacted legislation to provide again for the defense of the lower Cape 
Fear. In July 1795 the state of North Carolina conveyed the site of the old fort and 
portions of the town of Smithville for construction of a new fort (Carson 1992:24, 
Appendix A; Sprunt 1992:544; Angley 1990:5-6). 

Construction of a new Fort Johnston began in 1804 over the ruins of the old fort, but 
lengthy delays prevented the completion of the facility for several years. Not until 1816 
was work nearly complete at the fort. Facilities at that time included a battery of eight 
guns, a blockhouse, a guardhouse, a hospital, a group of buildings for enlisted men, 
and the still-extant Garrison House or officers' quarters. Fort Johnston was soon 
eclipsed by the much larger and more heavily armed Fort Caswell, begun in 1825 on 
Oak Island. By 1836 both forts were evacuated, however. Fort Johnston, reactivated 
briefly during the Mexican War, was again abandoned in 1852 (USACOE 1865d; 
Angley 1990:7; Carson 1992:29). 

The growing community of Smithville received a boost in 1808 when the General 
Assembly decided to remove the county seat of Brunswick from Lockwood Folly to 
Smithville as soon as a courthouse, jail, and stocks could be built. The original 
courthouse, a one-story brick building, was removed from its lot so that in 1826 a larger 
two-story courthouse could be constructed. By the 1 850s the second courthouse was 
torn down and an even larger brick building put up in its place (Carson 1992:31). 



35 



Smithville also benefited in March 1808 when Secretary of the Navy Robert Smith 
issued a contract to Amos Perry for the construction of three gunboats at the town. The 
first, gunboat No. 166 (renamed Alligator during the War of 1812), was launched on the 
first day of April 1809. Gunboat No. 167 followed within a few months and was 
launched at Smithville on September 19, 1809. The first two vessels, although nearly 
complete, were placed "in ordinary" for twenty-seven months awaiting blacksmiths, top 
timber, iron, and other supplies. The third vessel, gunboat No. 168, was "nearly as 
forwards as No. 166" by that time. When the navy commander for the southern district 
inspected the gunboats, he determined that they were more like pilot boats than 
gunboats and were too small for the duty they were expected to perform. Modifications 
and other problems, including a lack of funds, delayed the relaunching of the gunboats 
until 181 1 . When the vessels were reactivated in the fall of 181 1 , the best of the three, 
gunboat No. 168, was transferred to St. Mary's station in Maryland. The other gunboats 
at the Wilmington station were decommissioned after the war and sold (Moseley 
n.d.:19; Smith 1994:32-34). 

In 1817 the first steamboat, Prometheus, arrived on the Cape Fear River. On June 20, 
1818, the steamboat made its first run from Wilmington to Smithville, covering the 
distance in about four hours. The fare was one dollar each way. During Pres. James 
Monroe's visit to Wilmington in April 1819, he was treated to an excursion aboard the 
Prometheus from Wilmington to Smithville. By 1820 the population of Smithville had 
reached about three hundred with an additional two or three hundred part-time 
residents during the summer months. Three decades later the population had risen to 
nearly fifteen hundred, made up nearly evenly of black and white citizens. The major 
occupations then listed for the Smithville District of the county included: ship's 
carpenters, boatbuilders, fishermen, mechanics, tavern keepers, wheelwrights, 
blacksmiths, coopers, turpentine makers, masons, pilots, and farmers (Carson 1992:34, 
38). 

On April 16, 1861, four days before North Carolina seceded from the Union, Forts 
Johnston and Caswell were seized by the Confederate forces. Initially Fort Johnston 
served as a center for training and recruitment. Later only a small garrison served at 
the fort, which saw no major military action. The key defensive fortification on the lower 
Cape Fear region was Fort Fisher, and when it finally fell to Union forces on January 
15, 1865, the remaining defensive forts along the river, including Fort Johnston, were 
abandoned by Confederate troops. A small garrison remained at Fort Johnston from 
the end of the war until 1881, at which time the last troops were removed. The name 
Fort Johnston was changed for a short duration during the war to Fort Pender, to honor 
Gen. William Dorsey Pender, who was killed in the battle of Gettysburg (Bragg 1865a; 
Angley 1990:8-9; Reaves 1978:44; Wilmington Star , July 19, 1970). 

During the Civil War, Smithville housed many of the pilots who routinely ran the 
blockade to bring supplies into the Confederacy. Their skill and knowledge of the river 
and entrance channels contributed significantly to the success of blockade-runners. 
Salt, vital to maintaining the armies of the Confederacy, could no longer be brought in 



36 



from northern states, and the South was forced to produce its own supply. Several salt 
works were built in Smithville, along the Elizabeth River, and on Dutchman Creek just 
west of town. In 1862 during the yellow fever epidemic in Wilmington, many of that 
city's residents fled to Smithville to escape the outbreak (Carson 1992:44-47). 

Commerce in Smithville and the surrounding lower Cape Fear region began to revive 
as early as 1866. With the end of the conflict, naval stores were once again 
manufactured and cotton cultivated for market and shipment from Wilmington. The 
wharves of Smithville once again began to boom as all kinds of vessels made 
stopovers on their way to and from Wilmington. The 1870 federal census indicated that 
the village of Smithville then contained 133 houses, 151 families, and a total population 
of 810 persons. Most of the listed occupations were related to the river. When the U.S. 
Lifesaving Service established stations along the coast at Oak Island and on Bald 
Head Island, it created employment for many of Smithville's men (Carson 1992:51, 53- 
54). 

The small postwar resort and fishing village centered at Fort Johnston continued to 
prosper. By 1880 northern businessmen interested in the potential of the region 
promoted plans for combining river transportation and railroad service to make the town 
into a major southern port. On March 4, 1887, the name of the town of Smithville was 
officially changed to Southport as a part of that cooperative effort. The charter of the 
town of Smithville, granted by the General Assembly in 1792, was amended as to 
delete the name of "Smithville" wherever it occurred in the charter and to insert 
Southport in lieu thereof. Although the venture never materialized, the town did acquire 
telegraph lines, kerosene street lamps and a coaling dock for steamships. The citizens 
later petitioned their county representative for an act to incorporate the town of 
Southport into the city of Southport, which was achieved in April 1889 (Reaves 1990:1; 
Carson 1992:58,65; "Smithville" Lewis 1795; Potts 1797; Price and Strother 1807, 
1808; USACOE 1827; Mac Rae and Brazier 1833; U.S. Coast Survey 1851, 1853, 
1864; 1857b, 1858, 1859b; Colton 1861; CSAE 1864c, 1864d; New York Herald 1865; 
U.S. Coast Survey 1866, 1872; USACOE 1876a; Kerr and Cain 1882; USCGS 1886; 
"Southport" USCGS 1888; USACOE 1891b; USCGS 1901b; USGS 1990; NOAA 1992). 

Near the end of the century the Wilmington and Southport Steamboat Company, aided 
by the town's improvements, began a long career of daily runs from Wilmington to 
Southport with stops at all the lower Cape Fear landings. The line operated three 
steamers, the Wilmington, the City of Southport, and the Madeleine, which carried 
freight, passengers, and the U.S. mail. The line connected with the New Hanover 
Transit Company for service to Carolina Beach. Under the ownership and command of 
Capt. John W. Harper, the steamer Wilmington continued service until the late 1920s 
( Wilmington Star , December 14, 1909; UAU files; Sprunt 1992:546). 

In 1911, after many years of "dreaming, dashed hopes, and speculation," a railroad 
line — the Wilmington, Brunswick and Southern Railroad Company (WB&S 
Railroad) — became a reality in Southport. The 30-mile-long railroad carried 



37 



passengers, mail, and freight daily between Southport and Navassa, where it 
connected with the Atlantic Coast Line and the Seaboard Air Line Railroads for 
Wilmington or for other points along the lines. By that time, menhaden fishing had 
become a major industry for Southport. Menhaden were processed for the oil used in 
the manufacture of paints, linoleum, tanning solutions, soaps, and waterproof fabrics. 
Dried scrap was used for fertilizer and for feed for cattle, poultry, and swine. Two 
processing factories were erected on the river above the town (Lee 1971:95; Carson 
1992:90, 96; Sprunt 1992:546). 

Before 1915 transportation between Wilmington and Southport had been limited to 
travel on the river or by rail. During that year, however, construction began on a road 
along the Cape Fear River from Southport to Wilmington, which became known locally 
as the "River Road" or the "Shell Road." Southport played a minor role during World 
War I, mainly providing men and supplies to Fort Caswell and the Wilmington 
shipyard's. By the 1920s Southport entered a short but prosperous period. The WB&S 
Railroad was still in operation in 1923, but it never fulfilled the great expectations 
envisioned by the residents of Southport. The construction of new bridges and an 
improved highway made the rail line unprofitable. Passenger service ended in 1933, 
and the freight service ceased in 1938 (Carson 1992:100,108-114). 

The high demand for laborers and clerical personnel as a result of World War II 
created numerous job opportunities for the residents of Southport. As it had during the 
previous war, Southport again provided workers for the Wilmington military shipyards 
during the 1940s. Increased submarine activity along the North Carolina coast 
prompted the U.S. Navy to reactivate old Fort Caswell as a submarine-tracking station. 
The navy also used the fort as a training and communications center. Troops remained 
stationed near Southport and patrolled the coast until the end of the war. Southport 
would never again be the quiet fishing village of its prewar days, although a charter 
boat and sports-fishing industry did develop in the town following the war (Carson 
1992:126, 131-133). 

1 n 1 950 the federal government sold Fort Caswell to the North Carolina Baptist State 
Convention for use as a religious retreat and conference center. The worst hurricane of 
the century struck Southport on October 15, 1954, destroying all of the town's fuel 
docks and shrimp-packing houses and damaging most of the waterfront structures. In 
late October 1952 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Transportation Corps began 
construction on the Sunny Point Army Terminal. Today this installation which opened in 
1955 for the handling of ammunition, is known officially as the Military Ocean Terminal 
at Sunny Point (MOTSU). The Sunny Point installation provided a great boost to the 
economy of Southport and Brunswick County and presently provides employment, or 
related income, to many of the residents of Southport. In 1966 the state of North 
Carolina began ferry service across the Cape Fear River between Fort Fisher and 
Southport. The Brunswick County Courthouse was moved from Southport to Bolivia in 
1975 (Carson 1992:135-136). 



38 



Geographic Names 

Several of the historic and current geographic names along the lower Cape Fear River 
have been identified and briefly described (Figures 4,5,6,7). Information on the 
location and history of rivers, creeks, shoals, islands, and a variety of other features 
listed provide the earliest known use of the name, generally based upon the first 
occurrence in maps. Many of the geographic names have changed or have varied in 
spelling during their usage. When known, the changes have been noted. 



RIVERS 

There are four rivers located within the project area. A description for each of the 
following is given below. 

Cape Fear River Brunswick River Elizabeth River 

Northeast Cape Fear River 



Cape Fear River (Sapona, Rio Jordan, Charles, Clarendon, The Thoroughfare) 

The Cape Fear River is formed by the junction of Deep and Haw Rivers on the 
Chatham-Lee county line. From there the. Cape Fear flows south-southeastward 
through several counties, including Brunswick and New Hanover, and empties into the 
Atlantic Ocean 5 miles northwest of Cape Fear. The waterway, including the Deep 
River, its longest tributary, has a total length of 320 miles and a total drainage basin of 
approximately 9,140 square miles. At Wilmington the river is 600 feet wide. Its width 
increases gradually downstream to one mile at a point just below the mouth of the 
Brunswick River; thence, to the ocean, it varies from one mile to 2% miles. Below 
Wilmington the river is a tidal estuary 28 miles long, with an incremental drainage area 
of nearly 350 square miles. The average tidal range is approximately 4 feet (USACOE 
1977:14; USACOE 1989:28). 

Prior to European exploration the river was known to Native Americans as the Sapona. 
The first exploration of the lower Cape Fear region of North Carolina was thought to 
have occurred during 1 526 by the expedition of the Spanish explorer Lucas Vaquez de 
Ayllon. Ayllon apparently entered the mouth of the river, which he referred to as the Rio 
Jordan. In 1662 a group from Massachusetts under the leadership of William Hilton 
made an attempt at settlement on the Cape Fear River. Twenty miles from the mouth of 
the river (which they called the Charles), members of the Hilton colony chose a site 
they called Charles Town; but were forced to abandon that settlement the following 
year. In 1664 another group from Barbados, under the leadership of John Yeamans, 
occupied the site but likewise abandoned it in 1665 (Powell 1968:87,99,107; Angley 
1983:1-4; Herring and Williams 1983:4; Sprunt 1992:6; Hall 1980:xix). 

Sometime after 1664, when the Lords Proprietors of Carolina formed Clarendon 
County, the waterway became known as the Clarendon River. Named for Edward Hyde, 
earl of Clarendon, one of the Lords Proprietors, the Clarendon first appears on the 

39 



John Ogilby (1672) map. The Clarendon waterway later appeared on the Joel 
Gascoyne (1682), Philip Lea (1695), John Lawson (1709), and Herman Moll (1729) 
maps. 

On the maps by Joel Gascoyne and Philip Lea, the river is labeled as both the Cape 
Fear and Clarendon. This indicates the earliest usage of the name Cape Fear to apply 
to the river, which apparently retained the name Clarendon. The first illustration to 
show the river labeled only as the Cape Fear was the Edward Moseley map (1733). 
Both the West Branch and East Branch (Northeast River) of the river are shown. For 
many years the main route (West Branch) of the Cape Fear was what is now known as 
the Brunswick River, on the west side of Eagles Island. Contemporary accounts state 
that vessels of more than 50 or 60 tons could not go beyond 6 or 8 miles above the first 
permanent settlement of Brunswick Town but that small craft were able to ascend as 
much as 20 or 30 miles ( Pennsylvania Gazette , April 29-May 6, 1731). 

As early as 1750 an anonymous city plan of Wilmington showed the Cape Fear River 
west of Point Peter as the 'Thorough-fare." Similarly, that section of river was shown on 
the A. C. Dickinson map (1848) as the "North West or Thoroughfare." In the late 
nineteenth century, local historian James Sprunt gave the following explanation for the 
name: 

That portion of the river which runs from the Northeast branch by Point 
Peter, or Negrohead Point, as it is called, to the Northwest branch at the 
head of Eagles' Island, is called in the old deeds and statutes of the State 
the 'Thoroughfare,' and sometimes the 'Cutthrough' from one branch to 
the other; and the land granted to John Maultsby, on which a part of 
Wilmington is situated, is described as lying opposite the mouth of the 
Thorough-fare' (Sprunt 1992:14; Dickinson 1848). 

Since the late nineteenth century, the rivers have simply been called the Cape Fear 
and Northeast Cape Fear Rivers, while the old Northwest Branch is called the 
Brunswick River. 



Northeast Cape Fear River (East Branch) 

The Northeast Cape Fear River begins in northwest Duplin County about 2 miles south 
of Mount Olive. It flows generally south-southeastward through several counties for 
approximately 130 miles until it joins with the Cape Fear at Point Peter across from 
Wilmington in New Hanover County. The Northeast Cape Fear River appears as 'Ye 
East Branch" on both the Gascoyne (1682) and Lea (1695) maps. On the Moll map 
(1729) the rivers are confusingly shown as 'The Northwest Branch" (Northeast Cape 
Fear River) and the "West Branch" (Cape Fear River). Two years later a traveler to the 
region gave this account: 'This river [the Cape Fear] divides about 10 Miles above the 
Town [of Brunswick]: the main Branch, which is by far much the largest, and runs by far 
the longest Course, is called the Northwest; and the other Northeast. . . ." The same 



40 




Figure 4. Geographical Location 



John Ogilby (1672) map. The Clarendon waterway later appeared on the Joel 
Gascoyne (1682), Philip Lea (1695), John Lawson (1709), and Herman Moll (1729) 
maps. 

On the maps by Joel Gascoyne and Philip Lea, the river is labeled as both the Cape 
Fear and Clarendon. This indicates the earliest usage of the name Cape Fear to apply 
to the river, which apparently retained the name Clarendon. The first illustration to 
show the river labeled only as the Cape Fear was the Edward Moseley map (1733). 
Both the West Branch and East Branch (Northeast River) of the river are shown. For 
many years the main route (West Branch) of the Cape Fear was what is now known as 
the Brunswick River, on the west side of Eagles Island. Contemporary accounts state 
that vessels of more than 50 or 60 tons could not go beyond 6 or 8 miles above the first 
permanent settlement of Brunswick Town but that small craft were able to ascend as 
much as 20 or 30 miles ( Pennsylvania Gazette , April 29-May 6, 1731). 

As early as 1750 an anonymous city plan of Wilmington showed the Cape Fear River 
west of Point Peter as the 'Thorough-fare." Similarly, that section of river was shown on 
the A. C. Dickinson map (1848) as the "North West or Thoroughfare." In the late 
nineteenth century, local historian James Sprunt gave the following explanation for the 
name: 

That portion of the river which runs from the Northeast branch by Point 
Peter, or Negrohead Point, as it is called, to the Northwest branch at the 
head of Eagles' Island, is called in the old deeds and statutes of the State 
the 'Thoroughfare,' and sometimes the 'Cutthrough' from one branch to 
the other; and the land granted to John Maultsby, on which a part of 
Wilmington is situated, is described as lying opposite the mouth of the 
Thorough-fare' (Sprunt 1992:14; Dickinson 1848). 

Since the late nineteenth century, the rivers have simply been called the Cape Fear 
and Northeast Cape Fear Rivers, while the old Northwest Branch is called the 
Brunswick River. 



Northeast Cape Fear River (East Branch) 

The Northeast Cape Fear River begins in northwest Duplin County about 2 miles south 
of Mount Olive. It flows generally south-southeastward through several counties for 
approximately 130 miles until it joins with the Cape Fear at Point Peter across from 
Wilmington in New Hanover County. The Northeast Cape Fear River appears as 'Ye 
East Branch" on both the Gascoyne (1682) and Lea (1695) maps. On the Moll map 
(1729) the rivers are confusingly shown as 'The Northwest Branch" (Northeast Cape 
Fear River) and the "West Branch" (Cape Fear River). Two years later a traveler to the 
region gave this account: 'This river [the Cape Fear] divides about 10 Miles above the 
Town [of Brunswick]: the main Branch, which is by far much the largest, and runs by far 
the longest Course, is called the Northwest; and the other Northeast. . . ." The same 



40 




Figure 4. Geographical Locations: Smith Creek to Town Creek. 

41 




Figure 5. Geographical Location! 



a: 




Figure 5. Geographical Locations: Town Creek to Reaves Point. 



43 



9$?j 



31) 




f 



N.C. Division 
of Archives 
and History 

Underwater 

Archaeology 

Unit 



Drawing Title: 

Geographical 
Locations: 
Reaves Point to 
Southport 



Project: 

Cape Fear 
River 

Comprehensive 
Survey 



Legend: 



Geographic 
Site 



Tmile 




Date: May 1994 



Figure 6. Geographical Locati 




Figure 6. Geographical Locations: Reaves Point to Southport. 

45 




N.C. Division 
of Archives 
and History 

Underwater 
Archaeology 
Unit 

Drawing Title: 

Geographical 
Locations: 
Southport to 
Cape Fear 

Project: 

Cape Fear 
River 

Comprehensive 
Survey 

Legend: 

— Geographic 
Site 



F= 



Tmllc 




Date: May 1994 



Figure 7. Geographical Loca 




Figure 7. Geographical Locations: Southport to Cape Fear. 

47 



account noted that the Northeast River was deep enough for "a Sloop of 60 Tons. . ." 
( Pennsylvania Gazette , April 29-May 6, 1731). On the Edward Moseley map (1733) and 
all subsequent maps, the two rivers are correctly shown as the Northeast and 
Northwest branches of the Cape Fear River (Powell 1968:355; Collet 1770; Anonymous 
1775; USACOE 1827; Dickinson 1848; Turner 1856; CSAE 1864c; James & Brown 
1870, 1889; Gray 1873; USGS 1979b; NOAA 1992). 



Brunswick River (Hilton's River, Northwest River) 

The Brunswick River branches off the Cape Fear River about 3 miles above 
Wilmington, flows southeasterly about 5V£ miles, and rejoins the main stream about 
one-quarter mile below the city. The Brunswick River was often mistakenly believed to 
be the Northwest Branch of the Cape Fear River. During the seventeenth century the 
Brunswick River was known as Hilton's River; it was named by Captain William Hilton, 
who explored both branches of the river for a group of New England settlers. Hilton 
named the river in his own honor and later (1662) led a group of settlers back to Cape 
Fear region, where they briefly established a colony called Charles Town on the 
western shore of the Cape Fear. It was said that Hilton explored "Hilton's River" for 
some 50 miles and found it to be "as fair, if not fairer than the Northeast branch. . . ." 
The Hilton River appears on the Nicholas Shapley map (1662). In his History of 
Brunswick County , Lawrence Lee attributes the Hilton River as the Brunswick River 
(Lee 1978:12; Reaves 1988;1; USACOE 1977:14). 

During the eighteenth century the river was known as the "Northwest Branch of the 
Cape Fear River," or Northwest Cape Fear River (Lee 1978:12; Reaves 1988;1; 
USACOE 1977:14; Fulton 1823). James Sprunt commented on the main river course 
and use of the Thoroughfare: 

What is now called Brunswick River, on the west side of the island, was 
then the main River; and Wilmington was on the Northeast branch, and 
not on the main stream of the Cape Fear. That portion of the river which 
runs from the Northeast branch by Point Peter, or Negrohead Point, as it 
is called, to the Northwest branch at the head of Eagles' Island, is called 
in the old deeds and statutes of the State the 'Thoroughfare," and 
sometimes the "Cutthrough" from one branch to the other; and the land 
granted to John Maultsby, on which a part of Wilmington is situated, is 
described as lying opposite the mouth of the 'Thorough-fare" (Sprunt 
1992:14; Dickinson 1848). 

The Brunswick River appears by name on the Hamilton Fulton map (1823), although 
how much earlier this name was used has not been determined. The Brunswick is also 
shown on a map drawn by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1827 and on 
subsequent maps of the region drawn since that time. Following the end of World War 
II the United States Maritime Administration selected the Brunswick River as one of 
several locations for the mothballing of surplus troop transport vessels. On August 12, 



49 



1946, the first transport arrived at the Brunswick River facility, designated as the U.S. 
Maritime Commission Reserve Fleet Basin. Over the next twenty-four years 426 ships 
were moored at the basin. The last ship was eventually removed from the river on 
February 27, 1970 (Lee 1978:12; Reaves 1988;1; USACOE 1977:14; Fulton 1823; 
USACOE 1827, 1944, 1947; CSAE 1863a; 1863b; 1865; USGS 1979b; NOAA 1992). 



Elizabeth River 

The Elizabeth River is formed in southeast Brunswick County and flows eastward into 
the Cape Fear River below Southport (Smithville). The river defines the northern 
boundary of Oak Island. The earliest map that shows the Elizabeth River by name was 
drawn by Edward Moseley in 1733. The river is referred to as the Elizabeth River or 
creek on subsequent maps since that time. The river presently forms part of the Atlantic 
Intracoastal Waterway (Powell 1968:160; Moseley 1733; NOAA 1992). 



BAYS, PONDS, AND NARROWS 

Nine bays, ponds, and narrows have been identified within the project area. A 
description for each of the following is given below. 

The Basin Muddy Slue Greenfield Mill Pond 

Basson/Bassin The Narrows/Five Fathom Hole Orion Pond 

Buzzard/Oyster Bay The Pocket The Thorofare 



The Basin 

The closure of New Inlet in the late nineteenth century by the man-made dike between 
Federal Point and Zekes Island, known as The Rocks, formed an area of the Cape 
Fear River known as The Basin. The Rocks presently form the western boundary of the 
Basin, while Federal Point to the north and Zekes Island and the marshes and sand 
beach form the eastern and southern limits. The Basin first appears by name on a 
Coast and Geodetic Survey map (1944). The current navigational map shows the 
approximately 2,000-by-1,000-yard Basin with water depths of less than 5 feet (USCGS 
1944a; USGS 1979a; NOAA 1992). 



Bason (Bassin) 

The Bason appears on the Hyrne map (1749) as a triangular section of Atlantic Ocean 
immediately adjacent to the south side of Oak Island. The Bason is further defined by 
unnamed shoals to the southwest and the shoals at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, 
generally referred to as the Middle Ground. Water depths within the Bason are shown 
to be 6 or 7 feet at low water. On an anonymous French map drawn in 1 778 the area is 
again similarly illustrated, but spelled Bassin. The Bason is not known to appear on any 
subsequent maps of the area (Hyrne 1749; Anonymous 1778). 



50 



Buzzard Bay (Oyster Bay) 

Buzzard Bay is located in the tidal marshes that form northern Smith Island. It was once 
accessible from the Atlantic Ocean through Corncake Inlet. At present, several creeks 
connect the Cape Fear River to the western and northern sides of the bay. The earliest 
map to show Buzzard Bay by name was drawn by Joshua Potts around 1797. It also 
appears by that name on the Price and Strother map (1807). From the 1850s to 1880s 
it was also known as Oyster Bay and first labeled under both names on a U.S. Coast 
Survey map (1857). From 1888 to the present, maps indicate it only as Buzzard Bay. 
Water depths within the bay are indicated as less than 7 feet on the current navigation 
map (Potts 1797; Price and Strother 1807; U. S. Coast Survey 1857b; U.S. Coast 
Survey 1866; USCGS 1886, 1944b; USCGS 1888; NOAA 1992; Powell 1968:78). 



Muddy Slue 

An area located among the creeks and marshes of northern Smith Island has been 
known as Muddy Slue since the mid-nineteenth century. Muddy Slue is first mentioned 
by name on a U.S. Coast Survey map from 1851 and shown on several other 
subsequent maps. Tidal creeks, including Bowensville, Middle, Shellbed, Still, and 
Burriss, flow into Muddy Slue. Some of the most recent maps of the vicinity show a 
change in the spelling of Slue to Slough (Powell 1968:341; U.S. Coast Survey 1851; 
USCGS 1944b; USGS 1970; NOAA 1992). 



The Narrows and Five Fathom Hole 

At a deep spot occurring naturally in the Cape Fear River near Snow's Marsh and 
Horseshoe Shoal were two places historically referred to as Five Fathom Hole and the 
Narrows. Although no map could be found to identify their exact location, an 1886 U.S. 
Army Corps of Engineers report stated that Five Fathom Hole was located "opposite 
and above the head of Snow's Marsh." The earliest known reference to the two 
locations was in 1795. In that year the North Carolina commissioners of revenue 
authorized James Read to receive proposals for staking out a navigable channel in the 
Cape Fear River. One of the chosen locations where two stakes would be fixed was on 
the points of the shoal below Five Fathom Hole called the Narrows (Wilmington 
Chronicle and North Carolina Weekly Advertiser . October 22, 1795; USACOE-AR 
1886:1014-15). 

Nearly a century later these locations were again mentioned in a local newspaper. 
When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers abandoned the old Horseshoe Shoal channel, 
a new channel was dredged and renamed the Snows Marsh Channel. When completed 
in 1890, the new cut was made about 1,000 feet west of the Horseshoe Shoal channel 
and followed the natural course of the river through Five Fathom Hole to the deep 
water at Southport ( Wilmington Weekly Star . June 14, 1890; Moseley 1733; Hyrne 
1749; Price and Strother 1807). 



51 



The Pocket 

On a U.S. Coast Survey map of 1859, a small area of moderately deep water known as 
the Pocket was shown at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. The Pocket, with indicated 
depths from 3 to 15 feet, was located directly west of Bald Head Point between the 
Middle Ground and the northern tip of Reepers Shoal. From 1839 until after the closure 
of New Inlet, the main river channel was west of Middle Ground at the Western Cut, 
causing this area of the old channel to be discontinued. When the Bald Head channel 
was reopened after 1872, the Pocket likely became part of the new dredged channel. It 
is not known to be indicated on any subsequent maps (U.S. Coast Survey, 1859a). 



Greenfield Mill Pond (Mcllhenny's Mill Pond, Greenfield Lake) 

Just south of Wilmington at Greenfield Lake and Gardens, a rice plantation with pond, 
known as Greenfields, was originally granted to William Smith in 1735. The property 
subsequently passed from Smith to Robert Halton then to Dr. Samuel Green, a young 
surgeon, in 1753. At the "mill pond" or lake, Dr. Green built a sawmill. The location of 
this sawmill is noted on the Collet map (1770) and the Mouzon map (1775). Early in 
1850 the property and mill pond subsequently passed to Thomas Mcllhenny, who 
retained the property for a number of years and continued to use the pond to support 
two grain mills. The Greenfield plantation remained in the Mcllhenny family until 1872 
and was known for several years as Mcllhenny's mill or mill pond. The pond was 
connected to the Cape Fear River by a creek. In September 1920 the Greenfields 
property was sold to the city of Wilmington to be developed into an amusement park 
and later Greenfield Lake and Gardens (New Hanover County Deeds, Book GGG-152; 
Wilmington Star r May 26, 1857, July 4, 1882 and December 14, 1883; Moore 1968:103; 
New Hanover County Deeds, Book H-92; V-239; HH-70; Hall 1980:414-415). 



Orton Pond 

Orton Pond, built in 1810, is a man-made pond on the west side of the Cape Fear River 
in Brunswick County. It has a surface area of approximately 500 acres and a maximum 
depth of 12 feet. The earliest known map to indicate Orton Pond by name was drawn in 
1864 by Confederate engineers. Orton Creek, labeled on maps from the eighteenth 
century, continues to flow from the pond into the Cape Fear River (Powell 1968:366; 
CSAE 1864c; USGS 1970a; NOAA 1992; Moore 1968:17). 



The Thorofare 

A shallow area of the Cape Fear River between Striking Island and Smith Island is 
labeled on the current navigation map as The Thorofare. This area is not known to be 
indicated by name on any previous maps of the vicinity (NOAA 1992). 



52 



INLETS 

Three inlets have been identified within the project area. A description for each of the 
following is given below. 

Comcake Inlet Gold Leaf Inlet New Inlet 



Corncake Inlet 

An entrance from the Atlantic Ocean into the Cape Fear River at Buzzard Bay just north 
of Smith Island was known as Corncake Inlet during the late nineteenth and twentieth 
centuries. Corncake Inlet and nearby Gold Leaf Inlet both appear to have been formed 
prior to 1887, when they first are indicated on maps by name. By 1883 the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers had already contracted individuals for supplying stone, brush, and 
other material for closing Corncake Inlet. The inlet appears on several U.S. Coast and 
Geodetic Survey maps drawn after 1887, with the last known one drawn in 1959. 
Corncake Inlet was reported to be nearly closed by 1 933, when its width was only 75 
yards. A depth of just 2 feet of water covered the bar. By 1944 the Corncake Inlet name 
was applied to the "Goldleaf" entrance (Powell 1968:120; Wilmington Star T October 4, 
1883; Wilmington News , March 17, 1933; USCGS 1887; USCGS 1959). 



Gold Leaf Inlet (New Inlet II) 

Gold Leaf Inlet first appears as a break through the narrow sand barrier between the 
Cape Fear River and the ocean on a U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey map drawn in 
1887. The inlet remains identified on maps until the early twentieth century. By 1944 
the Gold Leaf name had been discontinued and replaced with Corncake Inlet. At that 
time a channel connected the inlet with Buzzard Bay. Since the 1960s the inlet has 
been referred to as New Inlet — not to be confused with the original New Inlet that 
opened in 1761 just below Federal Point (USCGS 1887; USCGS 1888; USCGS 1901b; 
Anonymous 1964; USGS 1979a; NOAA 1992). 



New Inlet 

New Inlet was formed by a major storm in 1761 immediately below Federal Point. The 
inlet created a new entrance to the Cape Fear River and significantly changed the main 
channel at the river's mouth. "Baldhead" channel had been the natural and main 
entrance to the river, but as a result of the formation of New Inlet the depth of water 
upon the main bar diminished from 15 feet in 1797 to 9 feet in 1839. A new entrance 
called the Rip or Western Channel was formed; and from 1839 to 1872 both the Rip 
and New Inlet were the main entrances, and the use of Baldhead was discontinued. 
During the Civil War, New Inlet was used extensively by blockade-runners to bring 
goods into Wilmington. Construction was begun on a major seawall, known as The 
Rocks, by the Corps of Engineers in 1870 to close off New Inlet and change the 
navigation channel back to its former entrance at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. 
When completed in 1891, the defensive dam permanently closed New Inlet to 



53 



navigation and Baldhead channel again became the main entrance to the Cape Fear 
River. New Inlet was indicated on several maps drawn during the eighteenth and 
nineteenth centuries. The last known map to include New Inlet by name was the U.S. 
Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1901 (Sprunt 1896:136; Powell 1968:349; Collet 1770; 
Mouzon 1775; Potts 1797; Price and Strother 1807; U. S. Coast Survey 1853; U.S. 
Coast Survey 1864; USCGS 1901b). 



SHOALS 

Twenty-seven shoals have been identified within the project area. A description for 
each of the following is given below. 



Alligator Creek Shoal 
Bald Head Shoal 
Brunswick River Shoal 
Bulk Head Shoal 
Burch Shoal 
Caroline/Carolina Shoal 
Church Shoal 
Drum Shoal 
Federal Point Shoal 



The Flats 

Horseshoe Shoal 

Lilliput Shoal 

Logs and Big Island Shoal 

Marshall Shoal 

McNight's Shoal 

Middle Ground/Jay Bird Shoal 

Middle Shoal 

Midnight Shoal 



Nutt's Shoal 

Old Brunswick Cove Shoal 

Patchwork Shoal 

Red Bone Shoal 

Reeper Shoal 

The Fingers 

Town Creek Shoal 

Wilmington Shoal 

Wreck Shoal 



Alligator Creek Shoal 

Alligator Creek Shoal was located during the 1890s in the Cape Fear River 
approximately one mile below Wilmington. Sediments deposited from Alligator Creek 
on nearby Eagles Island contributed to the accumulation of materials at the shoal within 
the river. The Corps of Engineers began dredging a channel 9,800 feet long 270 feet 
wide and 20 feet deep through the shoal during 1890, thus eliminating much of Alligator 
Creek Shoal. The shoal is indicated by name on U.S. Army Corps of Engineer maps 
from 1891 and 1895 (USACOE 1891a, 1895b; USACOE-AR 1896:1137). 



Bald Head Shoal 

One of the most dangerous shoals to navigators for at least three centuries has been 
the Bald Head Shoal at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. The first known map to 
indicate the shoals off the southwestern shore of Smith Island was drawn in 1781. 
During the nineteenth century several maps were drawn by the U.S. Coast Survey, and 
later its successor, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, that indicated the presence of 
Bald Head Shoal. Numerous shipwrecks have been recorded as lost at this vicinity. On 
a map by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers drawn in 1891, Bald Head Shoals and the 
nearby Fingers are shown as the East Breakers. Bald Head Shoal is still present and 
labeled on current navigation maps (Anonymous 1781a; USACOE 1891a; NOAA 
1992). 



54 



Brunswick River Shoal 

On at least three maps drawn by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during the 1880s 
the location of a shoal at the mouth of the Brunswick River is shown. During 1885 a 
contractor for the Corps of Engineers dredged the Brunswick River Shoal, one of only 
three shoals in the river where the depth at the beginning of the year had not measured 
16 feet. Maintenance dredging at the shoal continued during the following decades 
(USACOE 1884, 1885; 1886; USACOE-AR 1885:1089, 1093; 1895:1336; U.S. Coast 
Survey 1901a). 



Bulk Head Shoal 

Bulk Head Shoal is mentioned in an 1834 newspaper account. Local pilots declared 
that the shoal had more than 12 feet of water at high tide. No location was given for 
Bulk Head Shoal (Reaves 1978:35). 



Burch Shoal 

Burch Shoal at the mouth of the Cape Fear River is shown on the 1 853 map drawn by 
the U.S. Coast Survey and on a 1864 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers map. This small 
shoal is located in almost a direct line between the eastern end of Oak Island and Bald 
Head Point on Smiths Island. It is likely that Burch Shoal joined with the Middle Ground 
shoal and the name was no longer used after the mid-nineteenth century (U.S. Coast 
Survey 1 853; USACOE 1 864). 



Caroline Shoal (Carolina Shoal) 

On a map prepared by the U.S. Coast Survey in 1859, Caroline Shoal extended from 
Zeek's Island to the New Inlet channel. North of the channel was Federal Point Shoal. 
Both shoals formed the bar at the mouth of New Inlet. Two years later an area called 
"Zeke's Island Flat" formed the extreme western end of Carolina Shoal. At this time the 
name of the shoal had been changed to "Carolina." The shoal appears on additional 
maps drawn about the time of the Civil War with this name. Following the closure of 
New Inlet by the defensive dam known as The Rocks in the early 1 880s, sand quickly 
accumulated at Carolina Shoal until a beach was formed. On U.S. Coast and Geodetic 
Survey maps drawn about the turn of the century, the area was indicated as Carolina 
Shoal Beach. After 1901 the name appears to have been dropped from all maps when 
Carolina Shoal became part of the sand spit between Federal Point and Smith Island 
(Powell 1968:89; U. S. Coast Survey 1857b; 1859b; 1864; 1866; USCGS 1888; 
USCGS 1901b). 



Church Shoal 

In 1934 a local newspaper reported that two gentlemen had found a large whale 
stranded on Church Shoal in the Cape Fear River. The shoal was located about 2V£ 
miles south of the rocks, or 4 1 /4 miles above the mouth of the river. Church Shoal was 



55 



described as being visible at mean low tide on the eastern side of the channel. No 
additional reference to this shoal could be found ( Wilmington News , June 6, 1934). 



Drum Shoal 

On maps drawn by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1888 and 1901, small Drum 
Shoal is shown just east of the Reeves Point Channel, northeast of Snows Marsh. The 
shoal is not known to appear by name on any other maps (USCGS 1888; 1901b). 



Federal Point Shoal 

In the mid-nineteenth century Federal Point Shoal was located along the eastern side 
of Federal Point above New Inlet. Federal Point Shoal extended southward, divided by 
the New Inlet channel from Caroline Shoal south of the channel. These shoals formed 
the bar at the mouth of New Inlet (U.S. Coast Survey 1857b). 



The Flats 

During the eighteenth century the natural channel tended to flow near the western 
shore as far as Big Island (Campbell Island), just below the mouth of Old Town Creek. 
Silt, deposited within the river near the mouth of Old Town Creek, formed a shoal called 
the "Flats," where the average depth was only 10 feet of water. Vessels drawing more 
than this depth were compelled to lighter at the Flats at a considerable expense of time 
and money. The earliest account of the Flats is taken from Governor Dobbs's report to 
the London Board of Trade in 1762. During the Revolutionary War, vessels were sunk 
at the Flats to form obstructions to navigation. Until the vessels obstructing the channel 
were finally removed, the Flats continued to impede the navigation of ships using the 
river. Historical accounts often referred to ships grounded on the continuously shifting 
Flats. In 1823 that the Board of Internal Improvement approved a plan submitted by 
Hamilton Fulton, civil engineer, for improvement of the channel between New Inlet and 
Wilmington, and affecting the removal of the Flats (Secretary of State Papers, 
Committee of Safety 1774-1776; Carolina Observer and Fayetteville Gazette , February 
13 and 20, March 20 and August 7, 1823). 



Horseshoe Shoal 

From prior to the Civil War until the present, an area east of Snows Marsh has been 
identified as Horseshoe Shoal. The first known map on which Horseshoe Shoal 
appears by name is on the U.S. Coast Survey map drawn in 1853. The shoal presented 
a major navigational obstacle after the war and was extensively dredged by the Corps 
of Engineers in the 1870s and 1880s. Horseshoe Shoal has lost much of its original 
shape and is currently illustrated as a long narrow shoal west of the main Cape Fear 
channel adjacent to Snows Marsh (U.S. Coast Survey 1853; 1857b; USCGS 1901b; 
NOAA1992). 



56 



Lilliput Shoal 

In the 1880s and 1890s the Corps of Engineers conducted extensive dredging at 
Lilliput Shoal, located about 11 miles below Wilmington near the mouth of Lilliput 
Creek. The shoal appears on several maps drawn by the corps during that period. After 
the turn of the century, Lilliput Shoal had been nearly removed by dredging (USACOE 
1 884; 1 885; 1 886; 1 891 a; USCGS 1 901 a). 



Logs and Big Island Shoal 

The Logs and Big Island Shoal was another of the major Cape Fear River shoals that 
presented problems to navigation during the late nineteenth and early twentieth 
centuries. Comprised of a blockage of submerged cypress stumps, the shoal was 
located about 7 miles below Wilmington northeast of Big Island (Campbell Island). On 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maps from 1884 and 1885 and on a 1901 U.S. Coast 
Survey map, Big Island Shoal is noted northeast of Campbell Island and west of the 
navigation channel (USACOE 1884; 1885; U.S. Coast Survey 1901a; USACOE 1916b). 



Marshall Shoal 

Marshall Shoal was first identified on a U.S. Coast Survey map (1851) map as a small 
area directly south of Bald Head Point. The shoal was located southeast of the channel 
at the mouth of the Cape Fear River beyond Bald Head Shoal. By 1857 Marshall Shoal 
had connected with The Fingers to eliminate the old channel. On the U.S. Coast 
Survey map of 1866, Marshall Shoal was no longer indicated (U.S. Coast Survey 1851; 
1853; 1857a; 1857b; 1859a; 1864; 1866; USCGS 1886). 



McNight's Shoal 

McNight's Shoal was a lengthy shoal located along the western shoreline of the Cape 
Fear River from Brunswick Town to Snows Point. According to one late eighteenth- 
century reference, McNight's Shoal was located opposite Sturgeon Point (Reaves 
Point) on the Cape Fear River. In 1795 the commissioners of revenue authorized that 
stakes should be placed at various places in the river to indicated the channel. One of 
the locations chosen was at McNight's Shoal (Price and Strother 1807; Wilmington 
Chronicle and North Carolina Weekly Advertiser . October 22, 1795). 



Middle Ground (Jay Bird Shoals) 

The major shoal at the mouth of the Cape Fear River has been known as the Middle 
Ground since it first appeared by name on the Wimble map of 1738. The Middle 
Ground is also illustrated on other early maps such as the Collet (1770) and Mouzon 
(1775). It appears as a large hourglass-shaped shoal on the Potts map (1797). By 1820 
the Middle Ground is illustrated at the bar between the Ship Channel to the west and 
the Baldhead channel to the east. About 1839 the Middle Ground connected with 



57 



"Reeper Shoal", "Bald Head" Shoal and the "Fingers" to close off the main Baldhead 
channel. From 1839 to 1872 the Rip, also known as the Oak Island or Western 
Channel, was the main entrance at the mouth of the river. Baldhead Channel to the 
east of Middle Ground was discontinued. After 1872 and the closure of New Inlet, 
Baldhead once again became the main channel. In 1891 the "Ocean Bar" channel 
passed between the "Middle Breaker" (Middle Ground) and the "East Breakers" (Bald 
Head Shoals and The Fingers). The Middle Ground was consistently labeled on maps 
during the twentieth century until the current navigation map, where it is shown as Jay 
Bird Shoals (Wimble 1738; Collet 1770; Mouzon 1775; Potts 1797; U.S. Topographical 
Bureau 1820; USACOE 1891a; NOAA 1992). 



Middle Shoal 

Middle Shoal is mentioned in an 1834 newspaper account. Local pilots declared that 
Middle Shoal had more than 12 feet of water at high tide. No location was given for the 
shoal. This shoal may be Middle Ground (Reaves 1978:35). 



Midnight Shoal 

Around the 1 880s the Corps of Engineers identified Midnight Shoal opposite Reeve's 
Point as one of the river shoals in need of dredging to improve navigation. On a U.S. 
Coast and Geodetic Survey map drawn in 1888, the river channel is shown to pass 
through Midnight Shoal. The shoal is again shown on a map in the early twentieth 
century. Access channels to reach the Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point (MOTSU) 
wharves were cut across Midnight Shoal during the 1950s. Midnight Shoal is still shown 
on the 1992 NOAA navigation map (USCGS 1888; USCGS 1901a,b; NOAA 1992). 



Nutt's Shoal 

One of the earliest shoals identified within the Cape Fear River was Nutt's Shoal, 
located southwest of Campbell Island. On the Potts map (1797) and the Price and 
Strother map (1807) it is illustrated as extending along the western shore of the river 
from Old Town Creek to Orton Creek. The shoal was again marked on an 1823 map by 
Hamilton Fulton, a civil engineer contracted by the state. Nutt's Shoal was indicated 
much smaller and had formed at the southern end of the channel that passed to the 
west of Campbell Island. Less than 10 feet of water covered the shoal. Nutt Shoal was 
apparently named in association with the Nutt family, whose members settled in 
Wilmington prior to the American Revolution. William Nutt and John Nutt were wealthy 
landowners in the area. Their residences appear above Lilliput Creek on the 1797 map 
(Potts 1797; Price and Strother 1807; Fulton 1823; Wilmington Star . August 26, 1976). 



Old Brunswick Cove Shoal 

Old Brunswick Cove Shoal was located approximately 13 miles below Wilmington just 
downstream of Orton Point. In 1890-1891 a channel 1,000 feet long by 270 feet wide 



58 



was dredged to a depth of 16 feet and appears on an 1891 US Army Corps of 
Engineers map. Continual shoaling in Brunswick Cove prompted the Board of 
Commissioners of Navigation and Pilotage to recommend in 1911 a new, straighter, 
channel that bypassed the shoal (USACOE 1891a; USCGS 1901a; Wilmington Star ' 
October 5, 1911). 



Patchwork Shoal 

During the 1 870s, references were made to a Patchwork Shoal located in the vicinity of 
Snows Marsh. In early February 1873 the brig C.S. Packard was reported ashore at the 
"Patchwork." The brig was bound from Navassa Island with phosphates to the Navassa 
Guano Company above Wilmington. The Packard was successful in getting off the 
shoal, reportedly about 25 miles below the city. In 1876 the contract for dredging the 
new Snows Marsh Channel to 200 feet wide and 12 feet deep at low tide had been 
completed and staked out for general use. The new channel was shorter and deeper 
than the old one around the patchwork shoal. No maps are known that show the exact 
location of this shoal ( Wilmington Star , February 7, 8, 1873, June 2, 1876). 



Red Bone Shoal 

Another historic shoal located in the vicinity of the Horseshoe was Red Bone Shoal. 
During a severe gale near Smithville in 1880 the schooner Louis Harmond, loaded with 
phosphates for the Navassa Guano Company, grounded on the "Red Bone" shoal at 
"Horse Shoe," about 4 miles above Smithville. No other reference or maps showing the 
location of Red Bone Shoal could be located ( Wilmington Star , November 12, 1880). 



Reeper Shoal 

Reeper Shoal is first known to be shown on an 1851 U.S. Coast Survey map near the 
mouth of the Cape Fear River. Its location is indicated as slightly southwestward of 
Bald Head Point and Bald Head Shoal. Reeper Shoal was one of the major river 
entrance shoals and was consistently shown on maps until 1886. Maps drawn after this 
date have omitted the shoal from the area (U.S. Coast Survey 1851; 1853; 1857a,b; 
1859a; 1864; 1866; USACOE 1864; 1885a; USCGS 1886). 



The Fingers 

A shoal area known as The Fingers has been noted on maps at the mouth of the Cape 
Fear River since 1749. The Fingers are first illustrated on the Hyrne map as two narrow 
shoals extending in a southwestward direction from the west end of Bald Head beach. 
The shoal is occasionally shown on maps till the mid-nineteenth century. In 1857 the 
adjacent Marshall Shoal connected with The Fingers, which were then shown just 
southeast of Bald Head Shoal. By 1891 The Fingers and Bald Head Shoal were 
indicated as the "East Breakers" (Hyrne 1749; Anonymous French Map 1778; Potter 
1814; U. S. Coast Survey 1857b, 1864, 1866; USCGS 1886, 1888; USACOE 1891a). 



59 



Town Creek Shoal 

An early shoal identified within the Cape Fear River was Town Creek Shoal, located 
just above the mouth of Town Creek at the northern end of the channel that passed to 
the west of Campbell Island. The shoal was marked on an 1823 map by Hamilton 
Fulton, a civil engineer contracted by the state. Less than 10 feet of water covered the 
shoal. After the area was bypassed by the main channel to the east of Campbell Island, 
the area continued to accumulate sand deposits. Presently less than 2 feet of water 
covers the vicinity. No other map is known to indicate this shoal by name (Fulton 1823). 



Wilmington Shoal 

Wilmington Shoal, located at the city, was first indicated on a U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers map drawn in 1886. The shoal was dredged when Congress approved 
deepening of the channel that year. It was reported that the dredging in 1890-1891 
maintained a channel 3,200 feet long by 270 feet wide and 20 feet deep across 
Wilmington Shoal. On an 1927 Corps of Engineers' map, the channel was still indicated 
as the "Wilmington Shoal channel." After this date no further reference could be found 
mentioning this shoal by name (USACOE 1886; USACOE-AR 1887:1049; USACOE 
1891a; USACOE 1927a). 



Wreck Shoal 

Wreck Shoal is mentioned in an 1834 newspaper account as being the worst shoal in 
the river. Local pilots declared that the shoal had only 12 feet and 4 inches of water at 
high tide. No location was given for Wreck Shoal (Reaves 1978:35). 



SAND HILLS AND ROCKS 

Six prominent named sand hills and rocks have been identified within the project area. 
A description for each of the following is given below. 



Bald Head/Barren Head Dan's Rock Sugar Loaf 

Ballast Rock Mount Misery White Rock 



Bald Head (Barren Head) 

Bald Head has long been considered as one of the most notable geographic sites 
along the lower Cape Fear River. Located on the complex of islands known as Smith 
Island, this landmark appears on many of the early historic maps of the vicinity. On the 
Moseley map of 1733 the prominent sand hill appears labeled as "Barren Head." 
Historically, Bald Head was described as "a noted bluff on Cape Fear Island" devoid of 
vegetation, but today the term is generally applied to mean the extreme southwest 



60 



portion of the southernmost island in the complex. With only a slight variation in the 
spelling of the name, Bald Head has been recorded on published maps since the 
eighteenth century (Stick 1985; xvii-xviii; Hall 1975:262; Moseley 1733; Wimble 1733; 
Hyrne 1749; Collet 1770; Lewis 1795; USACOE 1827; U. S. Coast Survey 1859a; 
Colton1861; NOAA1992). 



Ballast Rock 

The location of Ballast Rock appears southwest of Keg Island on a U.S. Coast and 
Geodetic Survey map (1901). The small feature occurs on the west side of the channel 
in less than 5 feet of water. This area could indicate the location where ship ballast was 
discarded. No other known map or reference could be found with Ballast Rock marked 
(USCGS 1901a). 



Dan's Rock 

Dan's Rock was noted in 1893 as "a small mud flat lying between Battery Island and 
Stryking Island, southeast of Southport." It was once considered a possible location for 
the late nineteenth-century quarantine station. The exact location and origin of Dan's 
Rock is not known ( Wilmington Sta r, January 20, 1 893; Reaves 1 990:48). 



Mount Misery 

About 7 miles above Wilmington, on the Northwest branch of the Cape Fear River, was 
a prominent geologic feature known as Mount Misery. It first appears by name on the 
Collet map of 1770 north of Eagles Island. Mount Misery is also noted on other maps of 
the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. After this period occasional mention 
is made of Mount Misery, while no other maps are known to show its location. Mount 
Misery, a sand hill that reached a height of only 25 feet, apparently obtained its name 
as a result of the extreme difficulty encountered by laborers attempting to cultivate the 
area. A ferry operated across the river at this point as early as 1754. Modern 
development has all but destroyed the site of Mount Misery (Powell 1968:339; Moore 
1968:79-81; Collet 1770; Mouzon 1775; Anonymous 1781a; Holland 1794; Price and 
Strother 1 808). 



Sugar Loaf 

A prominent natural sand dune known as Sugar Loaf is located on the Cape Fear River 
about 7 miles north of the tip of Federal Point. The name "Sugar Loaf was reportedly 
given to the sand dune in 1663 by William Hilton, a plantation owner and later settler 
from Barbados, because it reminded him of a mass of Barbados crystallized sugar. 
Sugar Loaf was the site of prehistoric Indian occupation, and in 1725 the last of the 
Cape Fear Indians were defeated at this location. The once 1 1 0-foot Sugar Loaf first 
appeared by name on the Potts map of about 1797 and later on a U.S. Coast Survey 
map in 1856. During the Civil War Confederate Brigadier General Robert F. Hoke used 



61 



the site of Sugar Loaf as a command post for his 6,400 troops. Fighting relating to the 
capture of Fort Fisher occurred at this spot in early 1865. A landing was located near 
the highly visible sand dune during much of the nineteenth century. Sugar Loaf is a 
notable geographic feature within the Sunny Point Buffer Zone, although current maps 
rarely show it by name. Sugar Loaf is also within the boundaries of Carolina Beach 
State Park and can be reached by a hiking trail from the park marina (Lee 1980:94; 
Sprunt 1992:381; Coastal Carolinian , August 12, 1982; Potts 1797; Price and Strother 
1807; U.S. Coast Survey 1856, 1858, 1865b; CSAE 1864c; Kerr and Cain 1882; 
USCGS 1901a; USGS 1970a). 



White Rock 

One of the most promising sites for a new quarantine station in 1893 was said to be at 
White Rock within the Cape Fear River, southeast of Price's Creek. It possessed the 
advantage of being fairly well protected from wind and water, did not endanger 
Southport, was well isolated, and was out of the way of regular river traffic. No maps 
could be located that indicated the exact location of White Rock ( Wilmington Star , 
January 20, 1893; Reaves 1990:48). 



ISLANDS 

Fourteen named islands have been identified within the project area. A description for 
each of the following is given below. 

Battery Island Longs Island Shellbed Island 

Campbell Island Marsh Islands Smith Island 

Clarks Island Middle Island Striking Island 

Eagles Island Negro Island Zeke's Island 

Keg Island Oak Island 



Battery Island 

Battery Island is a tidal marsh island located in the Cape Fear River opposite 
Southport. The main channel has always passed to the west of Battery Island, one of 
the larger islands in the river. The earliest recorded deed transaction took place on 
August 12, 1801, when John Burgwin White obtained 55 acres on Battery Island. The 
first known map to show Battery Island by name was drawn in 1827 by the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers. Since that time the island has been shown on numerous other 
maps (Powell 1968:26; New Hanover County Deeds, Book 111:43; USACOE 1827, 
1876a; U.S. Coast Survey 1853, 1864 Colton 1861; USCGS 1888,1901b; NOAA 1992). 



Campbell Island (Crane Island, James Island, Great Island, Large Island, 
Big Island) 

Below the mouth of Town Creek is a large island presently known as Campbell Island. 
Historically the island has been referred to by several names. It was first known as 

62 



Crane Island, a name given to it by early voyagers to the Cape Fear in 1663. The 
report of the Commissioners from Barbados in October 1663 stated that the channel 
was east of the island, where it is presently located (Sprunt 1896:39-41; Angley 
1983:2). Crane Island is also indicated on the Gascoyne map of 1682. Large or Great 
Island were the names used during the late eighteenth century and appear on maps or 
accounts of that period. In an 1834 deed a tract of land was conveyed opposite Big 
Island to a Marsden Campbell. By the middle of the nineteenth century and until the 
early twentieth century, the name Big Island was contemporary with Campbell Island 
and embraced about 200 acres. Campbell Island was named for William Campbell, a 
general in the American Revolution (Sprunt 1896:39-41; Powell 1968:83; Lee 
1965:165-166; New Hanover County Deeds, Book V: 155; Home 1666; Gascoyne 1682; 
Fulton 1823; USACOE 1839, 1880,1884, 1916a; U.S. Coast Survey 1856; CSAE 
1863b; 1864c; U.S. Coast Survey 1864; USCGS 1901a; 1929; USGS 1970a; NOAA 
1992). 



Clarks Island (possibly Cat Island) 

Listed in the New Hanover County Deed Book for February 1 805 was the sale of 320 
acres on the east side of the Cape Fear River opposite a place called Cat Island. The 
location of Cat Island has been reported to be "about three miles below the city." The 
same piece of property was resold in 1 829, the deed again made mention that it was 
opposite Cat Island. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries a small island 
located at the southeastern tip of Eagles Island was shown on several maps as Clark's 
Island. Clark's Island may once have been known as Cat Island. The earliest known 
map on which Clark's Island is shown by name was an anonymous one from the late 
eighteenth century. Clark's Island is again shown on the Hamilton Fulton map of 1823 
and on maps drawn by the U.S. Coast Survey and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over 
the next century. The small waterway between Clark's Island and Eagles Island 
eventually filled with sand, and the two islands formed as one. The last map to show a 
distinct Clark's Island was drawn in 1929 by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (Deed 
Books, M:525, T:297; Hall 1980:138; Anonymous ca. 18th century; Fulton 1823; 
USACOE 1827, 1863, 1876b, 1884; U.S. Coast Survey 1856; CSAE 1865; USCGS 
1901a; 1929, 1979b). 



Eagles Island (Cranes Island, Buzzards Island, Great Island) 

Eagles Island is actually a group of large, swampy islands located between the Cape 
Fear and Brunswick Rivers opposite Wilmington. In 1672 it appears as Cranes Island 
on the Ogilby map. Other short-lived names included Buzzards Island and Great Island. 
The seven-mile-long by two-mile-wide island obtained its present name from Joseph 
and Richard Eagles, who settled in the area about 1725 and became prominent 
planters. In September 1735 King George II granted a section of the island to John 
Watson. On February 17, 1737, the king granted Richard Eagles Sr. the major portion 
of a "big island" across the Cape Fear River from the small village of Newton (later 
called Wilmington). On January 12, 1738, John Watson deeded 540 acres at the Forks 



63 



to Eagles which added more island land to Eagles's original grant. The name Eagles 
Island is first shown on the Wimble map of 1738. The southeastern tip of the island was 
once a separate island known as Clark's Island. Sometime after 1929 the two islands 
joined together. Although maps from the eighteenth century depict the spelling of the 
island as "Eagles," current maps show the name as "Eagle" (Powell 1968:154; Watson 
1973:42; New Hanover County Deeds, Book AB:119; Ogilby ca. 1672; Wimble 1738; 
USCGS 1929; USGS 1979b; NOAA 1992). 



Keg Island (Little Island) 

Keg Island, also known historically as Little Island, is located southeast of Campbell 
Island. References to Keg Island can be found for the last two decades of the 
nineteenth century, but the earliest known map to show it by name was drawn in 1901 
by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. Keg Island has been shown occasionally on 
maps until the present. The latest navigational map shows the long and narrow island 
east of the main river channel (Powell 1968:261; Wilmington Star , February 21, 1881, 
January 23, 1891; Wilmington Messenger , December 6, 1895; USCGS 1901a; 1929; 
USGS 1970a; NOAA 1992). 



Longs Island 

Longs Island applied to the land between the Brunswick and Cape Fear Rivers, north of 
Eagles Island. The area was formerly an island when a creek flowed between the two 
rivers. The name is first known to appear on the Ogilby map (1671), and later on the 
Gascoyne (1682), Lea (1695) and Moll (1729) maps (Powell 1968:299; Gascoyne 
1682; Lea 1695; Moll 1729). 



Marsh Islands (Snows Marsh) 

At the mouth of Walden Creek on the west side of the Cape Fear River are the Marsh 
Islands. The earliest known map to label these islands by name was an anonymous 
French map from 1778. The three Marsh Islands were shown surrounded by an 
extensive shoal area (later known as Horseshoe Shoal), with a narrow channel leading 
to the mouth of the creek from the main river channel to the east. The surrounding 
shoal extended from Snows Point, above the creek, to One Tree Point, south of 
Walden Creek. On maps drawn during the Civil War the islands are again labeled as 
the Marsh Islands. After 1875 the Marsh Islands are indicated as Snow's Marsh, 
apparently named for Robert Snow, who came to the region in the late 1750s or early 
1 760s and maintained a residence at Snow's Point north of Walden Creek. The current 
navigation map illustrates Snows Marsh as a complex of marsh islands west of the 
main river channel (Angley 1983:6-7; Anonymous 1778; Colton 1861; U.S. Coast 
Survey 1864; 1866; USACOE 1875; 1876a; 1885; USCGS 1886; 1888; 1901b; USGS 
1979a; NOAA 1992). 



64 



Middle Island 

Smith Island at the mouth of the Cape Fear River is actually comprised of three named 
islands and several marsh islands. From north to south the three named islands are 
Bluff, Middle, and Bald Head. The long and narrow Middle Island extends from the East 
Beach approximately 3,400 yards to the northwest. The forested island is bounded by 
tidal flats on either side and by Cape Creek to the north and Bald Head Creek to the 
south. Middle Island has only been indicated by name since the 1960s (Anonymous 
1 964; (USGS 1 970c; NOAA 1 992). 



Negro Island 

On an anonymous eighteenth century map Negro Island is shown near the west side of 
the Cape Fear River below Town Creek and Large Island (Campbell Island). No further 
reference or current association could be made for this island (Anonymous, ca. 
eighteenth century). 



Oak Island 

Oak Island is presently a peninsula formed between the Elizabeth River and the 
Atlantic Ocean. Located on the western side of the mouth of the Cape Fear River, the 
land mass first appeared as a named island on the 1733 Wimble map. The Lords 
Proprietors deeded Oak Island to Maurice Moore in 1727. The island in its entirety was 
owned by individuals until 1825, when it was purchased by the U.S. government for 
defensive installations. From 1733 to the present Oak Island has been illustrated on 
numerous maps (Powell 1968:359; Herring and Williams 1983:121; Wimble 1733; 
1738; Collet 1770; Potter 1814; USACOE 1827; U.S. Coast Survey 1851; 1853; 1857b; 
1858; 1859a; NOAA 1992). 



Shellbed Island (Shellbank Island) 

On an anonymous map drawn in 1 964, Shellbank Island is shown as one of the marsh 
islands of northern Smith Island. This same marsh island, adjacent to the Thorofare, is 
indicated as Shellbed Island on the current navigation map (Anonymous 1964; NOAA 
1992) 



Smith Island Complex (Cape Island, Cape Land, Cape Fear Island, Cedar Island, 
Bald Head Island, Palmetto Island) 

Smith or Smith's Island is actually of complex of islands with forested dune and beach 
ridges, salt marshes, and tidal bays and creeks. The islands and marshes at the river's 
mouth correspond roughly to the area originally acquired by Thomas Smith in 1713, 
then known as Cape Island. The first known map to indicate the island by name was 
the Moseley map of 1733, which showed it labeled as "Landgrave Smiths Island." On 
the Wimble map from the same year the island was marked "Cape Land," as it was on 
the Hyrne map of 1749. When Thomas Smith willed the island to his four sons in 1738, 



65 



he said that the old name was Cedar Island. Three sand ridges that extend nearly 
across the island from east to west make up the three currently named islands-Bluff, 
Middle, and Bald Head. Tidal creeks and salt marshes separate the islands. Bald Head 
Island, the southernmost of the three, takes it name from a large, bare sand mound on 
the southwestern tip of the island referred to as Bald Head. At first, the name Bald 
Head Island applied only to the lower island, but at present the name is also used to 
refer to the total Smith Island complex (Stick 1985:xvii-xviii, 13,79; Hall 1975:263; 
Powell 1968:459; Moseley 1733; Wimble 1733; Hyrne 1749). 

The southeastern tip of Bald Head Island forms the noted Cape Fear, along with the 
dangerous Frying Pan Shoals. In 1916 businessman and developer Thomas Boyd 
purchased Bald Head Island and renamed it Palmetto Island. When Boyd's venture 
went broke in the 1920s, Brunswick County foreclosed on the property and changed 
the name back to Smith Island, the name it retains at present (Herring and Williams 
1983:3; Stick 1985:xvi,79-86; Lewis 1795; Price and Strother 1807; 1808; Mac Rae and 
Brazier 1833; U.S. Coast Survey 1851; 1853; 1857a,b; 1858; 1859a,b; USGS 1970a; 
1979a; NOAA1992). 



Striking Island 

Striking Island is one of the few named tidal marsh islands near the mouth of the Cape 
Fear River opposite Southport. Located directly east of Battery Island, the island does 
not appear by name until the mid nineteenth-century (Powell 1968:479; U.S. Coast 
Survey 1853; 1857b; 1864; CSAE 1863b; USACOE 1876a; USCGS 1888; 1901b; 
USGS 1979a; NOAA1992). 



Zekes Island (Zeek's Island) 

Zeke's Island is a sand and tidal marsh island in the Cape Fear River opposite Snows 
Marsh. The first known map to indicate the island by name, then spelled Zeek's, was 
drawn in 1851 by the U.S. Coast Survey. The spelling of the island appears to have 
been "Zeek's" until about the start of the twentieth century, when the name then began 
to be shown as Zeke's Island. During the 1870s the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
constructed a stone dam to close off New Inlet, which extended from Federal Point to 
Zeke's Island. The dam was later extended from Zeke's Island to Smith Island (Powell 
1968:549; U.S. Coast Survey 1 851,1 853, 1857a,b, 1859b, 1864, 1866; Colton 1861; 
CSAE 1863b; CSAE 1864c; USACOE 1875, 1876a; USCGS 1888; USGS 1979a; 
NOAA1992). 



66 



CREEKS 

Thirty-three named creeks have been identified within the project area. A description 
for each of the following is given below. 



Alligator Creek 

Bald Head/Lighthouse Creek 

Bamards/Bemards Creek 

Bay Creek 

Boiling Springs Branch 

Bonnet's Creek/Fiddler's Drain 

Bowensville Creek 

Burriss Creek 

Cape Creek 

Cedar Creek 

Champagne Creek 



Deep Creek 

Doctor's Branch 

Dutchman Creek 

Fishing Creek 

Greenfield Creek/Jumping Run 

Jacobs's Run 

Lilliput Creek 

Lords/Telfairs Mill Creek 

Mallory/Read's Creek 

Middle Creek 

Mott/Todd's Creek 



Orton Creek 
Price's Creek 
Redmond Creek 
Sand Hill Creek 
Shellbed Creek 
Smiths Creek 
Still Creek 
Tanyard Branch 
Town/Indian Creek 
Walden/Govemors Creek 
Willow Spring Branch 



Alligator Creek 

Alligator Creek is a tidal stream located on Eagles Island. The first known map on 
which the creek appears by name was drawn by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 
1827. Alligator Creek dissects Eagles Island from the northwest to the southeast, where 
it flows into the Cape Fear River opposite Wilmington (Powell 1968:8; USACOE 1827, 
1948b; USCGS 1929; USGS 1948, 1979b). 



Bald Head Creek (Light House Creek) 

Bald Head Creek is the southernmost tidal waterway on Smith Island and is located 
between Bald Head and Middle Islands. It begins near the coastal beach above Cape 
Fear and flows in a northwesterly direction into the Cape Fear River. Light House 
Creek, as Bald Head Creek was once known, appears on a U.S. Coast and Geodetic 
Survey 1901 map (Powell 1968:20; Hall 1975:263; USCGS 1901b, 1944b; USGS 
1970). 



Bamards Creek (Bernard's Creek, Wiidon's Creek, Barnham Creek, 
Bamum Creek) 

In the early eighteenth-century New Hanover county deeds, reference is made to 
Barnard's or Bernard's Creek, on the east side of the Cape Fear River about 5 miles 
below Wilmington, which flows west into the Cape Fear River. In the earliest of these 
deeds, land was granted to Col. Maurice Moore on Barnard's Creek in January 1729. 
Up until the early nineteenth century the name of the creek is shown spelled both ways 
in the county records and in newspaper accounts, although for whom the creek was 
originally named is not known (New Hanover County Deeds, Book M:89-90; Land Grant 
Office, Book 8:109; Wilmington Gazette , April 2, 1801). The earliest known map to 
show the creek was drawn by Price and Strother in 1807; that map indicated the name 
as Wildron's Creek, the probable nearby landowner during the period. When the creek 



67 



is next cartographically shown in 1823, and again in 1827, the name is indicated as 
Barnham Creek. During the mid-nineteenth century the name is also shown on maps of 
the period as Barnum Creek. From the close of the Civil War until the present, 
Barnard's Creek has been the consistent spelling and only name of the creek (Powell 
1968:24; Price and Strother 1807; Fulton 1823; USACOE 1827; Mac Rae and Brazier 
1833; U.S. Coast Survey 1856, 1865b; New York Herald 1865; USCGS 1901a; 1929; 
1944a; USGS 1948, 1979b; NOAA 1992). 



Bay Creek 

Bay Creek is shown on recent maps as one of the small tributaries that dissect the tidal 
flats of northern Smith Island. Bay Creek extends from its junction with Cape Creek and 
flows southeastward, and then northeastward, into Buzzards Bay with the flood tide 
(Powell 1968:27; Hall 1975:263; USGS 1979a; NOAA 1992). 



Boiling Springs Branch 

Boiling Springs Branch was a small waterway that had its origin in the city of 
Wilmington near Fifth and Wooster Streets. The creek flowed slightly southward until it 
emptied into the Cape Fear River near the foot of Dawson Street (Moore 1968:1 1 1). 



Bonnet's Creek (Fiddler's Drain) 

Bonnet's Creek is a short tributary that flows east into the Cape Fear River at 
Southport. Around the time of the Civil War the creek was known as Fiddler's Drain. 
The creek was later renamed for Stede Bonnet, the "Gentleman Pirate," who used the 
mouth of the creek as a hideout for his vessel, the Royal James, formerly called the 
Revenge. There, on September 26, 1718, the great "Battle of the Sand Bars" was 
fought between the pirates and the men under the command of Col William Rhett sent 
to capture them aboard the Henry and Sea Nymph. After a twenty-four-hour battle 
nineteen men were killed and twenty-three were wounded, and Bonnet, with the 
remains of his pirate crew, surrendered. No known historic map shows the creek 
labeled as Fiddler's Drain or Bonnet's Creek (Reavesl 990:237; USGS 1990; William- 
McEachern Civil War file UNCW). 



Bowensville Creek 

Bowensville Creek is one of several tidal creeks located on the northern part of Smith 
Island. The 2,000-foot-long, shallow creek flows roughly northeast on the flood tide 
across a tidal flat between Muddy Slough and the Cape Fear River. The name has 
been used on maps since at least 1970 (USGS 1979a). 



68 



Burriss Creek 

Burriss Creek is located in the tidal marsh area of northern Smith Island. The creek 
flows northwesterly on the flood tide a short distance across a tidal flat between Cedar 
Creek and Muddy Slough. The name has been used on maps since at least 1970 
(USGS 1979a). 



Cape Creek 

Cape Creek is the longest of the tidal waterways located on Smith Island. The creek 
rises about one mile north of Cape Fear just inside the outer beach and extends 
northwestward to its main outlet on the western side of the island. A portion of the creek 
flows between Bluff and Middle Islands. Cape Creek has been shown by that name on 
maps since the early nineteenth century (Powell 1968:87; Hall 1975:263; Potter c.1814; 
U. S. Coast Survey 1857b, 1866; USACOE 1864, 1876a; USCGS 1886, 1888, 1901b, 
1944b; USGS 1979a; NOAA 1992). 



Cedar Creek 

Cedar Creek is a tidal creek located in the northern marsh area of Smith Island. The 
creek extends from the Cape Fear River northeastward into Buzzard Bay. The name 
has appeared on maps since at least 1944 (USCGS 1944b; USGS 1979a; NOAA 
1992). 



Champagne Creek 

This short creek is shown on the U.S. Coast Survey map of 1853 across the narrow 
sand spit between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River just southeast of Zeek's 
Island. It is not known to exist on any other maps (U.S. Coast Survey 1853). 



Deep Creek 

Deep Creek is a tidal waterway located on Smith Island. The creek rises near the 
eastern beach and flows northwesterly across a tidal flat into Bay Creek. Deep Creek 
appears by name on maps since at least 1970 (USGS 1979a; NOAA 1992). 



Doctor's Branch 

Doctor's Branch was described in 1919 as being located on Federal Point. Although, 
the exact location of the creek is not known, the following is an account of how it came 
to be named: 

[During the late nineteenth century] a family lived on the Federal Point 
road and had their family physician from Wilmington. A member of the 
family was taken ill one night, and the physician sent for. He was away to 



69 



see another patient, and a substitute doctor secured. While the substitute 
was attending the patient the regular physician returned and immediately 
hurried towards the family home. The substitute started back to 
Wilmington, and the two met at a little insignificant branch. An argument 
followed regarding professional ethics and a fight was the outcome. It was 
a merry battle, and before the dust had cleared away, the two had done 
so much damage to each other that it required the services of a third 
physician to patch them up. Since that time the little stream has been 
known as Doctor's Branch ( Wilmington Dispatch T March 2, 1919). 



Dutchman Creek 

Dutchman Creek is a large waterway that flows southeastward into the Cape Fear River 
below Southport. A large tidal flat separates the mouth of Dutchman Creek from the 
mouth of the Elizabeth River. The creek, which rises within the county and flows into 
the Cape Fear, was shown on a map as early as 1749 (Powell 1968:153; Hyrne 1749; 
Anonymous 1778; Price and Strother 1807; USGS 1990; NOAA 1992). 



Fishing Creek 

One of the several tidal streams located on Smith Island is Fishing Creek. The small 
creek rises in the tidal marsh near the western end of Middle Island and flows north, 
then back south, into Bald Head Creek. Fishing Creek is known to appear by name only 
on maps produced after 1970 (USGS 1979a; NOAA 1992). 



Greenfield Creek (Jumping Run, Greenfield Mill Creek) 

What is known today as Greenfield Creek, located south of Wilmington between the 
Cape Fear River and Greenfield Lake, has been referred to historically by different 
names. This tributary appears as Jumping Run on the Joshua Pott's map (1777) and 
the Price and Strother map (1807). Dr. Samuel Green, a young surgeon, obtained the 
nearby land and lake in 1753, and his named property appears on contemporary maps 
adjacent to Jumping Run. Historian Louis Moore noted that in 1842 a big controversy 
arose over whether the name of the creek was M Jump and Run," or "Jumping Run" 
Branch. In 1850 Thomas Mcllhenny purchased the adjoining property and pond. The 
pond was commonly referred to as Mcllhenny's Mill Pond, and it is likely the creek was 
similarly named for him during that time. By 1856, however, a U.S. Coast Survey map 
showed the name of the creek as Greenfield, named for Samuel Green a century 
earlier. In 1920 the city of Wilmington purchased the lake and surrounding property and 
the name of the lake and creek continued to be referred to as Greenfield. The creek 
was briefly shown during the 1920s on maps by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as 
Greenfield Mill Creek. Current maps show this small outlet from the pond as Greenfield 
Creek (Powell 1968:259; Moore 1968:150; New Hanover County Deeds, Book GGG- 
152; New Hanover County Deeds, Book H-92; V-239; HH-70; Hall 1980:414-415; Potts 



70 



1797; Price and Strother 1807; Price and Strother 1808; U.S. Coast Survey 1856; 
USCGS 1 901 a; USACOE 1 922, 1 927b; NOAA 1 992) 



Jacobs's Run 

Jacobs's Run was a small stream located in Wilmington, with its origin near Fourth and 
Princess Streets. The creek ran in a southwestward direction past the corner of Second 
and Market Streets until it emptied into the Cape Fear River near the foot of Dock 
Street. At the intersection of Second and Market Streets was located "Mud Market," 
where tradition states that prior to the Civil War small boats drawing less than 3 feet of 
water could proceed up Jacobs's Run as far as Second Street. Jacobs's Run may have 
been named for George Jacobs, who resided in Wilmington during the American 
Revolution, or for Joseph Jacobs, a builder and investor who built a home in 
Wilmington in the Princess Street area in 1803. By the 1890s the much shallower 
Jacobs's Run was enclosed by bricks to form a sewer and paved over. Some sections 
of the old Jacobs's Run sewer tunnel exist today buried beneath the downtown area 
(Moore 1968:111; Wilmington Star , March 20, 1874, August 27, 1972; Wilmington 
Weekly Star , January 17, 1890). 



Liliput Creek (Lilliput or Lilyput Creek, Allen's Creek) 

Lilliput Creek, located in Brunswick County on the west side of the Cape Fear River, 
flows eastward from McKinzie Pond into the river opposite Doctor Point. This historic 
creek was named during the early eighteenth century for the nearby plantation of 
Eleazer Allen, judge, receiver general, and treasurer of North Carolina, located on the 
north side of Lilliput Creek. Allen received a grant for the land in 1725 and named the 
plantation for the imaginary country in Jonathan Swift's satire Gulliver's Travels (1726). 
Lilliput plantation is first shown on the Moseley map of 1733 as "E. Allen." The name of 
the plantation is variously spelled on maps of the late 1700s as "Lilliput to the G" 
(Collet 1770), "Lillyput" (Mouzon 1775), "Lilyput" (Holland 1794) and "Lilliput" (Potts 
1797). The creek does not appear by name until the early nineteenth century. While 
the tributary is shown as "Liliput Creek" on a map drawn by the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers in 1827, it appears just six years later as "Allen's Creek" on the Mac Rae 
and Brazier map. On maps produced during the period of the Civil War the name of the 
creek is shown either as Lilliput or Aliens Creek. Since the twentieth century the 
spelling of the creek has consistently been Liliput (Powell 1968:282; USACOE 1827; 
Mac Rae and Brazier 1833; Colton 1861; CSAE 1863b; New York Herald 1865; U. S. 
Coast Survey 1856, 1865b; Kerr and Cain 1882; USCGS 1901a, 1929, 1944a; USGS 
1970a; NOAA 1992). 



Lords Creek (Telfairs Mill Creek) 

Lords Creek rises in New Hanover County southeast of Campbell Island and flows west 
into the Cape Fear River. Although the creek was named for the Lord family of 
Brunswick County, the exact period of first use could not be determined. One source 



71 



states, however, that the name of the creek may have been applied as early as the 
1780s, when a William Lord sold property at the head of the creek to Peter Maxwell. A 
pond or lake apparently fed Lord's Creek. At an unknown time Lord's Creek became 
known as Telfairs Creek and is shown on a U.S. Geological Survey map in 1948 
flowing into the river. More recent maps of the area show both Lords Creek discharging 
into the Cape Fear, while a different Telfairs Creek to the southeast has its southern 
end terminated at Snows Cut (Powell 1968:300, 489; Hall 1975:219; USGS 1948, 
1970a). 



Mallory Creek (Read's Creek) 

Mallory Creek flows east into the Cape Fear River just south of the Brunswick River. 
The earliest known map to indicate the creek by name was drawn in 1823 by Hamilton 
Fulton, who labeled it Read's Creek. Since 1833 the name has been consistently noted 
as Mallory Creek. The historical relationship between the creek names and the 
supposed adjoining property owners could not be determined (Powell 1968:310; Fulton 
1823; Mac Rae and Brazier 1833; U.S. Coast Survey 1856; New York Herald 1865; 
USCGS 1901a, 1929, 1944a; USGS 1979b; NOAA 1992). 



Middle Creek 

Middle Creek is a tidal waterway located in the northern salt marsh of Smith Island. The 
creek extends from the Cape Fear River on its northern end to Muddy Slough on the 
southern end. Middle Creek has been illustrated by name on maps since at least 1970 
(USGS 1979a). 



Mott Creek (Todd's Creek) 

Mott Creek flows southwest into the Cape Fear River on the eastern shore opposite 
Campbell Island. The earliest maps known to show Mott Creek by name are from the 
mid-1 850s, although the creek is likely named for the Mott family, planters in New 
Hanover county since at least the 1730s. Todd's Creek was the name used from about 
the 1880s to the 1930s. The origin of this name is not known. Since the 1930s the 
creek has again been called Mott Creek (Powell 1968:494; Sprunt 1896:43; U.S. Coast 
Survey 1856; CSAE 1863b; CSAE 1864a; USCGS 1901a; 1929; 1944a; USGS 1970a; 
1979b; NOAA 1992). 



Orton Creek 

Orton Creek flows eastward from Orton Pond in Brunswick County into the Cape Fear 
River above Orton Point. The creek was named for nearby Orton plantation granted, in 
1725 by the Lords Proprietors to Maurice Moore, son of Governor James Moore of 
South Carolina, who had been sent several years earlier in 1711 with his brother, 
Colonel James Moore Jr., to suppress the Tuscarora Indian uprising within the 
province. Maurice, along with two other brothers-Roger and Nathaniel-returned to the 



72 



Cape Fear vicinity in 1726 with a group of settlers at the request of the last of the 
proprietary governors, George Burrington. Maurice choose to build his plantation 
several miles up the northeast branch of the river, so quickly passed the Orton estate 
near Brunswick to his brother, Roger, who named the 10,000-acre plantation Orton 
after the ancestral home of the Moores in England. The plantation is marked as "R. 
Moore" on both the Moseley 1733 map, and on the 1738 Wimble map, but Orton Creek 
is not shown by name until 1797. All maps that depict the tributary after this date have 
shown it as Orton Creek (Sprunt 1992:57-58; Powell 1968:366; Moore 1968:13-14; 
Sprunt 1958:5; Waddell 1989:42; Moseley 1733; Wimble 1738; Potts 1797; Price and 
Strother 1807; 1808; USACOE 1827; U.S. Coast Survey 1856, 1865b; Colton 1861; 
CSAE 1863b; New York Herald 1865; USCGS 1901a; 1929; 1944a; USGS 1970a; 
NOAA1992). 



Price's Creek 

Price's Creek rises in Brunswick County and flows eastward into the Cape Fear River 
just north of Deep Water Point. A 1793 land grant indicates that Price's Creek was also 
known as Ashe Swamp. The creek first appeared by name on a U.S. Coast Survey map 
in 1851. Several other maps done during the late nineteenth century indicate the creek. 
The origin of the name is not known (Powell 1968:396; Brunswick County Land Grants 
Shuck No. 509; U.S. Coast Survey 1851; 1853; 1857b, 1864; 1865a; 1866; CSAE 
1863b; 1864d; USACOE 1864; USCGS 1886; 1888; 1901b; 1944a; USGS 1979a; 
NOAA1992). 



Redmond Creek (Redmans Creek) 

Redmond Creek is located on the western side of Eagles Island. It currently flows 
northeasterly with the flood tide from its mouth on the Brunswick River into Alligator 
Creek near N.C. Highway 133 at its northern end. The course of the waterway has 
changed since 1 827, when it was apparently first indicated on a Corps of Engineers 
map as Redmans Creek. At that time the creek flowed into the Cape Fear River south 
of Alligator Creek. By 1856 the creek was illustrated as Redmond and flowed in a 
southeasterly direction into the Cape Fear. Alligator and Redmond Creeks appear to 
have merged with only a small stream now flowing into the Cape Fear (PoweH 
1968:407; USACOE 1827; U.S. Coast Survey 1856; USACOE 1927b; USCGS 1929; 
USGS 1948, 1979b). 



Sand Hill Creek 

Sand Hill Creek begins in central Brunswick County and flows northeasterly into the 
Cape Fear River near Campbell Island. The first known occurrence of the name of the 
creek appears in a U.S. Coast Survey map from 1856. Maps drawn since that time 
have continuously shown the name as Sand Hill Creek (Powell 1968:437; U.S. Coast 
Survey 1856; CSAE 1863b; USCGS 1901a, 1944a; USGS 1970a; NOAA 1992). 



73 



Shellbed Creek 

Shellbed Creek is a tidal waterway located in the marsh islands of northern Smith 
Island. The creek flows roughly from north to south with the tide across a tidal flat. 
Shellbed Creek extends from the Cape Fear River on the north to Muddy Slough on the 
south. This creek has been shown by name on maps since at least 1970 (USGS 
1979a). 



Smiths Creek 

Smiths Creek, also shown as Smith Creek, flows southwest into the Northeast Cape 
Fear River north of Wilmington. The creek has been indicated on maps of the vicinity 
since the late eighteenth century and is a major tributary into the river. It is likely the 
creek was named for Thomas Smith, an early eighteenth-century landowner, although 
the exact origin is not known (Powell 1968:459; Holland 1794; Lewis 1795; Turner 
1856; James & Brown 1870; USACOE 1937a; NOAA 1992). 



Still Creek 

Still Creek is one of the tidal waterways located in the marsh islands of northern Smith 
Island. The creek flows from Muddy Slough southeasterly into Buzzard Bay. Still Creek 
is shown by name on maps since at least 1944 (USCGS 1944b; USGS 1979a; NOAA 
1992). 



Tanyard Branch 

Tanyard Branch was a small stream located in Wilmington. It began on the east side of 
Third Street between Orange and Ann Streets and flowed due west into the Cape Fear 
River. A tanyard established about 1825 was located at or near Second Street near the 
stream (Moore 1968:111). 



Town Creek (Old Town Creek, Indian Creek) 

Town Creek is formed in east central Brunswick County by the junction of Rattlesnake 
Branch and Lewis Swamp and flows southeast into the Cape Fear River just above 
Campbell Island. Originally named Indian Creek by William Hilton in 1663, the creek is 
first shown as Old Town Creek on the Moseley map of 1733. Old Town refers to the 
Charles Towne settlement established from 1662 to 1663 as the center of a colony from 
Charlestowne, Massachusetts, under the leadership of William Hilton. In 1664 a colony 
from Barbados under the leadership of John Yeamans occupied the site, but it too 
abandoned the site in 1665. The creek has been illustrated on numerous maps since 
the eighteenth century and shown as either Old Town Creek or Town Creek, the name 
commonly used today (Powell 1968:99,107,496; Angley 1983:2; Moseley 1733; 
Mouzon 1775; Holland 1794; Potts 1797; Price and Strother 1807, 1808; Fulton 1823; 
USACOE 1827; Mac Rae and Brazier 1833; U.S. Coast Survey 1856, 1865b; Colton 



74 



1861; CSAE 1863b; Kerr and Cain 1882; USACOE 1916a; USCGS 1901a, 1929, 
1944a; USGS 1979b; NOAA 1992). 



Walden Creek (Governors Creek, Burringtons Creek, Snow Creek) 

Walden Creek flows east into the Cape Fear River near Snows Point. Maps from the 
1730s and 1740s clearly indicate that Walden Creek was previously known as 
Burringtons (or Governors) Creek. Royal Governor George Burrington purchased the 
adjoining property from the first grantee, John Porter, and established his plantation 
about 1725 just above the mouth of present-day Walden Creek. The governor's 
plantation was sold to Robert Snow in the late 1 750s or early 1 760s, after whom nearby 
Snow's Point was named. On a map from 1794 the tributary was labeled as Snow 
Creek. Since the mid-nineteenth century the name has been indicated as Walden 
Creek, although for whom it was named is not known (Powell 1968:514; Angley 1983:6- 
7; Waddell 1989:39; Sprunt 1992:57; Wimble 1733; Hyrne 1749; Holland 1794; Potts 
1797; U.S. Coast Survey 1857b, 1858; CSAE 1863b, 1864c, 1864d; U.S. Coast Survey 
1865b; Kerr and Cain 1882; USCGS 1886, 1888, 1901b, 1944a; USGS 1979a; NOAA 
1992). 



Willow Spring Branch 

Willow Spring Branch has its origin in Wilmington near the corner of Third and Dock 
Streets. It flowed westwardly into the Cape Fear River between Dock and Orange 
Streets. As the name suggests, it was probably named for a nearby spring (Moore 
1968:111). 



POINTS 

Twenty-one named points and capes have been identified within the project area. A 
description for each of the following is given below. 



Cape Fear 
Bald Head Point 
Bonnets Point 
Brunswick/Milmor's Point 
Deep Water Point 
Doctor/Caintuck Point 
Dram Tree Point 



Federal/Confederate Point 

Hospital Point 

One Tree Point 

Orton Point 

Peters Point 

Piney Point 

Point Peter/Negro Head Point 



Point Winslow 
Reedy Point 
Reeves/Sturgeon Point 
Sunny/Howe's Point 
Smith Island Point 
Snow's/Governors Point 
Sugar Loaf/Ellis's Point 



Cape Fear (Cape Feare, Cape Fair, Cape Fayre) 

Cape Fear is the southeastern tip of Smith Island, from which the Frying Pan Shoals 
extend outward into the Atlantic Ocean. Cape Fear was discovered by explorer 
Giovanni da Verrazano in 1524 but apparently not mentioned by name until June 1585, 
when Sir Richard Grenville reported that the ship Tiger, en route to Roanoke Island, 



75 



was nearly wrecked "on a breache called the Cape of Feare." Two years later John 
White, on one of his voyages, also nearly wrecked "upon the breach called Cape of 
Fear." It is curious that both Grenville and White reported the Cape of Fear as being a 
breach, rather than a beach. During that same period Spanish maps marked the cape 
as "Cabo de Trafalgar." On the 1590 DeBry map of Lane's expedition in 1585, the cape 
appears in Latin as "Promontorium Tremendum." The Mercator-Hondius map of 1606 
shows the Cape Fear as "C.S. Romano Hispanis." Other maps drawn during the 
seventeenth century-Comberford (1657), Ogilby (1672), and Lea (1695)-showthe Cape 
Fear by name (Powell 1968:87; Sprunt 1992:1-3; Stick 1985:6; Moore 1968:34-38; 
White-DeBry 1590; Mercator-Hondius, 1606). 

The name Cape Fair was substituted in the seventeenth century when colonists were 
encouraged to settle the Carolina region. "Adventurers about Cape Fayre" under the 
leadership of William Hilton made a brief settlement on Town Creek in 1662. In his 
1663 Letter of the English Adventurers to the Proprietors, Hilton referred to the "Point 
of Cape Fair River." In addition to Hilton's report, others sources that made mention of 
a Cape Fair included the history and map of John Lawson, surveyor general in 1709, 
and Wimble's map of 1738. The name Cape Fair was not permanently accepted, and 
by the American Revolution Cape Fear had become the common designation (Powell 
1968:87; Sprunt 1992:1-3; Stick 1985:6,9; Moore 1968:34-38; Lawson 1709; Barnwell 
1722; Moseley 1733; Wimble 1733; Anonymous 1778; Anonymous 1781a; NOAA 
1992). 



Bald Head Point 

Bald Head Point was once the extreme southwestern tip of Smith Island and defined 
the eastern shoreline at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. The prominent point is first 
known to have appeared by name on a U.S. Coast Survey in 1851. Other maps drawn 
in the 1 850s and references made by the Corps of Engineers during the 1 880s indicate 
Bald Head Point. A 1921 map by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the last apparent 
map to indicate the feature by name. A realignment of the navigation channel at the 
mouth of the river and placement of jetties by the Corps of Engineers during the 
nineteenth century sped the natural deterioration of the point. The once-prominent 
point has now eroded eastward to the present shoreline of Smith Island (U.S. Coast 
Survey, 1851, 1853, 1858; USACOE-AR 1880s; USACOE 1864, 1910, 1921). 



Bonnets Point 

Bonnets Point first appears on the Moseley map, 1733, on the western shore of the 
Cape Fear River above present-day Southport. Earlier, in 1718, the capture of pirate 
Stede Bonnet was thought to have taken place at the point of land that eventually bore 
his name. On the 1749 Hyrne map, Bonnets Point is shown between Fort Johnson 
(Southport) and Deep Water Point. As late as 1778 "Bonnets Pointe" was still noted on 
maps. No other known maps after this date refer to the point. At present this part of the 
Cape Fear River's western shoreline shows no prominent jut of land once identified as 



76 



Bonnets Point (Powell 1968:58; Angley 1983:6; Stick 1985:17-21; Moseley 1733; Hyrne 
1749; Anonymous 1778). 



Brunswick Point (Milmor's Point, Anderson Landing) 

Brunswick Point was the name formerly applied to the jut of land into the Cape Fear 
River southeast of the eighteenth-century site of Brunswick Town. While Brunswick 
Town was destroyed by fire in 1776, a few families returned after the American 
Revolution to rebuild. The name Brunswick Point was indicated on an U.S. Army Corps 
of Engineers map in 1 827, at about the time that the site was completely abandoned 
and in ruins. On an 1858 U.S. Coast Survey map the area was shown as Milmor's 
Point. A Willis Miliner (spelled also Milnor), a wheelwright, and Robert Miliner (or 
Milnor), a laborer, lived just below the ruins of Brunswick Town by 1850. While neither 
man owned a substantial amount of real estate, it is likely "Milmor's Point" was named 
for one or the other of them. During the Civil War the construction of Fort Anderson on 
the ruins of Old Brunswick Town led to this location being called Anderson Landing, the 
name still used today (Powell 1968:66; South 1960:64; Angley 1983:22; USACOE 
1827; U. S. Coast Survey 1858; USGS 1970a). 



Deep Water Point 

Deep Water Point is first known to be indicated on the Moseley map of 1733. The point 
is located on the western side of the Cape Fear River just north of present-day 
Southport. One of the few places south of Wilmington where the main river channel 
passes close to the western shore is at Deep Water Point. Historically, this area has 
been naturally deepened by the flow of the current to as much as its present depth of 
30 to 32 feet. Deep Water Point is still shown on maps of the lower Cape Fear River 
(Powell 1968:139; Moseley 1733; Hyrne 1749; Anonymous 1778; Potts 1797; Price and 
Strother 1807; USACOE 1827; U. S. Coast Survey 1857b, 1858, 1864, 1866; CSAE 
1864c; USCGS 1886; USGS 1979a). 



Doctor Point (Caintuck, Kaintuck or Kentuck Landing) 

Doctor Point, or Caintuck Landing as it was historically known, is located on the 
eastern shore of the Cape Fear River opposite Liliput Creek. The point was referred to 
by both names following the Civil War, with a variation on the spelling of Caintuck as 
late as 1902. The origin of Caintuck is not known. Doctor's Point is probably named for 
Dr. John Fergus, who maintained a plantation know as Bellmeade near the sound. In 
1805 an advertisment in the local paper indicated that a person was needed to "take 
charge of the Plantation formerly the residence of Doctor John Fergus, deceased." 
During the late 1880s a pier was built at Doctor's Point (Caintuck Landing) for the 
steamer Sylvan Grove. Passengers could then board a train at the pier and travel from 
the Cape Fear River to Carolina Beach. Doctor's Point is shown on a U.S. Coast and 
Geodetic Survey map drawn in 1901. By 1902, however, the "Kentuck or Fergus Tract," 
once owned by the doctor, was offered up for sale by a D. L. Gore. By November 1902, 



77 



L. B. Rogers and his wife transferee! the deed to the tract to the Myrtle Grove Building 
and Trust Company for $200. At that time the tract contained 320 acres. The 
possessive spelling of Doctor's Point is not shown on maps done after 1929. Today the 
jut of land is still shown as Doctor Point ( Wilmington Gazette , April 9, 1805; Wilmington 
Daily Journal , November 10, 1866; Wilmington Evening Dispatch , April 28, 1902; 
Wilmington Star , November 12, 1902; New Hanover County Deed, Book 30:84-86; 
Book G-213; Hall 1975:172; USCGS 1901a, 1929; USGS 1970a; NOAA 1992). 



Dram Tree Point 

Dram Tree Point is closely related to the well-known Dram Tree that once stood near 
the eastern shore 2 miles south of Wilmington. The ancient and moss-covered cypress 
tree served since the early eighteenth century as a point at which a crew would partake 
of a "dram" of grog. It was from the custom of taking the first drink outward bound, and 
the last drink inward bound, that seafaring men gradually came to know the place as 
the Dram Tree. The tree stood well out in the river and slightly north of the point. The 
Dram Tree is shown on the Hamilton Fulton map of 1823 and on another map in 1833. 
It apparently stood until 1942, when it was pulled down to make way for the North 
Carolina Shipyard. The first known map to show Dram Tree Point by name was drawn 
in 1856 by the U.S. Coast Survey (Sprunt 1896:35-36; Moore 1968:47-54; Fulton 1823; 
Mac Rae and Brazier 1833; U.S. Coast Survey 1856, 1864; Anonymous 1892; 
USACOE 1895a, 1927b; USCGS 1901a, 1944a; USGS 1979b; NOAA 1992). 



Federal Point (Confederate Point) 

Federal Point is the large peninsula that divides the Cape Fear River from the Atlantic 
Ocean south of Wilmington. Federal Point was supposedly named during the early 
1790s in honor of the federal government and the ratification of the United States 
Constitution by North Carolina in 1789. A map engraved for Joshua Potts about 1797 
shows Federal Point by name. The peninsula was certainly known as Federal Point 
well before the Civil War, as it appears on several early to mid-nineteenth-century 
maps. In 1861 the Confederates changed the name to Confederate Point, and it 
changed back to Federal Point in 1865 with the occupation of Wilmington and the fall of 
Fort Fisher. The lower portion of Federal Point was formed into an island when Snow's 
Cut was made across the peninsula In the early 1930s. At present the extreme 
southern tip of Federal Point is known locally as Pleasure Island (Herring 1967:102; 
Potts 1797; USACOE 1827; Mac Rae and Brazier 1833; U.S. Coast Survey 1851, 1853, 
1857a, 1857b, 1858, 1859b; Colton 1861; CSAE 1864c; U.S. Coast Survey 1864, 
1865a, 1872; New York Herald 1865; USACOE 1870, 1875, 1876a; USGS 1979a; 
NOAA 1992). 



Hospital Point or Mount Tirzah 

Hospital Point, the site of the Wilmington Marine Hospital, was located about 3 miles 
south of Wilmington where the State Ports Authority presently stands. The Marine 



78 



Hospital had once been the plantation known as Mount Tirzah, a Hebrew name for a 
tree similar to the cypress. Although no maps could be located that specifically 
indicated Hospital Point, several maps did show the location of the hospital. In 1835 the 
citizens of Wilmington established the Wilmington Marine Hospital for the benefit of 
sick seamen in port. Funds were raised and the Mount Tirzah property of 150 acres 
and several houses were purchased from Governor Edward B. Dudley for one 
thousand dollars. The principal building, a house of two stories, was converted into a 
hospital and managed by the Marine Hospital Society until April 24, 1855, when the 
property and the other assets of the society were transferred to the Seaman's Friend 
Society. The Marine Hospital is first shown on the point on a U.S. Coast Survey map 
(1856). Following its use as a military hospital during the Civil War, the structure was 
also used as a pest house during the smallpox plague. On a 1892 map the structure is 
shown as the Quarantine Hospital. Hospital Point, or the Mount Tirzah property, was 
occasionally used by the city government for the isolation and treatment of cases of 
infectious diseases until 1898, when the building burned (Sprunt 1896: 36-37; Hall 
2:138; Wilmington Dispatch, February 22, 1898; USGS 1856; U.S. Coast Survey 
1 865b; USACOE 1 876b; Anonymous 1 892; USCGS 1 901 a). 



One Tree Point 

On maps of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, One Tree Point was shown 
located between Deepwater Point and Walden Creek on the west side of the Cape 
Fear River. One Tree Point, the farthest eastward extension of the shoreline below 
Walden Creek, is first indicated on the Moseley map (1733) and last appears by name 
on the Price and Strother map (1807). During the later period the navigation channel 
passed near this point (Powell 1968:364; Moseley 1733; Hyrne 1749; Anonymous 
1778; Potts 1797; Price and Strother 1807). 



Orton Point 

Orton Point is located on the south side of Orton Creek in Brunswick County. The point 
was named for Orton, the plantation granted in 1725 by the Lords Proprietors to 
Maurice Moore, one of the early founders of Brunswick Town. Maurice Moore soon 
passed ownership of the plantation to his brother, Roger, a member of Governor 
Gabriel Johnston's council. Roger named the 10,000-acre plantation Orton after the 
ancestral home of the Moores in England. Orton Point, however, does not appear on 
maps by name until the early nineteenth century. The first known map to show Orton 
Point was drawn by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1827. Orton Point is shown on 
modern topographic and navigation maps of the lower Cape Fear River (Sprunt 
1992:57-58; Moore 1968:13-14; Sprunt 1958:5; Waddell 1989:42; Powell 1968:366; 
USACOE 1827; U.S. Coast Survey 1856, 1858; USCGS 1901a, 1929, 1944a; USGS 
1970a; NOAA1992). 



79 



Peters Point (Merricks Point?) 

The present-day Peters Point lies on the east side of the river opposite Sunny Point. 
This point should not be confused with Point Peter, at the confluence of the Northeast 
and Northwest Branchs of the Cape Fear River, near Wilmington. This jut of land may 
have been known historically as Merricks Point as shown on two eighteenth-century 
maps. On the Edward Hyrne map (1749) Merricks Point is shown across the river 
northeast of Sturgeon Point. Merricks's dwelling is shown north of the point. An 
anonymous French map from 1778 also indicates Merricks Point and his house. By 
1888 Peter's Point is shown on maps drawn by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. 
Peters Point has continued to be shown on modern maps (Powell 1968:379; Hyrne 
1749; Anonymous 1778; USCGS 1888, 1901b, 1944a; USGS 1979a; NOAA 1992). 



Piney Point 

Piney Point appears on the Hyrne map (1749) between the Elizabeth River and Oak 
Island, then labeled as the "Sand Banks Fronting the Sea." Marsh Island occurs 
between the river and eastern end of the island. Piney Point is again shown on an 
anonymous French map drawn in 1778, with the extreme eastern end as marsh. No 
maps after this date indicate Piney Point. Presently that area south of the Intracoastal 
Waterway is entirely marsh and forms the northern expanse of Oak Island (Hyrne 1749; 
Anonymous 1778; USGS 1990). 



Point Peter (Negro Head Point) 

At the confluence of the Northeast and Northwest branches of the Cape Fear River 
across from Wilmington, a jut of land lying north of the rivers was known as Negro 
Head Point during the third quarter of the eighteenth century. As early as 1764 the 
point is referred to as Negro Head Point in court records. The point was likely granted 
in the 1720s to Roger Moore, who in turn deeded the 3,000 acres to Peter Mallett and 
Arthur Magill in 1777. At that time the tract was "well known by name of negroe head 
Point in Forks of No. East and No. West Rivers." Two years later Magilll sold his part of 
Negro Head Point to Mallett, who retained the property until 1787. The name of this 
place has long been erroneously supposed to have been derived from the fact that a 
Negro's head was said to have been stuck upon a pole there at the time of the Nat 
Turner insurrection in 1831. How the name originated is not known. During the 1770- 
1780s Negro Head Point began to be known as Point Peter. Contemporary maps 
confirm that the name Point Peter originated during that period. The point retains the 
latter name at present (Waddell 1989:48-49; New Hanover County Deeds, Book H-51, 
H-234, H-466, L-822; McKoy 1973:38; Anonymous 1775; Anonymous 1781b; Potts 
1797; Price and Strother 1807; Dickinson 1848; Turner 1856; U.S. Coast Survey 1856; 
James & Brown 1870; Gray 1873; Anonymous 1892; USACOE 1895a, 1906, 1937c; 
USCGS 1901a; NOAA 1992). 



80 



Point Winslow 

Point Winslow appears on the Shapley map (1662) prepared for William Hilton in the 
general vicinity of Sunny Point or Reaves Point on the western side of the Cape Fear 
River. The point was apparently named for Edward Winslow, a crew member on board 
Hilton's ship. This is the only map known to indicate Point Winslow (Angley 1983:2; 
Shapley 1662). 



Reedy Point 

The Hamilton Fulton map (1823) shows Reedy Point located on the east side of the 
Cape Fear River opposite present-day Mallory Creek, then shown as Read's Creek. 
Water depths of less than 5 feet are noted off the point. In 1827 the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers mapped the Cape Fear River below the town of Wilmington and indicated 
the heavily forested Reedy Point to be at this location. A jetty was then extended from 
the point and angled towards the channel downstream. The origin or individual for 
whom Reedy Point was named is not known. Presently this section of land north of 
Barnards Creek is unnamed on navigation or topographical maps (Fulton 1823; 
USACOE1827). 



Reeves Point (Sturgeon Point, Robbins Point) 

The present Reeves Point on the western side of the Cape Fear River above Walden 
Creek was known during the eighteenth century as Sturgeon Point. The jut of land is 
shown on the maps of Edward Moseley (1733), Edward Hyrne (1749), and an 
anonymous French map of 1778 as Sturgeon Point. One source made reference to 
Sturgeon Point in describing nearby McNight's Shoal as late as 1795. By 1840 
Sturgeon Point was called Robbins (or Robins) Point, probably named for the property 
owner Enoch Robbins. He held 40 acres of improved land and 1,327 acres of 
unimproved land (Moseley 1733; Hyrne 1749; Anonymous 1778; ( Wilmington Chronicle 
and North Carolina Weekly Advertiser , October 22, 1795; Payne and Brown 1983:53). 

Maps of the Civil War period indicate that the Robbins homeplace, or Robbins Point, 
was located on what is now called Reaves Point. South of the Enoch Robbins property 
was that of Joel Reaves, whose farm was located at what was then "Reeves Point" but 
which is now known as Sunny Point. At that time, the respective points of land were 
named Robbins Point and Reeves Point. Between 1886 and 1888 Reeves Point no 
longer was shown on maps as the current Sunny Point but named at its present 
location (Angley 1983:22; U.S. Coast Survey 1857b, 1865a; 1858; CSAE 1864c; 
USCGS 1886; 1888, 1901a, 1901b, 1929; 1944a, 1944b; USGS 1970a; USGS 1979a; 
NOAA1992). 



Sunny Point (Howe's Point, old Reeves Point) 

During the late eighteenth century Sunny Point was known as Howe's Point, the home 
of Revolutionary patriot and soldier General Robert Howe. His residence was a large 



81 



frame building on a stone or brick foundation located upon a bluff on the western shore 
of the Cape Fear River north of Walden Creek. From at least 1857 to 1886 the jut of 
land was called "Reeves Point," named for Joel Reaves who owned a 1,285-acre farm 
until his death in 1860. Maps from 1886 and 1888 show that between those dates the 
name Reeves Point was no longer found at the current Sunny Point but was applied to 
the jut of land to the north formerly known as Robbins Point. After the 1940s both 
Reaves Point and Sunny Point were shown (Sprunt 1992:57, 60; Angley 1983:22; 
"Reeves Point" (as Sunny Point) (U.S. Coast Survey 1857b, 1865a; 1858; CSAE 
1864c; USCGS 1886); "Reeve's Point" (as Reeves Point) (USCGS 1888, 1901a, 
1901b, 1929); "Reaves Point" and "Sunny Point" (USCGS 1944a, 1944b; USGS 1970a, 
1979a; NOAA1992). 



Smith Island Point 

One map from 1876 is known to show Smith Island Point labeled where a dike 
terminated on the north side of the island. In May 1713 Thomas Smith obtained from 
the authorities of North Carolina a grant for the island-and presumably the point that 
bears his name (USACOE 1876a; Stick 1985:13). 



Snow's Point (Governors Point, Burringtons Point) 

Snow's Point is located on the north bank of Walden Creek, where it flows eastward 
into the Cape Fear River at Snow's Marsh. Historically it was known as Governor's or 
Burringtons Point, after George Burrington, the last of the proprietory governors, 
purchased the property from the first grantee, John Porter. John Porter came from the 
Albemarle region to the Cape Fear in 1723 and was one of the first grantees of 
property on the river. George Burrington became the first royal governor in 1 724 and 
established his plantation just above the mouth of present-day Walden Creek about 
1 725, a year before the new town of Brunswick was laid out. After that date Burrington's 
residence is shown on the Moseley map (1733), while Governor's Point is shown on the 
Wimble map (1738), and Burringtons Point is indicated on the Hyrne map (1749). 
Walden Creek was also previously known as Governors (or Burringtons) Creek. In the 
late 1750s or early 1760s the Governor's Point plantation was sold to Robert Snow, for 
whom the point would later be named (Angley 1983:6-7; Waddell 1989:39; Payne and 
Brown 1983:20; Sprunt 1992:57; Wimble 1738; Hyrne 1749; Collett 1770; Anonymous 
1778; Holland 1794; Potts 1797; Price and Strother 1807; USACOE 1827; USGS 
1979a). 



Sugar Loaf Point (Ellis's Point) 

On the Thomas Kitchen map drawn about 1778, Ellis's Point is shown on the eastern 
shore of the river across from Brunswick Town. The location is slightly north of Sugar 
Loaf. No other known maps show Ellis's Point. The point is likely associated with 
Robert Ellis, who was deeded 640 acres of land on the east side of the Cape Fear 
River on April 21, 1764. On a U.S. Coast Survey (1858) map the jut of land just north of 



82 



Sugar Loaf Hill was shown as Sugar Loaf Point. No other known map of this section of 
river indicates the point by this name. On current navigation and topographical maps, 
this location below Snow's Cut is shown unnamed (Kitchin 1778; New Hanover County 
Deeds, Book 17:68; U. S. Coast Survey 1858; USGS 1970a). 



83 



Plantations 

Thirty-Five plantations have been identified near the Cape Fear, Northeast Cape Fear, 
and Brunswick Rivers (Figures 8,9,10,11). Descriptions have been provided for the 
following sites: 



Aspem Plantation 
Bald Head Plantation 
Belleville Plantation 
Belvidere Plantation 
Benevento Plantation 
Bleak House 
Buchoi Plantation 
Clarendon Plantation 
Forceput Plantation 
The Forks Plantation 
Gander Hall 
Glastonbury Plantation 



Governor's Point Plantation 
Greenfield Plantation 
Hallett Plantation 
Haulover Plantation 
Hawfield Plantation 
Hilton or Maynard Plantation 
Howe's Point Plantation 
Kendal Plantation 
Lilliput Plantation 
Mallory Plantation 
MacKnight Plantation 
Mount Tirzah/Spring Garden 



Negro Head/Point Peter 
Nesses Creek/Farifields 
Old Town Plantation 
Orton Plantation 
Osawotomie Plantation 
Pleasant Oaks/The Oaks 
Russellborough/Bellfont 
Sans Souci Plantation 
Sedgeley Abbey 
Snow's Cut Plantation 
York Plantation 



Aspem Plantation 

Four miles below the city of Wilmington, on the Brunswick County side of the river, was 
located the rice plantation known as Aspem. Thomas C. Mcllhenny, owner of Aspern 
and other plantations in the region, placed this property up for sale in March 1880. 
Mcllhenny had owned the plantation for more than twenty years. Aspern was described 
as having 100 acres of rice land that could be increased to as much as 250 acres of 
production. There were also 500 or 600 acres of upland, and about 1 00 acres had been 
cleared and planted in cotton, ground peas, and com tended by slave labor. Marl was 
also abundant on the property ( Wilmington Star , March 30, 1880). 



Bald Head Plantation 

One of the earliest land grants on the lower Cape Fear River was passed to landgrave 
Thomas Smith in 1713. It included 810 acres of dry land and marsh on what was then 
"commonly called Cape Island" and is today known as Smith or Bald Head Island. The 
land was passed as an inheritance to Benjamin Smith, who owned it until 1820. In 1790 
Smith deeded to the Commissioners for regulating Pilotage and Navigation of the Cape 
Fear 10 acres on the island to be used for the purpose of erecting a lighthouse. Smith 
was forced to place his property up for sale in 1820 when it was sold by a deputy 
marshal to Joseph G. Swift. In 1828 the United States purchased from the heirs of 
Benjamin Smith one remaining piece of property for the construction of a fort (Stick 
1985:16, 41-42; Secretary of State, Grant Book 2-395; McKoy 1973:30-31, 123; New 
Hanover County Deeds, Book I-325; R-328). 



85 



Belleville Plantation (Brunswick River) 

Belleville plantation was located on the Brunswick River above the plantations of 
Buchoi and Glastonbury and partially across the river on Eagles Island. The plantation, 
owned by Gen. Hugh Waddell, was described in detail when it was advertised for sale 
in late 1844. The notice of the sale of Belleville plantation read: 

Will be sold at auction in Wilmington on the first day of January next, that 
well known Rice Plantation "Belleville" situated on the West branch of the 
Cape Fear river, nearly opposite the town of Wilmington. There are near 
200 acres of the swamp, well adapted to the culture of Rice, and most of it 
now in cultivation. These lands, as also those in the immediate 
neighborhood, are believed to be less liable to injury, either from freshets 
or salt water, than any on the river, being midway between the extreme 
points of the great island [Eagle's Island] on which they for the most part 
be, and in an excellent pitch of the tide for draining and flowing. The High- 
land settlement is a most advantageous one, fronting one mile on the 
river, with a sufficiency of land in cultivation to support the hands 
necessary to the Rice Farm. Upon the premises is an excellent Dwelling 
House, containing eight rooms, as also all necessary out-building, a large 
Barn, Winnowing House, etc. ( Wilmington Chronicle , November 20, 
1 844). 

Whether or not the plantation was sold at that time is not known, but two years later 
Belleville was again placed up for private sale. At that time the plantation was said to 
contain "200 acres of prime rice land . . . and at the very best pitch of the tide." There 
was also about 300 or 400 acres of cropland in the uplands. The structures at the 
plantation consisted of a "Dwelling house, Kitchens, Barns, Stables, Negro Houses, . . . 
and a Rice Thresher" ( Wilmington Commercial , December 21, 1846). It is likely that 
Belleville plantation was not sold outside of the Waddell family, as General Hugh 
Waddell's son, John, was later said to have owned Belleville in addition to three other 
plantations farther up the river (Waddell 1989:48). 

Belleville eventually did pass from the Waddell family ownership in the 1890s when 
Gov. Daniel L. Russell purchased the plantation after selling his previous residence 
known as Winnabow. Russell tried unsuccessful to grow rice at Belleville. In 1897 Mr. 
W.R. Boyd, superintendent of Governor Russell's plantation, announced that worms 
were threatening the rice fields on Eagle's Island that Russell had leased to a group of 
black farmers known as "the syndicate." The worms did considerable damage to the 
rice fields before Boyd brought them under control ( Wilmington Messeng er, July 15, 
1897). Governor Russell had built at Belleville in late 1900 a large dwelling to which he 
retired after his term as governor expired the following January. Governor Russell died 
at Belleville on May 14, 1908 ( Wilmington Messenger , September 30, November 11, 
1900; Reaves 1988:30). 



86 




Figure 8. Plantations: Smith ♦ 



Belleville Plantation (Brunswick River) 

Belleville plantation was located on the Brunswick River above the plantations of 
Buchoi and Glastonbury and partially across the river on Eagles Island. The plantation, 
owned by Gen. Hugh Waddell, was described in detail when it was advertised for sale 
in late 1844. The notice of the sale of Belleville plantation read: 

Will be sold at auction in Wilmington on the first day of January next, that 
well known Rice Plantation "Belleville" situated on the West branch of the 
Cape Fear river, nearly opposite the town of Wilmington. There are near 
200 acres of the swamp, well adapted to the culture of Rice, and most of it 
now in cultivation. These lands, as also those in the immediate 
neighborhood, are believed to be less liable to injury, either from freshets 
or salt water, than any on the river, being midway between the extreme 
points of the great island [Eagle's Island] on which they for the most part 
be, and in an excellent pitch of the tide for draining and flowing. The High- 
land settlement is a most advantageous one, fronting one mile on the 
river, with a sufficiency of land in cultivation to support the hands 
necessary to the Rice Farm. Upon the premises is an excellent Dwelling 
House, containing eight rooms, as also all necessary out-building, a large 
Barn, Winnowing House, etc. ( Wilmington Chronicle , November 20, 
1844). 

Whether or not the plantation was sold at that time is not known, but two years later 
Belleville was again placed up for private sale. At that time the plantation was said to 
contain "200 acres of prime rice land . . . and at the very best pitch of the tide." There 
was also about 300 or 400 acres of cropland in the uplands. The structures at the 
plantation consisted of a "Dwelling house, Kitchens, Barns, Stables, Negro Houses, . . . 
and a Rice Thresher" ( Wilmington Commercial , December 21, 1846). It is likely that 
Belleville plantation was not sold outside of the Waddell family, as General Hugh 
Waddell's son, John, was later said to have owned Belleville in addition to three other 
plantations farther up the river (Waddell 1989:48). 

Belleville eventually did pass from the Waddell family ownership in the 1890s when 
Gov. Daniel L. Russell purchased the plantation after selling his previous residence 
known as Winnabow. Russell tried unsuccessful to grow rice at Belleville. In 1897 Mr. 
W.R. Boyd, superintendent of Governor Russell's plantation, announced that worms 
were threatening the rice fields on Eagle's Island that Russell had leased to a group of 
black farmers known as "the syndicate." The worms did considerable damage to the 
rice fields before Boyd brought them under control ( Wilmington Messeng er, July 15, 
1897). Governor Russell had built at Belleville in late 1900 a large dwelling to which he 
retired after his term as governor expired the following January. Governor Russell died 
at Belleville on May 14, 1908 ( Wilmington Messenger , September 30, November 11, 
1900; Reaves 1988:30). 



86 



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Figure 8. Plantations: Smith Creek to Town Creek. 

87 




Figure 9. Plantations: Town C 




Figure 9. Plantations: Town Creek to Reaves Point. 

89 





N.C. Division 
of Archives 
and History 

Underwater 

Archaeology 

Unit 



Drawing Title: 

Plantations: 
Reaves Point 
to 
Southport 



Project: 

Cape Fear 
River 

Comprehensive 
Survey 



Legend: 

Plantation 

Locations 
approximate 



o 



] 



1 mile 




Date: May 1994 



Figure 10. Plantations: Reav< 




N.C. Division 
of Archives 
and History 

Underwater 
Archaeoloqy 

Unit 

Drawing Title: 

Plantations: 
Reaves Point 
to 
Southport 

Project: 

Cape Fear 
River 

Comprehensive 
Survey 

Legend: 



Plantation 

Locations 
approximate 



1 mile 




Date: May 1994 



Figure 10. Plantations: Reaves Point to Southport. 

91 




N.C. Division 
of Archives 
and History 

Underwater 

Archaeology 

Unit 



Drawing Title: 

Plantations: 

Southport 

to 

Cape Fear 



Project: 

Cape Fear 
River 

Comprehensive 
Survey 



Legend: 

Plantation 

Locations 
approximate 



o 



1 mile 




Date: May 1994 



Figure 11. Plantations: Southi 



Southport 
(Smithville) 




Figure 11. Plantations: Southport to Cape Fear. 

93 



N.C. Division 
of Archives 
and History 

Underwater 

Archaeology 

Unit 



Drawing Title: 

Plantations: 

Southport 

to 

Cape Fear 



Project: 

Cape Fear 
River 

Comprehensive 
Survey 



Legend: 



Plantation 

Locations 
approximate 




mile 



Date: May 1994 



Belvidere Plantation (Brunswick River) 

The plantation immediately north of Belleville, known as Belvidere, was originally 
owned by Col. William Dry about the time of the American Revolution. Belvidere 
plantation was located nearly opposite the city of Wilmington on the opposite side of 
Eagles Island, and it was one of the last plantations to abandon rice production for 
other means. Dry's son-in-law, Benjamin Smith, later owned the property, where he 
established his main residence. One of the prominent visitors to Belvidere was 
President George Washington, who stopped by the plantation on April 26, 1791, to 
have breakfast with Benjamin Smith. During the war Smith served as a colonel in the 
Continental army and aide-de-camp to General Washington. Smith was elected 
governor of North Carolina in 1810 and died in 1826 (Asbury 1966:1; Waddell 1989:48; 
Reaves 1988:34). 

By June 1831 Belvidere plantation was advertised for sale by the then-current owner, 
William W. Jones. The following lengthy description of Belvidere given by Jones 
appeared in the Wilmington Cape Fear Recorder on June 29, 1 831 : 

My "Belvidere" plantation, formerly the residence of General Smith, on the 
Cape Fear River in North Carolina, it lies opposite to and in sight of, and 
two miles from Wilmington on the stage road leading from Wilmington to 
Fayetteville and the road leading to Georgetown, S.C. This Plantation 
contains at least 200 acres of tide swamp, 160 acres of which are banked 
and ditched and now under cultivation. In fertility, I don't know that it 
combines more advantages than any other rice plantation in this State. In 
the first place, it is situated precisely in that pitch of the tide which 
exempts it from the effects of the salt water and freshes, and it is also 
protected by woodlands adjoining, that my losses by storms have been 
very inconsiderable which renders a crop certain, let what will happen. 
Last though not least, it is intersected by creeks in such a manner that it 
can be harvested in one third less time than it would otherwise require. 
There are about nine hundred (900) acres of Pineland which is poor and 
will remain so forever, except some fifty (50) or sixty (60) acres perhaps 
which has a clay foundation, the rest would require manure every year 
and with such lands I never meddle. It is well watered, having many good 
springs; and a well of as good and as cold water as can be found in the 
lower part of the country. 

Improvement-On the premises are a comfortable and convenient two- 
story dwelling house and a building one and one half story with kitchen, 
wash house, stable, carriage house, smokehouse, etc. A barn, 110 feet 
long, 40 feet wide, two story's high in which is a threshing machine and 
other machinery. Also overseer's houses and kitchen, all of which 
buildings are of brick, put up in the most substantial manner. There is 
another barn built of wood directly at the river from whence the rice can 



95 



be conveniently thrown into a flat or vessel and any vessel that can come 
over the bar can come to the barn. I have endeavored to render as 
permanent as possible all the repairs and improvements. I think it is upon 
the whole the handsomest and most pleasant residence in this part of the 
country. The improvements were made with the expectation that it would 
be my chief residence all my life, but the state of my health requires that I 
should reside more permanently in a high and dry part of the country 
( Wilmington Cape Fear Recorder , June 29, 1831). 

Belvidere plantation was owned from 1858 to 1860 by James Moore, who sold off 837 
acres of the property for $7,300. During 1860 a total of 494,100 bushels of rice were 
grown on the estate (Wells 1972:n.p.). In 1868 Dr. H. H. Robinson sold the plantation 
to C. H. Robinson, for $6,000. The tract contained 1,300 acres of land, 200 of which 
were unimproved rice lands, and about 40 acres of cleared uplands, with the balance in 
timber. Robinson proposed to establish in connection with parties in New York a large 
vineyard and truck garden and gradually to work into the rice lands and put them under 
cultivation ( Wilmington Star , February 23, 1868). Turning wet rice lands into dry crop 
production appears to have been the direction in which most of the locals were 
heading. As one article stated, 'Truck farming is daily growing more popular in our 
vicinity, and so well adapted is our section to this kind of business that much profit will 
be realized by those now engaged in it, and the number of truck farms will be immense" 
( Wilmington Star r March 19, 1869). 

A group of Wilmington citizens on tour included a stop at Belvidere in April 1874 and 
observed the trend of replacing rice cultivation on the Brunswick River with other crops. 
They witnessed that the raising of "English peas, cucumbers, cabbage, corn and other 
vegetables" had nearly replaced the growing of rice with the introduction of a working 
drainage system. They were highly in favor of this "dry culture system" as being more 
profitable per acre. One hundred dollars per acre was now thought possible 
( Wilmington Star , April 14, 1874; Hall 1980:22). A general decline in rice production 
can be inferred by the fact that in August 1880 the new owners of Belvidere, J. D. 
McRae and Isaac Bates, had 700 acres planted in corn and only 130 acres in rice 
( Wilmington Star . August 11, 1880). 

A barn on the Belvidere plantation belonging to McRae and Bates was destroyed by 
fire in March 1881. The barn contained "quite a large amount of corn, with about fifteen 
hundred empty bags, a lot of tools, a quantity of cotton seed, etc. ( Wilmington Weekly 
Star , March 11, 1881). The importance of converting rice lands to other purposes was 
discussed as late as 1889. An editorial in a local Wilmington newspaper stated that the 
question of conversion was raised in a suggestive way more than fifteen years 
previously. 

It is not likely that all the rice fields in this section could be profitably 
cultivated in vegetables; but with the aid of pumps with wind mills or 
steam engines as the motive power, it is probable that a very large 



96 



proportion of these lands, inexhaustible in fertility, can be made to 
produce in perfection large crops of potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, 
beans and other vegetables. 

In a specific reference to Belvidere plantation, the editorial further states: 

We are not prepared to say that the proposed change is entirely 
practicable, but we have seen fine cabbage growing on the rice field of 
the old Belvidere Plantation, in Brunswick County, now owned by Mr. J. D. 
McRae. By means of a pump operated by a wind-mill, the field was kept 
sufficiently dry, and the soil was as mellow and friable as that of a highly 
cultivated garden ( Wilmington Star , May 25, 1889). 

One of the brick buildings, believed to be the overseer's house, was still standing as 
late as 1958. The one-story building, with a basement and a wooden addition to the 
rear, had been occupied by the Evans family until 1947. In addition to the standing 
structure, the remains of a ballast stone building were still visible at that date (Lee 
1980:22; Asbury 1966:2). 



Benevento Plantation 

In January 1842, 300 acres of land known as "Benevento" located at the Cape Fear 
River and Mallory Creek [north of Old Town Creek on the west side of river] were 
advertised for sale by Samuel Potter of Smithville. The plantation property contained 
157 acres of "first rate tide swamp land at a good pitch of the tide" and adjoined the 
lands of Joseph H. Watters ( Wilmington Chronicle , January 5, 1842). 



Bleak House (Eagles Island) 

Bleak House was located on Eagles Island opposite Kidder's Mill in the extreme 
southern part of Wilmington and was the property of H. U. Butters in 1899. The 
plantation was leased by the state penitentiary where rice harvesting was done by 
convict labor. George H. Cannon, superintendent of the penitentiary farm, stated that 
the crop at Bleak House yielded from 40 to 50 bushels of rough rice per acre. A charter 
was issued October 30, 1 902 to the Cape Fear Rice Company. The company owned 
two rice plantations on Eagles Island-'Bleak House," containing 120 acres of rice land, 
and "Osawotomie" plantation, of 145 acres of rice land ( Wilmington Messenger , 
September 13, 1899; Wilmington Dispatch . November 29, 1902; Hall 1980:247). 



Buchoi Plantation (Brunswick River) 

Buchoi was situated on the west side of the Brunswick River about 4 miles from 
Wilmington and on a portion of Eagles Island. During the late eighteenth century, 
Judge Alfred Moore was the first owner of the plantation known as Buchoi. The name 
appears to have been taken from one of the old Moore estates on Goose Creek, South 



97 



Carolina, that bore an Indian name and was spelled in the records as Boo-Chawee 
(Sprunt 1992:57; Waddell 1989:48). Alfred Moore died in 1810, and his will provided 
that Buchoi plantation should pass to his son Alfred Jr., with a portion of the lands west 
of the river going also to his daughter, Anne, and to her husband, Maj. Hugh Waddell. 
The Waddells and his other daughter, Sarah, also received sizable tracts of land on 
Eagles Island, both above and below the causeway that crossed the island and 
provided access to the Wilmington ferry. In the early nineteenth century a section of 
Buchoi was owned by W. C. Lord, who advertised the sale of the plantation in 
November 1838. (Angley 1989:1-2). 

Alfred Moore the younger held ownership of Buchoi and the associated lands on 
Eagles Island until 1830, at which time he conveyed them by deed of gift to his 
daughter Elizabeth, wife of Frances Nash Waddell. The Waddells' disputed sale of 
Buchoi to John L. Hewitt of Wilmington in 1839 led to a complex case before the North 
Carolina Supreme Court. John L Hewitt advertised sale of the property in April 1842 at 
public auction at the courthouse in Smithville (Southport). At about that time the rice 
plantation consisted of 200 acres of tide swamp, of which 100 were under cultivation 
and 40 were cleared upland. A large dwelling was constructed on the upland, along 
with a large brick barn and other Improvements (Angley 1989;2-3; Wilmington 
Advertiser, November 16, 1838; Wilmington Chronicle , April 27, 1842; Hall, 1980;22). 

In 1851 Thomas C. Mcllhenny of Wilmington became part owner of Buchoi. On May 17, 
1857, Mcllhenny sold Buchoi to Frederick J. Lord of Brunswick County. The 1860 
census shows that under the ownership of Lord, Buchoi produced nearly 200,000 
pounds of rice under the labor of fifty-three slaves. Frederick Lord placed Buchoi up for 
sale at auction in Smithville on June 30, 1874. Capt. Augustus W. Rieger, who already 
owned Glastonbury plantation, which he purchased in 1869, may have purchased 
Buchoi-then spelled Beauchoix-from Lord in 1874. Captain Rieger died at his country 
home plantation on December 2, 1903 (Angley 1989:11; Wilmington Star , March 12, 
1869, June 30, 1874; Wilmington Messenger , December 3, 1903). 



Clarendon Plantation 

A short distance above Old Town Creek, at Mallory Creek, was built Clarendon 
plantation. John Grange was the first owner, having been granted thousands of acres 
of land on November 13, 1728. The plantation was named for the earl of Clarendon, 
first of the Lords Proprietors. As with most old plantations, Clarendon had a long series 
of owners. During the American Revolution the plantation passed form John Ancrum to 
William Dry, to John Harleston, and to Nicolas Evaleigh. After the Revolution it 
belonged to Benjamin Smith, James Carson, and John Poisson successively. Marsden 
Campbell owned Clarendon in the early 1830s; there his youngest daughter, Frances, 
was married to Hugh Waddell on May 23, 1833 ( Wilmington People's Press . May 29, 
1833; Wilmington Star-News , March 7, 1974). When Campbell wished to sell 
Clarendon in 1834 he placed the following notice in a local paper: 



98 



For Sale the rice plantation on which I reside in Brunswick County five 
miles below Wilmington called Clarendon. In situation and fertility it is 
surpassed by no place on the Cape Fear River. It contains by title 335 
acres of tide swamp; 654 acres upland. There are 220 acres of low land 
in a high state of cultivation, which have averaged upwards of seventy- 
two bushels of rice to the acre. On the premises are a comfortable 
dwelling house &c. a brick barn with extensive framed Mill-houses 
attached and two threshing Mills. Negro quarters capable of containing 
one hundred hands well built of brick, and covered with Dutch pantile; a 
comfortable house for Overseer, a grist mill with a plentiful supply of water 
and all other conveniences for such an establishment, which need not be 
described as tnose wishing to purchase will of course visit the Estate. 
There are also 50 to 60 head of Cattle and as many sheep ( People's 
Press and Wilmington Advertiser , September 18, 1834) 

William Watters purchased the plantation and built a replacement mansion for the 
original on his new property. The two-story frame antebellum residence was referred to 
as "Green House." It was painted a pine green, which blended with the forest of tall 
pines surrounding the building. This house burnt in March 1974 after being used mainly 
for storage and an artist studio. Census records indicate that in 1860 William Watters 
and Daniel Baker were co-owners of Clarendon. Between the two men, rice production 
on the plantation exceeded 400,000 pounds. By 1879 the plantation had been sold to 
Col. S. L. Fremont, and by 1884, it was owned by Preston Cumming & Co. On 
December 18, 1884, a large rice barn at Clarendon plantation belonging to Preston 
Cumming was destroyed by fire. Also lost in the fire were several pounds of rice and 
machinery. Although most of the crop had already been sold and the rice barn had 
been insured, the fire prompted the owners to place the plantation up for sale. Three 
days later, Preston and Cummings gave notice that the 1,000-acre Clarendon 
plantation would be sold (Sprunt 1896:38; Waddell 1989:47; Watters 1961:47: 
Wilmington Star , June 5, 1879; December 19 and 21, 1884; Wilmington Star-News . 
March 7, 1974). 

By the close of the nineteenth century, Fred Kidder and H. Walters owned Clarendon 
plantation and grew rice there. In 1896 the first rice crop harvested came from the 
Brunswick plantation. On the last day of September 1916 the subsequent owner, J. W. 
Brooks, a prominent wholesale merchant of Wilmington, sold Clarendon to J. E. Cowell, 
a Wilmington barber, for $20,000. Clarendon, once known as the old Kidder farm, was 
described as one of the most fertile in Brunswick County. Bounded on the north by 
Mallory Creek, Clarendon fronted the river for nearly a mile and stretched back a 
considerable distance. Earlier, a canal dug on the plantation allowed river vessels to 
unload and take on cargoes with a minimum of trouble. Clarendon was still well 
timbered and considered ideal for stock raising. (Sprunt 1896:38; Wilmington 
Messenger , July 27, 1894; Wilmington Star . October 1, 1916). 



99 



Brooks's ownership and attempt at stock raising at Clarendon lasted only a few years. 
By July 1923 the plantation had been sold to D. H. Lippitt, a member of the firm of 
Alexander Sprunt and Son, Inc. Lippitt contracted in July with Morton and Cox, local 
builders, to construct a new mansion, the third at Clarendon, in the Mount Vernon style. 
The new place was to be maintained as a shooting lodge and country home for Lippitt 
during part of the year. His new home along the river would be made of brick, three 
stories in height, and would contain twelve rooms. The roof would be completely 
coppered, as opposed to the ceramic method. A terraced lawn would be maintained 
between the house and the river. Cost of the construction was estimated at $30,000. D. 
H. Lippitt sold his plantation in July 1944 for $50,000 to Cornelius and Wilma Thomas 
of Wilmington ( Wilmington Star , July 27, 1923; Wilmington News , July 17, 1944). 

Clarendon plantation has been associated with the location of the early Charles Towne 
settlement of 1664-1667. Excavations conducted at the plantation since 1957 and the 
presence of a standing structure known as the "smoke house" have lent credence to 
this fact. The smokehouse, constructed of old English corner bond brick, possibly 
brought from Great Britain, were placed in the French Basketweave design. Early-style 
ceramic pantiles were used as a roofing material. It is thought that this structure was 
the powder magazine for the Charles Towne settlement ( Wilmington News , July 17, 
1944; Wilmington Star-News r March 7, 1974). 



Forceput Plantation 

On April 21, 1778, Roger Moore and his wife, Mary, sold for £200 to William Hill a tract 
of 400 acres on the west side of the Northeast Cape Fear River, about 2 miles from 
Wilmington. The plantation became home for William Hill who had moved from Boston 
to Brunswick Town. When the British were preparing to burn Brunswick Town in 1 776, 
William Hill fled and eventually purchased the property that he called "Forceput." 
Margaret Hill, the wife of the deceased William, transferred by deed the ownership of 
Forceput to her son, William Henry Hill, in 1788. That same year John Hill, the brother 
of William Henry, purchased the plantation known as Fairfields, which lay across the 
river (New Hanover County Deeds, Books G-311; I-74; K-149). 

By 1791 William Henry Hill, John Hill, and Nathaniel Moore Hill, who appear to have 
been co-owners at the time, sold Forceput to their brother, Thomas Hill, for £1,200. In 
1804 Thomas Hill sold the 400-acre plantation of swampland and high ground to Henry 
Watters for £5,000. It is unknown whether or not Thomas made improvements to the 
plantation during his thirteen-year ownership, but the price he received for the sale of 
the property had significantly increased during the period. By 1812 Henry Watters was 
deceased and had willed the plantation to his heirs. Unable to satisfy the levy against 
the property, the local sheriff placed Forceput up for sale at auction on August 8, 1812. 
Archibald M. Hooper purchased the land with a high bid of $1,250, and recorded the 
deed in 1814 (New Hanover County Deeds, Books K-149, P-130). 



100 



The plantation remained in the Hooper family during the next forty years. On January 4, 
1855, George D. Hooper, Johnson J. Hooper, and John D. Hooper, three sons of 
Archibald Hooper, along with Francis N. Waddell Jr., all then in possession of the land, 
sold Forceput to Arthur J. Hill for $500. Ownership of Forceput is obscure during the 
period of the Civil War, but following the conflict county tax lists indicate David Barber 
(1885) and Thomas Evans (1890) each in possession of 175 acres. By 1910 a deed 
had been proved in favor of a Theodore Empie as owner, who apparently sold off the 
plantation to commercial developers. The following year the Pocomoke Guana Co. 
transferred the 400-acre tract by deed to the American Agricultural Chemical Company. 
The tract has remained an industrial site to the present (New Hanover County Deeds, 
Book 60-680; Wilmington Star . May 26, 1 91 1 ). 



The Forks Plantation 

The plantation just north of Clarendon was known as The Forks and originally 
consisted of 6,500 acres on the west bank of the Cape Fear river and 700 acres of rice 
land on Eagles Island. The Forks was first owned by Richard Eagles Sr., one of the first 
settlers to come to the Wilmington vicinity about 1725. Richard Eagles was originally 
from Bristol in England but had come to the lower Cape Fear from Charles Town 
(Charleston), where he had been a merchant and planter. On February 17, 1737, King 
George II granted Richard Eagles the major portion of a "big island" across the Cape 
Fear River from the small village of Newton (later called Wilmington). Through his 
marriage to Elizabeth Crichton, Richard was also related to William Dry, who also 
owned land on Eagles Island. On January 12, 1738, John Watson of Newton deeded 
540 acres at The Forks to Richard Eagles, adding more acreage to his original grant 
(Reaves 1 988:24; Angley 1 989:3; Hall 1 980:22). 

In 1757 Eagles deeded to his daughter Elizabeth's husband, J. Davis Jr., land on the 
island now known as "Eagles Island." At his death by about 1758, Richard Eagles Sr. 
left all of his "lands, cattle, horses, and slaves, except a wench, Hannah Burrows, and 
her children" to Richard Eagles Jr. To Thomas Eagleson, the son of Hannah, Richard 
Sr. left £100 and a plantation called "Cowans." To his son Richard Eagles Jr., he 
bequeathed his Wilmington lots and unspecified plantation lands, along with seventy- 
three slaves and a large quantity of plantation implements and household furnishings 
(Reaves 1988:24; Angley 1989:3; Hall 1980:22). 

Richard Eagles Jr., married the former Margaret Henrietta Bugnion. In 1765 Richard 
Eagles Jr. sold to Anthony Ward, merchant of Wilmington, land on Eagles Island that 
was part of the patent land that John Watson had sold to his father. In his will dated 
March 31, 1769, Richard Eagles Jr. left to his son, Joseph, "the House Plantation, saw 
& grist mills" at The Forks. To his daughter Susanna, future wife of Alfred Moore, he left 
several additional Wilmington lots, land on the west side of the Brunswick River, and 
"also one third part of all the Land I now own on the Island commonly called Eagles 
Island." To his sister, Elizabeth Davis, he left "the House she now lives in on the No. 
side of the mill pond with the field that is fenced in as long as she lives." As also 



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expressed in his will, "Tis my wish and desire that Mr. William Dry have a title to a 
certain tract of land bought of my father, Richard Eagles, and not confirmed. Land 
being on the Island near said William Dry's 'Brick House' on the Island, he making my 
heirs title to one acre out of same on side next to Wilmington" (Reaves 1984:25-26; 
Angley 1989:4-5; Andrews 1934:316; Schaw 1934:316). 

Joseph Eagles married Sarah Read Eagles and had two children. When Janet Schaw 
passed through Wilmington on her travels in 1775, she stopped at The Forks. Ms. 
Schaw was favorable impressed with Joseph and his plantation. She briefly noted in 
her journal: "Mr. Eagle ... is a most amiable young man. We stayed all the forenoon 
with him, saw his rice mills, his indigo works and timber mills." By 1784 Joseph Eagles 
was the owner of some 3,060 acres of land in Brunswick County, as well as two town 
lots in Wilmington. His mill facilities on the present Jackeys Creek survived destruction 
during the Revolution and were still in operation in 1787 (Reaves 1984:26; Angley 
1989:5-7; Schaw 1934:148). In a transaction between himself and his brother-in-law, 
Colonel James Read, Joseph Eagles referred to his mill facilities and the shipment of 
timber and shingles by boat. He rented to Read for a mere twenty shillings per year the 
following: 

... all that messeuse or tenement and tract ... of Land situated... on the 
North side of the Mill pond . . . containing sixty acres . . . also the use 
benefit and privilege of cutting felling and carrying away cypress timber 
for the purpose of making shingles and for other uses in the said Mill 
pond . . . and carrying the said timber and shingles down the said pond to 
the Saw Mill of the said Joseph Eagles and landing them on the land at 
the said Saw Mill and from thence loading the same in boats and 
otherwise carrying them down the creek for transportation to the North 
West river and for that purpose with Boats of any kind or construction to 
Navigate at all times the said Mill Pond and Creek . . . (Brunswick County 
Deeds, Book B, 327-328; Angley 1989:7). 

Joseph died in 1791 leaving the property to his sons, Richard III and Joseph Jr., the 
first having died in 1811 and the second in 1827, each without heirs. As only an aunt, 
the wife of Alfred Moore remained, the Eagles family name disappeared from the 
annals of North Carolina history. On June 12, 1806, Richard Eagles III, a "doctor of 
Physic" and a graduate of the University of North Carolina, sold all of the Eagles Island 
land "being in Great Island opposite Wilmington and commonly called Eagles' Island," 
except for IO8V2 acres assigned to other heirs, to Maurice Moore, of Brunswick County, 
for $11,000. Later that year Moore deeded the land, including Eagles' Mill Dam and 
Pond, to Alfred Moore Jr. In 1835 the vast majority of the former Eagles plantation and 
the associated mill facilities on Jackeys Creek were acquired in two separate 
transactions by Brunswick County physician and planter Sterling B. Everitt. In the first 
transaction on January 1 , "two hundred and ten acres of tide Swamp [on] Eagles Island 
beginning at the mouth of Eagles cut" was bought for $2,000 from Maurice Moore, son 
of the late Judge Alfred Moore. In the second transaction two months later, Everitt paid 



102 



$1,500 to John H. Winder for "a tract or parcel of land covered by water known by the 
name of Eagles Mill Pond and one half acre of land attached to and belonging to the 
same . . . with the dam and appertenences . . . (Brunswick County Deeds, Book L, 380- 
381). The Forks plantation, however, remained in the Eagles family until 1853, at which 
time John Winder and Caroline Ann Eagles Winder, his wife, conveyed it to Thomas C. 
Mcllhenny for $45,500 in three separate legal papers, which included The Forks, the 
remaining rice lands on Eagles Island, and fifty-three slaves (Reaves 1984:26; Angley 
1 989:5; Schaw 1 934: 1 48; Hall 1 980:22). 

In 1880, after a quarter-century of ownership, Thomas C. Mcllhenny offered The Forks, 
and his other plantation, Asperne, for sale. The following advertisement placed by 
Mcllhenny describes the existing Forks plantation: 

The Forks tract can be sold with 100 acres of Rice land, or increased to 
about 200 acres with about 400 to clear . . . and about 3,000 acres of 
upland well-timbered. ... On this tract is a very valuable Mill Pond, 
covering 1 ,000 acres of rich alluvial land equal to any on the River, which 
can be taken in at small cost, either for Rice or corn, or kept as an 
unfailing water power. Also a large quantity of black Cypress timber for 
mill purposes, shingles or railroad cross ties. . . . 

The improvements are a good Dwelling House containing twelve rooms, 
with all necessary out buildings; Overseer's House, with five rooms; large 
Mill House, good frame houses sufficient to accommodate 60 to 75 
laborers, and large commodious, Stables etc. ( Wilmington Star , March 30, 
1880). 

The Forks plantation probably continued to be used for rice cultivation until the early 
twentieth century, but cartographic evidence indicates that the mill on Jackeys Creek 
passed out of operation between 1880 and 1901. By 1932 the plantation house and 
other structures just south of the creek apparently no longer stood (Angley 1989:13- 
14). 



Gander Hall 

Gander Hall is one of the few plantations known by name to exist on the east side of 
the Cape Fear River below Wilmington. Ronald McDugall may have been the first 
owner of the 300-acre plantation, as he advertised for the sale of Gander Hall in 
October 1799. His notice placed in the local newspaper provides the earilest 
description of the plantation: 

For sale that valuable plantation, containing 300 acres of Land, lying on 
the east side of Cape Fear river, opposite Brunswick, and adjoining the 
Plantation of Peter Maxwell, Esq. The situation is as healthy as any on 
the Northwest River, on which is a very convenient Dwelling-House, a 



103 



Well of good water, a valuable Fishery, etc. There are about 200 acres of 
cleared land which will answer the cultivation of rice and about 10 acres 
under good fence. There is also an excellent range for cattle and hogs . . . 
( Wilmington Gazette , October 10, 1799). 

By 1830 Capt. James Mcllhenny owned the plantation; Mcllhenny, it is said, was the 
victim of a well-known joke that provided the name of the plantation. The captain was 
interested in taking advantage of the extraordinary trade demand for goose feathers at 
the time and ordered from a great distance and at a high price a large quantity of geese 
for breeding purposes. After waiting an almost intolerable time for the laying season to 
begin, he consulted an expert on geese and was informed, to his amazement, that he 
had purchased only ganders. Thus the name of the plantation was established. During 
the Civil War the landing at Gander Hall served as a transfer point for Confederate 
troops to be loaded on board steamers (Reaves 1982:4; Hall 1975:217; Sprunt 
1896:49-50; Watters 1961:23; ORA, Vol. XLVI, pt. ii, pg. 1058). 

In 1883 plans were under way for the closing of Comcake Inlet, which opened into 
Buzzards Bay south of the former New Inlet. The government awarded a contract to 
"Messrs. Ross & Lara ... for supplying stone, brush and other necessary material" for 
filling up the inlet. Ross and Lara obtained the stone used for the project from a 
coquina quarry known as "Keystone Quarry" located at Gander Hall. A small tram 
railroad was constructed from the quarry to the river, a distance of VA miles, to haul the 
stone to the river's edge. Under the direction of assistant engineer Henry Bacon, a 
wharf 1,100 feet in length was built at the western end of the railroad track. There 
waiting scows were loaded at the wharf and pulled by the contracted steam tug Harold 
to the site of the dam under construction at the inlet. Near the quarry a number of 
wooden shanties were built to house the large number of men needed to dig the 
sedimentary rock. In February 1884 Ross and Lara advertised for "100 Good Quarry 
Hand." Their contract called for the removal of 9,000 tons of rock from the quarry 
( Wilmington Star . October 4, 16, 21, November 15, December 4, 22, 1883, February 3, 
1884; Reaves 1982:4). 

During the 1880s and 1890s Gander Hall was the site of religious camp meetings held 
by the black Methodists of Wilmington and the surrounding area. Their annual camp 
meeting was held near the wharf. For the 1890 meeting, the steamer Sylvan Grove 
made trips three times a day to what was then called "Harper's Pier" (Doctor Point) for 
the accommodation of persons wishing to visit the black camp meeting in progress at 
Gander Hall. Thousands of men, women, and children gathered at the campground at 
Gander Hall in 1894 for one of the largest meetings ever held. Two steamboats, the 
Clarence and the Wilmington were needed to transport the religious adventurers from 
Wilmington to Gander Hall. The vessels "had all they could do to handle the 
multitudes" ( Wilmington Sta r. December 22, 1 883, May 31 , June 1 , 1 890, June 9, 1 891 , 
June 12, 1894; Reaves 1982:4). 



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Gander Hall fell into disuse before the end of the century and eventually went to ruin. 
By 1896 all that marked the location of the old plantation was a "fine grove of old oaks" 
near the New Hanover Transit Company landing (Sprunt 1896:n.p.). 



Glastonbury Plantation (Brunswick River) 

On Thursday, March 12, 1869, at 11 a.m., the "valuable and desirable Rice Plantation, 
well known as 'Glastonbury' situated in Brunswick County, on Brunswick River, 4 miles 
from this city" was sold at auction to Captain A. W. Rieger. The plantation was 
comprised of about 760 acres on the west side of the river just north of Buchoi 
plantation, owned by Frederick J. Lord, and about 220 acres of fine rice lands located 
on Eagles Island. The balance of the plantation was described as being "superior 
Upland, suitable for Cotton, Corn, &c." A six-room frame dwelling, with kitchen, a barn, 
and quarters for fifty hands were built on the plantation. Glastonbury was bought by 
Captain Rieger for $3,900 ( Wilmington Star , February 19, and March 12, 1869). 



Governor's Point Plantation 

Located on what presently is Snows Point was the first and southernmost estate on the 
west side of the Cape Fear River during the colonial period. Historically it was known 
as Governor's Point because royal governor George Burrington purchased the property 
from the first grantee, John Porter. John Porter came from the Albemarle region to the 
Cape Fear in 1723 and died at Rocky Point in 1734. George Burrington became the 
first royal governor in 1724 and established his plantation just above the mouth of 
present-day Walden Creek about 1725, a year before the new town of Brunswick was 
laid out. After that date the Moseley map (1733) shows Burrington's residence, while 
Burringtons Point (Governor's Point) is indicated on the Wimble (1738) and Hyrne 
(1749) maps. Walden Creek was also previously known as Governors (Burringtons) 
Creek. In the late 1750s or early 1760s Governor's Point plantation was sold to Robert 
Snow, for whom the point was later named (Angley 1983:6-7; Waddell 1989:39; Payne 
and Brown 1983:20; Sprunt 1992:57). 



Greenfield Plantation 

The vicinity of Wilmington's Greenfield Lake and Gardens, located just south of the city, 
was once a rice plantation. The original grant of 1,000 acres was issued to William 
Smith on September 13, 1735 by Governor Gabriel Johnston. The property 
subsequently passed from Smith to Robert Halton and to Dr. Samuel Green, a young 
surgeon, in 1753. Beside the large "mill pond" or lake on Dr. Green's plantation, he 
built a sawmill. The location of his sawmill is noted on the Collet map of 1770 and the 
Mouzon map of 1775. Upon the death of Dr. Green in February 1771, the property was 
willed to his wife for life and in trust to his young son Samuel. Ownership of the 
plantation remained with Dr. Green's heirs until December 20, 1834, when Governor 
Edward Dudley purchased the land. On January 8, 1850, Dudley sold Greenfields to 
Thomas Mcllhenny, who retained the property for a number of years (New Hanover 



105 



County Deeds, Book H-92; V-239; HH-70; Wilmington Star , July 4, 1882; Hall 
1980:414-415). A brief description of the plantation appeared in a local newspaper on 
May 26, 1857, when Thomas Mcllhenny attempted the sale of his property: 

The plantation known as Greenfield, situated 2/4 miles below the town of 
Wilmington, containing about 170 to 180 acres in rice land and 300 acres 
in upland. The improvements consist of a dwelling house with necessary 
outhouses, two barns capable of holding about 15,000 bushels of rice, 
and cabins sufficient to accommodate 35 to 40 negroes, all of which are 
nearly new and in pretty good condition. Belonging to the plantation is a 
fine mill pond, affording an abundance of water for the working of two 
grain mills which are erected and now in successful operation 
( Wilmington Star , May 26, 1857). 

The Greenfield plantation remained in the Mcllhenny family until 1872 and was noted 
for several years after as Mcllhenny's mill or mill pond. The "old mill house" was 
removed in October 1909, but another house, which contained the latest and most 
modern machinery for a grist mill, was built ( Wilmington Star , October 19, 1909; Hall 
1980:415). In September 1920 the Greenfields property was sold to the city of 
Wilmington to be developed into an amusement park. The final payment for 158 acres, 
including the mill and dancing pavilion, was made by the city five years later. Much of 
the original plantation had been divided and sold off as tracts during the late nineteenth 
and early twentieth centuries (New Hanover County Deeds, Book GGG-152; 
Wilmington Star , December 14, 1883). 



Hallett Plantation (Eagles Island) 

During the two decades following the Civil War, B. F. Hallett owned a plantation on 
Eagles Island 1 1 /2 miles south of the Market Street dock. The rice plantation contained 
60 acres and was said to be located "under the bank and ditch, with good trunks." A 
writer for a Wilmington newspaper commented in August 1876 that it was unusual to 
see fully matured rice at Hallett's plantation so early in the season. In late December 
1884 Hallett placed his plantation up for rent ( Wilmington Star , August 24, 1876; 
December 24, 1884). 



Haulover Plantation 

Before a storm opened New Inlet in 1761, mariners wishing to sail between the Atlantic 
Ocean and the Cape Fear River had to navigate close to the treacherous Frying Pan 
shoals near the mouth of the river. For those individuals using small craft, the 
dangerous and lengthy route could be avoided by transporting the vessel overland 
across the peninsula near its narrowest point. The area in which vessels were carried 
overland most often occurred near Sugar Loaf at The Haulover. There was both an 
upper and lower Haulover across the peninsula. In the early eighteenth century 
Maurice Moore was granted ownership of nearly 3,000 acres at The Haulover. In 1736 



106 



Moore transferred 2,640 acres of his property to Colonel Thomas Merrick of Wilmington 
for £500 and the remainder to John Porter. To further facilitate travel between the 
ocean and the interior of Brunswick County, the county court ordered that a ferry be 
kept from the west side of the river at the place known as The Haulover. Cornelius 
Harnett Sr. purchased in June 1726 from Col. Maurice Moore two lots within the town of 
Brunswick on the lower Cape Fear River, where he built two houses. It was from this 
location that Harnett Sr. operated a ferry across the river to the haulover near Sugar 
Loaf. At least one dwelling's remains could still be seen in the late 1800s at the ferry 
location (New Hanover County Deeds, Book E-313; AB-212; Colonial Records 2:686- 
698; McKoy 1973:30, 119, 155). 

In 1737 Thomas Merrick conveyed his newly acquired 2,640 acres at The Haulover to 
Richard Moorescroft of Barbadoes for slightly more than £492. The property involved in 
the transaction included everything above Landgrave Smith's land northward for about 
12 miles. While Merrick was probably a longtime resident at the plantation, there is no 
indication that Moorescroft ever resided at The Haulover. Perhaps Moorescroft simply 
held the land in trust for Merrick, as the property would be owned by Merrick's heirs a 
few years later (New Hanover County Deeds, Book AB-37; McKoy 1973:30, 119, 155). 

Upon the death of Thomas Merrick The Haulover plantation was likely willed to his five 
children, or at least to Thomas Jr., his eldest son. Thomas Merrick Jr. married and had 
two daughters, Sarah and Dorothy, to whom he left his property on Federal Point. 
Dorothy married but died without children, and as she made no will, her portion of the 
plantation reverted to her sister, Sarah, who married Samuel Ashe the Younger. In 
1788 Samuel and Sarah Ashe sold to Archibald MacLaine 500 acres of "Lands 
commonly known by the name of the Haulover between the Cape Fear River Westerly- 
the Sea Easterly and the New Inlet Southwardly-part of the estate of Thomas Merrick. . 
. ." On June 25, 1792, the couple sold additional land to William Moseley. The mouth of 
Hickory Ridge creek divided the property of Moseley and MacLaine. William Moseley 
sold to MacLaine his 500 acres, and over the next few years he also sold 920 acres to 
three others: Simon Sellars, Joseph Newton, and Peter Maxwell. It is interesting to note 
that in the deed from Mosely to Maxwell in 1794, the Sand Hill, or Sugar Loaf, was 
used as one of the landmarks. By 1801 George Hooper and his wife, Catherine, sold to 
Simon Sellars a 500-acre portion of The Haulover plantation "except for six half acre 
lots at the point near the Inlet where the houses now stand" (McKoy 1973:30, 119, 155; 
New Hanover County Deeds, Book H-691; K-313; M-97). 



Hawfield Plantation 

On September 15, 1869, the Wilmington auctioneers Cronly & Morris attempted to sell 
the "Valuable Rice Plantation" known as Hawfield, located 12 miles below the city on 
the east shore. Hawfield was comprised of 700 acres, of which 110 acres were rice 
land under bank and ditch. Apparently the plantation did not sell, or the last buyer was 
unable to meet the terms, but Hawfield was again sold at auction just six months later, 



107 



on March 23, 1870. Nothing else is known about the plantation or the owners 
( Wilmington Star , September?, 1869, February 20, 1870). 



Hilton or Maynard Plantation (Northeast River) 

Above Wilmington on the south side of Smith's Creek, near the river, John Gardner 
Squires was granted 300 acres in 1728. Squires kept the property for approximately 
two years before he sold it in 1730 to John Maultsby (New Hanover County Deeds, 
Book YY-142; AB-161; McKoy 1973:32). The land once again changed owners when 
Maultsby apparently transferred ownership of the plantation to William Moore prior to 
1753. Probably during Moore's ownership, the plantation was significantly improved. A 
"Mansion house" was built on the plantation and a grove of live oaks was located just 
south of the mouth of Smith's Creek. The dwelling faced the river and was constructed 
of brick with a gambrel roof and dormer windows on the second story. A large porch 
encircled three sides of the mansion. The mansion was standing, although in a 
damaged condition, as late as 1892 (Lee 1980:143; Waddell 1989:49). Following 
William Moore's death, the plantation, then known as Maynard, passed into the hands 
of the noted Wilmington individuals most closely associated with the plantation, 
Cornelius Harnett Jr. and his wife, Mary: 

150 acres more or less were sold and conveyed to the said Cornelius 
Harnett Jr. by William Moore Esq. dec'd by Deed bearing date of 30th day 
of may 1753, and the remaining 144 acres was by Deed bearing date the 
9th of November 1756 sold to the said Cornelius Harnett by the "Exors" of 
the said William Moore together with the capital Mansion or dwelling 
house and all other Edifices, Erections buildings and improvements on 
the said Land and all ways, water courses, woods, passages, paths etc., 
to the said estate or plantation (New Hanover County Deeds, Book H- 
427). 

In 1750 Gov. Gabriel Johnston appointed Harnett Jr. justice of the peace for New 
Hanover County, and from 1750 to 1771 Cornelius Harnett Jr. served as a 
commissioner of Wilmington. In his will dated April 28, 1781, Harnett Jr. left Maynard to 
his wife, Mary, also making her executrix and Samuel Ashe and William Hill executors 
of his estate (Sprunt 1992:121-122). Three years from the date of the will, on May 31, 
1784, Mary sold to John Hill, brother of William, the 272-acre plantation for a 
consideration of 3,750 Spanish milled dollars. Four years later John Hill sold the 
plantation to his brother William, who stated in his will that he renamed the plantation 
"Hilton" after his family. Hill's deliberate omission of one "L" from the spelling of the 
name has led several individuals to believe incorrectly that the plantation was named 
for the early explorer of the Cape Fear River, Captain William Hilton (Lee 1980:141; 
Waddell 1989:49; New Hanover County Deeds, Book H-427; McKoy 1973:32). 

By 1853 Hilton was in the possession of James F. McRee, who later served as a 
surgeon in the Confederate States Army. In New Hanover County, on January 21, 



108 



1853, a deed that showed that McRee had conveyed a parcel of land from the 
plantation to Oscar G. Parsley was registered. On this piece of land, Parsley 
established a steam sawmill, known as the Hilton Mills Property. This 26-lot property 
was within the corporate limits and had a waterfront of 1 ,693 feet, with 413 feet of wharf 
and the remainder of a timber pen. In addition to his mills at Hilton, Parsley built two 
houses. On November 22, 1867, James McRee sold another section of the Hilton 
plantation, by then partially within the city limits of Wilmington, to George W. Graff I in 
for $20,000 in gold coin. A most unusual adventure began at Hilton by the summer of 
1870. A Mr. C. Hussell announced that he had opened a beer garden on the old estate. 
In the pleasant atmosphere of the "beautiful grounds" and near the "old house" that 
was still in good standing, Hussell placed benches and built a dance floor. The steamer 
Little Sam began making daily trips between Market Street dock and Hilton (Lee 
1980:142-145; New Hanover County Deeds, Book WW-275, 418; Wilmington Journal , 
February 23, 1866, July 26, 31, 1870; Wilmington Star , November 5, 1876). 

The remainder of the Hilton plantation was divided into several town blocks and lots. In 
January 1892 a large section of the old plantation had been purchased by the Peregoy 
Lumber Company for $8,000. Just after the purchase of the tract called Hilton, Mr. 
Peregoy advised the city that he planned to tear down the Hilton mansion. He declared 
that if the city would exchange the old brick in the structure for new, he would move the 
mansion to a place where it could be preserved. The city failed to accept Peregoy's 
offer, and the mansion was demolished. After the turn of the century a park was 
established at Hilton (Lee 1980:142-145; Wilmington Star , April 10, 1906). 



Howe's Point Plantation 

On the west side of the Cape Fear River at the point of land just north of Governor's 
Point was a colonial plantation known as "Howe Place." The plantation was closely 
associated with Gen. Robert Howe, who gained fame during the American Revolution 
as a patriot and soldier. Robert's grandfather, Jobe Howe Sr., came over to America 
with the colony planted at Old Town Creek by Sir John Yeamans in the year 1665. His 
father, Job Howe Jr., a well-educated and wealthy planter, came to the Cape Fear 
region about the year 1707 with Colonel Maurice Moore, to whom he was related and 
who assumed the charge of the lands abandoned in 1690 by Sir John Yeaman 
(Bellamy 1882:1; New Hanover County Wills, BookAB-70). 

Robert Howe was born in the precinct of Clarendon, in the present limits of Brunswick 
County, about the year 1730. Being a lineal descendant of Sir John Yeamans, he had 
the advantage of being associated with the best families in both North and South 
Carolina. He was also the grandson of Mary Moore, the daughter of James Moore, who 
was governor of the two Carolinas in 1670 (Bellamy 1882:1). Howe was reported also 
to have lived at Kendall plantation a brief time. In 1763 Robert Howe was living at his 
father's plantation on Old Town Creek, but shortly before the American Revolution, he 
built a house on the Cape Fear River behind the ruins of an old fort. Howe's residence 
was a large three-story frame building on a stone or brick foundation located on what 



109 



was known as Howe's Point but presently is referred to as Sunny Point. In retaliation for 
defeat of Lord Dunmore, 900 troops under command of British Generals Comwallis and 
Clinton burned Gen. Robert Howe's plantation on May 12, 1776. The old fort, behind 
which Howe's house supposedly stood, was thought to have been constructed for 
defense against pirates that frequented the river in the early 1700s. Since Stede 
Bonnet was the only known pirate to enter the Cape Fear river, the fortification more 
likely represented a makeshift structure thrown up in the 1740s to guard against the 
Spanish threat. It had long been abandoned by the time of the American Revolution 
(Bellamy 1882:1; Angley 1983:14-15; Bennett 1858;n.p.; Virginia Gazette , June 29 
1776; Wilmington Star-News . July 2, 1978; Sprunt 1896:80-82; Waddell 1989:40-41). 

Robert Howe returned to his plantation after the Revolution and tried to continue as a 
planter. It is not known if he rebuilt his dwelling destroyed by the British, but Howe may 
have remained at the plantation until the summer of 1785. In that year he was elected 
to the legislature, and he took his seat at New Bern in November. Gen. Robert Howe 
died in December 1786 at the age of fifty-six. The history of the Howe Point plantation 
is unknown for the next fifty-six years. In 1842 the "Howe Place," described as 
handsomely situated on the river and well wooded, was advertised for sale. The 
plantation was once again offered for sale in 1850. At that time, the Howe Place 
consisted of 273 acres. The land was eventually transferred in 1955 to the Department 
of the Army's Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point (MOTSU), which retains ownership 
( Wilmington Chronicle , January 5, 1842, November 27, 1850; Bellamy 1882:1). 



Kendal Plantation 

On the west side of the Cape Fear River, just below present day Liliput Creek, once 
stood the plantation known as Kendal. The plantation was originally granted to Colonel 
Maurice Moore in 1725, who deeded it to his brother, "King" Roger Moore, in 1726. By 
1734 an "exceedingly pleasantly situated" brick house had been built on the plantation. 
On March 7, 1747, Roger Moore bequeathed Kendal to his son, George Moore. 
George Moore in turn sold Kendal to John Davis Jr. in 1765 (Sprunt 1992:58; Waddell 
1989:42-43; New Hanover County Deeds, Book E-242; LCFHS Bulletin 1969:12:2). 

During the time of the American Revolution, Kendal may have been owned by General 
Robert Howe, who was reported to have lived there for a period. The plantation was 
then owned by James Smith, a brother of Gov. Benjamin Smith. Unfortunately, no 
description of the plantation or main house is known. One of the subsequent owners 
was Griffith John McRee, a patriot of the Revolution (ARC, 1984; Angley 1983:14; Lee 
1965:272; Sprunt 1992:58; Waddell 1989:42-43). 

In the year preceding the Civil War, Kendal was shown as being 5,591 acres in size. It 
was owned and cultivated by Owen Holmes, who produced with seventy-three slave 
workers that year 254,000 pounds of rice. Kendal apparently sustained some damage 
and declined during the war years, as did so many of the other plantations on the lower 
Cape Fear River. A few months after the conflict, the plantation was available for rent 



110 



until January 1867. It was described as being 3,500 acres of land, with only 150 acres 
of "best rice land upon the river, all under good bank and ditch." ( Wilmington Daily 
Journal , February 6, 1866). Kendal is next accounted for in 1875, when it was 
auctioned for sale ( Wilmington Star , February 7, 1875). When the rice plantation was 
again advertised for sale in 1879, a detailed description of the property, dwelling 
house, wharf, livestock, and holdings were mentioned. The following notice was printed 
in early January 1879: 

For Sale or Rent-Kendal Plantation, situated on Cape Fear river, 12 miles 
below Wilmington, with working implements, stock, &c, consisting of 1 
Clipper Mower, 1 Horse Rake, 1 Hay Press, 2 Mules, 25 Head Cattle, 30 
Sheep, 1 Buggy, 1 Wagon and Harness, 1 Flat, Plows, &c. The Plantation 
consists of 150 acres Rice Land - 75 acres being banked and drained, 
300 acres cleared Upland, fenced; 2,500 acres well-timbered Woodland, 
in which 5 to 10 crops of boxes can be cut; lightwood plentiful, with water 
facilities for flatting wood to wharf, (wharf belonging to Plantation) where 
wood can be sold readily at $3 per cord. There is a good Dwelling House, 
with six rooms, on Plantation, also an Office, Crib, Stables, &c. 
( Wilmington Star , January 5, 1879). 

It is likely that Kendal came into the possession of Fred Kidder about this time. Kidder 
is known to have made a few improvements at the plantation during his lengthy period 
of ownership. By 1882 Kidder had built a store at Kendal, and in 1891 he began 
construction on a new dock just below the existing one. Two years later the new dock 
was destroyed by a violent storm. Fred Kidder continued to cultivate rice on his 
plantation until after the turn of the century. In 1903 Kidder began growing fruit and 
vegetables in Florida. He announced that he would continue his cultivation of rice at 
Kendal, but production would be reduced as he planned to divide his time between 
North Carolina and Florida. In 1919 well-known local historian James Sprunt purchased 
Kendal and the adjoining Lilliput plantation ( Wilmington Star , June 28, 1882, 
September 4, 1891, October 15, 1893; Wilmington Evening Dispatch . October 16, 
1903; Sprunt 1958: 13). 



Lilliput Plantation 

One of several land grants made during the proprietary administration of Governor 
George Burrington went to Eleazer Allen on November 6, 1725. The land granted Allen 
was on the west side of the Cape Fear River immediately north of present-day Liliput 
Creek, now spelled with only one L At the time of the grant, Allen was active in South 
Carolina politics. Eleazer Allen, a Harvard graduate, married Sarah Rhett, the oldest 
daughter of Colonel William Rhett of South Carolina, about 1722. Another of Rhett's 
daughters married Roger Moore, and it was through that family connection that Allen 
became interested in the lower Cape Fear region. In 1730 Governor Burrington 
recommended Allen for the North Carolina council. He was appointed to that position 
but apparently did not assume the duties until November 22, 1735. Allen did not build 



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and permanently settle his family on the Cape Fear plantation until 1734, a year before 
his appointment. He named his plantation Lilliput for the imaginary country depicted in 
Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels , a popular book of the time published in 1727. The 
Allen mansion was said to have been beautifully built of brick. It is shown on the 
Moseley map (1733) under the name "E. Allen," on the Collet map (1770) as "Liliput to 
the G," and on the Price map (1808) as "Lilliput." Eleazer Allen served as receiver 
general of the province of North Carolina from 1735 to 1748. Prior to his death on 
January 7, 1749, and burial at Lilliput, Allen had been named chief justice of North 
Carolina (Howell 1984:6-7; Sprunt 1896:55-57; Sprunt 1992:55-57). 

Following the death of Eleazer's wife, Sarah Allen, in 1761, Lilliput plantation passed to 
the ownership of John Davis the younger on April 18, 1765. For a time, possibly the 
period between 1761 and 1765, the plantation may have been owned by Sir Thomas 
Frankland. Sir Thomas was a grandson of Frances, a daughter of Oliver Cromwell. 
Shortly after John Davis acquired Lilliput, the county deeds tend to indicate that he sold 
off portions of the plantation. In September 1765 George Moore obtained "a plantation 
called Lilliput," and in October Davis supposedly sold part of the plantation to Gov. 
William Tryon. By 1789 Lilliput was in possession of the well-known McRee family, 
owners of the adjacent plantation of Kendal (Sprunt 1896:55-57; Howell 1984:8; 
Waddell 1989:44; Powell 1968:282). 

George McKenzie's will of May 18, 1811 indicated that he was then the owner of 
Lilliput. Five years later the plantation was for sale. In the notice of the sale (early 
1816), several facts about Lilliput are mentioned: 

For Sale - That valuable plantation called Lilliput, late the residence of G. 
McKensie, Esq. deceased. It contains 640 acres of land, about one 
hundred and twenty of which are Tide swamp and Marsh, admirably 
adapted for Rice or Cotton, about sixty acres are under a high state of 
cultivation for Rice. On the plantation is a good two story dwelling House, 
with out buildings, Houses for Negroes &c. Its situation is undoubtedly the 
handsomest on Cape Fear River and the Place is beautifully ornamented 
with live Oak groves of the natural growth. Its distance from Wilmington is 
about twelve miles, and from Brunswick three ( Wilmington Gazette , 
January 13, 1816). 

The property did not sell immediately, for it was still advertised as late as August 1816. 
In 1837 Dr. John Hampton Hill purchased Lilliput, "where he planted rice until the close 
of the war." Dr. John Hill was the brother of Dr. Frederick Hill, who owned nearby Orton 
plantation in the first half of the 1800s. After the war, Dr. Hill sold his plantation and his 
outfits and retired from the active business of rice farming. Perhaps one factor that led 
Hill to end his efforts at rice cultivation was an infestation of his rice fields by rats in the 
the spring of 1868. In two nights' time, Dr. Hill poisoned "three thousand of them, and in 
two weeks, the enormous number of over ten thousand" ( Wilmington Star . May 5, 1868; 
Wilmington Messenger . March 3, 1893; Hall 1980:21; Howell 1984:8). 



112 



Dr. Hill appears to have sold Lilliput within the next few years to another physician and 
likely friend, Dr. Walter G. Curtis of Smithville. Dr. Curtis served as the quarantine 
medical officer for the lower Cape Fear. The house of Owen D. Holmes, the supervisor 
at Lilliput, was reported destroyed by fire in November 1874. Damage was heavy, and 
there was no insurance on the dwelling ( Wilmington Star , November 17, 1874). Within 
months of the fire Dr. Curtis offered his plantation for sale. The notice of the sale of 
Lilliput and adjoining Kendal plantation appeared three months later in the local 
newspaper ( Wilmington Star , February 7, 1875). Fred Kidder subsequently purchased 
both Lilliput and Kendal and continued to cultivate rice on his plantations until after the 
turn of the century. In 1919 James Sprunt purchased Mr. Kidder's estate. The Lilliput 
property is currently part of the Orton Plantation and Gardens complex ( Wilmington 
Siai, October 15, 1893; Howell 1984;9; Sprunt 1958:13). 



Mallory Plantation 

Mallory Creek on the west side of the Cape Fear River separated Mallory plantation on 
the north side of the stream and Clarendon plantation to the south. Mallory plantation 
was owned by William Hankins, whose ancestors were planters in the Carolinas as 
early as 1711. The plantation as described in 1834 contained 400 acres of rice land 
and 1,600 acres of pine, oak, and cypress trees. A large, two-story dwelling located in a 
grove of oaks contained eight large rooms with a fireplace in each. There was also a 
kitchen, barn, slave quarters, and all the necessary outhouses. When advertised for 
sale on January 1, 1888, Mallory plantation was comprised of 2,100 acres, with 75 
acres under rice bank, 40 acres in cultivation, and the remainder in timber. A canal for 
the loading of flats and boats ran from the river into the plantation, approximately one 
mile. Although a "large rice barn and outbuildings" were referred to in the newspaper 
advertisement, no mention of a residence was indicated. At a mortgagee's sale held in 
June 1903, William M. Hankins and his wife relinquished ownership of the plantation 
(Hall 1980:22; Wilmington Messeng er, January 1, 1888; Wilmington Evening Dispatch . 
June 5, 1903). 



MacKnight Plantation 

The MacKnight plantation may have been another of the land grants made by Governor 
Burrington about 1725 during his proprietary administration. A 640-acre tract of land 
located "half a mile below a Plot of Land laid out for the Town Called Brunswick" was 
granted to Patrick MacKnight. In 1744 one-half of the tract of 640 acres was acquired 
by a prominent figure in colonial North Carolina. That year Edward Moseley, surveyor 
general and lawyer, purchased part of the plantation from Anna MacKnight, "widow of 
Patrick MacKnight, she now of the City of New York doing her business through Roger 
Moore." The Moseley map of 1733 indicates the general location of the MacKnight 
plantation. In his 1745 will, Moseley referred to the "plantation below Brunswick 
commonly called Mac Knight's. . . ." Edward Moseley died in 1749, and the plantation 
may have been willed to his heirs or sold. As late as 1807 the shallows along the upper 



113 



shoreline of the present Sunny Point Terminal area was referred to as "McKnight's 
Shoal" (Angley 1983:15-16; McKoy 1973:8; Graves 1981:12). 



Mount Tirzah or Terza Plantation (Spring Garden Plantation) 

During the 1740s Thomas Clark lived at a plantation known as Spring Garden on the 
east bank of the Cape Fear below Wilmington. Thomas Clark, the father of 
Revolutionary War hero General Thomas Clark Jr., served as a justice of the peace 
(1740), commissioner of highways (1740), collector of the Port of Brunswick (1741), 
and sheriff of New Hanover County (1 741 ). He was married to Barbara Murray, sister of 
James Murray, and resided at the plantation until his death in 1746. No additional 
information on this plantation is known. A Spring Garden plantation has also been 
referred to north of Town Creek. On June 4, 1829, that same tract of land was sold by 
John Waddell to Gov. Edward B. Dudley. The plantation, now known as Mount Tirzah, 
consisted of approximately 150 acres on the east bank of the Cape Fear River opposite 
Cat Island and a short distance south of the Dram Tree. Tirzah apparently is a Hebrew 
name for a tree similar to the cypress. In May 1835 the citizens of the town deemed it 
necessary to establish and build a hospital for the benefit of the seamen of Wilmington. 
Funds were raised, and the Mount Tirzah property and buildings were purchased from 
Gov. Edward B. Dudley for $1,000. On March 3, 1836, Dudley conveyed to the newly 
formed Wilmington Marine Hospital Association the tract of land and the improvements 
thereon, excepting five negro houses "which he will remove" (Sprunt 1896:36-37; Hall 
1 980: 1 38; Wilmington Messenger , September 9, 1 888; Lennon & Kellam 1 973:4). 

The main house on the plantation, a two-story dwelling 60 feet by 27 feet, was 
converted into a hospital and successfully operated until 1855, when a lack of funding 
for repair to the aging facility forced the association to transfer the property and assets 
to the two-year-old Seaman's Friend Society. During that time the tract of land became 
known as Hospital Point. The society hospital was eventually moved to within the city 
limits near the southwestern section and maintained by the United States government. 
Following the Civil War, the Seaman's Friend Society maintained at Hospital Point a 
"pest house" for infected sailors. As late as 1896 the city government still maintained 
an isolation and infectious disease treatment facility at Hospital Point. The pest house 
at Mount Tirzah was consumed by fire in February 1898. It had been vacant for several 
months and was to have been destroyed before the fire occurred (Sprunt 1896:36-37; 
Hall 1980:138; Wilmington Messenger . September 9, 1888, February 23, 1898). 



Negro Head Point or Point Peter Plantation 

Between the forks of the Northwest and Northeast branches of the Cape Fear River 
opposite Wilmington was the Mount Misery tract. A plantation consisting of 5,500 acres 
at that location was granted to Roger Moore on October 28, 1726. Roger Moore's will, 
dated June 30, 1750, and proved the following year, divided the Mount Misery tract 
between Moore's sons, George and William. The land between the two rivers became 
known as Negro Head Point. George Moore owned the plantation half on the North 



114 



West branch of the Cape Fear River, while his brother William owned the half lying 
along the North East branch. William Moore's half of the plantation eventually 
descended to his son, Roger Moore (New Hanover County Deeds, Book C-288; 
Waddell 1989:48-49). 

By 1777 Roger Moore was in possession of his part of the plantation, and on June 24, 
of that year sold to Peter Mallett and Arthur Magill for £4,000 his "tract of land called 
Negro Head Point containing about 3,000 acres . . . with houses and other 
appurtenances... excepting 200 acres of Low Ground and 200 acres of High Ground 
formerly sold by said Roger Moore to James Walker, but now the property of William 
Hill and is to be divided off to said Hill in and about the plantation whereon he now 
lives. . . ." Arthur Magill then sold his portion of the plantation to Peter Mallett in 1779. 
An 1787 resurvey determined that the property excluded for the use of William Hill, 
which he called Force-Put Plantation, was larger in actual acreage than intended. For 
the purpose of "preventing any further Disputes, Differences & Litigations," Mallett sold 
and quit claimed additional land to Margaret Hill, wife of the deceased William (New 
Hanover County Deeds, Book H-51, H-234 and H-466). 

The half of the plantation on the North West branch of the Cape Fear River originally 
belonging to George Moore was willed to Peter Mallett on January 1, 1795. With the 
extensive landholdings then in possession of Peter Mallett, Negro Head Point also 
began to be known as Point Peter (New Hanover County Deeds, Book L-822). 

In 1842 the property of Peter Mallet was finally advertised for sale. In a Wilmington 
newspaper dated January 5, 1842, the following lengthy notice of the extensively 
developed plantation appeared: 

Real Estate for Sale - The valuable Rice Plantation known by the name of 
Point Peter, situated a half mile above the Town of Wilmington, at the 
junction of the North East and North West branches of the Cape Fear 
river. The plantation contains in all 3,000 acres - extending nine miles up 
the North East river, affording a first rate range for cattle and hogs. Few 
places embrace so many advantages for the culture of Rice as this; 
situated between the two rivers, it possesses the advantages of draining 
into both, (the average width not exceeding half a mile) and contains no 
central field; it is also exempt in a great measure from storms and 
freshets; . . . The STACK-YARD is in the centre of the plantation proper, 
which comprises 200 acres of superior land under bank and ditch and in 
prime order; it has produced an average crop of seventy-five bushels per 
acre. The stack-yard contains 3 acres of high land, sufficient for all the 
purposes of harvesting; a dwelling house, brick kitchen, stable, 
cowhouses, cooper shed, and sick house, together with cow-lots and a 
fine garden. A canal nineteen feet wide has just been completed at a 
great labor and expence, leading direct from the barn to the North West 
river, which rendered the place in every respect complete. The negro 



115 



quarters built of brick and in good order, are situated on another place of 
high land, within call of the house, but so far removed as to incur no risk 
of fire ( Wilmington Chronicle , January 5, 1842). 

During the period of the Civil War, limited information is known about the Point Peter 
plantation, but the property was again advertised for sale in 1877 by a W. F. Potter, 
proprietor. At that time it contained 400 acres of cultivated rice lands and 4,000 acres 
of swamp and woodland. In addition at the Point Peter plantation was a dwelling house, 
barn, outbuildings for fifty hands, and rice mills. One rice mill was thoroughly repaired 
and equipped with new machinery in 1887 by the new owners of Point Peter plantation, 
William Larkins and Andrew Flanner. In 1840 a Samuel Potter built the rice mill on 
Point Peter, and it was afterwards run by his son and grandson. Near the turn of the 
century, rice cultivation became unprofitable for most of the plantations along the river. 
The Point Peter plantation, a victim of that market decline, was eventually divided into 
smaller tracts of land and sold. One of the larger tracts was purchased by the Cape 
Fear & Yadkin Valley railroad ( Wilmington Star , November 28, 1877; Wilmington 
Weekly Star , September 23, 1887, January 10, 1890; Wilmington Messeng er, 
November 26, 1887, March 1, 22, 1896; June 24, 1905). The Point Peter steam sawmill 
was purchased at public auction on January 2, 1855 by Mr. B. Flanner for $11,000. By 
April 1856 the mill had not been worked for more than a year when it was destroyed by 
fire ( Wilmington Daily Herald , January 2, 1855; Wilmington Tri-Weekly Commercial , 
April 24, 1856). 



Nesses Creek or Fairfields Plantation 

Two large tracts of land of 1 ,000 and 640 acres respectively, located on the east side 
of the Northeast Cape Fear River above Smith Creek, were granted in 1728 to 
Humphrey Johnston, who mortgaged them to Joseph Wragg of Charleston, S.C., in 
1729. The North Carolina Council regranted the land to Wragg in 1737. Upon the death 
of Joseph Wragg in 1771 the land was willed to his wife, Judith Wragg, who sold 1,000 
acres in 1759 to Thomas Wright. Thomas Wright gave the house and land where he 
lived at Nesses Creek and Wragg Creek plantation to his eldest son, Thomas Wright 
Jr., who maintained the land until he sold it in 1778 to his stepfather, Charles Jewkes, 
for £2300 (New Hanover County Deeds, Book E-121; G-200; 1-172; New Hanover 
County Wills, C-434). 

Charles Jewkes kept the "Nesses Creek plantation" until December 9, 1788, when he 
sold the property for £2800 to John Hill of Wilmington. The plantation contained at that 
time "1000 acres more or less." John Hill was the son of William Hill, who had moved 
from Boston to Old Brunswick Town. John served as a lieutenant during the American 
Revolution and was responsible for naming his plantation Fairfields. His wife, 
Elizabeth, was the daughter of Frederick Jones and Jane Swann. Elizabeth Hill died in 
1809 at the age of forty-eight years. She was buried in a small brick-walled cemetery 
on the Fairfields plantation. Of the four graves present, only one gravestone, that of 
Elizabeth's, was erected. John Hill drafted his will on May 26, 1812. In a codicil later 



116 



added to the will, Hill wrote: "My western lands or the warrents I am entitled to as an 
Officer of the Revolutionary Army I give to sons William and Frederick Jones Hill." It 
was to his son William that he left "all the lands below the present fields of Fairfields 
Plantation situated between Nesseys Creek and Wraggs Creek & bounded by the 
river." In his will, John Hill also mentions a "Chalk Landing" at the plantation. (New 
Hanover County Deeds, Book 1-172; C-160). 

During the antebellum period the sons of John Hill, along with his brother, Dr. Nathaniel 
Moore Hill, further divided and sold tracts of the original Fairfields plantation and 
adjoining property owned by the Hill family. A large section of the plantation purchased 
from the Hills by a William Wright was sold in 1873 to William F. Potter of Point Peter 
for $6,000. Potter died at his plantation on May 17, 1878, and Fairfields plantation was 
advertised several years later, in 1885, as being for rent. The plantation house built by 
John Hill no longer stands on the property. Current maps of the vicinity still show a 
"Ness Creek." (New Hanover County Deeds, Books Q-51; S-336; Wilmington Star , 
March 18, 1885; USGS 1970, Castle Hayne). 



Old Town Plantation 

Located 7 miles south of Wilmington at the mouth of Old Town Creek was Old Town 
plantation. The property was purchased in 1761 by Judge Maurice Moore from his 
brother, Gen. James Moore. In 1768 it was sold to John Ancrum, an early settler and a 
prominent man, who was a leading merchant and chairman of the safety committee. In 
1808 a William Grave Berry died at his plantation called Old Town ( Wilmington 
Gazette , November 15, 1808; Waddell 1989:47). Old Town plantation was advertised 
for sale in 1830 by Thomas Cowan. The plantation was then described as "lying in the 
point formed by Old Town Creek at its junction with the Cape Fear." It contained "1400 
acres, 250 to 300 acres low land of superior quality, 135 acres under bank and ditch. . . 
." Improvements on the property included "a comfortable dwelling house of brick, 
20x30, story and a half, four comfortable rooms, a brick kitchen and overseer's house, 
good negro quarters, excellent well water, and two barns with 10,000 bushel capacity" 
( Wilmington Recorder . December 15, 1830). By 1838 Old Town plantation was still 
owned by Thomas Cowan, who maintained the land for a number of years. In 1 838 the 
plantation consisted of 1,400 acres, with 400 acres of tide swamp and 160 acres 
banked and ditched under rice cultivation. The fenced uplands produced a yearly corn 
crop of 1,200 to 1,500 bushels, and the rice fields a yield of 8,000 to 10,000 bushels. A 
brick dwelling with other necessary houses and barns were maintained on the property. 
Thomas Cowan was forced to sell his Old Town plantation for taxes on January 1 , 1870 
(Hall 1980:22; Wilmington Star . December 3, 1869). 



Orton Plantation 

Orton plantation has been described by several of the Cape Fear historians as perhaps 
the finest remaining example of a colonial residence in North Carolina (Figure 12). 
Orton plantation is situated on the west bank of the Cape Fear River about halfway 



117 



between Wilmington and Southport. The plantation was granted in 1725 by the Lords 
Proprietors to Maurice Moore, son of Gov. James Moore of South Carolina, who had 
been sent several years earlier in 1711 with his brother, Col. James Moore Jr., to 
suppress the Tuscarora Indian uprising within the province. Maurice, along with two 
other brothers, Roger and Nathaniel, returned to the Cape Fear vicinity in 1726 with a 
group of settlers at the request of the last of the proprietory governors, George 
Burrington. There they established as a business venture Brunswick Town. Maurice 
choose to build his plantation, known as "The Vats," several miles up the northeast 
branch of the river and so quickly passed the Orton estate near Brunswick to his 
brother, Roger, a member of Gov. Gabriel Johnston's council. Roger named the 
10,000-acre plantation Orton after the ancestral home of the Moores in England 
(Sprunt 1992:57-58; Moore 1968:13-14; Sprunt 1958:5; Waddell 1989:42). 

Roger Moore built at Orton a modest dwelling situated a half-mile from the river on a 
high bluff. His original house was destroyed by Cree Indians, who in turn were defeated 
by Roger Moore at a battle on Sugar Loaf, the sand bluff directly across the river. 
Roger built his next home on his adjoining plantation called Kendal but by 1735 had 
moved his family back to a new mansion constructed at Orton. His new residence at 
Orton was constructed of imported brick pierced with gun holes to prevent any future 
attack by Indians, pirates, or Spanish raiders. The dwelling, completed in the Greek 
Revival style with elegant white pillars, was enlarged a few years later (Moore 1968:14; 
Sprunt 1896:61-66; Sprunt 1958:3; Sprunt 1992:58). 

Orton plantation was among the largest and first to produce rice along the Cape Fear 
river. Because of his vast land and slave holdings, Roger Moore was referred to as 
"King" Roger. Upon his death in 1750, Moore left his Orton and Kendal estates and 250 
slaves to his two sons, half brothers William and George. William Moore, the 
subsequent owner of Orton mansion, died just seven years later and passed Orton on 
to his wife, Mary, and son, Roger Moore the younger. By the time of the American 
Revolution, the Moore family had sold Orton to Richard Quince, a prominent Brunswick 
commissioner, judge, and merchant. During the Revolution, the British army, under 
command of General Comwallis, sailed up the Cape Fear River and landed at Orton a 
raiding party that destroyed the rice mill. The plantation remained in the Quince family 
for a number of years. (Moore 1968:14-15; Sprunt 1958:7; Watters 1961:48; New 
Hanover County Deeds, Book D-134; Wilmington Messenger . March 28, 1893; Waddell 
1989:42). 

In 1796 Orton was sold by Richard Quince's heirs to Benjamin Smith, who had moved 
to Orton from Belvedere, his plantation near Wilmington. In addition to Orton, Benjamin 
Smith purchased the remains of Brunswick Town, which had been destroyed and 
abandoned during the war, and "Russellborough" once the home of Governors Dobbs 
and Tryon. These purchases greatly increased the size of Orton plantation. Benjamin 
Smith, who had served as an aide to General Washington during the American 
Revolution, was elected governor of the state in 1810. As governor he played a key 
role in obtaining a charter for a town at the mouth of the river, which was named 



118 




119 



Smithville (now Southport) in his honor. Although successful in politics, Smith failed in 
maintaining the plantation. He died a pauper in 1824 and was secretly buried at St. 
Philip's Church in the abandoned town of Brunswick. In order to pay off Smith's debts, 
Orton plantation was sold at auction (Sprunt 1958:8-9; Sprunt 1992:57; Wilmington 
Star-News , March 28, 1982). The announcement of the sale of Orton in 1824 described 
the condition of the plantation at that time: 

Will be sold at Public Auction, at the Court House, in the town of 
Wilmington, N.C., on the first day of December next-All that Plantation, 
lying in the county of Brunswick, State of North Carolina, known by the 
name of Orton, late residence of Gov. Benjamin Smith, containing 4975 
acres, more or less. Of this tract between 400 and 500 acres is swamp 
land of a strong and fertile soil, which, it is believed will produce at least 
100 lbs. of Cotton, or 4 tierces of Rice, to the acre, and is more capable of 
being well drained than any on the river, the fall of the tide being at least 
AVi feet. Orton is a valuable and beautiful Plantation, situate on the Cape- 
Fear river, about 16 miles below Wilmington, which affords a good market 
for all kinds of produce, and about 14 miles above Smithville. . . . Included 
in the premises is a very superior and never failing Mill Stream, with an 
excellent Dam, wanting only flood gates-the Rice Machine, Mill and Gin 
having been recently destroyed by fire. The pond may be used at all times 
as a reservoir of water to flow the low lands, thus rendering Orton one of 
the most valuable Rice plantations in the country ( Wilmington Chronicle , 
August 28, 1824). 

In 1826 Orton was sold to Dr. Frederic J. Hill. During his ownership Dr. Hill enlarged 
the mansion by adding another story and attic and four large columns across the front. 
By early 1830 a good wharf had recently been constructed at Orton for use in the 
loading of supplies and especially lumber. A large amount of lumber was being 
produced and shipped from Orton. Dr. Hill sold Orton in 1854 to Thomas C. Miller, who 
had married his wife's niece. On the eve of the Civil War, Orton plantation, along with 
the attendant slaves, were sold for $100,000. When the purchase price could not be 
paid, the estate deteriorated and fell into disuse for a number of years. In defense of 
the river, the Confederates built breastworks along the southern boundary of the 
plantation and constructed Fort Anderson on the ruins of old Brunswick Town. 
Following the fall of Fort Fisher and Wilmington in 1865, the mansion house at Orton 
was used as a Union hospital ( Wilmington Cape Fear Recorder . February 10, 1830; 
Sprunt 1958:10; Moore 1968:15; Wilmington Star-News . March 28, 1982; Sprunt 
1896:61-66). 

In the years that followed, several individuals tried to return Orton to its productive 
prewar status. In the absence of slave labor, each met with only limited success. When 
Orton was auctioned for sale in February, 1873, it contained at that time 9,026 acres. In 
1877, when it was again offered for sale, it still contained about the same number of 
acres, with only 225 acres in producing rice and the remainder in forest. The two-story 



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dwelling house of ten rooms and a brick basement, and all the outhouses, stables, 
barns, and farmhand houses, were included in the sale (Sprunt 1958:11; Wilmington 
Star. January 15, 1873, February 18, 1877; Watters 1961:48). 

By 1893 Orton was under the ownership of Col. Kenneth M. Murchison, who was 
responsible for restoring the aging mansion at an estimated cost of $25,000. More than 
a hundred laborers were employed in making improvements and restoring the rice 
banks that were damaged by a severe storm later that year. Following the death of 
Colonel Murchison in 1904, Orton was purchased by a son-in-law, James Sprunt. In 
1910 James Sprunt and his wife, Luola, the daughter of the previous owner, 
constructed two wings to the mansion. When Mrs. Sprunt died in 1916, her husband 
had Orton Chapel built in her honor. Dr. Sprunt followed his wife in death eight years 
later. Orton plantation was passed to their son, James Laurence Sprunt, who expanded 
the gardens, and subsequently to the grandsons upon the latter's death in 1973. 
Presently the gardens are open to the public, and the mansion remains privately owned 
(Sprunt 1896:61-66; Wilmington Star-News , March 28, 1982; Wilmington Star . October 
15, 1893; Sprunt 1958: 13-15; Sprunt 1992:57). 



Osawotomie Plantation 

On October 30, 1902, a charter was issued to the Cape Fear Rice Company which 
owned and operated two plantations on Eagles Island and another plantation farther up 
the river. The two plantations on the island were the 145-acre Osawotomie and the 
120-acre Bleak House. The third plantation was known as Lyrias. Rice banks were 
repaired and enlarged on Eagles Island with convict labor for that year's growing 
season ( Wilmington Dispatch , November 29, 1902; Hall 1980:247). 



Pleasant Oaks or The Oaks Plantation 

A plantation known as Pleasant Oaks, located on the south side of Town Creek, was 
granted by the Lords Proprietors of Carolina on October 22, 1728, to Justina Moore, 
widow of John Moore, a brother of Col. Maurice, Nathaniel, and Roger Moore. Upon 
her death Justina heired the plantation to James Moore, her eldest son. In his will 
dated August 1, 1761, James Moore passed the ownership of Pleasant Oaks on to 
Mary Moore, the daughter of his brother George. Mary married Thomas Davis, and 
together they sold the plantation to Josias Alston in October 1772. When the plantation 
was advertised for sale in December 1788, it was described as being 1,000 acres in 
size (New Hanover County Deeds, Book F-275; McKoy 1973:41; Wilmington Centinel , 
December 10, 1788; Waddell 1989:44). 

On a 1823 map of the Cape Fear River drawn by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a 
plantation called The Oaks is shown south of Town Creek. Four structures are 
indicated at that location. Little else of the development of the plantation is known until 
the year preceding the Civil War. At that time the plantation was owned by John D. 
Taylor and described as 2,340 acres partially under rice cultivation. Rice harvest 



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amounted to 145,800 pounds from Taylor's property in 1860. Ownership of the 
plantation had again changed hands by the end of the war. On October 19, 1865, the 
Oaks plantation, "late residence of C.B. Miller," was announced for sale at auction. In 
1898 James Sprunt, the latest owner of the plantation, received from Col. John Taylor 
the original grant for the parcel of land "now known as The Oaks" (USACOE 1823; 
Wilmington Weekly Star . July 15, 1898). 

In 1902 James Sprunt contracted with the Diamond Wrecking and Dredging Company 
to "throw up a dyke around Oaks plantation." The work was conducted during the 
summer by the dredge Watcoosa and also included work at Big Island. The Oaks 
plantation was sold in 1907 by James Sprunt to I. D. Harrelson and I. T. Robbins under 
the firm name of Harrelson & Company. The sale of the plantation did not include the 
rice land property known as "Big Island." The plantation, bought by the partnership for 
$18,000, also contained fine turpentine timber. A decade later the partnership sold The 
Oaks, which then consisted of an outstanding 20,500 acres, to R.J. Ramseur, George 
W. Ramseur, and John J. Ramseur for approximately one dollar an acre. The new 
owners intended to cultivate rice on the land not timbered. In 1930 the Ramseur estate 
sold the main plantation to F. D. Adams of New York. At that time The Oaks was 
composed of 2,400 acres of farm and wooded lands and valued at $50,000. Several 
buildings, among them the old plantation home, stood on the property. By the 1950s 
The Oaks plantation was owned by Hargrove Bellamy of Wilmington, first president of 
the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society ( Wilmington Star , October 15, 1893, February 
9, 1917; Howell 1984:9; Wilmington Messenger , January 26, 1907; Wilmington News , 
August 27, 1930). 



Russellborough or Bellfont Plantation 

Located about a half mile south of Orton and within the boundary of that plantation are 
the ruins of Russellborough. In 1755 William Moore sold to Capt. John Russell, 
commander of the British sloop-of-war Scorpion, a tract of 55 acres of land adjacent to 
the town of Brunswick. Captain Russell named the tract after himself. The plantation 
subsequently passed into the possession of Alice Russell, his widow, who made a deed 
of trust, and the property subsequently again became a part of Orton plantation. It was 
sold March 31, 1758, by the executors of the estate of William Moore to the British 
governor and commander-in-chief, Arthur Dobbs, who occupied the house and who 
sold it or gave it to his son, Edward Bryce Dobbs, who conveyed it by deed dated 
February 12, 1767, to William Tryon, governor. Tryon had taken occupancy of the 
residence two years prior to the date of the deed. While Tryon was governor and living 
at the plantation, an armed resistance to the Stamp Act was carried out at his 
residence. In February 1766 a group of colonists led by George Moore and Cornelius 
Harnett and all opposed to the taxation of the American colonies on various goods 
surrounded Governor Tryon's house and demanded that the act be repealed (Sprunt 
1896:67-71; New Hanover County Deeds, Books C-302; D-326; D-327; D-340; E-309; 
Mckoy 1973:129; Waddell 1989:42; Sprunt 1958:15-16). 



122 



During the first year that Gov. William Tryon resided at the Cape Fear plantation, he 
wrote a detailed description of the house at Russellborough in a letter to his uncle, the 
son of Earl Ferrers. 

This House which has so many assistances is of an oblong Square Built 
of Wood. It measures on the outside Side Faces forty five feet by thirty 
five feet, and is Divided into two Stories, Exclusive of the Cellars the 
Parlour Floor is about five feet above the Surface of the Earth. Each Story 
has four rooms and three light Closets. The Parlour below & the drawing 
Room are 20 x 15 feet Each; Ceilings low. There is a Piaza Runs Round 
the House both Stories of ten feet Wide with a Ballustrade of four feet 
high, which is a great Security for my little girl. There is a good Stable and 
Coach Houses and some other Out Houses (Sprunt 1958:17). 

Governor Tryon also commented that if he were successful in purchasing the house, he 
would build a good kitchen. The house stood on a slight bluff above the river, where a 
landing was maintained. Tryon moved in 1770 to the newly constructed governor's 
"Palace" in New Bern, while Russellborough became the home of William Dry, who 
changed its name to Bellfont. The plantation dwelling and much of Brunswick Town 
were burnt by a British raiding party in May 1776. The town and plantation house were 
never rebuilt. Russellborough plantation was briefly mentioned in 1816, when the "55 
acres between Orton and Brunswick" was advertised for sale. The exact location of the 
destroyed mansion, however, remained lost in the vegetation along the river until the 
1890s. When discovered, only about 2 feet of the stone foundation wall remained 
above ground surface. Presently the ruins of Russellborough are maintained by the 
Brunswick Town State Historic Site (Sprunt 1958:18; Wilmington Gazette , April 6, 1816; 
Sprunt 1896:67-71; South 1960:65). 



Sans Souci Plantation 

On the east side of the Northeast Cape Fear River, above Hilton's place, was a 
plantation known as Grainger's or Sans Souci. A grant for the land was given to Caleb 
Grainger Sr. on April 20, 1745; the tract contained 640 acres on the north side of 
Smiths Creek, above the town. Caleb Grainger Sr. was the son of Joshua Grainger, 
one of the founders of Wilmington, which was called New Carthage in 1733. Grainger, 
a planter and inn holder, also served as a member of the assembly in 1746 and sheriff 
of the county in 1749. In 1747 Grainger sold to William Faris for £200 his tract of land. 
In 1752 Caleb Grainger purchased from a Daniel La Roche, a South Carolina 
merchant, what may have been the same property. The purchase included two 
adjoining tracts of 350 and 200 acres. In Caleb Grainger's will, dated 1763 and 
probated October 31, 1765, he left his "house and land on Smith's Creek and North 
East River" to his wife and children. One of his sons, Caleb Jr., was forbidden from 
selling the property until he reached the age of twenty-five in 1773 (New Hanover 
County Deeds, Book C-166, D-4-6; North Carolina Wills, XII:5-7; Powell 1968:537; 
Waddell 1989:50-51). 



123 



The younger Caleb Grainger's will, dated July 14, 1785, leaves to his wife, Mary, the 
"use of Plantation and lands on Smith's Creek during widowhood, then to brother 
William Grainger." On the day following the date of the will Caleb and his wife sold the 
200-acre tract for £370 to Henry Toomer. By 1790 the now 315-acre tract of land 
commonly known as "Grainger's Plantation" was sold by William Blount of Greenville to 
William Henry Hill of Wilmington for £1200. William Hill obtained additional 
landholdings in the Smith's Creek vicinity. In 1788 he had purchased from his brother 
the Hilton plantation, and in 1795 he obtained by patent an additional 135 acres on the 
north side of the creek. It was apparently William Hill who gave the name Sans Souci to 
the plantation, as well as naming the Hilton plantation after his family. In the 1808 will 
of William Henry Hill Sr. he bequeathed to his son, William Henry Hill Jr., his plantation 
called Hilton on the south side of Smith's Creek, and to his other son, Joseph Alston 
Hill, the plantation and all his land on the north side of the creek called Sans Souci 
(North Carolina Wills, Book AB-120, C-126; New Hanover County Deeds, Book H-326, 
427; 1-142,193; L-295; McKoy 1973:33). 

Joseph Hill retained ownership of Sans Souci until January 20, 1824, when he sold the 
plantation to Arthur J. Hill for $7,000. The plantation then consisted of 400 acres (with 
160 acres considered tide swamp) and all the houses, tenements, and facilities. Sans 
Souci remained the property of Arthur Hill until 1871, when Arthur and Mary H. Hill, his 
wife, sold to Dr. John H. Hill "a tract of land known as Sans Souci" for $1,500. The 
plantation remained in the Hill family, but was transferred from John Hill to Thomas Hill. 
In 1874 Sans Souci was sold by Thomas Hill and his wife, Mary C. Hill, to John F. 
Garrell, ending the Hill family's century-long ownership of the plantation. John Garrell 
was successful at rice cultivation at Sans Souci, having as much as 300 acres planted 
(part of the which were an additional tract purchased). Garrell established a dairy at 
Sans Souci and leased it to W. T. Bray in 1876. Within the following years Garrell also 
established a "stock farm" and fertilizer plant. Sans Souci was also chosen as the site 
for the construction of a prison in 1879. John Garrell served as superintendent to the 
convicts housed on his plantation (New Hanover County Deeds, Book S-761; YY-156; 
KKK-235; NNN-230; Wilmington Sta r. October 15, 1876, July 10, 1879, October 6, 
1882, December 21, 1884; Klein and Pickens, 1993:16). 

By 1884 Garrell had taken out several mortgages on Sans Souci to maintain his 
diverse industries. When he was unable to meet payments, the First National Bank 
assumed ownership of a large portion of the plantation. In 1887 the First National Bank 
and the Cape Fear Agricultural Association agreed to the sale of Sans Souci. In order 
to complete the sale, the association had until December 1, 1888, to repair the 
plantation, plant a crop, and make regular payments to the bank. The association failed 
to meet the requirements by the end of the year and the bank chose to sell Sans Souci 
to another buyer. On February 4, 1889, the plantation was purchased from the bank by 
William H. Wiggins, for $10,000, who in turn sold the property the following year to 
William A. Topping. The plantation was divided into small tracts in 1891 with a house 
on each, and sold off separately (New Hanover County Deeds, Book I I I -72; AAAA-87; 



124 



1-205, 216; Wilmington Evening Dispatch , January 5, 1904, May 27, 1907, March 8, 
April 24, 1906; Wilmington Messenger , March 3, 1891; Wilmington Weekly Star , March 
24, April 7, 1899). 

Sans Souci consisted of 390 acres in 1897. Above the mouth of a creek that flowed on 
the southwest side of the plantation, a wharf was constructed. Steamers that drew from 
10 to 12 feet of water could reach the wharf. Near the turn of the century, the new J. F. 
Garrell & Co. firm was established, with the main office at Sans Souci. Garrell 
maintained a truck farm and a fertilizer factory at the plantation until the factory was 
destroyed by fire in March 1899. The factory was later rebuilt. A number of the tracts, 
each less than 20 acres, owned by the Garrell company, were sold. On one of the 
tracts a brickyard was established by the Roger Moore's Sons & Company. Four tracts 
of about 175 acres were sold to C. D. Weeks in 1912. In early 1917 the "Sans Souci 
Abattoir" established by Garrell was acquired by the Carolina Packing Company. 
Further construction and expansion of the plant occurred over the following months. 
Following World War I, the Sans Souci "farm" saw additional industrial development 
( Wilmington Evening Dispatch , January 5, 1904, May 27, 1907, March 8, April 24, 
1906; Wilmington Messenger , March 3, 1891, December 24, 1897; Wilmington Weekly 
Star , March 24, April 7, 1899, January 7, March 25, 1917). 



Sedgeley Abbey 

On the peninsula south of Wilmington, just northeast of Doctor Point, was a large tract 
of land on which was located a colonial mansion known as Sedgeley Abbey built in the 
1700s. The land was probably not used as a rice plantation, although some of the 
property was in inland swamp. Most of the land, however, seems to have been a sandy 
plain, thinly covered with pines and scrub oaks. The property located near Gander Hall 
also touched the Haulover plantation on the sea side. A "perfectly straight avenue" 
lined with trees connected the mansion with the sound. A corduroy road extended 
towards the river. Sedgeley Abbey, constructed from coquina, was described "as one of 
the grandest colonial residence of the Cape Fear." Historian James Sprunt compared 
Sedgeley Abbey in dimensions and appearance to the two-story, cellared Governor 
Dudley mansion in Wilmington. A corduroy road was also built across the peninsula to 
a river landing. Sprunt indicates that the plantation house was constructed in 1726 by a 
Peter Maxwell, but according to his headstone in the St. Philip's Church graveyard at 
Brunswick, Peter Maxwell was born in 1753. In June 1788 Peter Maxwell, however, did 
purchase from William Lord 320 acres lying at the head of Lord's Creek where 
supposedly he maintained Belmede plantation. Presently Lord's Creek flows into the 
river and Telfairs Creek terminates on the southern end at Snow's Cut (Waddell 
1989:68; Hall 1975:217-218; Sprunt 1896:50-51; McKoy 1973:31; Wilmington Dispatch . 
March 16, 1915). 

John Guerard, sometimes spelled Gerrard or Geuard, purchased in 1776 a 600-acre 
tract of land adjacent to Belmede from William Dry, Brunswick port collector. In 1778 
Guerard purchased another 920 acres and also received grants in 1780 totaling an 



125 



additional 970 acres near the sound. Guerard lived with his wife, Rebecca, on this 
property eventually called Sedgeley Abbey until his death in 1789. In his will, made on 
February 6, 1786, he left to Rebecca "the whole plantation, horses, hogs, sheep, 
household furniture, with all the lands containing 1,000 acres, also seventeen negro 
slaves." In 1790 Rebecca Geuard, the widow of John, entered into a marriage 
agreement with Peter Maxwell, "an English gentleman of wealth and refinement," and 
thus secured "the estate of the said Rebecca." Included in the agreement was "all that 
tract of land situated and lying at or near the head of the Sound in New Hanover county 
aforesd where John Geuard late of New Hanover county dec'd usually resided and at 
the present occupied by the said Rebecca Geuard." The plantation at which Rebecca 
and Peter planned to live contained approximately 1,600 acres. Peter Maxwell received 
a patent in 1796 for another 100 acres at the head of the sound. Peter Maxwell's 
holdings as a result of his marriage to Rebecca now "covered a vast tract of land which 
extended from the present Doctors Point on the east bank of the river, south to a small 
creek on the southern side of that ancient landmark and sand hill, the 'Sugar Loaf,' 
thence southeast to the Sea Beach, thence northwardly to his own northern line, thence 
westwardly to the head of Lord's Creek, continuing on to the beginning on the bank of 
the Cape Fear River." Both the Joshua Potts map of 1797 and the Price and Strother 
map of 1808 indicate the "Maxwell" dwelling in that section of the peninsula. Sedgeley 
Abbey is most closely associated with Peter Maxwell (Waddell 1989:68; Hall 1975:217- 
220; Sprunt 1896:50-51; McKoy 1973:31; New Hanover County Deeds, Books P-445; 
G-213; G-219; L-644; L-317). 

Peter Maxwell maintained cultivated fields, as well as indigo farms, orchards, and even 
a horse track at Sedgeley Abbey for a number of years, although by 1801 he decided to 
place the plantation up for rent (McKoy 1973:120-121; Hall 1975:221; New Hanover 
County Deeds, Books L-1; P-329). The following description appeared in the 
Wilmington Gazette , of December 24, 1801: 

To Rent - for a term of years, or may be agreed on. That fruitful, healthy 
and beautiful Plantation, near the head of the Sound, known by the name 
of Sedgeley Abbey for which there is a very commodious and well- 
furnished dwelling house, open to the sea beach by an avenue, and about 
half a mile from the Sound, which at all Seasons affords abundance of 
Fish and the best Oysters in the State. There is also on the same a good 
Kitchen, Smoke-house, Barn, Stable, and Chairhouse, with a remarkable 
fine Peach Orchard — The land is well adapted to the culture of Corn, 
Cotton and Indigo, there is adjoining the house about 16 acres of rich 
inland swamp, which can be easily overflowed, much of which is cleared, 
and will produce excellent Rice. Whoever may rent the same can be 
accomodated with most kinds of plantation furniture, and supplied with 
any stock belonging to the land at a valuation. For terms apply in 
Wilmington to Peter Maxwell, ( Wilmington Gazette , December 24, 1801). 



126 



Rebecca Maxwell died on February 12, 1810, and was buried beside her first husband, 
John Guerard, in the cemetery at St. Philip's Church. Peter Maxwell followed his wife in 
death two years later. Peter and Rebecca bore no children, so Peter's will (recorded at 
the New Hanover County courthouse the previous year) directed that his extensive 
holdings be sold and the money divided among his two cousins, John Robeson and 
Peter Robeson, both young weavers of North Britain (McKoy 1973:121). Peter Maxwell 
declared that: 

If I die within 30 miles of Wilmington I request that I may be buried by my 
wife at Brunswick. I give and devise to my executors my plantation and 
houses at the Sound which was devised to my wife by the will of John 
Gerrard supposed to contain 1 ,000 acres, but which contained 900, by 
them to be sold. . . . Also . . . 600 acres opposite said plantation left to 
Mrs. Maxwell by will of John Gerrard. Also two-thirds of a tract containing 
920 acres bought by me from Messrs. Warren & Hasford. Also 100 acres 
a patent, now in suit for possession, at head of Sound. Also 1380 acres 
lying to northward of first mentioned plantation, on head of Lord's Creek. 
Also lot and house in Fayetteville. Also an improved lot of one-half acre in 
Wilmington . . . (New Hanover County Wills, Book A-32, 21 1 ). 

In accordance with the expressed wishes of the late Peter Maxwell, the great estate 
was sold off by the executors of his will. About 800 acres of land, including Sedgeley 
Abbey, was sold in 1815 to Sedgwick Springs for $950. The larger, 1,380-acre, tract 
was purchased that same year $295 by James Telfair, after whom the creek on the 
property is named. Sedgeley Abbey plantation was again sold on December 31, 1821 
by Sedgwick Springs, for $1750, to Hosea Pickett, who in turn deeded it the following 
year to Henry B. Howard in exchange for a loan. Upon repayment of the loan, the deed 
to Howard was voided (New Hanover County Deeds, Book P-445; S-38; R-542 Mckoy 
1 973:31 ; Price and Strother 1 807). 

Hosea Pickett apparently paid off his debt to Henry Howard, as the plantation remained 
in his possession until after the Civil War. Sedgeley Abbey plantation was placed up for 
sale in November 1866, following Pickett's death. At that time the plantation consisted 
of "about 3,000 acres, situated upon the Federal Point road." There were "about 500 
acres of good farming land." About 275 acres were cleared and fenced, with an ample 
amount of timbered land. In addition to a five-room dwelling house, the plantation also 
included a stable, barn, and servants' quarters ( Wilmington Daily Journal . November 
10, 1866). 

By the 1870s Sedgeley Abbey lay in ruins. By the turn of the century only the cellar 
remained. The ruins of the plantation house lay obscure for a number of years. In 1978 
Mark Wilde-Ramsing, now of the Department of Cultural Resources, located the cellar 
remains of Sedgeley Abbey west of Highway 421. The cellar had been dug into stone 
approximately 8 feet deep. When revisited again in 1992, the foundation measured 30 
feet by 12 feet, and on the western end sank 6 feet below the normal ground surface. 



127 



The land was at that time being held in trust by a local bank for an heir. The bank has 
recently sold the property to a development corporation in order to replenish the trust 
fund. Local preservation efforts are in progress to save the ruins of the historic 
plantation house (Sprunt 1896:50-51; Wilmington Star , January 7, 1898; UAU Site 
Files; FPHPS Newsletter 1995). 



Snow's Point Plantation 

Permanent settlement of the lower Cape Fear region can be directly linked in part to 
the establishment of a plantation at Snow's Point. In 1725 proprietary and later royal 
governor George Burrington chose to establish a plantation of his own on the lower 
Cape Fear, on the west bank of the stream just above the mouth of present-day 
Walden Creek. During that summer Burrington made grants for more than 22,000 
acres, of which 19,000 acres were in the names of Maurice Moore, his brother Roger 
Moore, and the governor. Limited information is known about Burrington's residence or 
plantation. Early maps of the lower Cape Fear, dating from the 1730s and 1740s, 
clearly indicate that Walden Creek was previously known as Governors (or 
Burringtons) Creek and that Snows Point was once known as Governors (or 
Burringtons) Point (Angley 1983:6; Stick 1985:23). 

Snow's Point acquired the name from a subsequent owner, Robert Snow, who occupied 
the plantation in the 1750s or early 1760s. Robert Snow, a prominent rice planter, also 
served as a member of the vestry of St. Philips Church in Brunswick Town, a member 
of a grand jury, a road commissioner, and a justice of the peace for Brunswick County 
(established from New Hanover county in 1764). It is not known whether Robert Snow 
occupied the same residence as the former governor Burrington; but when Snow 
separated from his wife in 1768, the division of their property indicated that their home 
was lavishly furnished. Provisions regarding slaves also attest to a considerable 
agricultural production. Robert Snow's plantation is indicated on the Collet map of 
1770. All census records for Brunswick County from 1790 to 1820, however, fail to 
indicate the presence of the Snow family at the point or within the county (Angley 
1983:12; Waddell 1989:14; Collett 1770). ' 

The former Snow's Point plantation apparently passed into the hands of the Hankins 
family by the turn of the century. In 1800 a Thomas Hankins was residing in Brunswick 
County, apparently at Snow's Point. Thomas Hankins may have inherited the plantation 
in 1802 from a Dennis Hankins. Thomas Hankins, died at his plantation on August 30, 
1831 at the age of fifty-one. While visiting his grandfather, young Thomas Griffith 
Hankins, aged thirteen, learned of his father's death. The news was more than Thomas 
could bear, and he too departed this world three days after his father. By early the 
following year the Snow's Point plantation was owned by Samuel Potter, who was 
successful in raising sugar cane on the property. In January 1842 Samuel Potter 
apparently switched from growing sugar cane to raising corn, grapes, cattle, and hogs. 
Potter also maintained a brickkiln at Snow's Point. He offered his 1,200-acre plantation 
for sale in 1842, stating that "a comfortable dwelling, necessary out buildings, barns, 



128 



stables, etc., a fine Orchard and quite extensive vineyard" were to be found on the 
property ( Wilmington Gazette , May 7, 1805; Wilmington Cape Fear Recorder , 
September 14, 1831, January 25, 1832; Wilmington Chronicle , January 5, 1842; Hall 
1980:32; Angley 1983:21). 

By 1850 Snow's Point plantation was partially owned by his son William Hankins, who 
was twenty-three years of age in 1831, the time of Thomas Hankins's death. William's 
portion of the property consisted of 100 acres of improved land and 600 acres of 
unimproved land. William was also the owner of twenty-four slaves and maintained a 
substantial residence. He produced small amounts of corn and sweet potatoes and 
raised cattle and swine. The remaining portion of the plantation, or at least a dwelling, 
was maintained by 1847 by Samuel Beery, the well-known shipbuilder at Wilmington. In 
March 1847 Beery reported a second incidence of his "house at Snow's Plantation" 
being burned. The suspected acts of arson may have prompted Beery to consider 
relocating elsewhere, something he soon did. Information on Snow's Point plantation is 
lacking following the Civil War. Presently the Military Ocean Terminal is located 
adjacent to Snows Point ( Wilmington Daily Journal , February 18, 1852; Angley 
1983:23) 



York Plantation 

Just south of Brunswick Town was located York, one of several plantations belonging 
to Nathanial Moore, a brother of Col. Maurice Moore and "King" Roger Moore. It 
appears that Moore did not live at York. An examination of deeds and other historical 
information provided no further description of the eighteenth-century plantation 
(Waddell 1 989:4; Angley 1 983: 1 5). 



129 



Fortifications 

Twenty-three fortifications, batteries, or defensive structures have been identified along 
the Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear Rivers (Figures 13,14,15,16). Descriptions 
have been provided for the following sites: 



James Forte 

Colonial fort at Reaves Point 

Revolutionary fort at Wilmington 

Fort Johnston/Fort Pender 

Fort Caswell 

Battery Campbell 

Battery Shaw 

Fort Holmes 



Fort Hedrick 
Fort Anderson/St. Philip 
Town Creek Battery 
Nine Mile Battery 
Battery Lamb 
Zeke's Island Battery 
Fort Fisher 
Mound Battery 



Battery Buchanan 
Fort Strong/Stokes/Davis 
Fort French/Lee 
Cannoneer Battery 
Fort Meares/Campbell 
Fort Hill/Meares 
Wilmington defenses 



James Forte 

During the late seventeenth century a fortification known as James Forte was 
supposedly located on the eastern shore of the Cape Fear River below Wilmington. Its 
noted location on the eastern shore still presents a mystery, since the earliest 
settlements were on the western shore. Nevertheless, supposedly for defense, the king 
provided a cannon and munitions that may have been placed at the small box-shaped 
James Forte. Various accounts have associated the fort with the attempted settlement 
of the region in the early 1660s by adventurers from Massachusetts or a group of 
settlers from Barbados led by John Vassall. The latter group began a colony, called 
Charles Towne, at the mouth of Town Creek on the Cape Fear River (then called the 
Charles River in honor of the king) in 1664, with Capt. John Yeamans appointed by the 
proprietors as governor. On what is today known as Clarendon plantation, the 
settlement reached 600 inhabitants before it was abandoned in 1667. Possible 
hostilities with the local Indians, who were often taken as prisoners by the New England 
men, may have contributed to the eventual withdrawal of the Clarendon settlers 
(Thomas 1959:47; Sprunt 1992:30-32). 

Two known maps from the period illustrate James Forte. The first is a rough sketch by 
John Locke in 1662, pre-Charles Towne, from the original of Nicholas Shapley. The 
original drawn by Shapley for his own use has been lost. The inked map shows James 
fort as a crenellated building with two tiers surmounted by a flag. The location of the 
fort is shown to be on the eastern side of the Charles River, opposite four creeks 
labeled from north to south respectively as the "Greens," "Greenlakes," "Hiltons," and 
"Indian" Rivers. Indian River has been established as Town Creek. 

The second map to show James Forte was drawn about 1679 by James Lancaster. The 
map is one of four manuscript maps from the Blathwayt Atlas located in the John Carter 
Brown Library. The Lancaster map shows James Forte as a crenallated tower. Flying 
above the fort is the flag of St. George-a red cross on a white field. The fort is located 



131 



on the eastern side of the river opposite the same four "rivers" identified in the previous 
map. The exact site of James Forte has not been determined. 



Colonial fortification at Reaves Point 

In his Tales and Traditions of the Lower Cape Fear (1896) and again in his Cape Fear 
Chronicles (1914), historian James Sprunt gives an account of a colonial fort located 
upon the bluff at Howe's Point, presently known as Sunny Point. Located directly 
behind the fortification was the residence of Gen. Robert Howe, Revolutionary War 
patriot and soldier. Writing in 1896, James Sprunt states: 

... on a bluff called Howe's Point, are the remains of a Colonial fort, and 
behind it the ruins of a residence, in which, tradition says, was born in 
1730 General Robert Howe. He was the son of Job Howe, an educated 
and wealthy planter on the Cape Fear, who left, in 1748, a plantation to 
each of his five sons. 

It is said that Robert's estate was on Old Town Creek, and that he resided 
there. It is also stated that he lived for a time at Kendal, and that on the 
12th of May, 1776, the British Generals Cornwallis and Clinton landed 
with a troop of nine hundred men and ravaged General Howe's plantation. 
Mr. Reynolds, the present intelligent owner and occupant of the Howe 
place behind the Colonial fort, who took part in building Fort Anderson, 
says that his father and grandfather lived with General Howe on this place 
during the war and took part in a defence of this fort against the British, 
who drove the Americans out of it; that the latter retreated to Liberty 
Pond, about a half mile in the rear, pursued by the British; that a stand 
was made at this pond, the Americans on the west and the enemy on the 
east side, and that the blood which flowed stained the margin of the 
beautiful sheet of water which still bears the name of Liberty Pond; and 
that the Americans again retreated as far as McKenzie's Mill Dam, behind 
Kendal, where the British abandoned the pursuit and returned to their 
ships of war (Sprunt 1896:80-82). 

In his subsequent writings on the history of the Cape Fear River, Sprunt mentions 
having visited the fortification site at Howe's Point. He indicates that a short distance 
from the Howe place he found, within "the woods and upon a commanding site near the 
river, under many layers of pine straw, the clearly defined ruins of an ancient fort, which 
was undoubtedly of colonial origin." Once again recording the accounts of Mr. 
Reynolds, the former owner of the Howe plantation, Sprunt writes that "long before the 
War of the Rebellion this fort was erected by the colonial government for the protection 
of the colonists against buccaneers" (Sprunt 1992:60). 

In 1984 an archaeological survey was conducted on Reaves Point in an attempt to 
locate the remains of the fortification. Although earthen mound remants were found that 



132 




Figure 13. Fortifications an< 



on the eastern side of the river opposite the same four "rivers" identified in the previous 
map. The exact site of James Forte has not been determined. 



Colonial fortification at Reaves Point 

In his Tales and Traditions of the Lower Cape Fear (1896) and again in his Cape Fear 
Chronicles (1914), historian James Sprunt gives an account of a colonial fort located 
upon the bluff at Howe's Point, presently known as Sunny Point. Located directly 
behind the fortification was the residence of Gen. Robert Howe, Revolutionary War 
patriot and soldier. Writing in 1896, James Sprunt states: 

... on a bluff called Howe's Point, are the remains of a Colonial fort, and 
behind it the ruins of a residence, in which, tradition says, was born in 
1730 General Robert Howe. He was the son of Job Howe, an educated 
and wealthy planter on the Cape Fear, who left, in 1748, a plantation to 
each of his five sons. 

It is said that Robert's estate was on Old Town Creek, and that he resided 
there. It is also stated that he lived for a time at Kendal, and that on the 
12th of May, 1776, the British Generals Comwallis and Clinton landed 
with a troop of nine hundred men and ravaged General Howe's plantation. 
Mr. Reynolds, the present intelligent owner and occupant of the Howe 
place behind the Colonial fort, who took part in building Fort Anderson, 
says that his father and grandfather lived with General Howe on this place 
during the war and took part in a defence of this fort against the British, 
who drove the Americans out of it; that the latter retreated to Liberty 
Pond, about a half mile in the rear, pursued by the British; that a stand 
was made at this pond, the Americans on the west and the enemy on the 
east side, and that the blood which flowed stained the margin of the 
beautiful sheet of water which still bears the name of Liberty Pond; and 
that the Americans again retreated as far as McKenzie's Mill Dam, behind 
Kendal, where the British abandoned the pursuit and returned to their 
ships of war (Sprunt 1896:80-82). 

In his subsequent writings on the history of the Cape Fear River, Sprunt mentions 
having visited the fortification site at Howe's Point. He indicates that a short distance 
from the Howe place he found, within "the woods and upon a commanding site near the 
river, under many layers of pine straw, the clearly defined ruins of an ancient fort, which 
was undoubtedly of colonial origin." Once again recording the accounts of Mr. 
Reynolds, the former owner of the Howe plantation, Sprunt writes that "long before the 
War of the Rebellion this fort was erected by the colonial government for the protection 
of the colonists against buccaneers" (Sprunt 1992:60). 

In 1984 an archaeological survey was conducted on Reaves Point in an attempt to 
locate the remains of the fortification. Although earthen mound remants were found that 



132 




Figure 13. Fortifications and Obstructions: Smith Creek to Town Creek. 

133 




Figure 14. Fortifications and C 




Figure 14. Fortifications and Obstructions: Town Creek to Reaves Point. 

135 



s 
s 




N.C. Division 
of Archives 
and History 

Underwater 

Archaeology 

Unit 



Drawing Title: 

Fortifications and 
Obstructions: 

Reaves Point to 
Southport 



Project: 

Cape Fear 
River 

Comprehensive 
Survey 



Legend: 



H Fort Locations 




Date: May 1994 



Figure 15. Fortifications and 



! 




N.C. Division 
of Archives 
and History 

Underwater 

Archaeoloav 

Unit 

Drawing Title: 

Fortifications and 
Obstructions: 
Reaves Point to 
Southport 

Project: 

Cape Fear 
River 

Comprehensive 
Survey 

Legend: 

Fort Locations 




mile 



Date: May 1994 



Figure 15. Fortifications and Obstructions: Reaves Point to Southport. 

137 




N.C. Division 
of Archives 
and History 

Underwater 
Archaeology 

Unit 



Drawing Title: 

Fortifications and 
Obstructions: 

Southport to 
Cape Fear 



Project: 

Cape Fear 
River 

Comprehensive 
Survey 



Legend: 



H Fort Locations 







1 mile 




Date: May 1994 



Figure 16. Fortifications anc 




N.C. Division 
of Archives 
and History 

Underwater 
Archaeology 
Unit 



Drawing Title: 

Fortifications and 
Obstructions: 
Southport to 
Cape Fear 



Project: 

Cape Fear 
River 

Comprehensive 
Survey 

Legend: 

□ Fort Locations 



Tmllc 




Date: May 1994 



Figure 16. Fortifications and Obstructions: Southport to Cape Fear. 

139 



may have been constructed in association with the Revolutionary battle fought on 
Howe's plantation, results of test excavations revealed "no signs that they were built or 
used as fortifications" (ARC 1984). The location of the fort has never been clearly 
established. Much of Reaves Point has been disturbed or destroyed by the existing 
Military Ocean Terminal facilities. 



Revolutionary fortification at Wilmington 

On the east side of the Cape Fear River at Sunset Park, where Northern Boulevard 
ended, was the site of an old fortress of Revolutionary times. Modern development and 
construction have likely destroyed all indications of this fortification ( Wilmington Star , 
September 22, 1912). 



Fort Johnston/Fort Pender 

Fort Johnston was constructed between 1748 and 1764 along the lower Cape Fear 
River at the present town of Southport in Brunswick County and was built and named 
for Governor Gabriel Johnston. Initial construction of the fort came in response to 
Spanish attacks along the coast of the North Carolina colony in the 1740s. By 1745 
continued fears of Spanish attack along the Cape Fear River prompted the colonial 
assembly and the governor to begin work on a defensive installation. Legislation was 
enacted in April 1745 to build "Johnston's Fort" at a site selected by Johnston himself 
and a group of prominent political leaders. The facility was to be large enough for 
twenty-four cannons and was to be financed by powder money collected at Port 
Brunswick (Powell 1968:179; Sprunt 1992:52-55; Angley 1990:1-2). 

Construction began on Fort Johnston soon after passage of the 1745 legislation, but 
was delayed nearly three years, which resulted in a costly price for the local 
community. In the late summer of 1748, while construction was still under way at the 
fort, the long-feared Spanish raid into the lower Cape Fear became a reality (Angley 
1990:1-2). 

On the morning of September 4, two Spanish privateers and a captive sloop crossed 
over the main bar and sailed upriver. The Spaniards entered the Cape Fear after taking 
local pilots hostage, with the intention of taking "the negroes that were at work" on Fort 
Johnston. Being a Sunday "few or none" of the Negroes were to be found at work on 
the fort, most having been taken to Brunswick Town. Realizing their mistake, the 
Spaniards forced the pilots to guide them to Brunswick Town. Four miles below 
Brunswick a large number of armed men were put ashore to attack the town by land. 
The Spanish sloops proceeded "till they anchored before the town." The people of 
Brunswick Town, taken completely by surprise, fled from the combined land and sea 
attack leaving their town and several vessel in the harbor to be captured. A call for 
assistance "alarm," was sent out by the inhabitants, and a counterattack mounted. Only 
after three days of fighting were the Spanish invaders finally repulsed ( Charleston 



141 



Gazette , October 31, 1748; Lee 1965:232-233; Angley 1990:2; Green 1992:19-20; 
Clark XXIII:535). 

Governor Johnston announced in 1749 that the fort named in his honor had been 
completed, although others disputed that claim. One observer reported that the fort was 
poorly constructed and that its ordnance consisted merely of four rusty cannons. 
Despite those conditions, an officer and two men were stationed at Fort Johnston by 
October 1750, and the following year the fort began service as a quarantine station for 
vessels arriving from southern ports. In 1758 a committee was appointed to inspect 
Fort Johnston and make recommendations concerning its continued use. In December 
of the following year the committee reported that the fort was seriously run-down and 
badly in need of extensive repairs and improvements. A contract was awarded in 
January 1760 to William Dry for repairs of the installation. Four years later the 
legislature announced that the contracted work at Fort Johnston had finally been 
completed. Fort Johnston remained an active installation with less than one hundred 
men until the eve of the American Revolution (Angley 1990:2-3; Carson 1992:20; 
Reaves 1978:2). 

In mid-July 1775 a whig force of approximately 500 armed men moved downriver from 
Brunswick Town and attacked the British fort. Fearful that the fort would be used as a 
staging area for attempts to seize private property and incite slaves against their 
masters in the lower Cape Fear River, the colonists burned Fort Johnston and its 
ancillary structures, except for the Garrison House. North Carolina's last royal 
governor, Josiah Martin, who had recently taken refuge at the fort, was forced to flee to 
an armed British vessel in the harbor. With the abandonment of Fort Johnston, the 
Cape Fear River was left defenseless during the Revolution (Angley 1990:4). 

Encouraged by the presence of river pilots residing near Fort Johnston since before the 
Revolution, the General Assembly in 1784 enacted legislation providing for each 
licensed pilot to be allotted one acre of land for residential use. In 1792 the General 
Assembly formally enacted "An Act to lay off and establish a town near Fort Johnston." 
The town was incorporated as Smithville, (named for Benjamin Smith) and included 150 
acres in addition to the destroyed fort and pilots' places of residence. In March 1794 
Congress enacted legislation to provide again for the defense of the lower Cape Fear. 
In July 1795 the state of North Carolina conveyed the site of the old fort and portions of 
the town of Smithville for the new fort's construction (Angley 1990:5-6). 

Construction of a new Fort Johnston began almost immediately over the ruins of the old 
fort, but lengthy delays prevented the completion of the fort for several years. Not until 
1816 was work nearly complete at the fort. Facilities at that time included a battery of 
eight guns, a blockhouse, a guardhouse, a hospital, a group of buildings for enlisted 
men, and the still-extant Garrison House or officers' quarters. Fort Johnston was soon 
eclipsed by the much larger and more heavily armed Fort Caswell, begun in 1825 on 
Oak Island. By 1836 both forts were evacuated, however. Reactivated briefly during the 
Mexican War, Fort Johnston was again abandoned in 1852. From that time until the 



142 



eve of the Civil War, it was under the solitary care of an ordnance officer (USACOE 
1865d; Angley 1990:7). 

On April 16, 1861, four days before North Carolina seceded from the Union, Forts 
Johnston and Caswell were seized by the Confederate forces. Initially Fort Johnston 
served as a center for training and recruitment. Later only a small garrison served at 
the fort but saw no major military action. During the Civil War, Fort Johnston and Fort 
Caswell were among several fortifications improved or constructed along both sides of 
the river from its mouth northward to Wilmington. The most notable fortification on the 
lower Cape Fear region was Fort Fisher. When Fort Fisher finally fell to Union forces 
on January 15, 1865, the remaining defensive forts along the river, including Fort 
Johnston, were abandoned by their Confederate troops. A small garrison remained at 
Fort Johnston from the end of the war until 1881, at which time the last troops were 
removed. The name Fort Johnston was changed for a short duration during the war to 
Fort Pender, to honor General William Dorsey Pender, who was killed in the battle of 
Gettysburg (Bragg 1865a; Angley 1990:8-9; Reaves 1978:44; Wilmington Star , July 19, 
1970). 

The fort was allowed to deteriorate after the war until the early 1890s, when the 
Garrison House was restored for use by the United States Signal Service. In 1901 the 
fort was fully reactivated as the Fort Johnston Engineer Reservation. The buildings and 
property associated with Fort Johnston were transferred in 1955 to the Department of 
the Army's Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point (MOTSU), which retains ownership. 
The grounds of Fort Johnston, and the one standing structure, the Garrison House, 
were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 (Angley 1990:8-9). 



Fort Caswell 

On March 2, 1825, by act of the U.S. Congress, funds were appropriated for the 
construction of a defensive structure on Oak Island to protect the old inlet and the main 
channel of the Cape Fear River. The first land was likely acquired for the proposed fort 
on October 12, 1825, when the United States government purchased 450 acres of land 
for $1,780 from Piatt R. Dickinson and I. M. Van Cleaf, and his wife, Mary (Brunswick 
County Registry, Book I, pages 158-61). The U.S. government eventually acquired in 
1825 title to 2,750 acres of land on Oak Island (Hall 1975:237-239; Moore 1968:159- 
160; Herring and Williams 1983:5,9). 

During the following year workshops, storehouses, and other structures were erected 
on the site, but the actual construction of the fort did not begin until 1828. Bricks used 
in the construction of the fort were made on the banks of Walden Creek. Major George 
Blaney of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was in charge of construction until his 
death at Smithville in 1836. Captain Alexander J. Swift succeeded Major Blaney in the 
final stages of construction. "The fort was an irregular polygon of masonry with a 
perimeter of the enclosing walls of about 425 yards. The original plan for the fort called 
for two tiers of guns under bombproof casemates and one tier of guns en barbette for a 



143 



total of ninety guns. The platforms, however, for that number of guns were never 
constructed." The original fort was completed on October 20, 1838. The area was 
officially named Fort Caswell in honor of Richard Caswell, the first governor of North 
Carolina, by Order No. 32 of the War Department, dated April 18, 1838 (Moore 
1968:160; Hall 1975:239; Sprunt 1992:379-380; USACOE 1865c; Sprunt 1896:112, 
128; Herring and Williams 1983:21). 

The U.S. Engineers advised the Secretary of War in 1838 that the fort was ready for its 
garrison. A force of fifty men during peacetime and 450 men during war could be 
maintained at the fort. Nevertheless, Fort Caswell remained without a garrison until just 
prior to the Civil War. In 1846 a seawall was constructed in front of the fort, and the 
area behind the wall was filled. By 1860 eighteen guns had been delivered to the fort, 
although they had not been mounted. When southern forces seized Fort Caswell on 
April 16, 1861, the masonry was covered with railroad iron on which sand was poured 
to a depth of 15 feet. The troops also mounted sixteen guns and added six others. Fort 
Caswell was engaged in little conflict during the Civil War, although it played a crucial 
role in defending the river entrance, thus allowing blockade-runners to enter the 
channel. Fighting was generally limited to an occasional artillery duel with the United 
States blockading fleet. When Fort Fisher, on the opposite side of the river, fell to 
Union forces in January 1865, Fort Caswell, under the command of Maj. Alexander 
MacRae, was ordered abandoned and destroyed by Gen. Braxton Bragg. The fort was 
blown up by the Confederates, at which time the iron rail and sand southern face was 
destroyed, a portion of the west and north fronts badly shattered, and the wooden 
buildings destroyed by fire (Hall 1975:237-239; Hall 1980:93; Sprunt 1992:379-380; 
Powell 1968:178-179; Herring and Williams 1983:13,21,48). 

Fort Caswell was entirely remodeled and modernized in the late 1890s. Much of the 
brickwork from the original fort was salvaged for use elsewhere. About the turn of the 
century, several new batteries and a new seawall were built at the original Fort Caswell 
site. In the years preceding World War I, changes at Fort Caswell included the 
construction of new roads, railways, housing, offices, a hospital, and warehouses. The 
fort was again used as a coastal defensive installation with a small garrison and an 
increase in the size of the armament. During World War I Fort Caswell served basically 
as a training ground for artillery, rather than as a defensive fortification. In 1922 the 
National Guard fired the last shot from the fort, In late 1925 Fort Caswell was turned 
over to new owners from Florida, who intended to develop the 2,693-acre property for 
visitors (Moore 1968:159-160; Hall 1975:237-239; Powell 1968:178-179; Herring and 
Williams 1983:60,89,93, 101; Wilmington News-Dispatch . December 2, 1925). 

A yacht basin at Little pier, or L pier, on the north side of the island was dredged and 
slips built in October, 1938, and efforts were made to turn the idle fort into a resort 
area. While that effort fell short of expectations, the fort was soon transformed again 
into an active military installation. In November 1941 the United States Navy purchased 
249 acres inside the seawall and converted the facility into a submarine tracking 
station, a training center, a communication center, and a naval inshore patrol and 



144 



section-supply base. A new pier (T-pier) was constructed into the river and another pier 
(L-pier) was built over the dredged yacht basin. Four years after the end of World War 
II, a large portion of the Fort Caswell military reservation, which included 249 acres of 
oceanfront property, was sold to the North Carolina Baptist Convention for $86,000. 
Presently the facility is used as a Baptist retreat and convention center (Moore 
1968:159-160; Hall 1975:237-239; Powell 1968:178-179; Herring and Williams 
1983:60,89,93, 101: Wilmington Star . October 8, 1941). 



(Fort) Battery Campbell 

Fort Campbell, or, as it was often called, Battery Campbell, was located on Oak Island 
1,000 yards west of Fort Caswell. Described as an "earthwork of beautiful proportions," 
the fortification, along with nearby Fort Caswell and Fort Shaw, protected blockade- 
runners from Union vessels as they entered through the western channel into the Cape 
Fear River. The battery was said to be "a strong earth-work heavily traversed on the 
sea-faces, one of which is a bastioned front. . . ." and maintained sixteen guns and two 
mortars. Tradition holds that Battery Campbell was named for the Campbell family, 
early inhabitants at Wilmington. The first white child born in Wilmington is thought to 
have been a member of that family. Prior to the erection of Battery Campbell, no 
structures or earthworks, except for two range lights-one of which was mounted on a 
brick foundation and the other movable-were present in the vicinity. Fort Campbell at 
the close of the war was under the command of Col. Charles H. Simonton. Early in the 
morning of January 16, 1865, Confederate troops marched out of Forts Campbell and 
Caswell. Demolition teams destroyed much of the forts, leaving "a mass of shapeless 
ruins" for the occupying Union forces" (Sprunt 1992:380; Barrett 1963:247, 280; J. R. 
Randall Papers, SHC; Brockington 1990:6; Herring and Williams 1983:32; ORA, Vol. 
XLVI, pt. 2, p. 198; ORA I, 9:329). 

When the Union forces occupied the abandoned Fort Campbell, a plan was drawn that 
depicted a heavily armed sea face and western land face. Along with his plan, Admiral 
David Porter of the U.S. Navy reported, after the attack, that the following armaments 
were captured at Fort Campbell and the single-gun installation known as Battery Shaw: 
six 10-inch cannons, six smoothbore 32-pounders, one rifled 32-pounder, one 8-inch 
cannon, six field pieces, and two mortars (Brockington 1990:6; ORN, I, 11:618-621; 
USACOE 1865c). 

After the war, Fort Campbell lay unused until 1889, when two tracts of the Fort Caswell 
Military Reservation were selected for construction of a life-saving station on Oak 
Island. The station was completed and placed in commission by the following year. In 
1915 the Life-Saving Service was combined with the Revenue Cutter Service to form 
the Coast Guard. The old station was removed and a new three-building Coast Guard 
complex was built about 1915. The current Oak Island Coast Guard Station occupies a 
portion of the former Confederate earthwork known as Fort Campbell. The present 
Coast Guard station building is situated on the remnant of the bomb-proof mound of the 
Confederate Fort Campbell. A sand ridge on which the present lighthouse rests has 



145 



been determined to be a bastion of the Civil War fort (Brockington 1990 6 10 14 and 
25). 



(Fort) Battery Shaw 

Fort Shaw, like Fort Campbell, served as an auxiliary battery to Fort Caswell, the main 
defensive work on Oak Island. Fort Shaw, located between Fort Caswell and Fort 
Campbell, was a single-gun battery that aided in the protection of Confederate 
blockade-runners moving in close to shore. When Union forces gained control of the 
lower Cape Fear, Fort Shaw was destroyed by the evacuating Confederate garrison 
(Sprunt 1992:380; Barrett 1963:281; Powell 1968:180; USACOE 1865c). 



Fort Holmes 

Late in the Civil War the major fortification on Smith Island was known as Fort Holmes. 
Also referred to as Battery Holmes, the fortification was shown on the southwest tip of 
the island, below Light House Creek. Built by the Confederates in 1863, Fort Holmes, 
located directly across the mouth of the Cape Fear River from Fort Caswell, was built to 
assist in the protection of blockade-runners and as a defense to keep the port of 
Wilmington open. Concerned that the Federals would put ashore a large force of troops 
on the unprotected island, Gen. William H. C. Whiting, in charge of the defenses of the 
Cape Fear River, had Fort Holmes constructed. The fortification was described as "a 
long pile of sand being shaped twenty feet high, many feet thick at the base, and 
indefinite length." In addition, there were "numerous bastions, casemates, bomb-proof 
magazines with suitable ramparts and embrasures for light and heavy artillery as well 
as for infantry," with "mortars and quarters for commisary and quartermaster stores." 
The massive earthworks, named for Maj. Gen. Theophilus Hunter Holmes, commander 
of the Confederate Southern Department of Coastal Defenses, was garrisoned by eight 
companies of the 40th North Carolina regiment and one company of the 3rd Battalion 
under the command of Col. John J. Hedrick (Stick 1985:43-48; Barrett 1963:281; 
USACOE 1865f). 

On a Union map of Fort Holmes drawn following the fall of Fort Fisher and vicinity, 
"Battery Holmes" is shown as the main island battery on Bald Head point. Located 
1,000 yards to the north, just below Light House Creek, was "Battery No. 4." Forming 
the third point of a rough triangle were "Battery No. 3" and the smaller one-gun "Battery 
No. 2," both used to guard the southern beach. The remaining single-gun "Battery No. 
1" was located midway between Battery Holmes and Battery No. 2. On the day 
following the attack on Fort Fisher, the last four companies of the 40th Regiment 
"evacuated Fort Holmes and Fort Hedrick" after destroying most of the guns and 
structures." At present extensive remnants of Fort Holmes are still visible on Bald 
Head, especially in the immediate vicinity of the lighthouse (Stick 1985:43-48; Barrett 
1963:281; USACOE 1865f). 



146 



Fort Hedrick 

Fort Hedrick has been only casually mentioned in the literature, and its existence and 
location are vague at best. The fort appears to have been built after Fort Holmes was 
constructed on Smith Island in the vicinity of the lighthouse. Although the precise 
location of the fort is unknown, it is almost certainly named for John J. Hedrick of 
Wilmington. Hedrick led a small group of local men in taking possession of Fort 
Caswell and Fort Johnston several months prior to the opening hostilities of the war. 
The forts were ordered returned to the United States government, but within a few 
months were once again taken over by the Confederate forces. John Hedrick served as 
a Confederate officer and engineer during the entire war and was placed in charge of 
the construction of several fortifications in the vicinity of the lower Cape Fear, including 
those at Bald Head. The 40th North Carolina Regiment, formed from a number of 
independent heavy artillery companies from the surrounding forts, was organized at 
Bald Head on December 1, 1863, and placed under the command of Colonel Hedrick. 
The day after Fort Fisher fell, the remaining four companies of the 40th Regiment 
evacuated Fort Holmes and Fort Hedrick (Stick 1985: 46-48; Herring and Williams 
1983:34; South 1960:80-81; ORN I, 9:330). 



Fort Anderson/Fort St. Philip 

Fort St. Philip was constructed for the defense of Wilmington on the west side of the 
Cape Fear River over a part of the ruins of Brunswick Town. The fort's distance from 
the mouth offered no protection for blockade-runners trying to enter the river (Powell 
1968:67; Watson 1992:73). Confederate army officer Maj. Thomas Rowland was 
ordered on March 25, 1862, to the site of Brunswick Town to begin construction of a 
fort. By the following month Major Rowland reported that the line of entrenchments 
extending from the battery at the river to Orton Pond, a distance of nearly one mile, 
were nearly completed. Located along the defensive line were the remains of the 
colonial church St. Philip. At the major's suggestion, the battery was named Fort St. 
Philip, in honor of the historic structure. William Lamb, an intelligent young man with a 
law degree, was sent to command the small earthen battery. Under his supervision, the 
few weak gun emplacements were built up into the massive defensive earthwork that 
would later be renamed Fort Anderson. The success of his accomplishment was 
praised by Gen. William Whiting, who promoted Lamb to the rank of colonel in 1862 
and place him in charge of the Cape Fear River defenses at Fort Fisher (Trotter 
1989:324-325; Powell 1968:67; South 1960:78). 

Fort St. Philip consisted of two five-gun batteries, designated as Battery A and Battery 
B, with smaller emplacements along the length of the fortification. Battery A was built of 
sand on the extreme northern edge of Brunswick Point. Battery B, located just to the 
south, was roughly L-shaped and backed by high buffer mounds. Ordnance within the 
batteries and along the smaller emplacements consisted of a Whitwork gun, three rifled 
32-pounders, 6 smoothbore 32-pounders, and 3 smoothbore 24-pounders. Wharves 
were constructed from the fort into the river for the unloading of supplies. Later, when 
the name of the fortification was changed to Fort Anderson, it was described as "a 



147 



beautiful and substantial structure of turf' (South 1960:79; Barrett 1963:247; Randall 
Papers, SHC). 

For most of the war the garrison at Fort Anderson saw no action, and duty at the fort 
was routine. During 1864, after reports of yellow fever in Bermuda and Nassau became 
prevalent, Fort Anderson was assigned additional duty as a quarantine fort to prevent 
the introduction of the disease into Wilmington. All suspect blockade-runners were 
detained and unloaded at the fort. When a few cases of yellow fever were discovered 
at Fort Anderson, the lateness of the fall season forestalled the appearance of the 
disease in epidemic proportions (Watson 1992:87; Hall 1980:93). 

When Federal troops began the assault on Fort Fisher in late December 1864, the 
imminent threat of attack upon the small garrison at Fort Anderson was a very real 
possibility. The Confederate victory at Fort Fisher in December was short-lived, as the 
Federal troops returned to attack the fort the following month with devastating results 
for the South. When Fort Fisher fell to the superior Federal forces, the other 
Confederate fortifications at the mouth of the Cape Fear River were abandoned. Most 
of the troops that once occupied the deserted and now destroyed forts moved toward 
the safety of Fort Anderson, farther up the river. The garrison of 900 men at Fort 
Anderson under Colonel Hedrick and the displaced troops from the other forts knew it 
was only a matter of time before an attack came upon their positions. Fort Anderson 
was the last major defensive position between the attacking Federal troops and the 
inhabitants of Wilmington (Sprunt 1992:302,500; South 1960:81-89; Watson 
1992:103). 

It took time for Admiral David Porter to get his invading fleet of twenty ships over the 
bar at the mouth of the Cape Fear and prepare an attack on Fort Anderson. Before the 
major advance came, some shots were exchanged between the fort and the Federal 
vessels. One of the pre-attack maneuvers Admiral Porter employed was a "Bogus 
Monitor" built from an old scow, canvas, and barrel staves and floated past the fort to 
draw the enemy cannon fire away from his ships. The anticipated assault finally came 
on February 17, 1865, when the enemy attacked the fort from the rear with about 
10,000 infantry, while Admiral Porter, with a fleet of thirteen gunboats, his flagship, two 
blockaders, three schooners, and the single-turreted monitor Montauk, shelled the fort, 
demolishing the Confederate guns Prior to the final blow on the defenses of the Cape 
Fear River, the Confederates placed floating torpedoes in front of Fort Anderson. The 
torpedoes claimed one victim, the Union transport Thorn, just after the evacuation. The 
remainder of the torpedoes were safely removed from the river over the following 
months. In the face of overwhelming strength, the garrison at Fort Anderson withdrew 
on the following day and fell back beyond Town Creek, destroying the bridges ahead of 
the advancing army. The Confederates made one last stand at Town Creek but were 
again forced to fall back, this time to Wilmington. Four days later, Wilmington became 
the last major southern port occupied by Federal forces (Sprunt 1992:302, 500; South 
1960:81-89; Watson 1992:103). 



148 



Town Creek Battery 

After evacuating Fort Anderson, the rebel forces retired to "a strong line of works" south 
of Old Town Creek for a last effort to stop the advancing Union forces. Little information 
is known about the design of those earthworks (Sprunt 1992:497; Honeycutt 1963:194; 
Massengill 1977:fig 3). 



Nine Mile Battery 

South of Fort Meares, across the river from Town Creek, the Confederates constructed 
Nine Mile Battery. Little information is available about this battery (Massengill 
1977:fig.3; Honeycutt 1963:79). 



Battery Lamb 

Fort Lamb or Battery Lamb was constructed in 1863 as part of the overall Cape Fear 
River defense system. Named for Col. William Lamb of Fort Fisher, the small battery 
was located midway between Fort Anderson and Fort Johnston on what was then 
Reaves Point (and today known as Sunny Point). The Confederate work was 
strategically placed to observe any vessel that passed through New Inlet. The eight 
gun emplacements constructed at the battery may have mounted smoothbore 32- 
pounder cannons. Battery Lamb was apparently never called upon to play any 
defensive role until after the fall of Fort Fisher. After occupying the abandoned forts at 
the mouth of the Cape Fear, Union troops moved northward along the west side of the 
river. Skirmishing in the vicinity of Reaves Point occurred before the Confederate 
garrison at Battery Lamb was compelled to fall back to the safety of Fort Anderson 
ahead of the advancing enemy (Angley 1983:24-25; Powell 1968:179; CSCE 1865a 
and 1865b; Sprunt 1896:111). 



Zeke's Island Battery 

During late 1862 or early 1863 Capt. John J. Hedrick of the Confederate Engineer 
Corps was ordered to Zeke's Island to construct a battery for the defense of New Inlet. 
A Union map drawn in 1864 shows the battery on Zeke's Island as a crescent-shaped 
fortification centrally located along the northern shoreline of the island. Work was still 
progressing on the two-gun battery in May 1863. Shortly thereafter, the battery was 
"washed away by the sea." Little else is known about the design of this fortification. 
Hedrick was soon afterward appointed major of engineers and detached from his 
company and sent to Fort Fisher under orders to enlarge the fortifications there (ORN I, 
9:12; Lamb 1896:350; Wilmington Messenger , June 26, 1894; Wilmington Star , July 
22, 1881; USACOE1864). 



149 



Fort Fisher 

Of the Confederate fortifications constructed along the entrances to the Cape Fear 
River, the largest was known as Fort Fisher (Figure 17). Located on the tip of 
Confederate Point (now Federal Point), the fort was bounded on the west by the Cape 
Fear River, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the south by New Inlet. The 
strategic placement of the fort at the southern end of the peninsula enabled it to guard 
both New Inlet and the river approach to Wilmington. Construction began on Fort 
Fisher in April 1861 under the direction of Capt. Charles P. Bolles. Captain Bolles was 
able to begin construction of only two sand batteries during his two-week assignment 
before he was transferred and replaced by Capt. William DeRosset. After additional 
construction, Captain DeRosset in May declared the earthworks complete, and two 24- 
pounder cannons were mounted. The most southern of the earthworks at that time was 
then named Battery Bolles. Within three weeks Captain DeRosset was promoted for his 
accomplishment and also transferred to a new assignment (Powell 1968:179; 
Wilmington Sta r T July 22, 1881; Fort Fisher Master Plan 1974:54; USACOE 1865a, b, 

g). 

Construction and enlargement of the fort continued during 1862 under the command of 
Maj. John J. Hedrick. In addition to more sand batteries, a casemate battery of railroad 
iron and palmetto logs was constructed. It was located near the riverbank a short 
distance above Battery Bolles. The fortification had by the summer of 1862 established 
its basic shape of an L and consisted of a quadrilateral fieldwork known as Fort Fisher, 
a land battery defense near the river, and four sea defense batteries. The fort mounted 
seventeen guns at that time. Upon completion, the fortification was named for Col. 
Charles F. Fisher of Salisbury, who had been killed at the Battle of First Manassas 
while commanding the Sixth North Carolina Regiment (Powell 1968:179; Sprunt 
1992:281; Massengill 1977:13-14; Fort Fisher Master Plan 1974:54; USACOE 1865a, 

b, g). 

On July 4, 1862, Fort Fisher received a new commander: Col. William Lamb of Norfolk, 
Virginia. Lamb determined that the fort was under-equipped in strength and size to 
fulfill the vital defensive role required for the protection of blockade-runners entering 
New Inlet and protecting the port of Wilmington. He immediately set out to enlarge the 
fort and build "a work of such magnitude that it could withstand the heaviest fire of any 
guns in the American Navy." During the next 2V£ years, Lamb redesigned and 
constructed the "new" Fort Fisher, using 500 Negro laborers and his garrison. The 
expanded fort was modeled on the "Malakoff Tower," a Russian redoubt at Sebastopol 
that withstood a combined land and naval attack by the superior British and French 
forces during the Crimean War. Fort Fisher was termed the "Malakoff Tower of the 
South" (Fort Fisher Master Plan 1974:54; Sprunt 1992: 381). 

The northern land face of the fort commenced approximately 100 feet from the east 
bank of the Cape Fear river at a half bastion, originally Shepperd's Battery, and then 
ran eastward across the peninsula for a distance of 682 yards. At that point the curtain 



150 





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joined a bastion and turned at a right angle to continue southward along the sea beach 
toward New Inlet for 1,898 yards. The outer slope was sodded with marsh grass, 20 
feet high from the berm to the top of the parapet, at an angle of 45 degrees. The 
parapet was not less than 25 feet thick. The revetment was 5 feet 9 inches high from 
the floor of the raised gun chambers and 12 feet or more from the interior plane. The 
guns were all mounted en barbette on Columbiad carriages, there being no casemated 
guns in the fort (Lamb 1896:349-354, 385; Hall 1975:240-241; Sprunt 1992:381-383; 
ORN I, 12:35). 

Along the northern face were seventeen heavy gun emplacements, each protected by a 
mound of earth 12 feet or greater in height and known as a traverse. In each traverse 
was an alternate magazine or bombproof, the latter vented by an air chamber. Also on 
the northern face, and as an added protection against the assault of a land force, a 
palisade of sharpened stakes 9 feet high extended from the river edge east to the sea. 
Also extending across the peninsula at a distance of 500 to 600 feet outside the 
palisade was a line of torpedoes. Where the land face joined the sea face there was a 
large emplacement known as "The Pulpit," which projected beyond the parapets. On 
the sea face were twenty-seven additional mounted guns. Within the fort to the rear of 
the land face were three mortars, bringing the total mounted armament of Fort Fisher to 
forty-seven guns (Lamb 1896:349-354; Hall 1975:240-241; Sprunt 1992:381-383). 

From the Pulpit and northeast bastion the sea face extented for 100 yards and was 
constructed similar to the massive nature of the land face. At the end, a crescent 
battery intended for four guns was built of palmetto logs and tarred sandbags and sand 
revetted with sod. After the logs had decayed, the battery was converted into a hospital 
bombproof. Extending along the sea face and connected by a heavy earthen infantry 
curtain was a series of batteries that extended for three-quarters of a mile along the 
sea. These batteries had heavy traverses but were not more than 10 to 12 feet high to 
the top of the parapets. Farther along, where the channel ran close to the beach, a 
mound battery was erected (Lamb 1896:349-354; Hall 1975:240-241; Sprunt 1992:381- 
383). 



Mound Battery 

Forming the southern point of the sea face, and used as a defense for New Inlet, was a 
large gun emplacement known as Lamb's Mound Battery. Built 60 feet high, the battery 
was armed with two long-range guns. Mound Battery was connected to the battery 
north of it by a light infantry curtain. The distinct conical shape and height of the battery 
made for "an excellent landmark" used by blockade-runners to identify it for safe 
passage into New Inlet. "In clear weather, it showed plain and distinct against the sky 
at night." On foggy or cloudy nights a light was placed upon the mound that marked the 
entrance to the inlet, but it could be lit for only a brief amount of time (Lamb 1896:352- 
353; Hall 1975: 240-241; Sprunt 1992:381-383; Wilkinson, 1877:152). 



152 



Battery Buchanan 

Forming the final bastion on the end of Confederate Point was Battery Buchanan. The 
totally separate battery was a two-tiered elliptical earthwork, approximately 43 feet in 
height. Four mounted guns commanded both New Inlet and the approach by land. Just 
after it was completed, it was garrisoned by a detachment from the Confederate States 
Navy. Nearby, a wharf for large steamers was constructed, although the main docking 
facility for Fort Fisher was located at Craig's Landing just north of the fort. In the event 
that the main fort should be overrun, Battery Buchanan could be used as a last holdout 
until evacuation could be conducted from the wharf (Lamb 1896:353; Sprunt 1992:381- 
383; Trotter 1989:328; USACOE 1865b,g). 



Attacks on Fort Fisher 

Federal forces began plans for a joint army-navy attack on Fort Fisher during the fall of 
1864. Shortly after the southern forces learned on October 24, 1864, of the impending 
attack, Confederate general Braxton Bragg assumed command of the defenses of 
Wilmington. He superseded Gen. W. H. C. Whiting, who remained his second-in- 
command. The Confederates assembled 1 ,430 men at Fort Fisher in preparation for the 
assault. An additional force of 6,000 veterans from Lee's army under the command of 
Maj. Gen. Robert F. Hoke were located 5 miles up the river at Sugar Loaf. The 
expected Federal fleet finally arrived off Fort Fisher on the morning of December 20 
under the command of Admiral David Porter. Aboard the fifty-six warships that gathered 
off New Inlet was an army unit of 6,500 infantrymen under the command of Maj. Gen. 
Benjamin F. Butler (Lamb 1896:357-358; Fort Fisher Master Plan 1974:56-57; Sprunt 
1992:493). 

The first attempt the Federals made to take the fort began on the night of December 23, 
when the powder ship Louisiana, with more than 215 tons of powder, was exploded 
within 200 yards of the fort. It was hoped that the blast from the vessel would create a 
gap in the earthen defense. After a lengthy delay, however, the ship finally exploded at 
1:52 A.M. doing no damage. For two days, December 24 and 25, Fort Fisher came 
under a heavy bombardment that did little destruction. During the afternoon on 
Christmas day, 2,000 troops under General Butler made an unopposed landing at 
Battery Anderson, 3 miles up the coast. Unable to advance upon the fort because of 
artillery fire, General Butler withdrew his troops. On December 27 the Federal vessels 
sailed north along the coast to Beaufort, North Carolina, having been unsuccessful in 
their initial effort to capture Fort Fisher (Lamb 1896:357-358,361,366; Fort Fisher Mater 
Plan 1974:56-57; Sprunt 1992:493; Powell 1968:179). 

The Confederates were jubilant at having withstood the land attack of General Butler 
and the naval bombardment from Admiral Porter's ships. General Bragg, not expecting 
a renewed attack from the Union forces, ordered Hoke's 6,000 troops into Wilmington 
in preparation for a move against occupied New Bern. Disappointed with the failure of 
General Butler to take Fort Fisher, General U. S. Grant replaced Butler with Maj. Gen. 
Alfred H. Terry and ordered an additional 1,500 troops to ready themselves for a 



153 



second attack on the fortification within the following weeks. The Federal fleet, then 
numbering fifty-eight warships mounting 627 guns, reassembled at Beaufort, and 
proceeded back to Fort Fisher. On the night of January, 12, 1865, the Federal fleet 
reappeared off Confederate Point. The following morning, the second attack on Fort 
Fisher commenced when the five ironclads began bombarding the land defenses. The 
rest of the fleet, which joined in the bombardment of the fort that continued day and 
night from the thirteenth to the fifteenth. More than 50,000 shells and roundshot were 
directed at Fort Fisher during this period-the heaviest shelling of any fort during the war 
(Lamb 1896:371-377, 383; Fort Fisher Master Plan 1974:56-57; Sprunt 1992:493-494; 
Trotter 1989:400). 

On January 14 Federal troops again landed above Fort Fisher, in the vicinity of Battery 
Anderson. There the infantry entrenched from the sea to the river and were supported 
by light artillery brought ashore. To prevent Gen. Braxton Bragg from arriving from 
Wilmington to enforce the fort, 4,700 men were placed along the entrenchment. The 
remaining 3,300 men under the command of General Terry moved against Fort Fisher. 
At the pre-arranged hour of 3:00 p.m. on January 15, the assault began under a 
covering fire from the Federal vessels. In an effort to draw the fire away from General 
Terry's troops, 400 marines and 1,600 sailors, landed near the fort the evening before 
and, armed with pistols and cutlasses, attacked the northeast bastion on the beach 
side. The main attack by General Terry and his men came along the river at the end 
battery. During the ensuing battle, General Whiting was mortally wounded and Colonel 
Lamb severely wounded. The Confederate survivors of the battle fled to Battery 
Buchanan in hopes of finding boats as a means of escape. The assault finally ended at 
10 o'clock on the evening of January 15 when the last of the Confederate defenders, 
finding boats no longer there, could do nothing but surrender. Federal casualties had 
been costly, with nearly 1,300 men lost, but the expedition had finally been successful. 
The "last major stronghold of the confederacy" had fallen. Blockade-runners could no 
longer enter the safety of the Cape Fear River to unload at Wilmington, and in the 
following month even the city would be occupied by Union forces (Lamb 1896:371-377; 
Fort Fisher Master Plan 1974:57-58; Sprunt 1992:493-494; Trotter 1989:370,396). 



Fort Fisher after the Battle 

Once in the hands of the Federals, Fort Fisher was still not spared from further 
destruction. On the morning of January 16, a group of drunken United States sailors in 
search of loot and souvenirs carried a torch into the fort's powder magazine. This, the 
largest of the reserve magazines, contained 13,000 pounds of powder captured along 
with the fort. The explosion that followed killed or injured another 300 Union men and 
destroyed a section of the fortification (Lamb 1896:383; Trotter 1989:401). 

After the Federal forces occupied Fort Fisher, they began a series of alterations to the 
earthworks. Apparently the federal government adopted the policy in order to prevent 
the Confederates from attempting to retake the fort. One individual with the Union navy 
wrote in February 1865 the only known account of the fort's alteration. "The Engineer 



154 



Corps are at work now on Fort Fisher reducing its size and increasing its strength at 
the same time. Since the capture hundreds of men have been constantly employed 
dragging, pulling down, erecting and intrenching, and the appearance of the work is 
entirely changed" (Rogers 1928:115). Erosional forces of wind and rain and the number 
of relic hunters that searched the weathered ruins after the war likewise caused 
changes in the historic earthworks. In late 1896 Fort Fisher was once again considered 
as a defensive installation when the threat of attack from the Spanish Caribbean 
seemed possible. In preparation for what would later be the Spanish-American War in 
1898, the fort was to be "resurrected and armed in the earliest possible time." Assigned 
by the United States government to evaluate the effort were John M. Fisher and two 
other men from Philadelphia. Little if any changes are known to have been made at the 
fort during that time. In 1906 Fort Fisher was considered as a potential national park. 
Although such a plan never materialized, the underlying public interest in preserving 
the fort had been established. Until World War II little modification was undertaken at 
the fort (Massengill 1977:36; Wilmington Evening Dispatch , December 8, 1896; 
Wilmington Dispatch , April 16, 1906). 

Fort Fisher was reactivated as a military base during World War II as part of the 
Atlantic coastal defensive network. The fort served as part of Camp Davis, a training 
center located at Holly Ridge. The Fort Fisher installation served mainly for the 
protection of Federal Point and Smith Island by detecting enemy submarine activity 
along the coast. A military battery and radar installation were built at Fort Fisher in the 
summer and fall of 1941. The Fort Fisher installation "called for 45 frame buildings and 
over three hundred tent floors for approximately 2,500 troops from Camp Davis. The 
army used the site to practice with 3-inch guns, 37-millimeter pieces, and 155- 
millimeter seacoast guns. United States highway 421 divided the practice center into 
two sections-to the east was the firing point proper and to the west were the utilities 
and living quarters." Subsequently added to Fort Fisher was an airstrip that cut across 
and destroyed part of the land face. Over half of Battery Buchanan was carried off 
during World War II for the construction of the bombproofs that protected the 
ammunition bunkers. Additional batteries were constructed along the ocean front as far 
north as Carolina Beach (Massengill 1977:36; Wilmington Star-News . July 13, 1941; 
Powell 1968:179; Fort Fisher Master Plan 1974:3; Honeycutt 1967:1). 

Immediately following the end of the war, many of the facilities were removed or 
destroyed. The federal government disposed of numerous buildings, including a 350- 
bed hospital, under the directions of the U.S. District Engineer and the Real Estate 
Division of the War Department. Neither the state of North Carolina nor New Hanover 
County could find a practical use for the structures inasmuch as many were hastily 
constructed and were not fireproof. Other remaining structures were required to be 
removed in the 1950s when the United States military purchased a large expanse of 
land on the west side of the river at Sunny Point for the location of an ammunition 
loading terminal, known as the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point (MOTSU). Nearly 
all of the lower Federal Point area, including Fort Fisher, fell within the military 



155 



installation safety buffer zone ( Wilmington Evening Post , January 16, 20, 1945; 
Honeycutt, 1967:1). 

In 1932 New Hanover County purchased one acre of the site from the government and 
donated it to the state. That same year the United Daughters of the Confederacy 
erected a monument at Battle Acre to commemorate the Civil War fort. In the late 
1950s local and state forces joined together to revive the idea of restoring Fort Fisher. 
A twenty-year-old movement by local citizens to develop Fort Fisher as a park or state 
historic site was again considered. With approval and backing for a state historic site, 
work commenced auring the summer of 1960 on a 180-acre tract held by the state of 
North Carolina under lease from the U.S. government. A pavilion was constructed at 
the state site in the fall of 1961. Underbrush was cleared from the six mounds and 
seven gun emplacements within the leased property. Four years later a museum was 
built for interpretation of the Civil War fort. In 1 962 Fort Fisher became the first property 
in North Carolina recognized by the Federal Government as a National Historic 
Landmark — its highest designation for historic properties. The fort is also listed on the 
National Register of Historic Places (Fort Fisher Master Plan 1974:3-4; Powell 
1968:179). 

During the century since the earthen fort was constructed, sea erosion has obliterated 
the corner bastion and much of the sea face. Today only about one-half of the land 
face and Battery Buchanan remain. 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 in the building of Highway 421. 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 and to place a small revetment in front of Battle 
Acre. By 1968 approximately 200 yards of sea front has been lost to wave action. As a 
means of preventing any further erosion of what remained of Fort Fisher, the North 
Carolina Highway Department added a second stone revetment during 1969 and 1970 
along the beachfront (Fort Fisher Master Plan 1974:3-4). 

The latest effort in the fight to protect Fort Fisher and Federal Point from being claimed 
by the ocean is the current project to construct a 3,040-foot seawall. Construction of the 
seawall by Misener Marine Construction, Inc. began in June 1995 and is expected to 
be completed in one year. The project, a result of a partnership between the Corps of 
Engineers and the State of North Carolina, will include multi-layered rubble revetment 
with tie-ins to natural ground on the north and south ends of the site. Along Battle Acre 
the revetment will overlay most of the existing rubble. Sand will be placed behind the 
revetment to form a gentle slope from the crest of the revetment to the existing ground. 
The seawall is expected to halt ocean side erosion of Federal Point for the next fifty 
years (Fort Fisher 1995). 



156 



Fort Strong (Fort Stokes, Fort Davis) 

On the east shore of the Cape Fear River, across from the mouth of the Brunswick 
River, at least four forts and a battery were built by the Confederates for the defense of 
Wilmington. Fort Strong, the closest to the city, is shown on Confederate Engineers 
maps (1863) of the obstructions and forts across from the Brunswick River, and in 
1864, of the Wilmington vicinity. On a much larger-scale map of the vicinity, apparently 
drawn later in 1864 by the engineers and showing the approaches to Wilmington, the 
name of the fort appears as Fort Stokes. On a copy of the obstructions map dated 
February 7, 1865, that accompanied a report by General Braxton Bragg after the fall of 
Fort Fisher, the defensive structure was labeled Fort Davis and mounted five guns 
(CSCE 1863a, 1864a,c, 1865a,b; USCS 1864; Trotter 1989:324; Honeycutt 1963:79). 

Information on the construction of Fort Strong is lacking, although it must have been 
built in late 1861 or early 1862. By May 1862 a Confederate company was mustered 
into service, placed under the command of Capt. Charles Ellis, and assigned to Fort 
Strong. Captain Ellis remained twelve months at this location before he performed 
garrison duty at Wilmington and later Fort Campbell at the mouth of the river 
( Wilmington Star , August 15, 1873). Fort Strong was considered the most formidable of 
the four closely grouped forts and was likely casemated. A "casemated battery" is 
indicated on an 1864 United States Coast Survey map in the approximate location of 
Fort Strong (ORN I, 12:36). 

Fort Anderson on the opposite side of the river at old Brunswick Town was abandoned 
on February 18. Four days later, Wilmington, Fort Strong, and the remaining Cape Fear 
River defenses were also evacuated. An account of the capture of Fort Anderson and 
the other forts was given by surgeon Stephen Bartlett while stationed aboard a Union 
vessel in the river. "On the opposite side of the River [from Fort Anderson] is another 
Fort and it is reported that our land force took it yesterday at the same time we were 
shelling it" (Murray and Bartlett 1956:74). Two days after Fort Anderson fell, Bartlett 
wrote, while his vessel lay "Six miles from Wilmington In front of Iron clad Battery," that 
"last night the enemy evacuated their last strong hold. Their works were well 
casemated and guns were regularly worked." Surgeon Bartlett may have been referring 
to Fort Strong when he stated that "the last Fort captured is called Fort Iron Island" 
(Murray and Bartlett 1956:79-81; USCS 1864: Lossing 1868:492). When Stephen 
Bartlett wrote home about the fall of Wilmington, he expressed a wish to show his 
brother, Walter, all the sights: "I would take him down to Fort Strong. There he would 
see the heavy guns, some of them dismantled. He would see the ground torn up and 
houses completely riddled by our shot and shell. He would see Rebel graves and in the 
magazines he would still find stacks of rebel ammunition which has not been removed" 
(Murray and Bartlett 1956:83). 



157 



Fort French (Fort Lee) 

Located slightly downriver from Fort Strong and just below Mount Tirzah was Fort 
French, as it was labeled on two maps done in 1863 by the Confederate engineers. 
The fort is illustrated and labeled as "iron clad with T-iron." By 1864 the two-gun fort 
had been named Fort Lee and placed under the command of Col. P. C. Gaillard. Fort 
French was situated on the east shore of the Cape Fear River directly across from the 
northern tip of Clark's Island. From that position the guns of the fort protected a line of 
floating chain obstructions that extended from the northern tip of Clark's Island to just in 
front of Fort French. Vessels passed through the obstructions by means of a floating 
gate directly in front of the fort. When Fort Fisher fell to Union forces on January 15, 
1865, the Confederates sank the old blockade-runner North Heath in the channel next 
to the floating obstructions to give Wilmington added protection from advancing enemy 
vessels ( Wilmington Star , February 27, 1868; New York Herald , January 18, 1865; 
Trotter 1989:324; Honeycutt 1963:79; CSCE 1863a,b, 1864a,c 1865a,b). 



Cannoneer Battery 

On Confederate maps of 1863 and 1864 a Cannoneer Battery is shown 200 yards north 
of Fort French. The battery is depicted as crescent-shaped and constructed to support 
two guns. The battery is oriented to protect the river obstructions. No further data are 
known about the Cannoneer Battery (CSCE 1863a,b; 1864a). 



Fort Meares (Fort Campbell) 

Fort Meares was located across from the mouth of the Brunswick River approximately 
1 ,000 yards south of Fort French. After 1863 the fort appears on Confederate maps as 
Fort Campbell (not to be confused with Fort Campbell on Oak Island) and armed with at 
least eight guns. A line of sawyers blocked the main channel directly in front of the fort. 
On the 1865 map of the defenses submitted by Gen. Braxton Bragg, chevaux de frise 
and two wrecks were noted as having been added to the obstructions. The two vessels 
indicated were the steamers Arctic and Yadkin both sunk in December 1864, just prior 
to the fall of Wilmington. The obstructions were removed in 1875 by the U.S. 
Engineers, and Fort Campbell is indicated in "Ruins" the following year (Trotter 
1989:324; Honeycutt 1963:79; CSCE 1863a,b; 1864a,c; 1865a,b; USACOE 1876b). 



Fort Hill (Fort Meares) 

The most southern of the four Confederate forts constructed near the confluence of the 
Brunswick and Cape Fear Rivers was Fort Hill, located approximately 450 yards south 
of Fort Campbell. The earthen fortification was built farther back then the other forts, 
some 100 yards from the shoreline. Maps drawn by the southern engineers after 1863 
indicate the four-gun defense as Fort Meares. Jetties that extended from both sides of 
the river to near mid-channel directed all vessels to pass directly in front of Fort Hill. 



158 



The fort was indicated as being in ruins by 1876 (Trotter 1989:324; Honeycutt 1963:79; 
CSCE 1863a,b; 1864a,c; 1865a,b; USACOE 1876b). 



Wilmington defenses 

Within the city of Wilmington, several earthen batteries were constructed as early as 
1862 in anticipation of a Federal attack. Most of the batteries were built in the southern 
section of the city, near the river or west of the city near Green's Millpond. At least one 
battery was located near the northeastern shoreline of the river above Wilmington. In 
addition to the defensive earthwork batteries, a series of ponds and ditches was dug; 
the ponds and ditches surrounded the entrenchments, into which water could be 
poured through a series of sluices and gates (Watson 1992:73; CSCE 1863b). 

Wilmington's defenses after 1863 were described by C. S. Powell, a soldier with the 
Tenth North Carolina Battalion, several years after the war. Powell gives the following 
description: 

The defenses around the city consisted of a system of ponds, dams and 
earthworks extending in a cresent half around the northeastern side of the 
city, then from North East river to Smith's Creek and across a sand ridge 
by the present beautiful Greenfield Park to the Cape Fear River a mile or 
more below the city, and a mile from the city all around. There were dams 
with water guages at each of these ponds, and it is said to have been a 
skillful piece of engineering. In the city were two batteries of ten-inch 
Columbian cannons with magazines of ammunition. One battery was on a 
bluff at the upper side of the city, and the other on a bluff near the 
southern suburbs. These batteries and chains of dams along with several 
government sheds on the side of the river in front of the city, were the 
principal points to protect the Tenth Battalion. These sheds at times were 
filled with immense quantities of goods and government supplies landed 
there by the numerous fleets of blockade runners then coming into port; 
just as eager to get our cotton as we were to get the necessary goods 
brought for exchange. There were ten or twelve posts to be guarded 
which required a force of about forty men daily. These were commanded 
by a commissioned officer, and four or five non-commissioned officers . . . 
( Wilmington Star , September 9, 1917). 

On February 22, 1865, the town of Wilmington was occupied by Union forces and the 
defensive positions within the town were evacuated by Southern troops during the 
night. Most of the earthen fortifications within and near the city were destroyed in the 
period of reconstruction and growth that followed the war. 



159 



Lighthouses, Beacons, and Lightships 

As Brunswick and later Southport and Wilmington became major communities for trade 
along the Cape Fear River, the number of vessels that set sail on the river increased. 
Perhaps the greatest threat to ships was the possibility of running aground on ocean or 
river shoals. One measure taken to reduce the hazard was the placement of navigation 
lights along the river and its entrances (Figures 18,19,20,21). Lighthouses were first 
used at the entrances to the Cape Fear River with the construction of the Bald Head 
Lighthouse and Federal Point Lighthouse near the turn of the nineteenth century. 

In 1848 the U.S. Congress appropriated money for the placement of several other 
beacons, lighthouses, and a lightship on the Cape Fear River (Stick 1980:36-37). This 
series of navigational markers included lighthouses at Orton Point, Campbell Island, 
and two at Oak Island; beacons at Price's Creek and the Upper Jettee at Wilmington; 
and a lightship at Horseshoe Shoal. Although modern terminology makes little 
distinction between "beacon" and "lighthouse," historically the terms were generally 
applied according to the size and cost of the light. Beacon, the older of the two terms, 
was used to describe smaller lighthouses (Stick 1980:37). 

In 1861, by order of Gov. John W. Ellis, the Confederates extinguished all lights on the 
lower Cape Fear. The lights were either destroyed, rendered inoperative, or removed to 
places of safety. These included the Bald Head and Federal Point lighthouses on the 
coast, the Horseshoe Shoal lightboat, and the smaller lighthouses at Price's Creek, 
Orton Point, Campbell Island, and the Upper Jettee on the Cape Fear River (Stick 
1980:57; Wilkinson 1877:197). Some beacons were lighted only briefly to assist a 
blockade-runner into the river, then immediately extinguished once the vessel had 
safely cleared the hazards. Each entering blockade-runner was required to provide a 
barrel of sperm oil to be used in the operation of the navigation lights (Wilkinson 
1877:197-198). Several of the lights resumed operation following the war. A description 
on each of the twelve lighthouse or lightship locations is given below. 

Bald Head/Cape Fear Lighthouse Price's Creek Beacons Cape Fear River Lights 

Oak Island Lighthouse Orton Point Light Horseshoe Shoal Lightboat 

Oak Island Beacons Campbell's Island Light Horseshoe Shoal Lighthouse 

Federal Point Lighthouses Upper Jettee Range Lights Frying Pan Shoals Lightships 



Bald Head (Cape Fear) Lighthouses 

The U.S. Lighthouse Board decided that the first lighthouse in North Carolina would be 
placed on Smith Island at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Construction began about 
1789 and was completed in 1796 on ten acres of land acquired by the government from 
Benjamin Smith, who then owned the island. The General Assembly raised funds for 
the construction of the new light in 1784 by placing an additional six pence per ton duty 
on all vessels entering the Cape Fear River (Stick 1980:11-12). The editor of a 
Wilmington newspaper described the original lighthouse: 



161 



Cape Fear Lighthouse is situated near Bald Head, a noted bluff on Cape 
Fear island at the mouth of Cape Fear river, on which river is built the 
town of Wilmington, N.C. The iron lantern is ten feet nine inches in 
diameter, and about fifteen feet nine inches in height from the floor to the 
top of the roof. It was first lighted on the night of 23rd December 1794. 
The light bears West North West from the extremity of the Frying Pan 
Shoals, distance eight leagues ( Wilmington Gazette , July 10, 1795). 

As a result of being constructed too close to the ocean, waves undermined the first 
Bald Head lighthouse causing it to eventually collapse into the sea. In 1810 Secretary 
of the Treasury Albert Gallatin authorized the expenditure of two thousand dollars "in 
order to secure the lighthouse at Bald Head against the encroachments of the sea." 
This measure of installing "two double rows of poles driven and filled between with 
brush" proved ineffectual. In July 1813 the collector of customs at Wilmington issued a 
warning to mariners: "In consequence of the encroachment of the sea it has become 
necessary to pull down the lighthouse on Bald Head" (Stick 1985:33-34; Herring 
1967:79). 

Construction of a second lighthouse, known as "Old Baldy," occurred in 1817 (Figure 
22) The previous year Congress had to reappropriate funds for the lighthouse 
originally authorized for the project three years earlier. The second lighthouse was 
octagonal in shape, similar to the original, and carefully and exactly described in every 
detail prior to construction. The U.S. Lighthouse Board chose as the location of the 
second lighthouse a high bluff, a half-mile north of the first site on the extreme 
southwest point of the island, and well back from the river. In July 1834, Capt. Henry D. 
Hunter of the Revenue Cutter Taney reported that the Bald Head lighthouse had "15 
lamps which were 109 feet above the level of the sea and showed a fixed light" (Stick 
1985:33-38). When New Inlet became the primary outlet for the Cape Fear River, the 
Bald Head lighthouse was relegated to a secondary status. 

With the closing of New Inlet in 1881 more vessels were again using the river channel 
between Oak Island and Smith Island. In late 1879 the U.S. Lighthouse Board 
reactivated the Bald Head light. A construction crew installed a new lighting mechanism 
in Old Baldy in 1883, as well as the addition of a two-story house for the keeper. The 
closing of New Inlet had the desired effect of increasing water flow down the Cape Fear 
River but also caused erosion at Bald Head near the lighthouse. To remedy the 
problem the Corps of Engineers constructed a jetty 150 feet in length, later extended to 
200 feet. The measure proved quite successful and prevented the second Bald Head 
lighthouse from also falling into the sea (Stick 1985:71; Wilmington Weekly Star , 
November 14, 1879). 

Navigators at the outer edges of the Frying Pan shoals found it difficult to observe the 
light at Bald Head. It was therefore proposed that Bald Head light be elevated to 150 
feet and a new first-order lens be installed to aid ships entering the river, but this 
improvement measure was soon discarded in favor of a different plan. Instead of 



162 



c 

o en ^ 

w 5^ o 
> • 

< 



en 



CD 
D 



o 



m_ C C £ 5= 

ODD <Z) 




Figure 18. Lighthouses, Ferri 
Smith Creek to To' 



Cape Fear Lighthouse is situated near Bald Head, a noted bluff on Cape 
Fear island at the mouth of Cape Fear river, on which river is built the 
town of Wilmington, N.C. The iron lantern is ten feet nine inches in 
diameter, and about fifteen feet nine inches in height from the floor to the 
top of the roof. It was first lighted on the night of 23rd December 1794. 
The light bears West North West from the extremity of the Frying Pan 
Shoals, distance eight leagues ( Wilmington Gazette , July 10, 1795). 

As a result of being constructed too close to the ocean, waves undermined the first 
Bald Head lighthouse causing it to eventually collapse into the sea. In 1810 Secretary 
of the Treasury Albert Gallatin authorized the expenditure of two thousand dollars "in 
order to secure the lighthouse at Bald Head against the encroachments of the sea." 
This measure of installing "two double rows of poles driven and filled between with 
brush" proved ineffectual. In July 1813 the collector of customs at Wilmington issued a 
warning to mariners: "In consequence of the encroachment of the sea it has become 
necessary to pull down the lighthouse on Bald Head" (Stick 1985:33-34; Herring 
1967:79). 

Construction of a second lighthouse, known as "Old Baldy," occurred in 1817 (Figure 
22). The previous year Congress had to reappropriate funds for the lighthouse 
originally authorized for the project three years earlier. The second lighthouse was 
octagonal in shape, similar to the original, and carefully and exactly described in every 
detail prior to construction. The U.S. Lighthouse Board chose as the location of the 
second lighthouse a high bluff, a half-mile north of the first site on the extreme 
southwest point of the island, and well back from the river. In July 1834, Capt. Henry D. 
Hunter of the Revenue Cutter Taney reported that the Bald Head lighthouse had "15 
lamps which were 109 feet above the level of the sea and showed a fixed light" (Stick 
1985:33-38). When New Inlet became the primary outlet for the Cape Fear River, the 
Bald Head lighthouse was relegated to a secondary status. 

With the closing of New Inlet in 1881 more vessels were again using the river channel 
between Oak Island and Smith Island. In late 1879 the U.S. Lighthouse Board 
reactivated the Bald Head light. A construction crew installed a new lighting mechanism 
in Old Baldy in 1883, as well as the addition of a two-story house for the keeper. The 
closing of New Inlet had the desired effect of increasing water flow down the Cape Fear 
River but also caused erosion at Bald Head near the lighthouse. To remedy the 
problem the Corps of Engineers constructed a jetty 150 feet in length, later extended to 
200 feet. The measure proved quite successful and prevented the second Bald Head 
lighthouse from also falling into the sea (Stick 1985:71; Wilmington Weekly Star , 
November 14, 1879). 

Navigators at the outer edges of the Frying Pan shoals found it difficult to observe the 
light at Bald Head. It was therefore proposed that Bald Head light be elevated to 150 
feet and a new first-order lens be installed to aid ships entering the river, but this 
improvement measure was soon discarded in favor of a different plan. Instead of 



162 




Figure 18. Lighthouses, Ferries & Quarantine Stations: 
Smith Creek to Town Creek 

163 




Figure 19. Lighthouses, Fe 
Town Creek to F 




Figure 19. Lighthouses, Ferries & Quarantine Stations: 
Town Creek to Reaves Point. 

165 



(1837) 



5 - 1883) 



Price 



Southport 
(Smithville) 




Figure 20. Lighthouses, Ferrie 
Reaves Point to Soi 



N.C. Division 
of Archives 
and History 

Underwater 

Archaeology 

Unit 



Drawing Title: 

Lighthouses, Ferries, 
Quarantine Stations: 

Reaves Point to 
Southport 



Project: 

Cape Fear 
River 

Comprehensive 
Survey 



Legend: 



•+- Lighthouse 




mile 




Date: May 1994 




Figure 20. Lighthouses, Ferries & Quarantine Stations: 
Reaves Point to Southport. 

167 



N.C. Division 
of Archives 
and History 

Underwater 
Arc'naeoloqv 

Unit 



Drawing Title: 

Lighthouses, Ferries, 
Quarantine Stations: 

Reaves Point to 
Southport 



Project: 

Cape Fear 
River 

Comprehensive 
Survey 



Legend: 



Lighthouse 




mile 



Date: May 1994 




Quarantine Station (1861-1865) 



Oak Island 


Oak 


lslan< 


Oak 


Islanc 



Figure 21. Lighthouses, Ferr 
Southport to Cape 



N.C. Division 
of Archives 
and History 

Underwater 

Archaeology 

Unit 



Drawing Title: 

Lighthouses, Ferries, 
Quarantine Stations: 

Southport to 
Cape Fear 



Project: 

Cape Fear 
River 

Comprehensive 
Survey 



Legend: 



+~ Lighthouse 





Date: May 1994 




N.C. Division 
of Archives 
and History 

Underwater 

Archaeology 

Unit 



Drawing Title: 

Lighthouses, Ferries, 
Quarantine Stations: 

Southport to 
Cape Fear 



Project: 

Cape Fear 
River 

Comprehensive 
Survey 

Legend: 

Jf- Lighthouse 




mile 



Date: May 1994 



Figure 21. Lighthouses, Ferries & Quarantine Stations: 
Southport to Cape Fear. 

169 







Figure 22. Photograph showing Bald Head Lighthouse. 



171 



elevating Bald Head, planners proposed in 1889 "a first-order masonry tower 150 feet 
high, with suitable oil-room, keeper's dwellings, and out-buildings." The new lighthouse 
would be capable of shining "a radius of 18 1 /^ miles of light" that would sufficiently 
extend to the extremities of the Frying Pan shoals. For several years Congress failed to 
appropriate the estimated $150,000 needed to construct the masonry tower. When 
"urgent petitions" were received by the lighthouse board from "commercial and pilot 
associations of Wilmington, N.C., and by shipmasters trading to that port," the board 
members revised the plan for a masonry tower and proposed instead the construction 
of a 150-foot-high skeleton-type tower at less than half the cost. Congress finally 
appropriated funds for the construction of a new lighthouse in 1898. 

In 1903 builders completed and activated the third Cape Fear Lighthouse, a 184-foot 
steel skeleton tower that stood at the tip of Smith Island marking the entrance to the 
Cape Fear River. The upper portion of the tower was painted black and the lower 
portion white. In order to transport materials across the sand hills and through the 
forests of Smith Island for the new tower, construction workers built a wharf, trestle, and 
tramway. The Cape Fear Light Station remained in operation until 1958 when it was 
demolished and replaced by a new cylindrical light structure on Oak Island. Old Baldy 
continued to be an active fixed-light station maintained by the Coast Guard until 1935 
(Stick 1985:75-78; Hall 1975:264). 



Oak Island Lighthouse 

The present Oak Island Lighthouse on Caswell Beach replaced the Cape Fear tower 
light. It began operation on May 15, 1958. Oak Island Light stands 169 feet in height 
with an 18-foot diameter. The top third of the cylindrical concrete structure is black, the 
middle third white, and the lower third grey. The 1,400,000 candlepower lamp of the 
lighthouse is visible under good conditions for a distance of 12 miles. The Oak Island 
Lighthouse also serves as a radio beacon navigational aid (Herring 1967:93-95). 



Oak Island Beacons 

For vessels that proceeded up or down the river past Southport, the two beacons on 
Oak Island played a key role in their safe passage to and from the sea. Below 
Southport the main channel of the river makes a broad curve to the east. Shoals on 
either side of the channel threatened the safety of vessels sailing past this point. In 
order for pilots to safely navigate the channel bend, the lighthouse commission 
authorized in 1848, and had built in 1849, two beacons on Oak Island. One light was 
built on a round brick tower, the other mounted on top of a keeper's house. Of the two 
beacons, the northernmost, and highest, was known as "the rear light." It displayed a 
fixed white light 37 feet above sea level, 10 feet higher than the low light, also known 
as the Bug light (Stick 1980:38; Herring 1967:109-111; Herring and Williams 1983:4; 
Wilmington Chronicle . December 13, 1848). 



172 



The two brick towers constructed on Oak Island were apparently among the lights 
extinguished by the Confederates in 1861. A Union map drawn in January 1865 shows 
the position of two range lights on Oak Island 200 yards east of Battery Campbell. 
Following the war, the commission either had two new navigational structures 
constructed, or the lights moved slightly inshore, as shown on an 1888 U.S. Coast 
Survey map. The Oak Island Range Lights, or Caswell Light, consisted of a front and 
rear light. The rear, or high light, was a wooden tower built on a square brick foundation 
approximately 16 feet high by 14 feet square. A contemporary newspaper account 
described the front tower as "an open-frame frustum of a square pyramid resting on a 
tram railway, which allows of its being moved to the right or left, to suit the changes in 
the channel." A typical keeper's dwelling was also located nearby. The frame-built 
dwelling consisted of two rooms with a separate kitchen. The storm that occurred on 
October 11-13, 1893, seriously damaged the structure. Waves tore the brick foundation 
out from under the dwelling. The twin lights proved to be less than acceptable in their 
task in marking the range over the bar. The lights "being so near each other that 
considerable deviation from the true course is necessary to make them appear to 
separate." As a result, the commission ordered the station discontinued on July 31, 
1894. Fire accidentally destroyed the remains of the wooden tower of the rear light in 
1958. The brick foundations remain (USACOE 1865c; USGCS 1888; Wilmington Star , 
February 22, 1885, October 15, 1893; Stick 1980:38; Herring 1967:113-115). 



Federal Point Lighthouses 

In 1814 the U.S. Congress authorized the construction of a beacon at Federal Point. 
Two years later, on September 15, Robert Cochran, collector of customs at Wilmington 
and superintendent of the lighthouse on Bald Head, reached an agreement with 
Benjamin Jacobs of the town of Wilmington, for the construction of the new beacon. 
Jacobs agreed that he would build a beacon on Federal Point above New Inlet before 
the end of the year. The beacon, defined simply as a small lighthouse, stood on a stone 
or brick foundation laid approximately three feet under the ground. The conical brick 
beacon rose forty feet in height to the base of the lantern. At its base it measured six 
feet across with walls three feet thick. Wooden shingles covered the top of the three- 
floored beacon. Ladders connected each of the floors. Little is known of the type 
lantern used except that it was a fixed light. A door entered the beacon, while only a 
single window was placed near the top of the structure. The entire exterior of the brick 
beacon was plastered and painted white. By the spring of 1817 Robert Cochran 
certified that Benjamin Jacobs had successfully completed the task of building the 
lighthouse and it was ready for service. For his task Jacobs received the sum of 
thirteen hundred dollars (Stick 1980:23). The beacon warned mariners of the hazards 
at New Inlet until the night of April 13, 1836, when flames engulfed and totally 
destroyed it (U.S. Lighthouse Service Records 1816, 1817; Wilmington Advertiser , April 
22, 1836). 

In 1837 Henry Stowell of Hingham, Massachusetts, reconstructed the Federal Point 
lighthouse. It operated until Confederate forces put it out of use in 1863. This new 



173 



tower was constructed of hard brick in a rounded form 30 feet above the surface of the 
ground. The diameter of the base measured 18 feet, while the top was 9 feet. An 
arched deck of soap stone 11 feet in diameter, four inches thick, and the joints filled 
with lead, topped the brick tower. Entrance to the lantern was made through a scuttle 
sealed by an iron and copper scuttle door. The wrought iron lantern was built in an 
octagonal form and contained eleven patent lamps and reflectors. The brick tower 
contained a door six feet by three feet, and three windows. The tower and woodwork 
were painted white, except for the dome that was painted black. Adjacent to the 
lighthouse a one-story dwelling house 34 feet by 20 feet was built of hard brick and 
contained a chimney at either end. The following year a cistern was added to the 
complex. A third lighthouse was put into service after the war in 1866 and used until the 
closing of New Inlet in 1880. On August 23, 1881, although no longer in use, fire 
destroyed the lighthouse. At that time a Mr. Taylor, the former keeper, and his family 
occupied the lighthouse located less than one mile from the site of Fort Fisher (U.S. 
Lighthouse Service Records 1837, 1838; Wilmington Star , August 24, 1881; Stick 
1980:60; Stick 1985:71). 



Price's Creek Beacons 

The design of the twin beacons located at Price's Creek, above Southport on the west 
side of the river, served the same function as those at Oak Island. Construction of the 
twin range lights assisted vessels heading downstream in navigating the channel 
around Horseshoe Shoal. The lights, authorized by Congressional appropriation on 
August 14, 1848, were operational by 1850. The local lighthouse board appointed 
Samuel C. Mabson of Wilmington as the keeper of the new Price's Creek beacons, but 
that appointment was not carried out. John Bell became the first keeper of the lights at 
Price's Creek. "The main structure was a wooden tower mounted on top of the keeper's 
dwelling, the focal plane of the light being twenty-two feet above ground level and 
thirty-five feet above mean high water. The second light was a circular brick structure, 
sixteen feet high, with the light twenty-five feet above the water" (Figure 23) (Stick 
1980:39). That structure was later extended an additional 8 feet in height. In 1861 
Confederate forces put the Price's Creek lights out of use, and they were not re- 
established until after the War Between the States. Members of the Ruark family were 
the last residents at the keeper's brick dwelling. By the 1880s a lighted beacon in the 
river had replaced the lights at Price's Creek. The brick foundation of the original 
Price's Creek beacon still stands on the north shore above the Southport to Fort Fisher 
ferry landing f The State Port Pilot . December 3, 1969; Herring 1967:105-108; Sprunt 
1896:114; Reaves 1978:52; U.S. Coast Survey 1857a, 1864, 1865a, 1872, 1886). 



174 





Figure 23. Figure showing Price's Creek Lighthouse. 



175 



Orton Point Light 

Congress appropriated funds on August 14, 1848, for the operation of the Orton Point 
light that finally became operational in 1850. The light, constructed on an structure 
above the marsh, rose 29 feet above the water level. Orton light may have been one of 
the lights extinguished by Confederate forces during the war (U.S. Coast Survey 1856, 
1 864; Stick 1 980:38). The remains of the light's foundation are still visible today. 



Campbell Island Light 

Campbell Island light, also authorized by Congressional appropriation on August 14, 
1848, began operation by 1850. The light was 29 feet above the water level and 
constructed on an elevated structure above the marsh (Stick 1980:38). Confederate 
forces rendered the light at Campbell's Island inoperable in 1861. A Coast Survey map 
drawn in 1863 and a Confederate map from 1864 indicate that the lighthouse was on 
the southeastern side of the island. Some unconfirmed historical accounts state that a 
new lighthouse was completed on the island in February 1879 (USCS 1864; CSAE 
1864c; Wilmington Star , February 4, 1879). 



Upper Jettee Range Lights 

The Upper Jettee Range lights were part of the navigational improvements authorized 
by Congress on August 14, 1848. Several years passed, however, before construction 
took place on those lights. The planners of river navigation determined after careful 
investigation that the initial design of the lights did not meet the needs of mariners. 
With the appropriation of additional funds, the navigation authorities finally built by 
1855 two range lights on the east side of the river about 3 miles below Wilmington. The 
larger of the two lights was enclosed in an open framework and mounted on top of the 
keeper's dwelling. It measured 65 feet above sea level. The smaller range light, 800 
feet from the other light, reached 42 feet above the water. Confederate forces 
destroyed the Upper Jettee Range lights in 1861 (Stick 1980:36-37, 40-41). 



Cape Fear River Lights 

Prior to the turn of the century, navigation lights along the lower Cape Fear River 
consisted of twenty-nine oil-burning, post-lantern types mounted on wooden structures. 
Often these lights were inaccurately placed along the river channels. Under a federal 
act established on March 4, 1911, and a subsequent act passed on August 26, 1912, 
that provided additional funding, the old lights were replaced with thirty-three new 
navigation lights. From the mouth of the river to about 20 miles from the entrance, 
seventeen acetylene rear-mounted lights were installed. The additional sixteen lights 
up to Wilmington were oil filled. Oil lights were fixed with a rear white light and a front 
red light. Ten of the new lighted beacons were established by December 1, 1912, and 
the remainder by November 15, 1913 (Sprunt 1992:520-521; Wilmington Star . June 19, 
1912). 



176 



The substructures for thirty of the thirty-three light towers were built above the water on 
a hard sand base. The substructures consisted of four reinforced concrete piles and 
connecting beams. Light towers were built of galvanized iron pipe and carried slatted 
wooden daymarkers. Towers for rear range lights were 30 feet high and for front lights 
and others 10 feet high. Two lightkeepers maintained the navigational beacons— one 
stationed in Southport and the other in Wilmington. In addition to whistling buoys that 
indicated the shoals at the mouth of the river, two iron buoys marked the quarantine 
station anchorage, and one buoy marked a wreck on the middle ground at the river's 
entrance (Sprunt 1992:520-521). 



Horseshoe Shoal Lightboat 

Authorized by Congressional appropriation on August 14, 1848, the lightship 
commission placed Lightship UU on station in 1851 in the middle of the Cape Fear 
River between New Inlet and Price's Creek. On an 1 857 map prepared by the Coast 
Survey, a lightboat is shown at the western end of New Inlet east of Horseshoe Shoal. 
"The [oil] light was forty-three feet above water level, and the vessel was also equipped 
with a fog horn and bell, which was sounded alternately at five-minute intervals during 
bad weather." The commissioners intended the lightboat to be one of the "chain of 
Lights extending from the Jettys." By 1863, maps showed the lightship as 
"extinguished," signifying that the commissioners had authorized the removal of the 
vessel or that it had been sunk or destroyed by Confederates forces. Range lights 
replaced the lightship station after 1870 (Flint 1989:n.p.; Herring 1967:108; Coast 
Survey 1857). 



Horseshoe Shoal Lighthouse 

An attempt to raise a lighthouse on Horseshoe shoal in 1868 met with disaster when 
the structure under construction nearly collapsed. On March 23 one of the iron pilings 
that supported a structure of wood gave way. The building tottered and partially fell, 
presenting an appearance described as "a miniature Leaning Tower of Pisa." In 
September 1871 the U.S. Lighthouse Steamer Dandelion removed the collapsed iron 
piles (Stick 1980:40; Herring 1967:108; USCS 1857; Flint, 1989:n.p.; Reaves 
1978:74,82; Wilmington Star . March 24, 1868). 



Frying Pan Shoals Lightships 

From 1854 to 1964 ten lightships were stationed, or restationed, on Frying Pan Shoals; 
the vessels in order of assignment were D, 8, 32, 29, 34, 29, 32, 38, 29, 53, 1, 94 and 
115. The U.S. Lighthouse Service placed the original Frying Pan Shoals Lightship, D, 
on station in 1854. That vessel, a first-order lightship equipped with two lights 40 feet 
above the water level, continued to warn mariners of the shoals until it was removed to 
the Cape Fear River near Fort Caswell. On December 30, 1861, Union troops burned 
Lightship D. In 1860 the lighthouse service assigned Lightship No. 8, known as the 



177 



Arctic, as a replacement at the Frying Pan. Prior to being placed on station, 
Confederate forces seized the lightship and converted it into a receiving ship. The 
Confederates later sank the vessel in the Cape Fear River as an obstruction to enemy 
navigation. After the war salvors raised Lightship No. 8, repaired it, then had it towed 
north in 1866 by the tender Iris (Hall 1975:259; Stick 1980:46; ORN Series I, 6:493; 
Flint, 1989:n.p.). 

In late 1865 the lightship service had Lightship No. 29, a two-masted, schooner-rigged 
vessel, anchored off the tip of the shoals in ten fathoms of water. That lightship, the first 
to be marked with the words "Frying Pan Shoals" in bold black letters across a yellow 
lower hull, exhibited two lights at an elevation of 40 feet above sea level. 

Some lightships were assigned temporary duty on the Frying Pan Shoals, while the 
regular vessel was undergoing repair or maintenance (Hall 1975:259; Stick 1980:46; 
ORN Series I, 6:493; Flint, 1989:n.p.). In 1907 Lightship No. 1 was anchored on station 
until replaced by Lightship No. 94 in 1911. Lightship No. 94 remained on station for 
nineteen years until replaced in 1930 by Lightship No. 115. On November 24, 1964, the 
present operational Frying Pan Shoals light tower replaced Lightship No. 115 (WAL- 
537), the last lightship to be anchored on the shoals (Hall 1975:260; Flint 1989:n.p.). 
The U.S. Lightship Commission intended No. 115 to be reassigned as a relief lightship 
at Cape May, New Jersey. The U.S. Lightship Commission, however, decommissioned 
the ship after it had already been repainted and renamed Relief. Around 1965 local 
citizens of Southport, North Carolina, began efforts to turn the lightship into a floating 
museum located at their town near the Frying Pan Shoals. Although original efforts 
were promising, the commission eventually sold the ship, and its new owners removed 
it from North Carolina ( Wilmington Star , November 5, 1969). 



178 



Ferry and Bridge Crossings 

Six ferries and five bridges have been identified within the project area (Figures 
1 8,1 9,20,21 ). A description for each of the following is given below. 



Brunswick Ferry Point Peter Ferry Hilton Bridge 

Hilton Ferry Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry Twin Bridges 

Cape Fear River Ferry Southport-Bald Head Island Ferry Cape Fear Memorial Bridge 

Northeast Cape Fear Bridge 



Brunswick Ferry 

The first authorized ferry on the lower Cape Fear River was established in 1727 from 
the town of Brunswick on the western shore to the "upper haulover" on the eastern 
shore, where small craft were transported overland from the river to the ocean. The 
Brunswick ferry was sometimes referred to as the "Ferry to the landing at Big Sugar 
Loaf (Angley 1986:2; New Hanover County Deeds, Book E-313; AB-212). 

On June 3, 1725, Maurice Moore was granted 1,500 acres of land on the west side of 
the Cape Fear River. Of this tract, 320 acres were set aside and a portion divided in 
half-acre lots to be developed as the town of Brunswick. From the time of its founding 
until the American Revolution, the town served as a political, social, and commercial 
center of the lower Cape Fear region. To facilitate travel between the ocean and the 
interior of Brunswick County, the general court met at Edenton on March 27, 1727, and 
determined that a ferry was needed over the Cape Fear River. The general court 
authorized Cornelius Harnett Sr. to keep a ferry "from the place designed as a Town on 
the West side of the River (Brunswick Town) to a place called Haulover, and that he 
receive the Sum of five shillings for a man and horse and a half Crown for each person" 
( Colonial Records , 2:686-698; Watson 1992:6). Harnett purchased in June 1726 from 
Col. Maurice Moore two lots, Nos. 22 and 23, within the town of Brunswick for £2 each. 
Those lots, located in the southern portion of the town near the river, were to be 
improved within eight months by the construction of two habitable houses not less than 
16 feet by 20 feet in size. It was from this location that Harnett operated the ferry 
across the river to the haulover near Sugar Loaf (South 1960:2-4; Angley 1986:2; New 
Hanover County Deeds, Book E-313; AB-212; Colonial Records . 2:686-698; McKoy 
1973:30, 119, 155). 

About 1725, in addition to the site of Brunswick Town and adjacent areas, Col. Maurice 
Moore also acquired by grant extensive landholdings on the opposite or eastern side of 
the Cape Fear River. Moore's seaside property comprised 2,640 acres that extended 
from Landgrave Thomas Smith's lands northward along the barrier beach and sounds 
approximately 12 miles to a point just below the present Masonboro Inlet. On April 21, 
1736, Colonel Moore sold to Col. Thomas Merrick for £500 the large tract of land that 
became known as the Haulover plantation and a portion of the property to John Porter. 
Merrick called the plantation "Hall Over" in a security bond issued to Richard 

179 



Moorescroft six days later. While Merrick was probably a longtime resident at the 
plantation, and subsequently appointed keeper of the ferry, there is no indication that 
Moorescroft ever resided at The Haulover. Perhaps Moorescroft simply held the land in 
trust for Merrick, inasmuch as Merrick's heirs owned the property a few years later 
(Angley 1986:2; New Hanover County Deeds, Book E:313, AB:37, AB-212; Colonial 
Records , 2:686-698; McKoy 1973:30, 119, 155). 

The Moseley map (1733) shows the eastern ferry landing located just below the mouth 
of a stream that much later came to be known as Telfairs Creek. This ferry to the 
landing at Big Sugar Loaf on the opposite side of the river, a distance of more than 2 
miles, connected with the only road to the northern part of the province ( Wilmington 
Star , May 6, 1948; Sprunt 1896:58). Surviving records indicate that Cornelius Harnett 
Sr. surrendered the operation of the Brunswick ferry in the mid-1 730s, possibly as early 
as 1733. His successor was the mariner Capt. Edward Scott, who purchased lot 29 at 
Brunswick from Nathaniel Moore during that year for £700. Scott's employment as a 
ferry keeper apparently lasted only a few years, for in March 1738 the New Hanover 
County Court accepted his resignation (Angley 1986:6; New Hanover County Court 
Minutes, 1738; New Hanover County Deeds, Book AB:125). On June 13, 1738, the 
court appointed Thomas Merrick "to take the Brunswick Ferry" after the resignation of 
Scott. Merrick operated the ferry until September 1740, when the court also accepted 
"the resignation of Col. Merrick as a Ferry Keeper at Brunswick ordered to become 
effective within a month after this Court," provided it could find a proper person to keep 
the ferry (Angley 1986:6; New Hanover County Court Minutes, 1740). 

On June 12, 1741, permission to operate the Brunswick ferry was granted by the court 
to Roger Moore, who undoubtedly employed others for at least two years to carry out 
the actual duties involved. From 1743 until at least 1748 John Maultsby operated the 
ferry. Maultsby came to the lower Cape Fear in the late 1730s from Pennsylvania, 
where he had previously operated a river ferry. He purchased a 320-acre tract of land 
on the east side of the river just upstream and across from Brunswick Town (New 
Hanover County Deeds, Book C: 164-1 65; Angley 1986: addendum). By 1761 a new 
tender, Darby Eagan, had commenced operation of both an ordinary and the Brunswick 
ferry. In September 1760 the court ordered all ferry keepers in New Hanover County to 
maintain at least two boats to each ferry. By 1765 Darby Eagan had evidently remained 
at his ordinary in Brunswick Town, while his wife Elizabeth stationed herself on the 
opposite shore for the convenience of travelers. For the next four years Darby Eagan 
maintained the Brunswick ferry and continued to operate his ordinary. He then sought 
to improve his fortunes by assuming responsibility for ferry service in the larger and 
more prosperous town of Wilmington. On October 6, 1769, the New Hanover County 
Court denied Eagan "the keeping of the ferry over to Brunswick any longer, because he 
had engaged himself at the Wilmington ferry" (Angley 1986:8; New Hanover County 
Court Minutes, 1760 and 1769). 

The Brunswick ferry remained in operation with a new keeper until at least 1775 and it 
is highly probable that it continued to operate until early in 1776. By the end of March 



180 



of that year, however, British warships present in the lower reaches of the Cape Fear 
River, along with well-armed troops placed ashore, carried out sporadic raids against 
Brunswick Town and the surrounding countryside. It was probable during these early 
months of 1776 that the inhabitants of Brunswick permanently abandoned the town. It is 
also probable that the Brunswick ferry was forever discontinued during that period 
(Angley 1986:10: Lee 1965:271-273; Collet 1770; Mouzon 1775; Anonymous 1781; 
Holland 1794). 



Hilton Ferry 

Across the Northeast Cape Fear River just south of Smith's Creek, a ferry located at 
Hilton operated during the late nineteenth century. Hilton was the name given to a 272- 
acre plantation on the eastern shore owned a century earlier by John and William Hill 
(Lee 1980:141; Waddell 1989:49; Sprunt 1992:121-122). 

By 1853 the Hilton plantation was in the possession of James F. McRee, who later 
served as a surgeon in the Confederate States Army. McRee parceled and sold off 
Hilton plantation between 1853 and 1867. On January, 21, 1853, a deed registered in 
the county showed that McRee had conveyed a parcel of land from the plantation to 
Oscar G. Parsley. On that piece of land, known as the Hilton Mills Property, Parsley 
established a steam sawmill. That twenty-six-lot property was within the corporate limits 
and contained a waterfront of 1,693 feet, with 413 feet of wharf and the remainder a 
timber pen. James McRee sold another section of the Hilton plantation on November 
22, 1867, to George W. Grafflin. It is probable that during this period the "Hilton ferry" 
was established across the Northeast Cape Fear River. The Hilton ferry is first 
indicated on a Confederate States Army engineer's map drawn in 1864 and may have 
been established to accommodate the movement of people and supplies northward 
along the Point Peter road from Wilmington into the interior of the county (CSAE 1864; 
New Hanover County Deeds, Book H-427; McKoy 1973:32). 

In 1870 a Mr. C. Hussell announced that he had opened a beer garden on the old 
Hilton estate, and by at least 1876 the steamer Little Sam was making regular daily 
trips between the Market Street dock and Hilton (Lee 1980:142-145; New Hanover 
County Deeds, Book WW-275, 418; Wilmington Journal , February 23, 1866, July 26, 
31, 1870; Wilmington Star . November 5, 1876). The ferry across the Northeast Cape 
Fear River is shown on an 1885 map by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and on the 
James & Brown map (1889) with the eastern landing at the foot of Hilton Street. By 
1893 the ferry is indicated as the "Old County Ferry" and is shown immediately south of 
"old bridge piers." That bridge may have been the pedestrian bridge or the original 
railroad bridge. An existing bascule railroad bridge is shown slightly farther upstream. 
By the 1890s a park had been established at Hilton, and the ferry is no longer shown 
after the turn of the century (USACOE 1885, 1893; James & Brown 1889; Lee 
1980:142-145; Wilmington Star . April 10, 1906). 



181 



Cape Fear River (Market Street) Ferry and the Brunswick River Ferry 

Travel along the eastern coast before the American Revolution generally followed a 
main artery known as the King's Highway or the Great Road. This route connected the 
northern colonies with Charleston and points southward. The last section of this road 
was established in 1732 between the Cape Fear and Neuse Rivers. When Brunswick 
Town served as the center of commerce along the lower Cape Fear River, the road 
extended from near the eastern landing of the Brunswick Ferry northward. Beginning in 
the 1740s Wilmington (Newton) began to establish itself as the leading port on the 
lower Cape Fear; its role was strengthened when the British destroyed Brunswick in 
1776. With the ferry located at Brunswick made inoperable by the British threat, travel 
began to pass through Wilmington. The most difficult passage of the highway 
northward into Virginia ran westward from Wilmington across the huge morass known 
as Eagles Island (Angley 1986:4; Watson 1973:42). 

Passage across the island was nearly impossible, and vehicles were ferried from 
Wilmington to a point south of the island, from which they had a tedious task to'get to 
the main road connecting with inland North Carolina and upper South Carolina. The 
result was that in the year 1764 plans were made for the construction of a causeway 
across the island, so that by means of ferries across both the Cape Fear and Brunswick 
Rivers vehicular traffic could reach Brunswick County much quicker and with greater 
ease. After a lengthy process, Col. William Dry received a contract to construct the 
causeway across Eagles Island that connected the two river ferries. However, after 
beginning the project Dry died, and his son-in-law, Benjamin Smith completed the 
causeway (Angley 1986:4; Watson 1973:42; Clark 1904: XXV: 487-488; Wilmington 
Star-News . February 10, 1935). 

On September 3, 1766, a petition of Joseph Newton to keep a ferry at Wilmington was 
granted by the court. By 1769 Darby Eagan is known to have been operating the 
Wilmington ferry. Eagan had maintained the Brunswick Ferry but sought to improve his 
standing in the larger and more prosperous town of Wilmington. On October 6, 1769, 
the New Hanover County Court denied Eagan "the keeping of the ferry over to 
Brunswick any longer, because he had engaged himself at the Wilmington ferry." In 
1777 Dry's heirs sold the rights to operate the ferry to Samuel Campbell, who 
incorporated them into the assets of the Wilmington merchant firm of Campbell and 
Hogg (Angley 1986: 8; New Hanover County Court Minutes, 1769; Brunswick County 
Deeds, Book B:26, 125-127). 

The earliest river ferries at Wilmington consisted of flatboats, often towed by rowboats 
(Figure 24). This method of propulsion continued into the early part of the present 
century, when a gasoline boat replaced the self-propelled flats. In 1774 inspector Hugh 
Finlay while on a postal tour wrote: "I passed the first ferry [across Brunswick River] on 
a small leaky flat, the second [over the Cape Fear River at Wilmington] in a large one 
but very wet" (Lee 1978; Finlay 1867:66). Four years later Ebenezer Hazard, also a 
postal inspector, noted the ferries and causeway in his journal. He mentioned that he 
"Staid in Wilmington till the 16th [Jan., 1778], when I crossed the Ferry, rode over a 



182 




183 



dismal, swampy Island (which seems to be a Haunt for Herons & Turkey Buzzards) of 
about a mile and a quarter wide, cross a Ferry over Northwest River [Brunswick River] 
about 150 yards wide and lodged, not far from the Bank of it, at Mrs. Eagan's. . . . 
There is a causeway across the Island, but it is in very bad order" (Reaves 1988:7; 
Johnson 1977:9-16). 

Wilmington travelers heading west or south to one of the plantations along the 
Brunswick River or farther inland drove their carriage down the incline at the foot of 
Market Street and on to a flatboat. "A bar would be raised at the front of the craft to 
prevent the horse from going into the river and likewise another bar would be raised on 
the stern to keep the vehicle from rolling backwards; the negro boatman would take his 
place in his rowboat and the journey across the swiftly flowing river was underway." 
Arriving at the far shore the traveler and vehicle would then proceed across the muddy 
causeway to the Brunswick River where they would take another ferry, this time pulled 
along a cable across the river. For the privilege of crossing the two rivers and the 
causeway they were charged the sum of one dollar and twenty-five cents. The toll was 
collected on the Wilmington side of the river (Hall 1980:390; Wilmington Star-News , 
February 10, 1935). 

In 1856 John A. Taylor of Wilmington purchased the ferry service between Wilmington 
and Brunswick County from Martin Schulken for $7,500. Taylor later willed the ferry to 
his son, Col. John D. Taylor. During the Federal occupation, major James Reilly was in 
charge of the Market Street ferry. When he was made superintendent of the trolley 
system in 1873, he gave the day-to-day management of the ferry to Capt. Walter 
Furlong ( Wilmington Star , May 4, 1873; Wilmington Tri-Weekly Commercial , June 5, 
1856). That same year Col. John D. Taylor recommended to the county commissioners 
that a bridge be built over the Brunswick River. The commissioners approved the plan 
on September 25, 1873 ( Wilmington Star , September 2, 1873). The commissioners 
subsequently followed that action by incorporating the Brunswick Bridge and Ferry 
Company and giving it the right to build bridges and charge tolls. Col. John D. Taylor 
became the first president of the company ( Wilmington Star , September 2, 1873, March 
19, 1874). 

In August 2, 1882, M. H. Rouse, then the lessee of the ferries across the Cape Fear 
and Brunswick Rivers, placed the first steam-powered ferry, Little May, briefly in 
service. The small steamer towed a flat and conveyed passengers between Wilmington 
and Eagles Island. The Little May operated for two days as a ferry boat until it was 
relieved from duty and replaced by the old system of ferriage with rowboats (Hall 
1980:390-391; Wilmington Star . August 3 and 5, 1882). By October 1883 Eugene 
Maffitt assumed Rouse's lease and operation of the ferry. Maffitt intended to rebuild the 
causeway and repair the ferry flat to improve service. Following the death of Col. John 
D. Taylor, the management of the ferry passed to his son, Col. Walker Taylor. At that 
time, waiting rooms for both blacks and whites were erected and a new flatboat put into 
service by Mrs. E. S. Tennent, Col. Walker Taylor, and Daniel L. Russell, former 
governor of the state, who now jointly owned and operated the ferry. In October 1892 



184 



Bryan Russell, brother of D. L. Russell Jr., came to Wilmington to assume charge of the 
Market Street Ferry. In 1897 the new ferryboat Virginia Taylor, named in honor of the 
daughter of Col. Walker Taylor, was making trips across the Cape Fear. The Virginia 
Taylor was constructed from four different types of wood and could accommodate 
twenty-five passengers. Most of Daniel Russell's stock in the corporation passed into 
the hands of the Cumming family following his death, while the additional interest in the 
Brunswick Bridge and Ferry Company owned by Tennent and Taylor was purchased on 
February 4, 1901, by D. L. Gore ( Wilmington Star , October 24, 1883, October 19, 1897; 
Wilmington Messenger . October 1, 1892; Hall 1980:391; Sanborn 1889:9,14; 1893:22; 
1898:31; 1904:31; 1910:31 and 1915:48). 

Gore, who now owned three-quarters of the stock in the company, set about to make 
extensive improvements at the ferry terminal on Eagles Island just prior to the turn of 
the century. The company constructed new frame buildings with metal roofs as required 
by a Wilmington ordinance to prevent sparks from passing steamers from igniting the 
structures. One new device also installed at the ferry terminal was an electric call bell. 
One push on the electric bell called a boat, two pushes called a flat. Tolls for the 
Brunswick Bridge and Ferry Company were now three cents a wheel on vehicles and 
three cents a head on man or animal ( Wilmington Messenger , October 10, 1896, 
August 23, 1900; Wilmington Dispatch , March 29, 1898, February 26, 1900). On 
November 6, 1901, O. A. Durant became connected with the ferry company, which was 
deeply in debt, partially from the cost of the improvements. Under an agreement 
between Brunswick and New Hanover Counties Durant owned a one-third interest in 
the line and New Hanover County the remainder. Under his direction it became a 
paying business, the debt was removed, and a profit was shown. Early attempts were 
made using naptha-powered launches for the ferry, but they proved inefficient for the 
duties and were replaced by self-powered flats. In September 1907 a small gasoline- 
powered ferry was placed into service between Market Street and Eagles Island. The 
vessel could accommodate only fifteen to twenty passengers but had the advantages of 
towing flats efficiently across the river. The ferry measured 30 feet in length and 8 feet 
in beam and was equipped with a 1 2-horsepower engine (Hall 1980:391; Wilmington 
Star , May 13, 1891, September 6, 1907; Wilmington Star-News . February 10, 1935). 

D. L. Gore and the company sold the rights to the ferry to the New Hanover-Brunswick 
Ferry Commission in 1919 for the sum of $24,000. New Hanover paid two-thirds of the 
cost and Brunswick County one-third. Included in the purchase were the causeway, two 
gasoline-powered boats, two flats, and a stable and shed on the island. Modern ferry 
slips were soon thereafter dredged by the Corps of Engineers at the eastern and 
western terminals. On June 7, 1920, the ferry commission placed into service the John 
Knox, a gasoline-powered ferryboat (Figure 25). The newly built 80-foot vessel was 
named for the Brunswick County commissioner who had encouraged the idea of a joint 
county ferry system. On its early runs before the Eagles Island causeway was opened, 
the John Knox took two hours to travel between Wilmington and the Brunswick River 
Bridge. The first crossing between Market Street and the eastern end of the causeway 
on Eagles Island was made on October 25, 1920. By December the ferry was making 



185 





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186 



thirty-minute round trips between the city and the island, with prospects of reducing the 
two-way passage down to twenty minutes ( Wilmington Star , October 25, 1920, 
December 31, 1920). 

The volume of traffic crossing the Cape Fear River and the success of the John Knox 
ferry prompted the ferry commission to acquire a second ferryboat by the spring of 
1 924. The county also purchased the 203-ton Menantic, a much larger craft at 98 feet 
in length and originally a steam paddleboat and also placed it into service within a few 
months after modifying the boat and enlarging the vessel's slip. The Menantic, although 
larger than the John Knox, was much older, having been built in 1893, twenty-seven 
years before its companion ferry was constructed. Both ferries maintained a continual 
service across the river, except during certain times in the winter when one ferry was 
sufficient or when a vessel was occasionally removed from duty for maintenance or 
repairs. On December 1, 1927, the ferry system implemented a toll reduction. The rate 
was then 15 cents for cars, 25 cents for light trucks, and 40 cents for heavy trucks (Hall 
1980:391-394; UAU Site files; Wilmington Star , March 15, May 3, 27, 1924, November 
8, 1927). 

To further accommodate the growth of Wilmington, a bridge system across the 
Northeast Cape Fear and Cape Fear Rivers was proposed. The construction of two 
bridges was eventually agreed upon by the counties, and in 1929 twin state-operated 
toll bridges were completed across the rivers from Wilmington to Eagles Island. A 
similar modern bridge had been completed across the Brunswick River in 1923. The 
new twin bridges might have meant an immediate end to the ferry system, but the 
Brunswick County commissioners voted to maintain the ferry service on a reduced 
scale. Only the John Knox was needed for the passage to Eagles Island, and the 
Menantic was sold to George G. Dodge of Elizabeth City in May 1933 for $2,500, a 
fraction of its original cost. The need for the Market Street ferry finally came to an end 
at 1:15 p.m. on February 6, 1935, when the tolls for the twin bridges were abolished. 
The ferryboat John Knox was sold in May 1936 to the R. R. Stone Company. In June 
1937 the John Knox caught on a piling at Eagles Island and sank (Hall 1980:391-394; 
Wilmington Star , March 15, May 27, 1924, November 8, 1927, November 5, 1929, 
March 4, 1930, May 23, 1933; Wilmington Star-News , February 10, 1935, May 5, 1936; 
UAU files; Anonymous 1892; Pilcher 1911; USACOE 1922, 1927, 1937c). 



Point Peter Ferry (Negro Head Point Ferry) 

A ferry from Wilmington to Point Peter (then called Negro Head Point), at the 
confluence of the Northeast and Northwest branches of the Cape Fear River, was 
known to have been in operation before 1754. In that year Wilmington citizens 
petitioned Gov. Arthur Dobbs to help them obtain roads at two ferries across from 
Wilmington. In their December 1754 petition they refer to the Point Ferry and the Mount 
Misery Ferry as having been established "some time ago" by New Hanover County 
courts: 



187 



To Bis Excellency Arthur Dobbs Esq., Captain General Governor and 
Commander in Chief in and over his Majesty's Province of North Carolina, 
the Honorable Member of his Majesty's Council and Members of the 
Subscribers sheweth that the Court of New Hanover County having some 
time ago appointed a ferry from the Town of Wilmington to the Point of 
Marsh at the mouth of the Thoroughfare, also another at a place called 
Mount Misery on the North West branch of the Cape Fear River and the 
committees of the several districts have neglected and refused to cause 
roads to be made to the same, to the great detriment of all travellers and 
also the Inhabitants of New Hanover and the Upper Counties. We 
therefore pray that a law be passed to oblige the committees of the 
several districts adjoining the said ferries to cause suficient roads to be 
made the same ( Colonial Records , 5:164). 

On February 1, 1759, a Mrs. Bethelly was appointed to keep the ferry from the town to 
the point, both ways, and provide two boats and two hands. In June 1760 Francis 
Lynaugh petitioned the court to keep the ferry to the point. The bond issued to Lynaugh 
provided for one good flat, two canoes immediately, and another flat by next court. On 
January 9, 1772, however, the New Hanover County court authorized its clerk to 
advertise in the local Wilmington newspaper, Cape Fear Mercury , for ferry keepers at 
the point opposite Wilmington and at Mount Misery. On April 4, 1775, the court finally 
appointed "Timothy Bloodworth to keep the ferries between Wilmington and Negro 
Head Point both ways, subject to a bond of £100, to keep the ferries well attended, and 
to provide good and sufficient boats and flats for the transportation of the passengers." 
The fees in 1775 for crossing the Cape Fear River were set at 12 cents for a foot 
passenger and 24 cents for a man and horse. By 1791 those fees had been greatly 
reduced to 4 cents and 8 cents respectively (New Hanover County Court Minutes, 
1759-1760, 1775; Hall 1980:389-390). 

The ferry apparently was in little use during the American Revolution, although one 
1781 map of the Wilmington vicinity does show what may be the old "Ferry" house near 
the end of the point (Anonymous 1781). The New Hanover County Court again brought 
the ferry back to service when on October 7, 1786, it ordered and empowered Peter 
Mallett to operate a ferry from the old landing at Negro Head Point to Maltsby's Landing 
in Wilmington. John Maultsby was the owner of several acres near the river south of 
Smith Creek during the 1730s (New Hanover County Deeds, Book YY-142; AB-161; 3- 
335; McKoy 1973:32). At the same time, the court also ordered that the old road on 
Negro Head Point to the former landing be repaired and that both ferry landings be at 
the same place. It granted Peter Mallett permission to operate the ferry, provided he 
agreed: 

That he shall at his own expense make a good road from Negro Head 
Point to the first sandhill within nine months and keep it in repair; during 
the time he shall keep the said ferry and in the mean time shall keep a 
ferry from the landing nearest the old one to the aforesaid landing in town 



188 



and keep the road good and passable for travellers to the sandhill; and 
shall further perform the duty of a public ferry-keeper according to law 
(New Hanover County Court Minutes, 1786). 

The ferry is again referenced in the early nineteenth century in the Memoirs of Gen. 
Joseph Gardner Swift. The general accounts a trip to Wilmington during the summer of 
1805: "Proceeding by the right bank of the Cape Fear River to Negro Head Point ferry, 
opposite Wilmington, I arrived at Mrs. Meeks' boarding-house in that town on June 17, 
1805. . . (Sprunt 1992:134)." 

Although General Swift did not indicate the type of crossing at the "Negro Head Point 
Ferry," the vessel must have been similar to the one in use farther down the Cape Fear 
at Market Street, a flat rowed or pulled across the river. The ferry at Negro Head Point 
was again briefly mentioned in 1814 when the adjoining property was sold. After that 
date no other sources are known to refer to the ferry, making it at least likely that it was 
discontinued about that time (New Hanover County Deeds, Book P:1 16). 



Fort Fisher/Southport Ferry 

The Fort Fisher and Southport Ferry began operation in February 1966 across the 
lower Cape Fear River. The modern vehicle and passenger ferry crosses the river 
between the southern tip of Federal Point one-half mile below the fort to the Price's 
Creek terminal 2 miles above Southport. The previous year ferry slips and entrance 
channels were dredged to accommodate the ferry. A dredge from the Atkinson 
Dredging Company was employed to deepen the river near the respective terminals. 
Right-of-ways and parking areas were cleared by the state Highway Department prior 
to construction of ticket/office facilities on either side of the river by Wannamaker and 
Wells Inc. In 1986 a second ferry was added to accommodate the steadily increasing 
vehicular and passenger traffic. The two open double-end ferries currently operating 
between Fort Fisher and Southport are the MA/ Governor Daniel Russell, with thirty- 
four-car capacity, and the MA/ Sandy Graham, with a twenty-four-car capacity. Other 
ferries have been occasionally utilized while one of the regular boats is temporarily out 
of service for annual maintenance or repairs. The two ferries operate from the opposite 
sides of the river on an one hour schedule during the summer and a two-hour schedule 
during the winter months. Approximate crossing time during suitable weather is thirty 
minutes. Current rates for one-way passage are 50 cents for a pedestrian, one dollar 
for a bicycle and rider, and three dollars for a single vehicle ( Wilmington Star , June 23, 
July 2, 1965, September 7, 1986; Hall 1980:394; USGS 1979a; NOAA 1992). 



Southport/Bald Head Island Ferry 

The Southport and Bald Head Island passenger ferry began service in 1976 with the 
Bald Head I, designed and built from the hull of an old LCM-6 military craft by Capt. 
Herman Sellers, a former ship pilot. In January 1984 the Bald Head I was replaced by 
the Adventure, capable of carrying forty-six passengers, twelve more than the older 



189 



boat. The Bald Head I was removed from service to transport construction workers to 
the island. The Adventure currently makes several trips daily between the two points, 
and an excessive fare is charged. Crossing time is approximately fifteen minutes each 
way (Wright 1 987: 279-281 ; Coastal Carolinian January 1 9, 1 984). 



Hilton Bridges (Northeast Cape Fear River) 

On December 7, 1831, the Wilmington Advertiser advocated the construction of a 
bridge across the Northeast Cape Fear River "for the double purpose of a bridge and 
ferry." Local sentiment supported the idea, and a bridge was constructed by at least 
1837, although no indication of a ferry occurred until several years later. In April 1838 
James Cassidey had taken a contract for "rebuilding the bridge" across the Northeast 
Cape Fear river between Point Peter and Hilton. Later accounts indicated that the 
bridge was built of stone with high arches. By August 1838 the bridge was reported to 
be passable once again. That same year rates for passage across the bridge ranged 
from 4 cents for a foot passenger to 50 cents for a wagon with four horses. The Hilton 
bridge was once again in need of repair by 1840. In late October, a section of the 
bridge had "fallen down," making it again impassable ( Wilmington Advertiser , April 27, 
August 3, September 7, December 7, 1831; Wilmington Chronicle , October 21, 1840; 
Reaves file). Nearly one year later the bridge still had not been repaired, prompting a 
local newspaper to run the following plea: "Is there to be no effort made to rebuild 
Hilton bridge? It must be the business of somebody to keep it up, and the business of 
somebody to see that it is kept up. Wilmington is much interested in the matter, as well 
as a large extent of country" ( Wilmington Chronicle , October 6, 1 841 ). 

The cry to repair the Hilton bridge did not go unanswered, and the structure was once 
again rebuilt and opened to travel by June 1842. This time the Hilton bridge remained 
operational until September 1851, when an unattended drift flat struck the bridge and 
carried away five or six arches, about one-fourth of the bridge's length. More than three 
years later, in early 1855, the Hilton bridge was finally repaired by the contractors 
Stone & McDowell at a cost of $9,000. Before the bridge could be reopened, stone 
piers up to the low-water mark were replaced. Later sources suggest that when the 
structure was rebuilt, it was constructed as a railroad bridge instead of a pedestrian 
bridge. With the loss of the bridge for vehicle and passenger traffic, the main means of 
transportation across the Northeast Cape Fear River reverted to ferry service. A ferry at 
Hilton was known to be in operation by 1864. The railroad bridge was still in operation 
in 1858 when Joseph P. Richards was appointed overseer of Negro Head Road "near 
the Hilton Bridge." The ill-fated Hilton Bridge was again destroyed in 1865, this time 
intentionally, at the hands of the retreating Confederate forces prior to the fall of 
Wilmington (New Hanover County, Road, River, and Ferry Papers, 1798-1869; 
Wilmington Chronicle . June 22, 1842; Wilmington Daily Journal . September 9, 1851; 
Wilmington Herald . February 23, 1855, January 12, March 18, 1869; CSAE 1864). 

Following the Civil War the Wilmington Railway Bridge Company undertook the 
immense task of rebuilding the destroyed Hilton Railroad Bridge. A "mere temporary 



190 



structure" had been in place since the end of the war, but in early 1868 supplies were 
being delivered up the river to the construction site of a new railroad bridge. Among the 
arriving materials were "a large quantity of iron framework . . . and two large wrought- 
iron pieces for the drawbridge." When reporters from a local newspaper paid a visit to 
the bridge under construction, they wrote the following description of the structure: 

The cylinders have been lowered to their places and all except one, which 
they are now working on, filled up with rock cemented with concrete 
preparation which has the property of hardening itself into a granite mass. 
The first span which measures 147 feet from the abutment on the East 
side, to the cylinders, is nearly completed. There are to be three spans, 
the third one being divided by the large single cylinder upon which works 
the draw. Vessels can pass on either side of this cylinder, the section of 
the bridge from the abutment on the West side to the first two cylinders, 
swinging around on the large single cylinder as upon a pivot ( Wilmington 
Star , February 4, 1868). 

On March 18, 1869, the drawbridge construction ended, although some work still 
remained to finish the "bridge proper." The Wilmington company built a second railroad 
bridge across the Northwest branch of the Cape Fear River near Navassa to continue 
the line from the city. Supervision of the two bridges was later divided between the 
superintendents of the Wilmington, Columbia and Augusta Railroad and the 
Wilmington, Charlotte and Rutherford Railroad on an alternating six-month schedule 
( Wilmington Star , February 29, May 3, 1868, April 26, 1871). 

The Hilton ferry operated immediately adjacent to the south side of the "old bridge 
piers," as shown on an 1885 map by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The map 
clearly indicates the location of the pre-Civil War bridge, as the latest Hilton Railroad 
bridge was shown 900 feet farther upstream. Two years later steamboat men on the 
Northeast Cape Fear River complained that navigation was impeded and rendered 
dangerous by a submerged stone crib on the west side of the river just below the 
railroad bridge at Hilton. The stone crib formed part of a pier that supported the older 
railroad bridge (USACOE 1885; Wilmington Star , November 6, 1887). As the volume 
and weight of the rail traffic over the bridges increased, the management of the 
Wilmington Railway and Bridge Company deemed it necessary to "renew the bridges 
over the Cape Fear river at the Navassa works and at Hilton over the North East river." 
The Navassa railroad bridge was the first to undergo changes in 1888, followed by the 
Hilton bridge-also "built to the same plan." A detailed description of the improvements 
to the Navassa bridge was provided: 

The total length of this bridge is two hundred and sixteen feet between 
centres of end piers, and the height thirty-two feet from centre to centre of 
chords, and seventeen feet from centre to centre of trusses. The top 
chord and end posts are composed of plates and angle-irons made into 
rectangular column, 26x20 inches. The bridge consists of nine panels 



191 



twenty-four feet each. All the eye-bars are made of mild steel and all the 
other material is of wrought iron, there being no cast iron allowed in the 
specifications whatever, and no wood, excepting the cross ties -- every 
precaution having been taken to make the structure firm and durable 
( Wilmington Star , May 5, 1888). 

For the next ten years the improvements to the Hilton bridge apparently met the needs 
of the railroad traffic. On August, 21, 1898, a new "through Pratt truss," capable of 
handling 90-ton engines with ease, replaced the old iron draw. The old draw required 
two or three men to operate it, whereas the new type needed only one, in as little as 
three minutes. Th;s was a marked improvement for accommodating vessels traveling 
up and down the Northeast River. On a high tide the new truss draw was lifted and 
secured into place from four lighters placed under the bridge. The change was 
accomplished on a Sunday afternoon with only a minimal delay to two trains using the 
bridge. In April 1910 the local Pilots Association petitioned Capt. Earle I. Brown of the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to have the width of the draw on the two bridges owned 
by the Wilmington Bridge Company expanded from 60 to 80 feet. Approval of the 
petition submitted by the pilots to widen the Navassa railroad bridge draw, came the 
following year but only for alterations in the fenders at the Hilton railroad bridge 
(W ilm i ng t on St a r, August 19, 1898, July 25, 1911; Wilmington Dispatch . August 22, 
1898, April 29, September 16, 1910). 

The decision by the Corps not to expand the width of the draw at the Hilton bridge may 
have led to a costly consequence a few years later. On January 7, 1914, the British 
steamer Cromwell, while under tow from the tug Gladiator, rammed and knocked down 
a section of the Hilton bridge. After the tug had successfully passed through the draw, 
the steamer swung wide and missed the opening in the bridge and rammed its prow 
into a fixed span on the east side of the draw. According to the pilot on board the 
Cromwell, the "Hilton bridge has always been a hard one to make, on account of the 
angle. The depth there is 17 or 18 feet, and the Cromwell was drawing 16 feet." 
Repairs were undertaken with all possible haste on the damaged railroad bridge with 
as little delay as required to rail traffic. Upwards of one hundred men worked on the 
repairs during day and night shifts. The Hilton bridge reopened to trains within a week 
( Wilmington Dispatch . January 7, 8, 10, 13, 14, April 20, 1914). 

The January 1914 collision prompted the U.S. district engineer and the Wilmington 
Bridge Company to recommend to the War Department in April that the 58-foot draw on 
the Hilton railroad bridge be replaced with a new 100-foot lift draw. The War 
Department approved the plans for a new draw early the following year. The Virginia 
Bridge and Iron Works received the new construction contract for a rolling lift-type draw 
that afforded an opening of 95 feet between fenders. The Bascule improvement, which 
could accommodate two vessels through at once, commenced in June 1915 and was 
completed by the following July. The new draw, erected at the location of the 1914 
collision, afforded a 100-foot clearance. The old draw was quickly replaced with two 



192 



new spans ( Wilmington Dispatch , January 7, 8, 10, 13, 14, April 20, 1914, February 19, 
1915, July 6, 1916). 

The 1916 Hilton railroad bridge continued to accommodate rail traffic for the next fifty- 
five years. As early as 1960 a group of Wilmington developers known as the Committee 
of 100 had voiced the opinion that the Hilton railroad bridge was retarding industrial 
growth on the river above Wilmington. The major factor in the limited growth was the 
narrow span of 95 feet for the draw. In July 1961 David R. Murchison, then chairman of 
the Committee of 100, officially called for the replacement of the Hilton railroad span 
after it was once again struck by a ship and put out of commission for several months. 
After years of having the project delayed because of hearings, transfer of bridge 
administration, and financial limitations, a contract was finally awarded in January 1971 
to the McLean Contracting Company of Baltimore at a price of nearly four million 
dollars. The present Hilton railroad bridge, termed a "rolling lift bascule bridge," has a 
horizontal clearance of 200 feet between fenders and unlimited vertical clearance. The 
Corps of Engineers reduced the possibility that ships might collide with the bridge by 
completing channel alignments and deepening the river near the bridge ( Wilmington 
Star , January 28 and February 17, 1971). 



Twin Bridges 

Prior to the completion of bridges over the Cape Fear River and Northeast Cape Fear 
River, all traffic to the western part of the state and to South Carolina made the 
crossing by means of a ferry. Wilmington inhabitants had not enjoyed the benefits of a 
pedestrian bridge across the river since the Hilton bridge used during the mid- 
nineteenth century. A plan in the early 1920s for a lift-span bridge to be built across the 
river from the foot of either Ann or Dock Streets was never implemented because of 
opposition by some of the local citizens to the proposed downtown location. Within a 
few years, however, an alternative route for a new Wilmington bridge was 
recommended and approved by the commission, with the cost of the bridges being 
financed by the sale of bonds. The new project called for the construction of two 
bridges-one from the foot of Parsley Street in the northern part of the city across to 
western shore of the Northeast Cape Fear River above Point Peter and another across 
the Northwest branch of the Cape Fear River. A causeway connected the two bridges. 
In 1928 two out-of-state contractors, Merritt, Chapman & Scott, Inc. of New York City, 
and the Vincennes Bridge Company of Vincennes, Indiana, were hired by the state 
Highway Commission to build the bridges at Wilmington at a cost of nearly $1.25 
million dollars. The Merritt company was responsible for construction of the 
substructure, while the Vincennes company completed the superstructure. Construction 
began on the Northeast River bridge on May 10, 1928, with the driving of the pilings by 
the Merritt company. The pilings were driven west of the railroad tracks at the foot of 
Parsley Street and extended out to the water's edge (USACOE 1922; Wilmington Star , 
March 21, May 11, 1928; Wilmington Star-News . February 10, 1935). 



193 



The twin bridges, as they were referred to, incorporated two bascule spans of iron and 
concrete, 185 feet in length, and four bascule piers with a fender system. Each bridge 
was 2,036 feet in length and employed a central double-leaf draw above the river 
channel. The Cape Fear bridge provided an 185-foot clear draw, and the Northeast 
Cape Fear an 124-foot opening for ships. Hidden counterweights raised and lowered 
the huge leaves. A causeway of nearly a half-mile in length was built above Point Peter 
to connect the two. Tolls were collected on the bridge until the cost of construction and 
the interest on the bonds was paid, after which the toll was removed and the bridge 
maintained as a part of the state highway system. When the bridges opened in 1929 
the toll was 25 cents, including passengers for automobiles, 5 cents for pedestrians 
walking or on a bicycle, and up to 75 cents for large trucks. The cost of the bridges was 
finally recouped in early 1935 and the toll abolished. The same day that the tolls were 
removed, the historic John Knox ferry ended its limited service ( Wilmington Star , March 
1, 21, 1928, December 8, 1929; Wilmington Star-News . February 10, 1935). 

The twin bridges were officially dedicated and opened by Gov. 0. Max Gardner as part 
of a major event on December 10, 1929. A bronze plaque, dedicated to war veterans, 
was attached to a huge boulder at the northern approach to the bridge at the foot of 
Third Street. In addition, a small plaza, complete with three War of 1812 cannon and a 
Civil War cannonball, was permanently established near the approach. By the time the 
tolls were removed in 1935, nearly two million vehicles had passed over the twin 
bridges. On October 18, 1978, the old twin bridge was closed to traffic and prepared for 
demolition by the Michael Construction Company. The last ship to pass between the 
draw of the old bridge was the Stolt Lion loaded with 18,100 tons of fertilizer bound for 
Europe. The Northeast Cape Fear River bridge lasted until 1979, when it was replaced 
by a new four-lane structure later named the Isabel S. Holmes Bridge. The Northwest 
Cape Fear River bridge was replaced in 1984 and named for S. Thomas Rhodes 
( Wilmington Star . November 21 1929, December 5, 8, 1929, October 18, 1978, August 
21, 1982, November 23, 1984; Wilmington News . February 21, 1935). 



Cape Fear Memorial Bridge 

The first bridge to be constructed at Wilmington since the twin bridges in 1929 over the 
Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear River was the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, 
located near the foot of Dawson and Wooster Streets. Construction on the Cape Fear 
Memorial Bridge began in 1966 when concrete was poured for the east tower pier of 
the new bridge by the Diamond Construction Company. Large concrete piles, or 
elevator towers, mark both sides of the main channel, from which a 400-foot lift span is 
electrically raised in less than one minute to allow river traffic to pass underneath. Both 
towers were completed by May 1968, and the steel lift span was put in place in 
February 1969 by the American Bridge Co., a subsidiary of United States Steel. This 
method of construction was markedly different from the hinged draws previously used 
on the twin bridges ( Wilmington Star . December 16, 1966, January 28, May 11, 
September 2, 1968, February 14, 20, 23, 26, 1969). 



194 



From each shore of the river a long roadway rises toward the central lift span. The 
elevated roadway is supported by twin columns capped by a crossbeam. Construction 
of the support piers and roadway was completed in early 1969 by the Bowers 
Construction Company and Inland Bridge Company. Tons of mud and organic soil had 
to be dug away from the Brunswick County swampland to make way for the approach. 
Long trenches, or canals, created by the dredging had to be filled with sand. After 
months of construction the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge was finally finished and 
officially dedicated in September 1969. The new bridge greatly reduced the volume of 
traffic across the dangerous older bridges. At a cost of more than sixteen million 
dollars, the new four-lane bridge now carries traffic from five highways; U.S. 17, 117, 
421, 74 and 76 ( Wilmington Star . December 16, 1966, January 28, May 11, September 
2, 1968, February 14, 20, 23, 26, August 6, 1969). 



Northeast Cape Fear River Bridge (Isabel S. Holmes Bridge) 

By the 1970s the twin bridges across the Northeast Cape Fear and Cape Fear Rivers 
were nearly fifty years old and required considerable maintenance. The two-lane 
Northeast Cape Fear River bridge for U.S. 117 had undergone extensive repairs in 
1970, yet these were only short-term changes for the aging structure. Some of the 
bridge's exposed supports were badly rusted and beyond repair. The North Carolina 
State Highway Commission, aware of these major problems, authorized in 1971 the 
construction of a new four-lane bridge over the Northeast Cape Fear River at 
Wilmington. This bridge would also relieve some of the heavy volume of traffic using 
the new Cape Fear Memorial Bridge. The proposed bascule-span drawbridge was 
originally given the state's highest priority, with the other twin bridge over the Cape 
Fear River receiving the second priority. By 1974 ten other bridges in the state had 
received higher priorities from the Department of Transportation and the construction of 
the Northeast Cape Fear River bridge was placed on hold. It was during that time that a 
local Wilmington woman, Mrs. Isabel Holmes, serving as deputy secretary of the 
Department of Transportation, began promoting the construction of a new bridge in her 
hometown ( Wilmington Star , September 3, 1971, February 8, July 16, 1974). 

The efforts of Mrs. Holmes, along with the necessity of replacing the deteriorating 
bridge, led the state Board of Transportation to allocate nineteen million dollars in 
October 1976 for the construction of a replacement bridge across the Northeast Cape 
Fear River. A contract for the project was awarded the following April to the Michael 
Construction Company of Chattanooga, Tennessee, for 13.9 million dollars. 
Construction began during the summer of 1977 on the new four-lane bridge of steel 
and concrete. The bridge has a length of 2,306 feet, and a 64-foot-high bascule draw 
accommodates river traffic through a 200-foot-wide channel. The length of the two- 
sectional movable draw is 250 feet, and in its closed position the draw provides a 40- 
foot clearance. The new bridge was built 100 feet north of the old two-lane bridge and 
joins U.S. 117 and N.C. 133 on the east side of the river and an intersection with U.S. 
421 on the west. The first traffic rolled across the new Northeast Cape Fear River 
bridge on January 18, 1980, and was officially dedicated by Gov. Jim Hunt the following 



195 



month. In March 1988 Gov. Jim Martin rededicated the newly renamed Isabel S. 
Holmes bridge in honor of the late Wilmington native, who persuaded the state to fund 
the replacement of the old Northeast Cape Fear River Bridge ( Wilmington Star , 
October 12, 1976, March 30, April 6, April 13, 1977, October 18, 1978, February 30, 
1980). 



196 



Quarantine Stations 

In the decade preceding the Civil War the sanitary regulations of the port of Wilmington 
were under the control of the Commissioners of Navigation and Pilotage who 
established quarantine stations on the river (Figures 18,19,20,21). When the Civil War 
began, however, the quarantine laws that applied to the port of Wilmington were 
waived because supplies and food were desperately needed by soldiers and civilians. 
As a result of the waiving of quarantine regulations, an epidemic of yellow fever began 
with the arrival of the steamer Kate, a blockade-runner from Nassau. After slipping by 
the Federal blockade, the Kate entered the Cape Fear River loaded with bacon and 
other food supplies and anchored at the foot of Market Street. In the absence of a 
sufficient quarantine practice the infectious disease spread to the inhabitants of the 
town, resulting in a great loss of life before it was finally brought under control several 
weeks later. As a result of an outbreak of yellow fever in Wilmington, health authorities 
implemented improvements in quarantine regulations. By 1864 all vessels bound for 
Wilmington were required to stop at Fort Anderson, on the site of old Brunswick Town, 
for inspection ( Wilmington Star . April 4, 1878; C. P. Bolles Papers; South 1960:80). 

Following the war, quarantine regulations for the civilian trade briefly came under the 
jurisdiction of the quarantine medical officer, while the military continued to enforce its 
own policies. Under provisions stated in "An act for the preservation of the public 
health, by establishing suitable Quarantine regulations for the Port of Wilmington, N.C." 
(1868), notice concerning inspection and or quarantine of vessels possibly earring 
infectious diseases was given to pilots, masters, and owners of vessels. The act called 
for the establishment of a quarantine station "opposite Deep Water Point, near the 
mouth of the Cape Fear River . . ." and the appointment of a physician by the governor. 
At the nearest convenient station upon the shore, a hospital was to be built for the sick 
removed from restricted vessels ( Wilmington Star , April 3, 1878; Brown 1973:28). 

All vessels from ports south of Cape Fear had to stop at the station near Deep Water 
Point for inspection by the quarantine physician and be "quarantined for fifteen days, 
and thoroughly fumigated." A fee of five dollars was required of each ship inspected; for 
every sick person taken to the hospital from a quarantined vessel, a fee not exceeding 
three dollars a day" was charged ( Wilmington Star , May, 20, 1868, August 29, 1868, 
April 3, 1878). Any vessel that knew it had a sickness on board was required to stop at 
the station regardless of the port from which it sailed. Any ships to which the above 
regulations did not apply could proceed directly to Wilmington without detention 
( Wilmington Star . August 29, 1868). 

Under military General Orders issued for the district, quarantine regulations stated that 
"All vessels coming directly, or indirectly, from a port where any infection exists, are 
required to remain in quartine [sjcj as long as the quarantine officer shall think 
necessary." The military assumed the control of all quarantine regulations and 
established quarantine stations at Fort Caswell and Fort Fisher. It was required that the 
quarantine ground be as near Smith's Island and Bald Head as the depth of water 



197 



would allow for arriving ships. A quarantine hospital, storehouse, and trading post were 
established on the beach about 2 miles from Fort Caswell ( Wilmington Star , April 12, 
1868). 

In 1869 a quarantine station was built at Pine Creek (probably Price's Creek) upon a 
tract of two acres at a cost of two thousand dollars (Yearns 1969:572). The following 
year an amendment to the quarantine health act was ratified; the amendment created a 
Board of Quarantine for the Port of Wilmington. The board consisted of "the Board of 
Navigation and Pilotage, the Quarantine Medical Officer and the Quarantine 
Commissioners, whose duty it shall be to make such rules and regulations as may be 
necessary to protect the inhabitants from infectious diseases, and for the government 
of the Hospital at Deep Water Point . . ." ( Wilmington Star , March 20, 1870). 

An editorial by Dr. Walter G. Curtis, the quarantine physician, that appeared in the 
Wilmington Star in 1878 praised the success of the quarantine station. The physician 
stated: "I believe it can be confidently asserted that Wilmington is one of the healthiest 
cities on the Atlantic Coast. Yellow fever has visited that city but once in thirty years. 
The quarantine establishment opposite Deep Water Point has intercepted it invariably 
since its establishment there, and kept it out of your city" ( Wilmington Star , July 21, 
1878). 

In a March 1879 letter, Dr. Curtis reported to Gov. Thomas Jarvis that "nothing 
occurred of importance at this Quarantine Station." Dr. Curtis did, however, express his 
concerns over the continued control of vessels arriving from South American ports, 
where yellow fever and smallpox were prevalent. Although an occasional vessel arrived 
from South American ports with sickness on board, Dr. Curtis had found no shipboard 
cases of a contagious nature (Yearns 1969:61). Within three months Dr. Curtis was 
again in contact with Jarvis, stating that the health of the Port of Wilmington continued 
to be excellent and unaffected by ships arriving from foreign ports. The number of 
vessels that arrived at the port for inspection did, however, exceed the doctor's initial 
expectations. The policy of inspecting for infectious diseases vessels arriving from 
ports in South America and the West Indies continued with the approval of the 
Wilmington inhabitants (Yearns 1969:97, 112). 

On March 31, 1882, the Quarantine Hospital at "Pine Creek" burnt. It was determined 
that a fire that started in the roof and was fanned by the strong winds along the river 
caused the destruction. The keeper and his family managed to save most of the 
furniture and bedding. Dr. Curtis suggested to Gov. Thomas Jarvis that a temporary 
quarantine station might be established at the old lighthouse at Pine Creek. With the 
support of Jarvis and Senator Zebulon B. Vance, a their recommendation was made to 
the Chief of the Lighthouse Bureau. The Bureau approved use of the old lighthouse, 
provided that "the property be left in as good order as when received, and that it be 
restored to the custody of the Light House Establishment on due notice" (Yearns 
1969:572-573, 578). 



198 



The quarantine hospital may have remained located in the lighthouse for several years. 
In 1889 the state legislature failed to appropriate funds to improve the quarantine 
facilities. Plans for the selection and construction of a new quarantine hospital at the 
mouth of the Cape Fear River were again considered by the state in 1893-94. The state 
proposed $20,000 for construction of a quarantine station, provided that Wilmington 
would contribute $5,000 for the purpose. Wilmington could not raise its appropriate 
share, and the state funds were never provided ( Wilmington Star , April 17, 1894). A 
suggestion was made by the board to petition the federal government to maintain a 
quarantine hospital on the Cape Fear River ( Wilmington Star , May 1, 1894). With the 
appropriation of $35,000 by Gen. Robert Ransom under the 1894 River and Harbor 
Act, the U.S. government would maintain the hospital site chosen to be located near 
Southport. The most promising site for a new quarantine station was at White Rock, 
southeast of Price's Creek lighthouse. "It possessed the advantage of being fairly well 
protected from wind and water, did not endanger Southport, was well isolated, and it 
was out of the way of regular river traffic" ( Wilmington Star . June 21 , 1895). Bids were 
opened for the construction of a wharf and buildings at the new U.S. Quarantine 
Station. Frank Baldwin of Washington, D.C., was the lowest bidder, at $18,500; 
however, Baldwin was unable to complete the service in 1 895 and the project was then 
awarded to William Peake (one of the bondsmen for Mr. Baldwin) in the amount of 
$8,176.66 ( Wilmington Star . June 21, 1895, July 24, 1896; Brown 1973:28). The State 
Quarantine Station near Southport was transferred to the U.S. government on July 18, 
1895. There was no charge for inspection or disinfection ( Wilmington Star . July 19, 
1895; Reaves 1990:48). 

For the prevention of the spread of cholera, yellow fever, smallpox, typhus fever, 
plague, or other such infectious diseases, the following vessels were subject to the 
quarantine regulations: 

1 ) All vessels, American or foreign, that had any sickness on board. 

2) All vessels from foreign ports, except vessels from the Atlantic or 
Pacific coasts of British America, not having on board passengers or 
the effects of passengers not resident in America for sixty days; and 
except foreign vessels arriving by way of non-infected domestic ports. 

3) All vessels from infected domestic ports. 

Constructed on pilings located within the Cape Fear River, the new quarantine station 
consisted of four houses: the disinfecting house, the hospital, the attendants' quarters, 
and the medical officers' quarters. The quarantine complex was described as follows: 

The station has been carefully laid out on the east side of the channel of 
the river half way between the upper end of Battery Island and No. 4 
beacon light (Price's Creek). The location is entirely in the water and the 
nearest point to the shore is fully a half mile. The station is one mile east 
of Southport. As before stated the station will be out in the water and will 
be constructed on a pier, the caps of which will stand ten feet above mean 



199 



low water. The pier will be in the shape of a cross... ( Wilmington 
Messenger , August 17, 1895). 

The quarantine station pier was 600 feet in length and ran north by northwest. It was 
constructed on a shoal in the river with water from 18 to 20 inches in depth. The 
disinfecting house was constructed at the west end of the pier and included tanks for 
disinfectants, sulphur furnaces, a steam boiler and engine, and hose and pumps for 
applying the disinfectants under pressure. Vessels that required fumigation laid 
alongside with their hatches closed. A hose was run down into the vessel and the 
fumes and disinfectants forced in by steam until the ship was entirely covered. The 
hospital, built on the south wing of the cross pier, contained wards for the sick, a 
dispensary, and a kitchen. The third building, the barracks or attendants' quarters, 
occupied the center of the cross pier. The remaining medical officers' quarters was a 
two-story house on the north wing that contained an office, living apartments, kitchen, 
and dining room. At the east end of the pier a ballast crib was built for the deposit of 
ballast from quarantine vessels. Before ballast from contaminated vessels could be 
dumped into the crib, it had to be disinfected. From 1898 to 1928, about $75,000 was 
appropriated by the federal government for construction of various additions at the 
quarantine station. The additions included: men's quarters, 1898; quarters for detained 
crews, 1901; wharf, 1914; water tank, 1920; launch shelter, 1921; remodeling 1926; 
and extension of gangway, 1928. An artesian well, 400 feet deep, was also added to 
the station in 1897 ( Wilmington Star , August 9, 1895; Brown 1973:29). 

The United States marine hospital service tug John M. Woodworth arrived in November 
1895 and was immediately placed under the supervision of Dr. J. M. Eager, quarantine 
officer, who had assumed charge of the quarantine station in June. The Woodworth 
was "an iron hull boat of 88 tons, 80 feet in length, 17 feet beam, and draws 7 feet 6 
inches." The tug was designated to be used as a "boarding steamer" but was tied to the 
end of the quarantine pier and used as attendants' quarters until the station was 
completed ( Wilmington Star , August 9, 1895; Wilmington Messenger , July 7, November 
22, 1895). Until the new station was completed, the Cape Fear quarantine vessel 
served only as a boarding service, and all vessels needing fumigation or treatment 
were sent to another port. The quarantine station apparently continued operation until 
1937, when it outlived its usefulness and was placed in a surplus status under a 
caretaker. It appears on several maps until that period. The station is indicated as late 
as 1937 on a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers map. Health services for seamen were 
transferred to a shore facility, located next to the Stuart house in Southport. By 1939 
maps described the station as "Decommissioned." With improvements in the control of 
contagious diseases, a need for quarantine stations no longer existed. In 1946 the 
Southport station's status was changed to first class relief station. The status of the 
shore station again changed about 1953, when it became an outpatient office of the 
U.S. Public Health Service and operated as such until 1970. The abandoned 
quarantine station within the river was left to deteriorate. The caretaker, Charles E. 
Dosher, retired in 1946 and five years later-on August 19, 1951 -a large part of the old 
quarantine station was destroyed by fire. Presently only the concrete platform for the 



200 



steel tower and water tank remain ( Wilmington Messenger , July 20, 1895; USACOE 
1937 and 1939; Brown 1973:30). 



201 



Shipbuilding along the Lower Cape Fear River 

The 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 fifty Barrels of Pitch and Tar." Periaugers were sometimes 
used by the inhabitants as ferries across rivers or larger creeks (Alford 1990:29-31; 
Johnson 1977:11; Brickell 1737:260-261). 

During the early eighteenth century, settlement of the lower Cape Fear River vicinity 
quickly increased as royal governors granted to various individuals large sections of 
land along the river 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 deepwater 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. Deepwater 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 gaff 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-aft sails (Johnson 1977:13,15; Alford 1990:32). 

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 (Alford 1990:32-33; Chapelle 1935:11-12). 

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 



203 



required fewer crew to operate. The design and operation of the larger 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 (Alford 1990:32-33; Chapelle 1935:12). 

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 stern 
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 from 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 (Alford 1990:34; Johnson 1977:31-33). 

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. 

During World War I Wilmington was established as a prime shipbuilding location for a 
new method of building vessels of concrete (Figure 26). In April 1918 the U.S. 
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 ( Wilmington Dispatch , February 10, March 28, 
April 6 and June 6, 1918; Wilmington Star . April 6, 1918). 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 (Figure 27) ( Wilmington Dispatch . 
January 27, 28, 1919; Wilmington Star . January 29, 1919). 



204 



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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 ( Wilmington Star , April 3, 5, 23, October 2, 1941; 
Wilmington News . May 22, 29, 1941). 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 ( Wilmington Star , April 3, 
5, 23, 1941; Wilmington News , May 22, 29, 1941; Still n.d.:4-5). 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 (Still n.d.:5). 

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. 



207 



Shipyards, Boatyards, Repair Yards and Marine Railways 

The following vessel construction sites along the lower Cape Fear River are listed 
chronologically. Known sites are identified as being either a shipyard, boatyard, or 
repair yard. When no specific mention could be found in the historical accounts 
referring to the name of a shipbuilding location, the term shipyard has been applied to 
sites where large or multiple vessels were constructed. Boatyards refer to the smaller 
sites, or where construction of only a single craft is known. Fifty-five shipyards, 
boatyards, repair yards, or marine railways have been identified within the project area. 
A description for each of the following is given below. 



Ayllon's Shipyard 
Brunswick Town Shipyard 
Wimble/Dyer/Fox Shipyard 
Doughty Shipyard 
Grainger/Walker Shipyard 
Corbett Shipyard 
Wells Shipyard 
Law Boatyard 
Hunter Shipyard 
Telfair Shipyard 
Smithville Gunboat Shipyard 
Bald Head Island Shipyard 
Mcllhenny Boatyard 
Cassidey Shipyard 
O'Hanlon Shipyard 
Lewis Boatyard 
Cameron Boatyard 
Morse Boatyard 



Price Shipyard 
Harrison/Beery Shipyard 
Morse and Ellis Shipyard 
Ellis and Welch Shipyard 
Bridges and Davis Shipyard 
Bryant's/Colville Boatyard 
Lemmerman and Coney Boatyard 
Daniels Boatyard 
Blossom & Evans Boatyard 
Northrop's Mill Boatyard 
Garcia Boatyard 

Taylor's Steam Sawmill Boatyard 
Evans and Skinner Shipyard 
Evans Shipyard 
Heide's Boatyard 
Wilson Sawmill Boatyard 
Summerell Boatyard 
Government Shipyard 



Wessell Boatyard 
Piver Boatyard 
Otto's Boatyard 
Whitlock/Cumming's Boatyard 
Southport Pilots Boatyard 
Wilmington Iron Works 
Gaskill Boatyard 
Hamme Marine Railway 
Naul/Suffolk/Warcrete Shipyard 
Cape Fear Shipbuilding Co. 
Cushman-McKown Shipyard 
Carolina Shipbuilding Co. 
Liberty Shipbuilding Co. 
Newport Shipbuilding Co. 
Stone Towing Co. Railway 
Herbst Boatyard 
Intracoastal Barge Lines 
North Carolina Shipbuilding Co. 
V. P. Loftis/Tidewater Shipyard 



Ayllon's Shipyard (1526) 

Spaniard Lucas Vaquez de Ayllon is thought to have been the first European to venture 
up the Cape Fear River, or Rio Jordan as he called it. While attempting to ascend the 
river, one of the vessels under Ayllon's command wrecked in the lower reaches. 
Ayllon's men built a new craft on the west bank of the Rio Jordan to replace the lost 
vessel. The building of this ship, more than four and a half centuries ago, may well be 
the basis of the local tradition that "a Spanish shipyard" was once located on the west 
bank of the Cape Fear River, approximately 2V 2 miles upstream from what is now the 
town of Southport (Angley 1 983: 1 ; Lee 1 965: 1 2-1 4; Reaves 1 978: 1 ). 



Brunswick Town Shipyard (ca 1727 - 1774) 

The first oceangoing vessel to be constructed on the Cape Fear River following 

permanent settlement was likely the 10-ton sloop First Adventure built in 1727-one year 



209 



after the establishment of Brunswick Town. The exact location of construction is not 
known, but the appropriately named sloop was probably employed in the coastal or 
West Indian trade by a Brunswick merchant (New Hanover County Registry Records, 
AB:60; Mosley n.d.:6-8; Watson 1992:16). Ship construction at Brunswick in the 
following years is suggested by the presence of such residents as Christopher Wotten, 
"sailmaker"; Thomas Payne, "Shipwright"; and David Smeeth, "ship carpenter" 
(Brunswick County Registry Records, A:81, 135, 145; Lee 1965:156). The Lord Hyde, 
completed in 1768, could have been built on the waterfront lot that Smeeth owned in 
the southern part of Brunswick Town. In 1774 rigging was received within the town for 
another vessel under construction (Brunswick County Registry Records, A: 145, B:52; 
Lee 1965:156). 



Wimble Shipyard (ca. 1730 - 1737) 
Dyer Shipyard (1737 - 1739) 
Fox Shipyard (ca. 1740 - 1744) 

On June 18, 1737, James Wimble of Newton (Wilmington) sold to Michael Dyer, 
shipwright, three lots within the town. The lots listed were numbers 96 and 103, and 
"the Ship Yard" located between Church and Castle Streets, and Lot 104 between the 
same two streets. It is clear that a shipyard existed at this location prior to 1737, when 
Michael Dyer purchased the property. This may have been the location where James 
Wimble, a mariner, merchant, and surveyor, had built in 1730 the 128 1 /4-ton brigantine 
Rebecca. The Rebecca measured 54 feet length of keel, 21 feet in beam, and 10 1 / 2 
feet depth. Richard Keen, another shipwright, was unsuccessful in 1733 in his attempt 
to purchase from James Wimble a water lot south of Church Street that was likely the 
same shipyard (Cumming 1969:6; Waddell 1989:205; McKoy 1967:66-67; Moseley n.d. 
8-9). 

In 1739 the New Hanover County Court ordered Michael Dyer to give security to teach 
his apprentice, William Martindale, the trade of a shipwright. Dyer sold the shipyard to 
Nicholas Fox on December 31, 1739. Fox probably kept the shipyard in operation until 
his death in 1744, when he willed it to Susannah Portevint (New Hanover County 
Registry Records, AB:58-60, 342-343; Moseley n.d.:10; McKoy 1967:31-32). 



Doughty Shipyard (ca 1746 - 1752) 

The old Dyer shipyard may have eventually passed into the hands of John Doughty. 
Doughty is the only "ship carpenter" listed between 1746 and 1752, and he may be 
responsible for the construction of at least six vessels in Wilmington during that period. 
In 1746 the 14-ton sloop Duncan and Hannah was constructed. Over the next two 
years three brigantines were launched on the Cape Fear River: the Unity, 80 tons, in 
1747; the Orton, 45 tons, and Three Marys, 40 tons, in 1748. The following year the 25- 
ton sloop Hope was built, and an 80-ton ship, the Recovery, was constructed in 1752. 
The brigantines and the ship were likely sold to British or North Carolina merchants. 
(Still n.d.; Moseley n.d:10; Goldenberg 1976:79-82,120). 



210 



Joshua Grainger Shipyard (prior to 1753) 
John Walker Shipyard (ca. 1753 - 1760) 

Joshua Grainger has been mentioned as owning a shipyard at the foot of Church 
Street. In 1753 Grainger sold what may be the same property, located on the south 
side of Lee's Creek, to John Walker, another ship carpenter. Walker is mentioned 
several years later in connection with two other shipwrights. When William Neil, a 
friend of Walker's, died in 1758 he left half of his ship-working tools to John Walker and 
the other half to David Fowler. Walker probably continued in the shipbuilding business 
for another two years. In 1760 Walker sold his house at Front and Dock Streets and 
may have moved from Wilmington (Moseley n.d.: 10-11; McKoy 1967:23,34; Waddell 
1989:205). 



Corbett Shipyard (ca. 1758 - 1762) 

Prior to May 1759 Archibald Corbett may have constructed a vessel for James Baird Jr. 
and Alexander Walker of Glasgow. The name of the vessel and whether it was actually 
built are not indicated in the records (New Hanover County Registry Record D-403; 
Moseley n.d.:11). A 65-ton brigantine was constructed in Wilmington in 1762. The 
vessel was named the Edinburgh and was owned in October 1 770 by four merchants- 
three from Charleston and one from Bristol, England (Olsberg 1973:219; Moseley 
n.d.:11; Waddell 1989:205). 



Wells Shipyard (ca. 1766 - 1779) 

In 1766 Robert Wells apparently repaired vessels along the Wilmington waterfront on a 
lot located just south of Ann Street. Wells purchased a lot in Wilmington in 1769 from 
Peter Lord of Bladen County. Peter Lord inherited the property from his father, William 
Lord, who purchased the lot in 1737 from James Wimble. Wells may have been 
connected with the construction of the 100-ton brigantine Hannah in 1773. Robert 
Wells was still in Wilmington in 1779 (New Hanover County Registry Record F-1 19 and 
AB-283; Kellam n.d.:133-134; Moseley n.d.:12). 



Law Boat Yard (ca. 1771) 

David Law built a small vessel with a capacity of 140 barrels for William Parker in the 

fall of 1771. Unfortunately, the name of the vessel and the location where it was built 

are not given in the records (New Hanover County Registry Record F-303; Moseley 

n.d.:12). 



Hunter Shipyard (ca. 1774 - 1775) 

The only other shipwright mentioned as residing in Wilmington during the 

Revolutionary War was Abraham Hunter. On the last day of 1774 Hunter purchased 



211 



anchors, cables, canvas, rigging, cabin furniture, and other articles that had been 
confiscated from the 102-ton brigantine Thetis. The materials Hunter purchased were to 
be used for a new vessel "on the stocks." Hunter and Wells may have been responsible 
for the partial construction in early 1776 of the General Washington, a vessel intended 
for use in the defense of Wilmington. The shipyard of Abraham Hunter was passed on 
to his heirs. This shipyard was probably the same one later owned in the 1830s by 
Doyle O'Hanlon (McEachem and Williams 1976:7; Moseley n.d.:13; Still 1976:6; 
Wilmington Recorder . July 6, November 23, 1831). 



Telfair Shipyard ( 1 799 - 1 802) 

In February 1799 John Telfair, shipwright, purchased a piece of property adjacent to 
the southern boundary of the Robert Wells's shipyard. That property, in conjunction 
with others, was indicated as the second full lot on the south side of Ann Street. The lot 
included "all houses, out houses, buildings, improvements, wharves, ways, privledges, 
hereditaments and appurtenances." Martin Ettinger, a "Black Smith, White Smith, 
Gunsmith & Nail Manufacturer," advertised in August 1799 that he had "removed his 
shop to Mr. Telfair's shipyard." Ettinger and Telfair later became business associates. 
John Telfair had been in the Wilmington area since at least early 1794, when he 
purchased 560 acres situated "in the drains of Long Creek & Widow Moore's Creek." It 
is likely that John Telfair worked in a shipyard as a skilled laborer prior to his 1799 land 
purchase, perhaps the shipyard that constructed the 29-ton schooner Chance in 1793. 
John Telfair died in 1802 (New Hanover County Registry Record M-81, 83-86; Moseley 
n.d.:14-15; Still n.d.; Wilmington Gazette , August 8, 1799). 



Smithville Gunboat Shipyard (1808 - 1810) 

Three Jeffersonian gunboats were built at Smithville during 1808-1809 for the 
protection of Wilmington's commerce. In March 1808, Secretary of the Navy Robert 
Smith issued a contract to Amos Perry for the construction of three gunboats at 
Smithville. Specifications in the contract called for the vessels to be 60 feet on deck, 
with a beam of 16 feet 6 inches, and 6 feet 6 inches depth of hold. Perry provided the 
craft with two 6-pound guns and a schooner rig, rather than the sloop rig ordered by the 
secretary of the navy. The first, gunboat No. 166 (renamed Alligator during the War of 
1812), was launched on the first day of April 1809. Gunboat No. 167 followed within a 
few months and was launched at Smithville on September 19, 1809. The first two 
gunboats, although nearly complete, were placed "in ordinary" for twenty-seven months 
awaiting blacksmiths, top timber, iron, and other supplies. The third vessel, gunboat 
No. 168, was "nearly as forwards as No. 166" by that time. When the navy commander 
for the southern district inspected the gunboats, he determined that they were more like 
pilot boats than gunboats, and were too small for the duty they were expected to 
perform. He recommended that Perry add 2 feet to the beam, reduce the rake to the 
stem, and alter the topsides, which was expected to reduce the draft and make the craft 
more seaworthy. The modifications, and other problems including a lack of funds, 
delayed the relaunching of the gunboats until 1811. When the vessels were reactivated 



212 



in the fall of 1811, the best of the three, gunboat No. 168, was transferred to the St. 
Mary's station in Maryland. The other gunboats on the Wilmington station were 
decommissioned after the war and sold (Moseley n.d.:19; Smith 1994.32-34). 



Bald Head Island Shipyard (ca. 1814) 

A shipyard that appears on the Potter (ca. 1814) map may be associated with Benjamin 
Smith. The shipyard is shown directly north of the "new light house," along Cape Creek. 
Southwest of the shipyard adjacent to the Cape Fear River, "Sea Castle," the summer 
house of Benjamin Smith, is marked (Potter ca. 1814). 



Mcllhenny Boatyard (ca. 1828 - 1833) 

In 1824 John K. Mcllhenny constructed a 181 -ton brigantine named the Eliza and the 
following year launched the Sarah, a 136-ton brigantine. Both vessels, with dimensions 
of more than 70 feet long by 20 feet in width, were used for trade between Wilmington 
and New York. A steamboat named the Enterprise, owned by Gen. E. B. Dudley and 
John Mcllhenny, was launched from the wharf of Mr. Mcllhenny on September 23, 
1828. The steamboat was intended to run as a packet between Wilmington and 
Fayetteville. It was described as "a very small boat, and was used ... for towing the 
rice flats from the different plantations." The boat was lengthened, then used about 
1832 to convey mail and passengers between Wilmington and Smithville ( Wilmington 
Star , October 28, 1828, March 28, 1832; Sprunt 1896:34-35; Moseley n.d.:20). 

In James Sprunt's 1896 work Tales and Traditions of the Lower Cape Fear he makes 
the claim that "The first and only sailing ship built at Wilmington was launched June 
5th, 1833, by Mr. John K. Mcllhenny . . ." and named the Eliza and Susan, after his two 
daughters. This statement is partially in error. The Eliza and Susan was not the first and 
only sailing ship built at Wilmington; however, the date of the launching is accurate. 
The vessel was described as being a "full-rig ship of 316 tons, built of the staunchest 
live oak, and of unusual strength. The oak came partly from Bald Head and partly from 
Lockwood's Folly. She was pine-planked and coppered." The ship was used in the 
Pacific whaling trade ( Wilmington Messeng er, May 2, 1897; Sprunt, 1896:33-34). 
Sprunt describes the yard where the Eliza and Susan was built as being located on a 
canal cut by Mcllhenny and "at right angles with the river and parallel with Queen 
Street. . ." (Sprunt 1896:34). 



James L. Cassidey & Sons Shipyard (ca 1830 - 1855) 

Cassidey Brothers & Ross Shipyard (ca 1868 - 1879) 

Cassidey Brothers Shipyard (1855 - 1880) 

The earliest account of shipbuilding at the James Cassidey shipyard, located near the 

foot of Church Street, dates from 1830. Two years earlier Cassidey purchased lots on 

Front Street that extended to the river. On March 31, 1830, the steamboat Retrieve was 

launched from the Cassidey shipyard at the south end of town (Wrenn, 1984:266; 



213 



Wilmington Cape Fear Recorder , March 31, 1830). The new steamboat Clarendon, 105 
feet in length, with an 18-foot beam and an 8-foot hold, was launched in early March 
1833 from the Cassidey shipyard. The Clarendon was built from live oak, white oak, 
and red cedar and planked with pine and copper fastened as well as coppered to the 
bends ( Wilmington People's Press . March 6, 1833). 

In April 1837 James Cassidey erected a marine railway at the shipyard ( Wilmington 
Advertiser , April 14, 1837). In April 1850 the 50-ton steamboat Union, owned by James 
Cassidey, was launched. The boat was said to be "a small one" and "of very light 
draught" intended for use of the Cape Fear River above Wilmington ( Wilmington 
Chronicle , April 24, 1850). On November 21, 1846, "the French Barque Harve 
Martinique, was launched from Mr. Cassidey's Marine Railway; she was copper 
bottomed, and glided into the water most beautifully . . ." ( Wilmington Commercial , 
November 21, 1846). 

At his shipyard on March 9, 1853, James Cassidey launched a steamer built after the 
model of northern ferry boats. The steamer, built for the Wilmington & Manchester Rail 
Road, conveyed passengers from the terminus on the opposite side of the river to the 
Wilmington & Raleigh Rail Road depot. The boat was 87 feet 1 1 inches long (93 feet 
overall), 6 feet 10 inches in the hold, and 20 feet 7 inches in beam and was built with a 
rudder at either end. The vessel drew 3 feet 6 inches of water. The 60-horsepower 
engine was built by C. Reeder Jr. of Baltimore ( Wilmington Herald , March 9, 1853). 

On March 22, 1855, James Cassidey gave notice that he had retired from the ship 
carpentry business and that all future construction would be conducted by his son 
( Wilmington Tri-Weekly Commercial , March 22, 1855). During late 1863 the 
Confederate ironclad sloop-rigged steam-powered Raleigh was laid down at a wharf 
near the foot of Church Street, then after being launched was completed at the James 
Cassidey & Sons shipyard. The Richmond-class ironclad, built to John L. Porter's 
plans, similar to those of the CSS North Carolina, was 150 feet in length with a 32 foot 
beam and a draft of 12 feet. Two thicknesses of iron plating, or casemate, covered a 
heavily constructed wooden hull. A subsurface ram was fitted at the bow. The ironclad 
Raleigh was commissioned on April 3, 1864. Within a month of its commission the 
vessel was. accidentally run aground near Horseshoe Shoals in the Cape Fear River 
and severely damaged. Unable to be pulled free, it was destroyed by the Confederates 
(Farb 1985:322; Shomette 1973:352-353). 

James Cassidey died in 1866 (although the Wilmington 1866-1867 city directory listed 
the firm of Cassidey & Beery, at South Water Street, between Nun and Church). The 
following year the brothers Frank A. L. and Henry C. Cassidey entered into the 
business of the Wilmington Marine Railway and Ship Yard with Roderick G. Ross 
( Wilmington Star . September 25, 1868). Their brief partnership ended on October 15, 
1868 when the following notice was published: "the copartnership heretofore existing 
under the firm of Cassidey Brothers & Ross, is this day dissolved by mutual consent. 
The business will be conducted in the future by Cassidey Brothers" ( Wilmington Star 



214 



October 15, .1868; Wilmington City Directory. 1866-1 867 V Subsequent accounts, 
however, refer to the Cassidey Brothers and Ross shipyard. 

At the Cassidey Brothers & Ross shipyard a variety of repair work and ship 
maintenance was undertaken in 1868. In early March of that year the bark Dunkeld 
underwent repair work there. The schooner Warren required repairs in May after 
running upon some old wrecks lying in New Inlet. The steamer City Point had its bottom 
scraped while upon the Cassidey marine railway in June, while the propeller-drive Ida 
Potter had a new iron flange installed by July 1868. The City Point, a steamer of 1,110 
tons burthen, as one source "reliably informed," was "the largest steamer which has 
ever been drawn up on a marine railway south of Boston" ( Wilmington Dispatch , March 
4, May 22, June 18, July 21, 1868). A new iron steamer was under construction by late 
July by Frank Cassidey. The iron steamer was 30 feet in length, 6 feet in beam, and 
had a capacity for thirty or thirty-five passengers. Two engines, of three horsepower 
each, were to be included ( Wilmington Dispatch . July 26, 1868). 

In August 1868 the steam tug Pocosin arrived at the Cassidey Brothers & Ross 
shipyard for repairs. The sidewheel steamer Pocosin had a capacity of 105 tons. Within 
days the steamer Gen. Howard was launched from the shipyard after undergoing 
overhauling and repair work to its boiler and engine, as well as general maintenance 
work. By September the steamer Lizzie Baker had arrived in Wilmington for repair work. 
In addition to work on steamers, the Cassidey yard performed repair work on sailing 
vessels. The schooner John, after being damaged off Hatteras, underwent repairs at 
the yard ( Wilmington Dispatch , August 9, 13, September 15, 1868). 

After being repaired, the schooner George & Emily was launched from the shipyard in 
March 1873. A pilot boat with 47 feet keel, 55 feet on deck, 16 1 /4 feet beam, and 7 feet 
hold was laid at the Cassidey Brothers shipyard in May 1873. The 40-ton pilot boat, for 
use on the Cape Fear River, had frames constructed of live oak, white oak, and yellow 
pine and the planking of pine ( Wilmington Dispatch , May 18, 1873). The wrecked 
schooner Anna Shephard was pumped out and taken upon the shipyard ways in early 
October 1873. The lighter Modoc, accidentally sunk in a collision with a steamer, was 
hauled to the Cassidey shipyard for repairs in April 1874 ( Wilmington Star , March 21, 
April 23, October 3, 1873). 

The marine railway of the Cassidey Brothers was seriously damaged in early 1875 by 
fire. Several sheds were rebuilt and machinery repaired. Two vessels-the steamer 
Emma Dunn, used by the government as a suction boat, and the steamer Warr/or-were 
overhauled in October of that year. That same month a new barge was completed for 
contractors to use in building the apron at New Inlet ( Wilmington Star , January 31, 
October 3, 24, 1875). 

In August 1878 the steamer William Nyce, the steam tug Eutaw, and the Spanish 
barque Cabieces were taken upon the Cassidey ways for repairs. Light Ship No. 29 
was rebuilt at the shipyard in November 1878, while the German barque Kosmos 



215 



underwent repair work and the Norwegian brig Fred was having a mainmast replaced 
( Wilmington Star , August 24, November 3, 1878). In early 1879 the Rattlesnake Shoal 
Lightship was hauled on the marine railway of Cassidey & Ross for repairs, and by July 
the Frying Pan Shoals Lightship was undergoing extensive repairs ( Wilmington Star , 
January 5, July 2, August 30, 1879). 

At the marine railway of Evans and Skinner, located on the riverfront between Nun and 
Castle Streets, a little steamer was constructed in April 1880 by Henry Cassidey and S. 
W. Skinner. The vessel measured about 50 feet in length and 12 feet in width. It was 
furnished with a stern wheel and could carry 150 passengers back and forth from the 
beach at Wrightsville Sound ( Wilmington Star , April 20, 1880). It was probably about 
1880 that the Cassidey brothers sold their marine railway and shipyard to Samuel 
Skinner, who continued shipbuilding at the site. 



O'Hanlon Shipyard (ca. 1831 - 1837) 

Doyle O'Hanlon's shipyard appears to have been located on the north side of Castle 
Street, from Front Street to the Cape Fear River. This same lot was referred to as the 
house, dock, and shipyard of the late Thomas Hunter. The shipyard may be the same 
one owned during the Revolutionary War by Abraham Hunter and passed on to his 
heirs (New Hanover County Registry Record R-100, 101; Moseley n.d.:22). On July 4, 
1831, the keel of the steamboat John Walker was laid at the yard of Doyle O'Hanlon. 
The new vessel measured 110 feet long and was between 220 and 250 tons. It was 
launched on November 10, 1831, after only eighty-six working days. The John Walker 
was used on the trade between Wilmington and Fayetteville until destroyed by fire in 
June 1836 ( Wilmington Recorder , July 6, November 23, 1831; Fayetteville Observer . 
April 20, 1837). 

Exactly one year after starting the John Walker, O'Hanlon laid the keel of the steamer 
Jackson & VanBuren. This steamer was also intended for use on the trade between 
Fayetteville and Wilmington ( Fayetteville Observer . July 17, 1832). On April 1, 1834, 
the flatboat Union was launched from the shipyard of Doyle O'Hanlon ( Fayetteville 
Observer , April 15, 1834). Another vessel built at the O'Hanlon shipyard was the 
steamer Cotton Plant (1836) which replaced the destroyed John Walker. The Cotton 
Plant, owned by O'Hanlon, was noted as the fourth steamboat on the river ( Fayetteville 
Observer . April 20, 1837; Moseley n.d.:21). 



Lewis Boatyard (1833) 

At the boatyard of Simon Lewis and James Lewis, the "flatt" Andrew Jackson was built 
during the spring of 1833. The vessel was 45 feet in length and between 8 and 9 feet 
beam. The location of the boatyard is not known (New Hanover County Registry 
Record V: 13). 



216 



Cameron Boatyard (1833) 

The 95-ton schooner Robert Edens, owned by John S. James & Co. and James 
Cameron, was launched in late April 1833. This vessel may have been the only ship 
built at the Cameron boatyard. The location of the boatyard is not known ( Wilmington 
People's Press , May 1, 1833; Moseley, n.d.:21). 



Morse Boatyard (1834) 

Eden Morse constructed the 200-ton brigantine Caroline for Captain Dougal of 
Wilmington. The Caroline was launched in the early spring of 1834. The location of the 
boatyard is not known ( Fayetteville Observer , April 15, 1834; Moseley n.d.:21). 



Price Shipyard (1841) 

Richard Price had a shipyard at the south end of town in 1841. The steamboat 
Johnston Blakeley used on the run between Fayetteville and Wilmington was launched 
from that yard in October ( Wilmington Weekly Chronicle , October 13, 1841 ). 



Harrison Steam Sawmill Boatyard (1842 - 1848) 

Beery Shipyard or Commercial Mill and Shipyard - Eagles Island (1848 - 1892) 
Robert H. Beery Shipyard - Castle Street (ca. 1873 - 1889) 

In November 1841 Samuel Beery placed a notice in a Wilmington newspaper offering 
for sale his house and lot located in Smithville. The house was still advertised for sale 
in February 1842 when he moved to Wilmington. By March Beery announced that he 
was prepared to build or repair flats, boats, or other craft at Wilmington by taking 
vessels completely out of the water upon ways at the Harrison Steam Sawmill, situated 
at the foot of Church Street. Beery and his son, Benjamin, formed a copartnership 
( Wilmington Chronicle , November 10, 1841, March 9, 1842; Wilmington Dispatch , 
October 8, 1917). The Beery family built at least two schooners at the Harrison Sawmill 
location. The first was the Colonel John McRae, launched in November 1846 by 
Benjamin. Another of the early vessels constructed was the 130-ton schooner, John 
Story, launched from their shipyard in October 1847. The vessel, owned by George W. 
Davis and Benjamin Beery, was intended for the Havana trade ( Wilmington Chronicle , 
October 20, 1847; Moseley n.d.:25). 

On June 20, 1848, Samuel Beery and two of his sons purchased from Henry Savage, a 
bank president, property on Eagles Island for $12,000 (the same land that Savage had 
purchased from Thomas H. Wright in July 1844) (New Hanover County Registry 
Record KK:201). The Beerys called their shipyard on Eagles Island the Commercial Mill 
and Ship Yard (Figure 28) ( Wilmington Chronicle , November 10, 1841, March 9, 1842; 
Wilmington Daily Journal , February 18, 1852). Samuel Beery and his sons completed 
in December 1 849 the 250-ton brig John Dawson, with a length of 1 00 feet ( Wilmington 
Chronicle , December 4, 1849). The schooner Ella, of about 100 tons burthen, was 



217 




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218 



launched by the Beerys in July 1850 from the shipyard ( Wilmington Chronicle , July 31, 
1850). 

The copartnership between Samuel and Benjamin Beery was dissolved on February 
18, 1852. Benjamin purchased his father's entire interest in the steam sawmill, shipyard 
and marine railway on Eagles Island. The yard also included a blacksmith shop and a 
rigging loft ( Wilmington Daily Journal , February 18, 1852). Samuel Beery died less than 
a year later on January 9, 1853, after turning the shipbuilding business over to 
Benjamin ( Wilmington Herald , January 12, 1853). The Beery shipyard sustained fire 
damage in May 1854 when the adjacent steam sawmill of Costin, Gregg & Co. burnt. 
Fire destroyed the workshop and enginehouse attached to the marine railway 
( Wilmington Tri-Weekiy .Commercial , May 20, 1854). 

Just after the Civil War began in April 1861, Benjamin and his brother William Beery 
began production of vessels for the Confederacy on Eagles Island. In May 1861 
William Beery purchased the old Cape Fear Marine Railway for their shipbuilding 
operation ( Wilmington Daily Journal , May 15, 1861). The first work done at the Beery 
yard was converting the steam tug Mariner into a privateer. On July 14, 1861, President 
Jefferson Davis commissioned Capt. Benjamin Beery to command the boat. Local men 
from the Wilmington area made up the crew. The Mariner was 185 tons burden, 
equipped with a 16-pound gun and handled by thirty men. After successfully taking 
several prizes for the Confederacy, Captain Beery relinquished command of the 
privateer and resumed construction of vessels at his shipyard ( Wilmington Messenger . 
April 26, 1892; Wilmington S ta r , May 23, 1917). 

The most noted Confederate vessel built by Benjamin and William Beery was the 
ironclad steamer North Carolina. The North Carolina was constructed at the Beery's 
"Confederate Navy Yard" or "Navy Yard" in 1862. This Richmond-class steamer had 
low broad lines and was not seaworthy but rather intended for river work (Hall 
1980:339). The ironclad was begun in July 1862 but remained nameless until October, 
when S. R. Mallory, secretary of the Confederate States Navy, named the ship the 
North Carolina. The Confederate vessel was the largest ship built by the Beery 
Brothers, with dimensions of 150 feet in length, 32 feet in beam, and a depth of 14 feet 
(Shomette 1973:333). 

In October 1863 some of the men assigned to work at the shipyard deserted from the 
Benjamin and William Beery shipyard ( Wilmington Daily Journal , October 1, 1863). A 
second fire in April 1864 again destroyed part of the Beery shipyard. The major fire 
broke out in a warehouse on the western side of the river, some 200 feet south of the 
ferry, opposite Market Street, and spread onto the Beery shipyard property, destroying 
the sheds and sawmill machinery in the rear of the shipyard. Work was delayed for 
three weeks ( Wilmington Daily Journal . April 30, 1864). Other ships constructed at the 
Beery yard during the war were the steamer Yadkin, a dispatch boat, and several steam 
launches. One account indicates that a submarine was built at the Beery shipyard. 
Launched the day before Federal troops arrived in Wilmington, it was burned the same 



219 



day to prevent capture ( Wilmington Messenger , April 26, 1892; Wilmington Star , 
September 20, 1936). Benjamin Beery burnt his own shipyard to prevent it from falling 
into the hands of the Federal forces in early 1 865 ( Wilmington Dispatch , July 10, 1916). 

Following the Civil War the Beery brothers contracted to build vessels at other nearby 
locations and were involved in the wrecking business. An 1866-1867 Wilmington city 
directory lists Benjamin Beery as shipbuilder at the Cassidey and Beery shipyard on 
South Water Street, between Nun and Church. Brother William was shown as a 
boatbuilder on Eagles Island in 1869 ( Wilmington City Directory, 1866-1867 ; 
Branson's , 1869). 

On October 10, 1868, Beery and Sink Co. raised from below the Dram Tree one of the 
boats sunk during the Civil War. The raised vessel was put on the ways with the 
intention of converting it into a lighter ( Wilmington Star , October 11, 1868). In 
December 1871 the Beery wreckers were successful in pulling the lighter Washington, 
from the Fort Caswell beach where it had grounded during a gale. A new Worthington 
pump advertised in 1868 by Benjamin Beery as being "capable of throwing a barrel of 
water per stroke" may have been used for the projects. A wrecking pump for use on the 
steamer Waccamaw was also tested in late 1872 by Capt. Benjamin Beery. The 
wrecking pump was capable of lifting fifty to sixty barrels per minute in freeing wrecked 
vessels ( Wilmington Star , November 28, 1872). 

At Smithville in August 1871 the Beerys began building a new pilot boat for Thomas 
Thompson and Julius Dozier. By February 1872 the Beerys had built and launched the 
new vessel known as the Robert H. Cowan (25 tons). The pilot boat was sent to 
Wilmington to be fitted with rigging, spars, and so on, at the Beery shipyard on Eagles 
Island, which recently had been rebuilt. The Beerys constructed two vessels in 1873 on 
the east side of the river: the Undine, a "beautiful yacht" launched at Sunset Hill (Front 
Street) in Wilmington on May 11, 1873, in view of a large number of ladies, and a 
"clinker-built skiff' constructed by William M. Beery, which was available for inspection 
in August 1873 at the shop of S. W. Morse on Second Street, between Orange and Ann 
Streets. The skiff measured 20 feet of keel, 5 feet 9 inches beam, and depth of 20 
inches ( Wilmington Journal , August 16, 1871; W i lming t on Star , May 12, August 13, 
1873). 

In March 1873 Capt. Benjamin Beery succeeded in floating the hull of the schooner 
Maria C. Frye, which had gone ashore at Cape Fear on Smith's Island and caught fire 
and burnt. Capt. Beery, now associated with the Waccamaw Wrecking Company, 
towed the schooner to Smithville with the intention of turning the hull into a lighter 
( Wilmington Star . March 17, 1873). 

Robert H. Beery, son of Capt. Benjamin Beery, also entered the shipbuilding business 
with his father at a shipyard at the foot of Castle Street. In August 1873 Robert 
contracted to construct a new pilot boat for William Sellers and Edward Piver of 
Smithville. The boat was to be 18 tons burthen, 42 feet in length, 13 feet beam, and 5 



220 



feet of hold. Robert Beery planned to construct three-masted vessels and pilot boats 
( Wilmington Star . August 20, 1873). On February 9, 1874, Benjamin Beery and son 
launched the pilot boat Nellie B. Neff from the foot of Church Street ( Wilmington Star 
February 10, 1874). 

Benjamin Beery built during the summer of 1876 the yacht Swamp Angel. The new 
yacht measured 16 feet in length, with a beam of 7 feet ( Wilmington Star , July 29, 
1876). Benjamin Beery contracted to build another yacht, the Arietta, in 1878 for three 
of the employees at Hart, Bailey & Co.'s foundry (later Wilmington Iron Works). On July 
9 the Arietta was launched by Beery from the Market Street dock. The yacht when 
completed measured 23 feet length of keel, 8 feet 3 inches in width of beam, and 25 
feet overall. It was decked over with a cabin and schooner rigged ( Wilmington Star , 
June 14, 28, 1878). 

At the railway wharf of Capt. Samuel W. Skinner located at the foot of Nun and Church 
Streets, Capt. Robert Beery began construction on an oyster "sharpie" in 1881 for use 
on the Chesapeake Bay. The new sharpie was said to be "a model of strength and 
durability" when launched ( Wilmington Star , January 25, February 6, 1881). Robert By 
April 1882 Beery completed construction of a lighter, four large flats, and a steam 
hoister at the shipyard at the foot of Castle Street. The flats and hoister were intended 
for use on river improvements being done by the Cape Fear Navigation Works 
( Wilmington Star , March 26, April 25, 1882). In May 1882 Capt. Robert Beery 
purchased from Elijah Ellis of New Bern, the 52-ton schooner Agile to be used as a 
wrecking vessel or lighter ( Wilmington Star , May 26, 1882). 

About October 1884 Capt. Benjamin Beery launched a large pilot boat at the yard 
attached to the dry dock of Thomas Evans. That vessel may have been the Ann E. 
Beery. The largest pilot boat built in Wilmington up to that date, the vessel measured 
75 feet on deck, 19 feet wide, and had 8 feet depth of hold ( Wilmington Star r June 24, 
July 31, 1884). The new steam pleasure launch The Boss, being built for Sheriff 
Manning, was nearing completion at Capt. Robert Beery's shipyard in November 1887. 
The pleasure yacht, built for strength and speed, measured 43 feet in length, 8 feet 
wide, and 414 feet deep. It was built of native pine with live oak knees. The bow and 
transom were also of live oak, and the decking of juniper forward and aft. The 
launching of the vessel came on December 22, 1887, with the steam launch yet to 
receive its 1 0-horsepower oil engine. The large 36-inch mounted propeller was said to 
make the new vessel "walk the waters like a thing of life" ( Wilmington Messeng er, 
October 2, 1887, Wilmington Star . November 16, December 23, 1887). During the 
summer of 1888 Robert Beery constructed a steam yacht of about 50 tons called the 
Little Winnie. The new steamboat was 75 feet in length, 21 feet in width, and 14 feet of 
beam. The Little Winnie was used to carry about seventy-five passengers between 
Hummocks (Hammocks) and the Blackfish grounds at Carolina Beach on fishing trips 
( Wilmington Messenger , June 23, July 15, 1888). 



221 



By the following year the shipyard of Robert Beery at the foot of Castle Street was 
closed and the property belonged to the Northrop Sawmill. The Eagles Island shipyard 
was probably used only by small boatbuilders until 1911, when the Wilmington Iron 
Works purchased the property to construct its new Wilmington Marine Railway 
( Wilmington Messenger , April 26, 1892; Wilmington Evening Dispatch , July 11, 1916; 
Sanborn 1889:12). In the winter of 1890, Benjamin Beery left Wilmington to supervise 
the construction of a large marine railway and shipyard in Pensacola, Florida. Capt. 
Benjamin Beery died April 24, 1892 ( Wilmington Star , September 28, 1890; Wilmington 
Messenger , April 26, 1892). 



Morse and Ellis Boatyard (ca. 1860 - 1869) 
Morse Boatyard (ca. 1869 - 1874) 

The 1860 Kelley's Wilmington Directory lists Solomon Morse and a Mr. Ellis as 
boatbuilders at a yard located two blocks from the river on Second Street (between 
Orange and Ann Streets), where they constructed yachts. By 1869 Ellis had left the 
partnership and gone into business with a new partner. In November 1874 Morse built 
and launched the 26 /4-foot-long, 9-foot-4-inch-beamed Mary Kenan. The new clinker- 
built yacht, one of the longest in the vicinity, was said to carry 128 feet of canvas and to 
have been capable of transporting thirty to forty persons ( Wilmington Star , October 3, 
November 6, 1874; Kelley's Wilmington Directory , 1860). 



Ellis & Welch Boatyard (1869) 

The 1869 Branson's North Carolina Business Directory lists Ellis & Welch as builders 
of boats on South Water Street in Wilmington. It is unknown whether Ellis constructed 
yachts at this site (Branson's 1869:112). 



Bridges and Davis Boatyard (1869) 

At the boatyard of Thomas W. Bridges and Thomas J. Davis in Wilmington, the sharpie 
The Little Mary was launched in the fall of 1869. The sharpie was 16 feet long, 5 feet 
wide with a mast 31 feet high, and carried 40 yards of sail ( Wilmington Star . September 
12, 1869). 



Bryant's Boatyard (1874) 

Colville & Co. Mill and Boatyard (ca 1874 - 1877) 

At a location near the wharf of the Colville & Co.'s mills, Duncan Bryant constructed in 

1874 "two or three handsome pleasure boats, for family use" ( Wilmington Star , May 13, 

1874). In April 1876 a small skiff was being constructed by Henry Efamy at the sawmill 

of John Colville & Co. on Nutt Street (between Walnut and Red Cross Streets), later 

the site of the Champion Compress. The yacht was described as "a very handsome 

one, being of a different model from any yet seen in our waters." Two upper planks 

extended about 12 inches further at the bows than in ordinary yachts with a rudder 



222 



constructed beneath the boat. The unnamed yacht measured 19 feet in length and 6 
feet width of beam ( Wilmington Star , April 12, 1876). 

A new steamboat, probably the Colville, was under construction at Colville's boatyard in 
February 1877. The steamboat was being built to replace the old steamer Caswell, then 
being used on the run between Wilmington and Bannerman's Bridge on the North East 
River. The new sternwheel steamer measured 70 feet in length. The Colville boatyard 
also constructed a flat for use in freighting on the North East River earlier that year. In 
November 1877 the steamer Colville was taken off the line between Wilmington and 
Bannerman's Bridge and sent to the Oconee River in South Carolina to begin service 
( Wilmington Star . February 8, November 9, 1877). 



Lemmerman and Coney Boatyard (ca. 1 874 - 1 879) 

Capt. Henry T. Lemmerman and Walter Coney gave notice in August 1870 that they 
planned to go into the ship lighterage business on Market Street. It may have been 
about this time that they also decided to construct vessels in Wilmington. The first ship 
known to have been built by the pair was the excursion boat Experiment. It had been 
virtually completed at the Wilmington yard of Lemmerman and Coney in May 1874. In 
preparation for leaving the business, Lemmerman and Coney offered for sale in 
January 1879 the steam tug William Nyce, 21 tons, length 56 feet, and breadth 13 feet, 
as well as ten lighters. The Heide family purchased the vessel ( Wilmington Star , July 
31, 1870, May 11, 1874, January 5, March 16, 1879). 



Daniels Boatyard (Smithville and Bald Head Island, 1875 - 1876) 
At Smithville on January 20, 1869, the boat manufactory, three boats, and all the tools 
of Daniels and Leher burned. The boatyard was likely rebuilt, as at least five years later 
Enoch Daniels was still building boats at Smithville. Daniels built the pilot boat Rosa 
Scarborough in late 1874 for Messrs. Bowen & Burriss of Smithville. In January 1876 
Daniels constructed at his yard on Bald Head Island, another pilot boat, the Henry 
Westermann. The pilot boat was 41 feet in length of keel, 16 feet 8 inches in width of 
beam, and 5 feet depth of hold. A third pilot boat, the Addie, may also have been built 
by Daniels in 1885. This vessel measured 82 feet long, 19 feet wide, and drew 9 or 10 
feet of water ( Wilmington Journal , January 21, 1869; Wilmington Star , January 26, 
1875, January 8, February 2, 1876; Wilmington Weekly Star . February 27, 1885). 



Blossom & Evans Boat and Repair Yard (ca. 1879) 

In April 1879 the "Empire Marine Sectional Dock," under construction at the Blossom 
and Evans boatyard was the focus of attention for many local Wilmington inhabitants. 
When completed, the floating dry dock was comprised of six sections, each 33 feet 
long by 70 feet wide. Each section had watertight compartments, with tanks on both 
sides 19 feet above the deck. While afloat, the first constructed section drew only 24 
inches of water without ballast. The dry dock was capable of lifting a vessel with 240 



223 



feet of keel. By September the third section of the dock was about to be launched when 
it turned over. The accident, caused by a shift in the ballast, delayed the launch a week 
( Wilmington Star , April 8, 15, May 28, September 13, 1879). 



Northrop's Mill Boatyard (ca. 1879 - 1906) 
Garcia Boatyard (ca. 1890s - 1906) 

Boatbuilding may have begun at the Northrop Mill yard between Queen and Castle 
Streets west of Surry Street in 1879 when S. G. Northrop built a catamaran called the 
Banana. Emanuel Garcia later constructed ships at this location. Historian Bill Reaves 
reports that Garcia arrived in Smithville in 1881, where he built many fine boats but 
moved during the early 1890s to Wilmington and constructed vessels at Northrop's Mill 
(Reaves 1978:111). 

In 1894 Garcia built the steam yacht Bessie May. It measured 47 feet length of keel 
and 62 feet overall and was equipped with a steel boiler and brass propeller. The 
builder stated that the boat would make 15 knots an hour ( Wilmington Dispatch , March 
29, 1894). What may be a second Bessie May, 55 feet in length, and 9 feet in beam 
was reported to have been built by Garcia in June 1898 for parties in Port Royal, South 
Carolina. In early 1898 Garcia built a "substantial sloop" of 70 feet in length and about 
18 feet in beam. The sloop was to run between Wilmington and Lockwood's Folly 
carrying cypress timber and shingles from Green Swamp in Brunswick County 
( Wilmington Semi-Weekly Messenger , March 29, 1898; Wilmington Dispatch , June 16, 
1898). 

Garcia built and launched the yacht Vitesse in early 1895. The sloop-rigged yacht was 
20 feet in length, 9V 2 feet in beam, and constructed after the drawings of a Baltimore 
yacht ( Wilmington Messenger , April 7, 1895). During 1896 Emanuel Garcia built the 
steam launch Almont for use by "Messrs. Powers, Gibbs & Co., to be run . . . between 
this city and their fertilizer factory, about four miles up the river." The boat measured 36 
feet long, had a 25-horsepower engine, and was said to be able to accommodate about 
twenty-five persons when loaded. The vessel was launched from Northrop's Mill. In 
April 1897, a yacht built by Garcia said to be a "clipper" belonging to a Lieutenant 
Moore, underwent repainting and an overhaul at the Custom House. The yacht, known 
as the Nixie, or Nexie, was about 25 feet overall, with an 8-foot beam. Described as a 
"handsomely finished in natural wood" and varnished, the yacht carried over 175 yards 
of canvas ( Wilmington Star . November 27, 1896; Wilmington Dispatch , March 11, April 
27, 1897). 

In addition to steam yachts such as the Bessie May or the Boss, Garcia also 
constructed at least two whaleboats. One of the whaleboats was a double-ender 
clinker-built made of juniper with ash gunwale strips, galvanized locks, painter ring, and 
a copper-sheathed keel and rudder. The dimensions of the vessel were 22 feet 6 
inches overall and 4 feet 6 inches in beam. The other boat, a dinghy of juniper and ash, 



224 



measured 15. feet in length ( Wilmington Dispatch . October 28, 1897; Wilmington 
Messenger , October 29, 1897). 

Emanuel Garcia's experience as a boatbuilder also included sailing vessels, 
particularly sharpies. Garcia built one sharpie-rigged yacht for Messrs. Worth of 
Wilmington and launched the yacht on August 25, 1898, from the Northrop Mill yard. 
The Frolic, described as "a handsome two-masted sharpie," was not a very large boat 
but had a large capacity. It measured 45 feet in length and had 12 1 /4 feet breadth of 
beam, with a depth of between 3 and 4 feet. The boat had a large cabin with plenty of 
berths and other conveniences for passengers. It reportedly took Garcia several years 
to complete work on the Frolic ( Wilmington Star , August 26, 1898; Wilmington 
Dispatch , August 26, 1898). 

Garcia constructed for a James S. Worth, at his boathouse on Surry Street a new 
naptha launch, the Josephine, during the summer of 1899. The Josephine was 
fashioned out of white cedar, juniper, and ash and powered with a 4-horsepower 
engine "of the latest model." It had a length of 27 feet, 5V 2 feet beam, and drew 2 feet of 
water. It was said that its deck was "nicely finished, being highly polished with all 
fastenings of brass, and is to be shaded by a pretty awning." The boat would 
accommodate fifteen passengers ( Wilmington Messenger May 16, 1899). 

One contemporary account relates the fact that Emanuel Garcia "probably constructed 
more pleasure and river commercial boats for the lower Cape Fear than any other man 
now living." The success of Garcia's boatbuilding business probably prompted him to 
hire contractor Thad F. Tyler in 1899 to build a new boat factory for him at the foot of 
Queen Street. The building was single frame, 20 x 80 feet in size, and had a metal roof 
and ventilator. Garcia equipped the factory with the latest and most up-to-date 
machinery for the construction of fast sailing yachts and other craft required by the 
trade of Wilmington ( Wilmington Weekly Star, September 15, 1899). Within two weeks 
Tyler reported that the new boat factory for Garcia was "up and work is advancing." A 
month later work was completed on the 80 x 30 foot structure ( Wilmington Dispatch 
September 25, October 23, 1899). 

Garcia constructed boats at that location for only a year. He died of consumption at his 
home, 605 Surry Street, in early February 1901 ( Wilmington Star , February 5, 1901). 
Five years after Garcia's death, Jim Brinkley built a yacht of juniper for the Sheephead 
Fishing Club at the Northrop boatyard. That vessel, named the Sheephead, measured 
1 8 feet 6 inches in length with a beam of 4 feet 6 inches. The boat carried 50 feet of 
canvas ( Wilmington Star . April 29, 1906; Wilmington Messenger , April 29, 1906). 



Taylor's Steam Saw Mill Boatyard (ca. 1880 - 1889) 

J. W. Taylor's Steam Sawmill was located at the foot of Walnut Street on the north side, 
as shown on the 1884 Sanborn map. Taylor may have been the individual that 
constructed a flat at the sawmill in 1880. The steam tug Harold towed the flat south to 



225 



Charleston for use as a navigational improvement ( Wilmington Star , October 2, 1880). 
In April 1882 the Corps of Engineers made arrangements with Taylor to build two 
scows or lighters for dredging use on the Cape Fear river below Wilmington 
( Wilmington Star , April 28, 1882). Two months later, G. H. Ferris, contractor for the 
dredging of the river, also engaged the Taylor mill and boatyard for the construction of 
a steam dredge and mud scow. The specifications for the steam dredge Vim were 90 
feet by 36 feet on the deck and a depth of 9 feet. Measurements on the scow were 90 
feet in length, 24 feet wide, and 9 feet deep, with a capacity of 250 yards. Ferris' own 
employees completed work on the vessels ( Wilmington Star , June 2, 17, 1882). 

During the summer of 1882, J. W. Taylor purchased the old movable cotton press 
Davenport, constructed by J. D. Stanley of Wilmington. That vessel was converted into 
a steam lighter and furnished with a set of double engines and boilers and other 
equipment to make a complete floating sawmill ( Wilmington Star , July 13, 1882). In 
August a water scow had been completed at the Taylor mill yard. The scow, equipped 
with a tank 19 by 42 feet in size and 5 feet 9 inches deep, was used to furnish fresh 
water to tugs and dredges operating near the mouth of the Cape Fear River. The 
launch of the large scow came on October 12, 1882 ( Wilmington Star , August 1, 
October 12, 1882). 

In addition to the dredges, scows and flats generally constructed at the Taylor mill yard, 
the construction of a sharpie was also undertaken in 1882. Fire destroyed a "large and 
handsome sharpie," being built for William Ellis at the yard in December ( Wilmington 
Star , September 24, December 28, 1882, July 20, 1883). Although no further reference 
to ship building at the Taylor yard have been found, the Taylor shipyard is shown as 
late as 1889 on the Sanborn map on the river between Nun and Church Streets. 



Evans and Skinner Marine Railway (ca. 1880 - 1901) 
S. W. Skinner and Son Shipyard and Marine Railway 
Louis H. Skinner Shipyard and Marine Railway (1 901 -1911) 
Cape Fear Marine Railway Company (1911 - 1918) 
Broadfoot Iron Works (1919 - 1960) 
Barr Boatyard (ca. 1930s - 1960s) 

After the Civil War, Capt. Samuel W. Skinner became associated with the Cape Fear 
Steamboat Line ( Wilmington City Directory . 1866-1867). By 1879 Captain Skinner 
conducted a salvage expedition to recover a steamboat sunk in the Brunswick River 
during the war. The first ship construction occurred the following year. In April 1880 
Captain Skinner, in association with Henry C. Cassidey, built a little steamer at the 
marine railway of Evans and Skinner, located on the riverfront between Nun and Castle 
Streets. The steamer measured 50 feet in length and 12 feet in width. It was flat- 
bottomed and drew only 7 or 8 inches of water. The Bladen Steamboat Company 
conveyed passengers on their steamer to and from Wrightsville Beach ( Wilmington 
Star , August 16, 1879, April 20, June 3, 1880). 



226 



In early 1881 .the first of three oyster sharpies was under construction at the Skinner 
marine railway shipyard. The sharpie, said to be "a model of strength and durability," 
was constructed under the supervision of Capt. Robert H. Beery. The remaining two 
sharpies were to be completed under the supervision of the owner, Mr. A. Thomas of 
New Haven, Connecticut ( Wilmington Star , January 25, February 6, March 15, 1881). 

In April 1881 a portion of the old ironclad Raleigh, built in Wilmington at the Cassidey 
shipyard, was brought to Captain Skinner's shipyard. The piece of wreckage proved to 
be the front section of turret ( Wilmington Star , April 6, 1881). Another vessel to be 
raised by Captain Skinner in 1881 was the steamer Governor Worth which snagged 
and sank in the Cape Fear River near Council's Bluffs above Fayetteville earlier that 
year. The Governor Worth, when brought to Wilmington for repairs on the marine 
railway at Skinner's yard, had considerable damage to the upper works. The hull and 
machinery were only slightly damaged. Repairs began in April and were completed by 
July 1881. The Governor Worth had previously made runs on the Cape Fear River 
between Fayetteville and Wilmington ( Wilmington Star , April 8, 12, June 3, July 19, 
1881). 

The steam dredge E. V. White of the Cape Fear River improvement fleet was on Capt. 
S. W. Skinner's marine railway in June 1882 being sheathed with galvanized iron as a 
protection for the hull ( Wilmington Star , June 13, 1882). In April 1883 the new barge or 
"gondola" built for Sheriff Manning was completed. Captain Skinner launched the 
pleasure boat on April 22, 1883. It was 40 feet long and 12 feet wide, with a cabin 15 
by 9 feet ( Wilmington Star , April 22, 1883). On the first day of August 1884, the pilot 
boat Grade and the schooner Mary Wheeler were on the ways at Captain Skinner's 
shipyard for overhauling and painting. The marine railway had undergone 
reconstruction over the past three months and was again in use. From its foundation 
throughout new irons and cradles formed the rebuilt railway. A marine railway at this 
location is shown on a 1884 Sanborn map. An 1888 account describes the marine 
railway as being 175 feet long and capable of supporting a craft of just over 200 feet in 
length. There were two engines of an aggregate of 2,500 horsepower in use. The first 
vessel to be taken out of the water after the construction work was the steamer Wave. 
At his yard Skinner had recently built a new lighter for use by the steamer Bladen 
( Wilmington Weekly Star . August 1, 1884; Sanborn 1884:6; UAU files). 

In early 1885 Skinner constructed the self-propelling steam hoisting machine and pile- 
driver Hercules at his shipyard. A hammer weighing 2,500 pounds for driving and a 
large steam pump for sinking piles in the sand equipped the vessel ( Wilmington Star , 
February 4, 1885). Captain Skinner had under construction in May 1886 a new Cape 
Fear River steamboat for the Bladen Steamboat Company ( Wilmington Star , May 18, 
1886). 

During 1887 Skinner built the passenger craft barge Carolina, a government scow, and 
a large lighter for the steamer Murchison. New ship construction also included a 
steamboat to be used between Fayetteville and Wilmington. When completed, the 



227 



steamer measured 110 feet in length and 18 feet in beam ( Wilmington Star , August 12, 
October 15, 1887; Wilmington Weekly Star , November 4, 1887). In 1888 the following 
vessels were repaired at the marine railway: the schooner Roger Moore, the pilot boat 
Louise F. Harper, the schooner R. S. Graham, the tug Alexander Jones, and the 
British-owned barque Maury and steamship Parklands ( Wilmington Star , July 22, 1887, 
May 29, 31, June 12, August 29, September 8, 14, November 23, 1888). 

In July and August 1889 a large scow was built for R. Moore and Co. at Captain 
Skinner's shipyard for use on the river improvements by the government. The scow was 
96 feet in length, 14 feet wide, and 8 feet in depth. Capt. Benjamin Beery supervised 
the work on the vessel. In late November a new steamboat for use on the Pee Dee 
River was also under construction. The steam tug Blanche, steamer Bessie, 
government tug James T. Easton, yacht Lorna, dredge boat Alabama, and German 
barque Knudsvig received repairs at the yard during the year ( Wilmington Messenger , 
April 19, July 30, 31, August 31, 1889; Wilmington Star , March 2, 7, November 26, 
1889). 

A small steam launch, the Waccamaw No. 1, was built at Captain Skinner's shipyard in 
January 1890 for government work in South Carolina, and a large scow was launched 
from the Skinner shipyard on August 2, 1890. The scow, or barge, was built for the 
Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley Railroad Company to carry six railcars across the river from 
Point Peter to the city. A second new scow built by Skinner went into use in November 
( Wilmington Star , July 17, 23; August 2, 3 and November 12, 1890). Later that year the 
S. W. Skinner Company received a contract from the Spanish-American Iron Company 
of Cuba to build two large scows and a big crib. The two scows were each 72 feet in 
length and 24 feet wide. All three were of heavy lumber and treated with creosote. In 
February 1891 the steam tug Colin towed the scows to a port in Cuba ( Wilmington 
Messenger , September 19, 1890; Wilmington Star , February 17, 1891). 

In August 1891 a writer for a local newspaper described in flowery verse the launching 
of a mud scow from the Skinner shipyard by saying "There was no bottle of rarest 
vintage broken over the bow by a charming damsel amid the shouts of thunderous 
multitudes. Nor was heathen mythology ransacked for nomenclatural christening. . . ." 
This "buoyant as a duck" scow had dimensions of 100 feet in length, 24 feet width, and 
9 feet in depth ( Wilmington Messenger , August 29, 1891). At the same time the scow 
was launched, the Skinner shipyard had on its ways an oyster stemwheel steamboat. 
The vessel, under construction for the Omeler Oyster Company, measured 100 feet in 
length, 22 feet wide, and 5 feet deep ( Wilmington Messenger . August 29, 1 891 ). 

Little information is known about shipbuilding activities at the Skinner shipyard during 
1893 or 1894. This lack of information is supported by the 1893 Sanborn map which 
shows the S. W. Skinner & Co's shipyard as "Not in Operation" (Sanborn 1893:11). 

Work appears to have begun again at the shipyard in 1895. On July 30 Captain 
Skinner launched a large lighter built by him for the Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley 



228 



Railroad Company for use in transporting railcars across the river. Earlier that year the 
small schooner Chief, owned by Samuel's son, Louis Skinner, sank at its wharf at 
Captain Skinners shipyard ( Wilmington Messenger , July 31, 1895; Wilmington Star , 
March 26, July 31, 1895). The steam yacht Pastime, owned by H. G. Latimer, was upon 
the shipways of the Skinner shipyard in December 1895 for overhauling. In 1897 the 
British schooner Dove, the three-masted schooner Anne Stevens, and the burnt 
Swedish barkentine Verdandi were on the ways at Skinner's yard for repairs 
( Wilmington Messenger , December 7, 1895; Wilmington Evening Dispatch , January 25, 
February 19, 1897). 

During late 1899 and most of 1900, Capt. Samuel Skinner was engaged in floating 
vessels cast ashore on the Florida coast following a hurricane ( Wilmington Dispatch . 
September 9, 1899, June 15, 1900). One of the vessels that underwent repair work at 
the shipyard early in the year was the schooner S. P. Hitchcock. The government 
inspection boat Mary Lily and the barge Maria Dolorer were other vessels repaired at 
the Skinner shipyard in 1900 ( Wilmington Star , June, 2, November 9, 1900; Wilmington 
Evening Dispatch , March 17, 1900). 

Captain Skinner gave notice in October 1901 that he had transferred to his son, Louis 
H. Skinner, his business at the marine railway and of repairing vessels, wharf building, 
pile driving, and wrecking. After twenty-five years Captain Skinner left the ship repair 
business. His son, Louis, who had been a partner for several years, thereupon 
conducted the shipbuilding and repair work at the leased Skinner yard ( Wilmington 
Messeng er, October 24, 1901). In early 1902 the schooner Mary L Crosby was on the 
ways at Louis Skinner's shipyard receiving a new mainmast ( Wilmington Dispatch , 
February 15, 1902). 

Captain Skinner may have kept a hand in the shipbuilding business as late as 1903. 
Early in that year he built three scows at the foot of Queen Street. The following year 
he purchased the business of Cumming and Swinson and began copper repair and 
manufacturing under the new firm's name of Carolina Copper Works. Captain Skinner 
continued with that firm until his death three years later on November 5, 1907 
( Wilmington Star . January 6, 1903, October 14, 1904; Wilmington Dispatch . November 
6, 1907). 

Two steamers went on the Louis H. Skinner shipways in early 1904 for repairs-the 
Highlander and the Wilmington. In late May 1905 the new pilot boat Calypso, a yacht 57 
feet long and 17 feet wide, was pulled upon the ways at the yard to have a copper 
bottom attached. The first steel-hulled boat ever constructed in the state was the 
steamer C. W. Lyon, launched from the Skinner shipyard on November 13, 1905. The 
steamer was 125 feet long, 25 feet in the beam, with a stemwheel and capacity for fifty 
passengers. Skinner repaired at his yard a broken propeller on the steamer Charles M. 
Whitlock in January 1906 ( Wilmington Star , January 31, 1904; Wilmington Messenger , 
June 2, November 14, 1905, January 26, 1906). 



229 



Louis Skinner announced on November 20, 1906, that he had purchased the waterfront 
property between Nun and Church Streets used by the Skinner Marine Railway and 
Shipyard that he and his father had leased. Skinner purchased the yard from the heirs 
of the Grainger estate with the intention of constructing a modern shipyard on the 
premises. Two scows are known to have been constructed there in late 1907 for the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Nothing of the Skinner shipyard remains ( Wilmington 
Star , November 21, 1906; Wilmington Dispatch , November 20, 1906). 

The government tug Coquette, one of several tugs used for improvements on the Cape 
Fear River, was at Skinner's marine yard in early 1910 for overhauling prior to the 
season's work. The pleasure yacht Courier was placed in dry dock at the shipyard for a 
new rudder the following month ( Wilmington Dispatch , January 12, February 7, 1910). 
The number of ships requiring repair work exceeded the available facilities by 1911. 
Several interested ship masters, owners and merchants of the town suggested that the 
ship repair capabilities provided in Wilmington be improved. 

Deemed the only suitable place for a larger and more modern marine railway, Louis 
Skinner offered the property for sale to the city in May 1911. One effort made to 
improving and enlarging the facilities was the purchase of adjoining property. In 
September 1911 Charles W. Worth, working with Louis Skinner, purchased the 
property of the Darby estate on Surry Street, between Church and Castle, which 
adjoined the Skinner shipyard providing nearly 600 feet of waterfront. Two months 
later, on November 17, 1911, the Cape Fear Marine Railway Company was chartered 
with the goal of building a new 1,000-ton railway on the now expanded shipyard 
property. The principal incorporators of the new company were: James Sprunt, Louis 
Skinner, H. C. McQueen, C. W. Worth, J. W. Harper, and three others. Work on 
constructing the larger marine railway and seven new buildings, a machine shop, 
foundry, blacksmith shop, boiler rooms, powerhouse, pattern room, and an office began 
in February 1912 between Church and Castle Streets. The Cape Fear Marine Railway 
Company conducted ship-repair operations at the site from 1913 to 1918. The following 
year Broadfoot Iron Works purchased the yard. The Broadfoot company was very 
active in the local ship-repair business until after World War II. During the war it 
converted large fishing vessels into navy minesweepers and machined drive shafts for 
Liberty ships. From the 1930s to the 1960s George W. Barr repaired small river boats, 
tugs, and dredge tenders at the yard. Barr specialized in the repair of steam engines 
and early diesel engines ( Wilmington Star . May 20, September 13, 1911, February 28, 
1912; Wilmington Evening Dispatch . November 20, 1906, November 18, 1911; Dunn 
n.d:4-5; Per. Comm. Charles Wilson, June 25, 1994; USACOE 1948c). 



Evans Shipyard (ca. 1888 - 1891) 

During the spring of 1888 two sections of a dry dock constructed at the Evans Shipyard 
sank while under tow by the steamer Scythian, bound for Port au Prince, Haiti. Two new 
sections of the dry dock were under construction at the Evans shipyard by October to 
replace those lost at sea. During April, Thomas Evans was also at work rebuilding the 



230 



U.S. steamer Oklahoma, used by Captain Bixby of the Corps of Enginners for river and 
harbor work. The old hull of the Oklahoma was to be used as a steam yacht being 
constructed by Evans for himself ( Wilmington Star , April 20, 1880, March 30, 1888, 
October 17, 1888; Wilmington Messenger . April 19, 1888). 

In May 1889 Thomas Evans added a ship railway at the old dry dock yards for use in 
shipbuilding and repair work. The steam tug Col. Wm. P. Craighill was then on the ways 
being rebuilt for use as a harbor tug ( Wilmington Messenger , May 8, 1889). In June 
1891 Evans constructed at his shipyard in the northern part of the city the steamboat 
Emma Gleaves. The vessel measured 38 feet in length, 12 feet beam, and had a 
propelling power of 7 1 / 2 miles per hour. The steamboat was intended for use to tow flats 
on New River for the New River Oyster Co. ( Wilmington Messenger , June 7, 1 891 ). 



Heide's Boatyard (1881) 

Henry H. Heide built a sharpie known as the Roger Moore at Wilmington during 1881. 
The following year W. E. Davis & Son purchased the vessel, overhauled it, and placed 
it in service as a fish boat. Mr. Heide graduated from Eastman Commercial College, 
Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1878 and was the son of Rudolph E. Heide, Danish vice- 
consul, and owner of the ship brokerage Heide & Co. ( Wilmington Star . October 25, 
1878, March 31, 1882; Wilmington Messenger . June 18, 1895). 



Wilson Sawmill Boatyard (1883) 

A. Y. Wilson opened his saw & planning mill in late 1882 between Dawson and Wright 
streets. The mill appears on Gray's city map (1872) and on an inset of the 1884 
Sanborn map. In early 1883 Sheriff Manning had constructed at the Wilson sawmill a 
"fishing and hunting boat or barge." The completed boat measured 30 feet long and 12 
feet wide. It had a well-equipped cabin 15 by 9 feet. The boat was oar propelled, but 
towing was the general means of moving the vessel ( Wilmington Star , October 8, 1882, 
January 7, 1883; Gray 1872; Sanborn 1884:6). 



Summerell Boatyard (1883) 

George M. SummereH's boatyard was located adjacent to J. W. Taylor's saw and 
planing mill in Wilmington near the foot of Walnut Street. In 1883 Summerell received a 
government contract to build five scows. One of the scows Summerell built was 80 feet 
in length and 28 feet wide. The additional four scows were 60 feet in length and 16 feet 
wide and 4 feet in depth. The five scows were to be completed in forty-five days. Two of 
the scows were launched in early September, and the last was completed on October 
11, 1883. Taylor's sawmill appears on the 1884 Sanborn maps ( Wilmington Star , 
August 21, October 10, 1883). 



231 



Government Shipyard and Marine Railway - Queen Street (ca. 1884 - 1910) 
U.S. Engineer Yard - Eagles Island (1 91 - present) 

In December 1884 the government steam tug Easton was hauled out of the Cape Fear 
River at the foot of Queen Street to undergo extensive repairs at the government 
shipyard. At the same location Capt. Henry Bacon, who had supervised the closing of 
New Inlet, constructed two large flats ( Wilmington Star , December 24, 1884). In April 
1896 the U.S. snag boat H. G. Wright was hauled upon the marine railway at the 
government yard for repairs under foreman Robert L. Robbins. A large scow 
constructed at the government yard was launched on February 10, 1898. The scow 
was 84 feet 8 inches in length, 26 feet 3 inches in width, and 10 feet 3 inches deep. It 
was capable of carrying 450 tons of mud and sand removed from the river by the 
dredge Ajax. The Government yard appears on the 1898 Sanborn map at the river 
shoreline in front of the Chadbourn Lumber Company. The dredge Ajax was in the yard 
receiving a new hull cast in October 1900 ( Wilmington Messenger , April 7, 1896, 
February 11, 1898; Sanborn 1898:16; Wilmington Star , October 31, 1900). 

When the Chadbourn Sash Door & Lumber Company completed construction on a new 
mill in January 1908, the Government yard was moved from between Queen and 
Wooster Streets one block farther south. The following year plans were implemented 
for moving the yard across the river to Eagles Island. The clamshell dredge Ajax began 
dredging for extensive wharves at the new property on the west side of the river nearly 
opposite Northrop's Mill on October 29, 1909. The new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
site was approximately 800 feet square and had the addition of wharves, ways, and 
buildings ( Wilmington Star , December 10, 1908, October 28, 1909; Wilmington 
Dispatch , October 28, 1909). An early 1909 Army Corps of Engineers map shows the 
proposed location of the engineer yard. The Sanborn maps for the following year show 
the government yard at the foot of Queen Street (USACOE 1909; Sanborn 1910:16). 

Work on filling in the new government docks on Eagles Island, opposite Castle Street, 
was completed in September 1910. Between 35,000 and 40,000 cubic yards of material 
was removed from the river by the government dredges Ajax and Hercules from slightly 
downstream of the yard and loaded on scows. After being towed into position, powerful 
pumps aboard the Jacksonville then deposited the material from the scows into the 
300-foot-long by 500-foot-wide docks. The following week the Corps removed the 
machinery and buildings from the old government yard at the foot of Queen Street and 
transferred it to the new Eagles Island yard ( Wilmington Dispatch , September 14, 
1910). 



Wessell Boatyard (ca. 1889 - 1902) 

Charles H. Wessell operated a boatyard on Water Street at the Cape Fear and Yadkin 
Valley Railroad depot in the northern part of the city. Wessell launched the new 
steamer Anna from his yard on May 17, 1889. Built by Sterling Sailing for Wessell, the 
Anna, also referred to as the Annie, was used as a freight and towboat on the Cape 



232 



Fear and North East rivers. The steamer measured 75 feet in length and 16 feet in 
width. The Anna burned and sank at the city on October 15, 1891, was raised and 
repaired but burned again in late February 1899 ( Wilmington Messenger . May 8, 18, 
1889; Wilmington Weekly Star . October 16, 1891: Wilmington Star . March 1, 1899). On 
May 17, 1898, a 100-ton deck-lighter was launched from the Wessell boatyard. The 
lighter was intended for use in moving phosphate rock and shingle blocks ( Wilmington 
Stac, May 17, 1898). 

At his wharf at the foot of Ann Street, A. D. Wessell, the brother of Charles, completed 
construction of a "excursion barge" in June 1900. Wide windows and comfortable seats 
covered the 350-passenger-capacity barge. The tug Imperial towed the barge on 
excursions ( Wilmington Messenger , June 19, 1900). Capt. Charles Wessell spent most 
of his life in the towing and lighterage business but also continued occasionally to 
construct vessels until at least 1902. That year Wessell planned the construction of a 
new passenger and towboat. Wessell retired from the business in 1917, selling his 
interest to the established Stone & Company ( Wilmington Star . November 13, 1902; 
Wilmington Dispatch , August 24, 1917). 



Piver Boatyard (1897) 

The new ferryboat Virginia Taylor made its appearance on the Cape Fear River on 
October 19, 1897. The ferryboat, named for a daughter of Col. Walker Taylor, was built 
by E. J. Piver, of Southport. The new vessel, constructed of red bay, white oak, juniper, 
and ash, could carry twenty-five passengers ( Wilmington Star T October 19, 1897; 
Reaves, 1990:94) 



Otto's Boatyard (1898) 

in February 1898 at the foot of Walnut Street Capt. Robert Otto began construction of a 
two-masted sharpie called the Annie Otto, named for his wife. The sharpie would be 
used for guests of the Seashore Hotel at Wrightsville Beach. The Annie Otto was 35 
feet in length, with a depth of 26 inches in the center and 31 inches at the bow and 
carried a 10-foot centerboard. The pleasure craft was capable of carrying forty 
passengers ( Wilmington Messeng er, February 24, 25, 1898). 



Whitlock Ship Repair Yard (ca. 1898 - 1904) 
Cumming's Mill Boatyard (1904 - 1910) 

The steamer General Thorn is known to have had its boiler fixed at the repair yard of 
Mr. Charles M. Whitlock during the summer of 1898. The 1898 and 1904 Sanborn 
maps show that Charles Whitlock had a warehouse on the southwest corner of Dock 
and Water Streets. In 1904 Preston Cumming added a boatbuilding department to his 
mill at the same location as the Whitlock ship-repair facility. The 1884 Sanborn map 
shows that Mr. Cumming maintained a gristmill at that location; by 1904 the mill is 
shown as a planing mill. The main feature of the facility was the naptha and steam- 



233 



launch building. Also maintained at the mill were a rowboat and sailboat building 
( Wilmington Evening Dispatch , April 14, 1904; Sanborn 1884:2 and 1904:13). There is 
no evidence that any vessels were constructed at this location. In 1910 the facility was 
used as a machine shop ( Wilmington Star , June 1, 1898; Sanborn 1898:11, 1904:12 
and 1910:13). 



Southport Pilots Boatyard and Marine Railway (ca. 1902 - 1905) 
In 1902 a small marine railway was built below the pilots' wharf at Southport for the 
repair of vessels of 60 tons and under ( Wilmington Messenger , May 20, 1902). The 
Nan Patterson, built by five Southport pilots in September 1905, was intended for use 
as a piloting and fishing boat. The Southport Fire Committee, however, may have 
purchased the Nan Patterson to be used as a fireboat. The vessel measured 51 feet 
long and 12 feet in beam. The vessel was equipped with a 27-horsepower gasoline 
engine as well as sails. 



Wilmington Iron Works 

Wilmington Marine Railway and Shipyard (ca. 1905 - 1924) 

The Wilmington Iron Works, a fixture of the city since 1856, stated that it would enter 
the boatbuilding business on a full-time scale in 1905, although actual ship construction 
may have not begun until 1911, the year in which a new marine railway was built. The 
Wilmington Iron Works purchased in 1911 the site for the new Wilmington Marine 
Railway on Eagles Island, nearly opposite Dock Street. The property, 730 feet by 1,000 
feet of deep water frontage, was located near the government yards and ran in a 
southerly direction. The site of ihe Wilmington Marine Railway was the same as the old 
Beery Shipyard, built in 1846. The Iron Works put into shape as an auxiliary plant just 
south of the launch ways, one of the marine railways operated at the Beery facility. 
Small-sized vessels were hauled out on the the older railway. The property, partly 
within the corporate limits of the city, was south of the adjoining Diamond Steamboat & 
Wrecking Company land. The Wilmington Iron Works constructed a wharf along nearly 
the whole length of the site ( Wilmington Dispatch , October 22, 1916). 

The site for the marine railway, or "railway dry dock," was the most eligible along the 
entire harbor front. Construction of the Wilmington Marine Railway began in October 
1911 by H. I. Crandall & Sons of Boston, experienced railway contractors. Operations 
at the railway, capable of hauling out a vessel up to 2,000 tons, began in May 1912. 
The facility could also repair two schooners at a time, as well as perform iron repair 
work at the auxiliary plant ( Wilmington Star . September 28, October 22, 1911). The 
following newspaper account written in 1912 describes the method used to haul 
vessels out of the river for repairs: 

The vessel is guided into [a] cradle and when in an exact straight line and 
her bow is between guide posts, also protruding from the water, the 
'following blocks' are pulled close in to the sides of the craft and she is 



234 



then ready for the 'tall timber'. A signal is given to the engineer at the 
power station; large gears are set to work and slowly the 'cradle' with its 
mammoth burden is seen to approach the ways and gradually lift itself 
from the water ( Wilmington Star . July 14, 1912). 

The first vessel to go upon the railway was the tug Reliance, which was scraped, 
repainted, and have its rudder repaired on May 11, 1912. The tug was soon followed by 
work on the steamer Wilmington. Within the next few months of service, the Wilmington 
Marine Railway had worked on the schooner Fortuna, 1,600 tons; the Greenleaf 
Johnson, 1,000 tons; the schooner Stephen G. Loud, 1,000 tons; and several other 
large vessels ( Wilmington Star , January 13, May 12, July 14, 1912; Wilmington 
Dispatch , October 2, 16, 1911, November 21, 1912). 

Little is known about the shipbuilding venture until 1915, although the company had 
previously built the steamer C.W. Lyon for the Tar Heel Steamboat Company at its 
location on the east side of the river ( Wilmington Messeng er. November 14, 1905). 
About June 1915 the Wilmington Iron Works began construction of a new river 
steamer, the A. P. Hurt, for the Planter's Steamboat Company, and planned to hav it 
ready by October. The shallow-draft 100-ton A.P. Hurt was intended for use on the 
Cape Fear River between Wilmington and Fayetteville ( Wilmington Evening Dispatch , 
August 21, 1915). The Wilmington Marine Railway Company is noted on the 1915 
Sanborn map. A large and small marine railway are shown. 

The "new industry" continued in 1916 when Capt. Edward P. Bailey, president of the 
Wilmington Iron Works, received a contract for the company to build two schooners at 
its marine railway on Eagles Island ( Wilmington Star , May 18, 1916; Wilmington 
Dispatch , May 17, 1916). The new schooners, originally described as being 238 feet 
from stem to stern and about 50 feet in width, were of the "bald-top" type. The vessels 
were constructed simultaneously of North Carolina long-leaf yellow pine with decking 
and spars of Oregon pine. The 2,000-ton schooners were built for a New York firm 
( Wilmington Evening Dispatch , July 11, 1916, January 2, 1917). 

The keels to the two large four-masted schooners were laid in July 1916 under the 
supervision of John Ryan, the regular shipbuilder and repairer of the Wilmington Iron 
Works ( Wilmington Dispatch . June 11, 1916). By late December 1916 work on the 
schooners was barely under way. The sternpost and stem were fitted and all the frames 
were in place by early 1917. The still unnamed schooners were to each be auxiliary 
powered by two 400-horsepower Winto semidiesel engines ( Wilmington Dispatch , 
December 28, 1916, January 2, 1917). On May 18, 1917, by mutual agreement, 
completion of the vessel was turned over to the Arthur P. S. Naul, along with assistance 
of a master builder, Capt. Nelson Ingalls, and a naval architect, Andrew Gilmour. It was 
at that time that the Wilmington Marine Railway boatyard began to be referred to locally 
as the "Naul shipyard" ( Wilmington Star . June 9, October 7, 1917; Wilmington 
Dispatch . October 7, 1917). 



235 



By June 19-17 the two auxiliary schooners were caulked and ready to be launched 
( Wilmington Star , June 9, October 7, 1917). The name of the vessel was still withheld, 
although its name was to be taken from Long Island Indian legend meaning "sweet 
water" ( Wilmington Star . October 7, 1917; Wilmington Star , January 22, 1975). When 
the blocks were knocked out at about 4:30 p.m. the ship would not move down the 
ways. The tug Navassa was brought in to pull the schooner into the water but failed by 
breaking its cable twice. The launching was postponed until the following day. At 
shortly before 5:00 P.M. on October 10, the first of the two schooners was gracefully 
launched into the Cape Fear River ( Wilmington Star , October 11, 1917). At last the 
name of the schooner was released-the Hoppauge; one local writer claimed that it was 
"the city's first ship in a century," while another stated that it was the "first Wilmington 
built schooner to be wedded to the waters in the past half century" ( Wilmington Star , 
October 8, 14 1917). The Hoppauge was afloat only a short time before it fell victim to a 
German submarine in early 1918 ( Wilmington Star , June 7, 1918; Wilmington Dispatch , 
June 9, 1918). 

The second schooner, the Commack, slipped from the ways of the shipyard into the 
river opposite the foot of Orange Street on March 12, 1918. The launching of the 
Commack was filmed and the resulting movie was distributed and shown throughout 
the nation ( Wilmington Star , March 13, 24 1918). The four-masted vessel ended its 
career when it was wrecked off Sandy Hook in January 1925 ( Wilmington News- 
Dispatch , February 2, 1925). 

With the increase in the size and number of vessels being worked on at the yard, the 
approach to the railway needed to be deepened. During July 1920 the U.S. suction 
dredge Croatan was secured for a few days work to deepen the river for larger boats, 
and in December the dredge Henry Bacon was employed. One of the initial larger 
vessels to take advantage of the improvement to the marine railway facility was the 
concrete freighter J. C. Sawyer. That vessel had the distinction of being the first 
concrete ship hauled upon a Wilmington railway for maintenance ( Wilmington Star , 
February 3, 1917; Wilmington Dispatch , July 21 , September 1 3, December 1 9, 1 920). 

In 1923 the Wilmington Iron Works secured a contract for the construction of a steel 
barge. The barge measured 60 feet long, 22 feet wide, and 4 feet deep ( Wilmington 
News , March 29, 1923). That contract was immediately followed by another for the 
construction of three other steel barges for the United States engineering department. 
One of the barges was constructed to be used to replace the wooden hull of the snag 
boat General Wright. The machinery from the old snag boat Contentnea was installed 
in the hull ( Wilmington Evening Dispatch . August 7, 1923). The other two barges were 
used in general district work ( Wilmington News , March 29, 1923). 

The Stone Towing Company purchased in January 1924 the Wilmington Marine 
Railway Company plant on Eagles Island after successfully serving the maritime 
community of Wilmington for several years. Today, only the large and rusted iron gears 



236 



of the machinery used to pull vessels upon the ways are left to be seen ( Wilmington 
Siai, January 24, 1924). 



Gaskill Boatyard (1910) 

In April 1910 Capt. C. D. Maffitt authorized the boatbuilder F. T. Gaskill to construct the 
steam gasoline yacht The Smart Set at the wharves between Princess and Chestnut 
Streets. The trim craft measured 24 feet overall and had an eight foot beam. The boat 
had a seating capacity for twenty-five passengers. The yacht was launched in late April 
or early May ( Wilmington Dispatch . April 22, 1910). 



Hamme Marine Railway (1915 - 1946) 

In early 1915 R. F. Hamme Jr. purchased a tract of land on Eagles Island opposite Ann 
and Nun Street in Wilmington from the Suburban Land and Development Company. 
The ten to fifteen acres of property were located directly adjacent to the south side of 
the Wilmington Marine Railway and Shipyard. Later that year Hamme constructed a 
marine railway on the property for "the repair of all boats from the size of a tug vessel 
down to the smallest craft" (Hall 1980:342; Becton 1918). 

R. F. Hamme and his son, R. F. Hamme Jr. announced on July 23, 1915 construction of 
the new 100-ton marine railway. Work on clearing the property had begun a month 
earlier. The cradle built to hold the ships measured 26 feet wide by 72 feet long, with a 
draft of 8 feet on the rear and 3 feet on the front. It was noted that nothing larger than a 
tugboat could be accommodated on the railway. In addition to the marine railway, a 
large boathouse 80 feet long and 27 feet wide was constructed of corrugated iron 
contained the woodworking machinery and other equipment. By January 1916 the 
boathouse construction was nearly complete. While the boathouse was not yet 
finished, some vessels were repaired upon the marine railway. The railway operated 
with a large hand-powered windlass and could handle small tugs, launches, and 
lighters ( Wilmington Evening Dispatch , July 23, 1915, January 11, 1916; Hall 
1980:342). 

R. F. Hamme petitioned the city council in October 1917 to have the license tax 
reduced on his "miniature marine railway." He stated that it was unfair for him to pay 
the same amount as the larger marine railways which were used to haul out ocean- 
going vessels ( Wilmington Star . October 25, 1917). Whatever the outcome in the city 
council over the tax debate in 1917, R. F. Hamme decided to expand his facility with 
the help of his brother, Fred Hamme. On April 12, 1919, the Hamme brothers 
purchased 100 feet of waterfront property adjoining their marine railway, with the 
purpose of building a larger 500-ton marine railway. Construction of the larger facility 
did not begin until over a year later, however. On the new railway, to be operated by 
electricity, vessels of up to 800 tons and 150 feet in length could be repaired 
( Wilmington Dispatch , September 5, 1920). 



237 



A first was recorded at the Hamme Marine Railway in August 1922. A seaplane was 
hauled completely out of the water upon the railway to have a leak fixed in one of its 
pontoons. During the spring of 1923 the tug Kingston, wrecked at Point Peter, was 
raised and brought to the Hamme marine railway for repairs. The tug had run upon 
submerged pilings in the fog and punched several holes in its bottom ( Wilmington 
Dispatch , August 24, 1922; Wilmington News , March 13, 1923). 

R. F. Hamme purchased a strip of land 150 x 300 feet on Eagles Island, opposite the 
foot of Church Street, where he built a modern residence. The structure was the first 
home built on the island. The Hammes moved into their home, "Edgewater," the 
following summer ( Wilmington Dispatch , August 30, 1923; Wilmington Star , June 1, 
1924). 

The new owners of the stemwheel steamer Thelma brought the vessel to the Hamme 
marine railway in February 1924 to be rebuilt. The steamer had its hull repaired and its 
bow sharpened at the yard, while the Wilmington Iron Works repaired its boiler and 
engines. The Thelma drew 15 inches of water and carried 53 tons of freight and was 
placed on a new run to Fayetteville ( Wilmington Star , February 28, 1924). 

Hamme conveyed his marine railway to J. P. Pretlow on June 2, 1946, and retired from 
the business. Suspiciously, eight days later a blaze of unknown origin swept through 
the Hamme Marine Railway and adjacent Stone Towing Company yard. The damaged 
yard was back in business by December. During that month the twin-screw yacht Wasp, 
used as a sub chaser by the navy during the war, underwent a complete overhaul and 
was lengthened. The 92-foot Wasp constructed from mahogany, was converted to a 
pleasure yacht after the war. The vessel, owned originally by industrialist William 
Wrigley of Chicago, was owned by J. Suttles of Houston, Texas, at the time it was 
overhauled. Pretlow sold the Hamme Marine Railway and Drydock, as it was still 
known, to Buddy Lynch, who eventually closed the shipyard in the 1960s. R. F. Hamme 
Jr. died in May 1983 at the age of ninety-seven years (Hall, 1980:342; Dunn n.d:3; 
Wilmington Star . December 4, 1946, May 17, 1983). 



Naul Shipyard (1917 -1918) 

Suffolk Shipbuilding Company Shipyard (1918 - 1920 ) 

Warcrete Shipbuilding Company ( leased 1918 -1919) 

R. R. Stone Towing Shipyard (1920 - 1921) 

Arthur P. Naul operated two shipyards at Wilmington and possibly a third at Point 

Peter. Through a cooperative deal the Wilmington Iron Works on Eagles Island 

administered one shipyard, while another was located on the Northeast River just 

below Smith Creek. For a brief period Naul may have built ships on his property on the 

Northeast River above Point Peter. While the construction of the schooners on Eagles 

Island at the Wilmington Iron Works, or Naul shipyard, was under way, Arthur Naul 

began steps to open a second yard on the Northeast River. In early August 1917 the 

Camp Manufacturing Company concluded a deal with Naul that sold six acres south of 



238 



Smith Creek on the east side of the river. A part of the Camp property had been under 
lease to J. N. Bryant, who operated a sawmill at that location. Within a few days 
operation to clear the property was begun, and on August 22 it was announced that the 
Naul Shipyard Company was incorporated and would begin building four ship 
construction ways ( Wilmington Star , August 3, 5, 8, 22, 1917; Becton 1918). In addition 
to operating a shipyard, Naul maintained a boat line ( Wilmington Star , August 23, 
1917). 

At the shipyard on Eagles Island the Naul shipbuilders had successfully launched the 
wooden schooner Hoppauge in October 1917 and were proceeding with the 
construction of a sister ship, the Commack. Upon completion of the second schooner at 
the iron works the Naul workers moved out and concentrated their shipbuilding efforts 
at their newly acquired property on Point Peter ( Wilmington Star , October 15, 1917; 
Becton, 1918). Work on the vessel was temporarily suspended the following month 
because of a workers strike. 

In November 1917 the ship carpenters closed the yards as a result of a strike. Their 
demands for "a wage scale of 50 cents an hour, with an eight-hour working day, and 
time and a half for overtime, with double pay for Sundays and legal holidays" caused 
great concern that the Naul yards would be forced to go out of business ( Wilmington 
Star , November 6, 1917, February 2, 1919). A. P. Naul agreed to the workers' demands 
and ended the strike after three weeks, but the fear was soon to come true ( Wilmington 
Dispatch , November 20, 1917). 

A. P. Naul sold his interest in the Eagles Island shipyard in late April 1918 to Henry 
Rowland of New York in what was termed an expansion move. Naul returned to New 
York, and the shipyard became idle for several months. At the time, two new four- 
masted schooners under construction, as well as the final fitting on the Commack, were 
on the shipyard ways ( Wilmington Star , May 3, 1918; Wilmington Dispatch . May 3, 
1918). At the other Naul shipyard, where the intention was to build sailing ships and 
barges, no vessels were ever completed ( Wilmington Dispatch , October 13, 1920). In 
June 1918 R. Lawrence Smith, Inc., of New York took over the Naul shipyard below 
Smith Creek. The new owners, the Suffolk Shipbuilding Company, were immediately 
contracted for the construction of two schooners. The first keel was laid that same 
month for a vessel 193 feet long equipped with auxiliary engines ( Wilmington Dispatch . 
June 14, 1919). 

In November 1918 the Warcrete Shipbuilding company, builders of concrete vessels, 
announced that it had leased the Suffolk shipyard near Hilton north of Wilmington in 
expectation of a contract to build concrete river steamers and barges. Warcrete 
Shipbuilding failed to win the contract and allowed its lease to expire, never 
constructing any vessels ( Wilmington Star . January 16, 1919). 

The shipbuilding activities of the Suffolk company are scarce until October 1920, when 
the R. R. Stone Towing Company purchased the Suffolk (formerly Naul) shipyard on 



239 



the Northeast Cape Fear River ( Wilmington Dispatch , October 22, 1920). Stone 
indicated that the purchase included all buildings, material, and uncompleted 
construction at the yard. The property included one completed launchway upon which 
rested a partly completed schooner, another launchway partly completed, a mold loft, a 
woodworking shop, a machine shop, office buildings, and several thousand feet of 
lumber. The shipyard area covered an area of 5 S A acres with a river frontage of 550 
feet, as well as frontage on Smith Creek across the river. The partially completed 
2,100-ton schooner acquired with the properties would be finished by the new 
company. Stone intended building a 2,000-ton marine railway to be utilized in the repair 
of vessels at the yard ( Wilmington Dispatch , October 13, 22, 1920). 

Stone announced that work would begin immediately at the yard upon a large river 
barge said to cost approximately $10,000. The barge, to be used by the Stone Towing 
Company, would measure 110 feet in length, with a 28 foot beam. The partially 
completed three-masted, 2,100-ton schooner left unfinished on the stocks by the 
Suffolk company, included in the purchase, was intended to be completed ( Wilmington 
Dispatch , October 22, 1920). In May 1921 the Stone company sold the old Naul 
shipyard to the Atlantic Refinery Company of Baltimore. Plans were made for the 
construction of a huge crude oil refining plant on the site of the old shipyard below 
Smith Creek ( Wilmington Dispatch , May 12, 1921; Wilmington Star . October 22, 1923, 
January 28, 1924; USACOE 1922). 



Cape Fear Shipbuilding Company (1917) 

In September 1912 A. B. Skelding and Thomas W. Pritchard purchased a tract of land 
on Point Peter from the Wilmington Savings & Trust Company. The Point Peter tract, 
located across from Red Cross Street, contained about six acres in the shape of a 
rough triangle, surrounded on three sides by deep water. It was considered a prime 
location for a shipyard. Three years later Skelding purchased Pritchard's half of the 
property ( Wilmington Star , September 5, 1912; Wilmington Dispatch , August 28, 1915). 

During the summer of 1917 the local inhabitants of Wilmington expressed a growing 
interest in the establishment of a shipbuilding plant at Point Peter and encouraged the 
government to open a yard there to construct vessels needed for the war effort. While 
final decisions were kept secret, it was assumed that Skelding, the property owner, had 
agreed upon a five-year lease of the Point Peter property to a newly formed 
shipbuilding interest ( Wilmington Dispatch . July 17, August 15, 1917). On August 29, 
1917, the state issued a charter to the Cape Fear Shipbuilding Company. It is unlikely 
that a shipyard at Point Peter was ever constructed, mainly as Wilmington was 
maintaining three other shipyards that produced wooden, steel, and concrete vessels 
during that period. The Cape Fear Shipbuilding Company may never have built any 
ships at Wilmington, although a vessel may have been construction at the old Naul 
shipyard at Point Peter ( Wilmington Dispatch . August 30, 1917; Wilmington Star , 
November 3, 1917). 



240 



Cushman-McKown Company Shipyard (1917 - 1918) 
Wilmington Wooden Shipbuilding Company (1918 -1919) 

On the last day of June 1917, 225 feet of property located adjacent to the Chadbourn 
Lumber company on the riverfront at the foot of Wooster Street was leased from the 
lumber company to Capt. J. F. Cushman and Capt. George W. McKown, of 
Philadelphia. The two gentlement proposed to begin operation of a shipyard 
( Wilmington Dispatch , July 1, 1917; Becton 1918). Initially only a single wooden ship, 
of approximately 1,500 tons, was constructed at the site, but others that followed were 
built in pairs on adjacent ways ( Wilmington Dispatch , July 2, 9, 1917). The ship- 
building ways had been completed by July 29 in preparation for the arrival of the first 
keel ( Wilmington Dispatch . July 29, 1917). 

By late spring of the following year, the Cushman and McKown Shipyard had become 
the Wilmington Wooden Shipbuilding Company. Cushman and McKown had at that 
time several coastal schooners under construction and requested the lease of the 
Queen Street docks from the city for more space. In addition to the schooners and 
barges being built, the shipbuilders had contracted for the transformation of the ocean 
barge Alfred Soper into a three-masted schooner ( Wilmington Dispatch . April 12, 1918; 
Wilmington Star . May 2, 1918). 

The vessel best noted as having been constructed by the Captains Cushman and 
McKown was the schooner Isabelle C. Harriss. The keel to that vessel was laid in late 
September 1917 and it was ready to be launched by June 1918. The 1,750-ton Isabelle 
C. Harriss was "double decked, four-masted and 200 feet overall, with a 40-foot beam 
and a depth of 19/4 feet. She is constructed of North Carolina yellow pine, more than 
600,000 feet of timber going into her construction" ( Wilmington Dispatch , May 29, 
1918). The Harriss, what Capt. George McKown called a "strictly hand-made 
schooner," slipped from its ways into the river on June 25, 1918 ( Wilmington Star . June 
26, 1918). 

After the Harriss was launched, plans were made by the company to remove an office 
building and lay another way. The shipbuilders soon laid the keels for four new boats 
( Wilmington Star . June 6, 1918). With the end of the World War, the need for vessels 
declined and production at the shipyard slowed to a halt. A half-million feet of timber 
earmarked for use in the construction of four 1,800-ton schooners and six 2,100-ton 
barges was offered for sale ( Wilmington Star , January 1, 1919; Wilmington Dispatch , 
April 1, 1919). On March 1, 1919, the Wilmington Wooden Shipbuilding Company 
announced that it would close. Newspapers reported that after a brief but productive 
lifespan, the yard had "sung its swan song" ( Wilmington Dispatch , March 2, 1919). 



Carolina Shipbuilding Company (1917 - 1921) 

The George A. Fuller Company of New York, builders of steel skyscrapers, approached 

the U.S. Shipping Board in the summer of 1917 about the possibility of building 



241 



fabricated steel ships. With the approval of the board, Wilmington was chosen as the 
shipbuilding site. The shipbuilding plant was to be located in the vicinity of Sunset 
Park, south of the city. The original site in Charleston, South Carolina, proved 
unsuitable because of because of a lack of adequate housing and rail connections. The 
Fuller company formed a subsidiary company, the Carolina Shipbuilding Company, 
which signed a contract on April 17 for the construction of twelve 9,600-ton steel cargo 
vessels. Company president Lorenzo C. Dilks appointed Ralph Starrett general 
manager of the Carolina Steamship Company; Starrett was to have charge of the 
construction of the vessels under government direction. The Shipping Board built and 
operated the yard. Four shipways, a fabricating ship, a mold loft, and various other 
buildings were erected on the 100-acre site (Still, 1981:194-195; Wilmington Dispatch , 
April 17, 18, 1918; Wilmington Star . April 19, May 30, 1918). 

Construction workers laid the foundation for the first way at the Carolina Shipbuilding 
yard on May 29, 1918 and the machinery arrived at the plant the following month 
( Wilmington Dispatch , May 30; June 19, 1918). On November 2, 1918, shipbuilders at 
the Carolina yard put in place the first steamer keel, and within the following two weeks 
had laid the remaining three keels. Production plans called for ocean-going steamers of 
9,800-tons to be built on each way. Upon completion of the other ways, workers put in 
place the keels for three more steamers. A hotel built at the Carolina yard that opened 
in January 1919 prevented a housing shortage for the growing number of shipworkers 
( Wilmington Dispatch , October 29, 31, November 2, 9, 13, 1918). 

The first of the twelve steel ships to be readied for launch was the Cranford, named for 
Cranford, New Jersey, home of Mr. and Mrs. Dilks before moving to Wilmington. The 
steel-ribbed freighter, the first of its kind to be launched in Wilmington, left the shipway 
at the Carolina yard on Labor Day, September 1, 1919 ( Wilmington Star , August 15, 
September 1, 1919; Wilmington Dispatch , September 2, 1919). 

Work continued on preparation for the launching of the second ship, the City of Omaha, 
named in honor of the native city of John W. Towle, who served as the resident 
representative of the Emergency Fleet Corporation during the construction of the 
Carolina plant. The third ship was to be named the Pembroke, for the late Pembroke 
Jones, director of the corporation ( Wilmington Dispatch . June 5, 1919). A move by the 
Shipping Board to change the name of the Pembroke to the City of Joliet met with much 
opposition by the corporation and local citizens. In the end the Shipping Board won out, 
and the ship became known as The City of Joliet. The Shipping Board maintained its 
policy that no vessel could be named for any individual, living or dead. The fourth 
vessel was yet unnamed ( Wilmington Dispatch . August 15, 20, 1919; Wilmington Sun , 
August 15, 1919). 

Days after the launching of the Cranford, the keel for the fifth steel vessel was put in 
place on that shipway ( Wilmington Dispatch . September 10, 1919). In protest of alleged 
discrimination against white men employed at the yard, white boilermakers and 
shipbuilders at the Carolina plant walked out on strike on September 20, 1919. Five 



242 



days later management appeased the grievances of the workers and work resumed on 
the steel freighters ( Wilmington Star , September 21, 25, 1919). 

At midnight on December 31, 1919, the Carolina shipyard became the property of the 
George A. Fuller Company. The emergency fleet transfered the deed to the land and 
equipment of the Carolina shipyard for $500,000. By the first day of 1920, the steamers 
City of Omaha and City of Winston-Salem had also been launched at the Carolina 
shipyard. Under the new arrangement, the Fuller company would build only eight of the 
twelve steel ships for the government. The Fuller company would construct the 
additional four steel vessels for sale ( Wilmington Star , January 7, 1920; Wilmington 
Dispatch , January 8, 15, 1920). 

The fourth steel ship launched was the City of Joliet, whose name change caused such 
a local stir. On January 29, 1920, the new freighter slipped from the Carolina shipyard 
into the Cape Fear River. Similar to the three sister ships that preceded it from the 
shipways, the City of Joliet was 395 in length, 45 feet in width, and had a depth of hold 
of 31 feet. The ship was a 9,600-ton capacity oceangoing freighter. The owners of the 
shipyard announced in late January that they would also conduct repair work at the 
yard. The first repair job done at the yard was on the steam tug Grayling ( Wilmington 
Dispatch , January 22, 1920). The fifth steel vessel under construction at the yard was 
named the Nemaha, after a county in Nebraska. In late May or early June 1920 the 
Nemaha was launched from the Carolina yards ( Wilmington Dispatch . January 30, 
February 11, June 15, 1920; Wilmington Star , January 30, 1920). 

On June 19, 1920, the City of Fort Worth became the sixth steel ship to be launched at 
the yard. A bronze propeller to be placed on the freighter had not arrived, so the ship 
was launched without one. When the bronze propeller arrived, the City of Fort Worth 
was ballasted by the bow, allowing the stern of the ship to rise from the water for 
placement of the propeller ( Wilmington Star , June 20, 1920; Wilmington Dispatch , May 
29, 1920). In July 1920 the Carolina Shipbuilding Company was awarded a contract to 
construct two steel oil tankers for the Eagle Oil Company, Ltd., of London, England, 
following completion of the last of the eight steel freighters. In preparation for building 
the tankers, the ways were extended ( Wilmington Dispatch , July 11, 1920; Wilmington 
Star , November 8, 1920). 

The large 9,600-ton steel freighter Hybert, the seventh ship to be constructed at the 
Carolina shipyard, entered the waters of the Cape Fear River on July 24, 1920. The 
keels for the two tankers, originally laid for freighters, were in place by the end of July 
( Wilmington Dispatch . July 25, 1920). In the wake of several government shipyard 
closings in the months that followed the war, the Carolina Shipbuilding Company yard 
was spared temporarily. In addition to the plans for the shipyard to finish the two 
tankers under construction, the company was to obtain contracts to conduct repair 
work. The possibility also existed that the company would construct steel railway cars 
( Wilmington Dispatch . August 25, 1920). 



243 



The steamer Syros, the eighth and last of the steel freighters to be built at the Carolina 
Shipbuilding yard, followed its sister ships into the Cape Fear River on September 18, 
1920 ( Wilmington Star September 18, 19, 1920). With the completion of the eight steel 
freighter, work continued at a rapid pace on the two tankers. In order to accommodate 
the future launching of the tankers, work began in November on deepening the slips at 
the yard. "The machinery of a tanker is most aft and consequently when it goes into the 
water light the bow rides while the stern sinks, thus necessitating deeper water for a 
tanker light than for the same tonnage freight carrying vessel" ( Wilmington Dispatch , 
November 29, 1920). 

The first of the steel tankers to be ready for launch was the San Lamberto. The 9,200- 
ton tanker, built in record time, slipped from the way with her boilers fired and steam up 
on January 29, 1921. The second tanker, the San Leon, launched from the Carolina 
yard on March 12, 1921, marked the end of the shipbuilding efforts. As a result of the 
company's being unable to obtain any contracts for repair work or the construction of 
steel railway cars, the yard was forced to close. With no hopes of resuming 
shipbuilding at the yard, the Fuller Corporation put the shipyard of its subsidiary, the 
Carolina Shipbuilding Company, up for sale. In July 1921 the Carolina shipyard was 
sold to the Maryland Wrecking Company. The new owners attempted to obtain from the 
Mexican government a contract for the construction of two steel oil tankers. 
Unsuccessful in its attempt, the Maryland Wrecking Company offered all the land, 
material, and equipment of the shipyard for sale in October ( Wilmington Dispatch , 
November 25, 1920, January 28, March 13, May 15, September 23, October 23, 1921). 

The Wilmington Industrial Railway, chartered in February 1922, planned for the 
construction of a new rail line that would connect the old Carolina shipyard and the 
plant of the Newport Shipbuilding Corporation with the city. This move was to assure 
the early establishment of an oil distributing station by the Texas Oil Company at the 
Carolina yard. In October 1922, however, the former president of the now defunct 
Maryland Wrecking Company repurchased the partially dismantled Carolina yard. In 
March 1923 the Texas Oil Company had nearly finalized plans for the conversion of the 
old shipyard into an oil distribution station. The Texaco plant was operating at the site 
at the beginning of World War II ( Wilmington Dispatch , February 9, October 25, 1922; 
March 10, 1923). 



Liberty Shipbuilding Company (1918 - 1920) 

At the same time the Carolina Shipbuilding Company was building fabricated steel 
ships for the World War I effort, the Liberty Shipbuilding Company began building 
concrete vessels at the foot of Greenfield and Willard Streets. In early February 1918 
the U.S. government notified the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce that Wilmington 
was being considered as a possible location site for the construction of concrete 
vessels. The efforts of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce proved successful. In 
late March 1918 the Fougner Concrete Shipbuilding Company of New York was 
proceeding with plans to open a concrete shipbuilding plant on the Cape Fear River. 



244 



Although, that .initial effort to bring the Fougner concrete shipbuilding firm to the city 
eventually failed, Wilmington was established as a prime concrete shipbuilding 
location. In April 1918 the U.S. Shipping Board selected Wilmington as one of the sites 
for a government yard. The government planned for seven concrete ships to be built at 
the city, with three of these ships being 3,500 tons and four being 7,500 tons. The 
larger of the vessels would be used as tankers with a capacity of 50,000 barrels of oil. 
Each of the tankers would have 2,800-horsepower engines. The smaller, 3,500-ton 
vessels, would be cargo ships ( Wilmington Dispatch , February 10, March 28, April 6, 
June 6, 1 91 8; Wilmington Star . April 6, 1 91 8). 

C. N. Wylie, district engineer for the Portland Cement Association, stated that 
"Wilmington was the best location along the entire Southeastern seaboard for the 
construction of vessels of this type. . ." ( Wilmington Dispatch , April 12, 1918). The 
Emergency Fleet Corporation in April 1918 selected the Liberty Shipbuilding Company 
as its agent for the construction of concrete ships at Wilmington. The site chosen for 
the construction of the vessels was located near the foot of Meares Street, in the 
southern section of the city. Heirs of the late John R. Hanby offered 40 acres of land for 
the shipyard. The site included 2,000 feet of waterfront in Sunset Park, a portion of the 
Kidder mill property, and land owned by M. S. Willard ( Wilmington Dispatch , April 25, 
1918; Wilmington Star . April 25, 1918). 

Work on driving the shipway piles at the Liberty Shipyard began almost immediately in 
preparation for the building of the first concrete vessel. The Diamond and Steamboat 
Wrecking Company received a governement contract for placement of the piles. 
Dredging of the river at the concrete shipyard began on May 17, 1918 ( Wilmington 
Dispatch, April 28, 1918, May 5, 1918; Wilmington Star . May 18, 1918). The shipping 
board expected the Wilmington concrete shipyard to be completed during the first week 
of June 1918. Keels were to be laid immediately for two concrete ships of 7,500 tons, 
with completion and launch for trans-Atlantic service expected by October ( Wilming ton 
Dispatch , May 7, 1918). The mould loft, a building 90 by 300 feet, was begun at the 
yard on May 9, 1918 ( Wilmington Dispatch , May 9, 18, 1918). Toward the later part of 
the month steam shovels began leveling the shipyard site and filling in low places with 
sand excavated from the riverfront. On May 31, 1918, work began on construction of 
the first of four concrete ways and the dredging was completed. Several carloads of 
machinery were installed ( Wilmington Dispatch , May 28, 1918; Wilmington Star . May 
31, 1918). One change in the plans for the types of ships to be constructed at the 
shipyard occurred in late 1918. The Liberty Shipyard would not build six of the larger 
7,500-ton tankers, but rather only two of 3,500-ton cargo vessels of concrete. The 
signing of the Armistice and cessation of World War I activities made the additional 
vessels unnecessary ( Wilmington Dispatch , November 22, 1918). 

The Liberty Shipyard at the foot of Greenfield Street was nearly complete by late 
January 1919 ( Wilmington Star . January 25, 1919). Pouring of the first concrete vessel, 
then to be called the Rockmart, began on January 28, 1919. The new type of vessel, a 
"stone ship," required approximately 300 tons of concrete and was poured in three 



245 



sections-the 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 ( Wilmington Dispatch , January 27, 28, 1919; 
Wilmington Star , January 29, 1919). Pouring on the second concrete cargo vessel 
began on March 3, 1919, and was completed on May 3 ( Wilmington Dispatch , March 3, 
May 4, 1919). 

In June 1919 at the request of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, the name of the 
first concrete vessel built at the yard was changed from the Rockmart to the Cape Fear 
( Wilmington Dispatch , June 15, 1919). All preparations were completed for the launch 
of the vessel in July, and on July 31, 1919, the hull of the Cape Fear slipped sideways 
into the Cape Fear River. The hull, painted gray with the words "Cape Fear" painted 
across the bow, was the first concrete ship to be launched in North Carolina and the 
third in the United States ( Wilmington Star , July 20, August 1, 1919). Its length was 266 
% feet, its breadth of beam 46 feet, and the depth of its hold was 24 feet. The new 
vessel was still not finished. The Cape Fear, and later its sister ship on the ways, would 
be towed to Jacksonville, Florida, where the engines and boilers were installed. The 
Cape Fear was furnished with a 1,100-horsepower engine supplied with steam from 
coal-burning boilers. It was capable of making 1 1 knots per hour ( Wilmington Dispatch , 
February 20, 1 91 9; Wilmington Star , August 1,18,1919). 

The second concrete freighter still on the ways at the Liberty shipyard would tentatively 
be launched on October 11, 1919. No name had yet been determined for the second 
ship. Originally the shipping board determined that the concreter would be called the 
Corrine, but the name did not appeal to either the builders or the city residents, who all 
wanted the vessel to also bear a local name. The chamber of commerce suggested that 
the name "Wilmington" be used, but since three other ships already bore that name the 
Shipping Board refused the suggestion. In its place a a committee submitted a list of 
possible names. The Shipping Board, owners, and committee selected the name The 
Old North State for the ship ( Wilmington Star . September 15, 25, 30, 1919). 

When the second concrete vessel was finally launched and turned over to the Shipping 
Board, the Liberty Shipbuilding Company had fulfilled its contract. As a result of the end 
of the war, and with no further contracts in sight, the Liberty yard was forced to close in 
late October 1919 ( Wilmington Star , November 4, 1919). The emergency fleet offered 
the 42-acre shipyard with 1 ,600 feet of river frontage for sale the following year. In June 
1920 the city of Wilmington expressed an interest in purchasing the Liberty shipyard in 
order to build public docks ( Wilmington Star , March 10, June 8, 1920). Two months 
later the city acquired the old Liberty shipyard for conversion into municipal terminals. 
The local citizens thought that when Wilmington purchased the yard it would also 
benefit from dredging of the river channel needed to accommodate the terminals. In 
late August 1920 the city council accepted the deal made by the Wilmington Chamber 
of Commerce to purchase the Liberty shipyard from the government for $37,500. On 
September 11, 1920, the city concluded the deal with the U.S. government; it filed the 
deed and took possession of most of the property. Only Tract No. 5, the land originally 



246 



owned by L. L Hanby and loaned to the city, was returned by quitclaim deed. Only a 
small portion of the water frontage had deep water ( Wilmington Dispatch . August 25, 
29, September 14, 21, 1920). 

The U.S. government gave Wilmington ten years to erect public terminals on the 
shipyard property. In order to comply with that requirement, the city chose to lease the 
shipyard. In late September 1920 the city entered into a lease with the Newport 
Shipbuilding Corporation for the shipyard property ( Wilmington Dispatch , September 
17, 21, 1920; Wilmington Star . September 26, 1920). Under the terms of the lease the 
following would occur: 

The city has agreed to sell for $12,500 a portion of the property lying 
south of Way No. 4, which is believed to be unnecessary for use in the 
establishment of municipal terminal facilities, to the corporation. The city 
will lease the yard for a term of five years, with privilege of renewal for 
one-year periods, and sell the machinery for $25,000, but reserves the 
ownership of equipment, such as the buildings, tracks, central heating 
plant and electric light wires and poles. At the end of five years the 
buildings and equipment come back to the city ( Wilmington Star , 
September 26, 1920). 

The Newport Shipbuilding Corporation was to move operations from its plant in New 
Bern to Wilmington immediately to begin fulfilling the terms of its contract for the War 
Department for the construction of three concrete tankers and four river steamers. 
During the period of the lease Wilmington lobbied for appropriations to deepen the river 
at the terminal facilities. During September 1920 the U.S. Shipping Board offered for 
sale the two concrete steamers built by the Liberty Shipbuilding Company-the Cape 
Fear and the Atlantus (ex-Old North State). The Shipping Board was still in possession 
of the steamer Cape Fear a month later when at Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, the 
Cape Fear collided with another vessel and sank on October 29, 1920 ( Wilmington 
Star , September 26, 1920; Wilmington Dispatch , October 30, 1920). 



Newport Shipbuilding Corporation-Wilmington (1920 - 1923) 
In less than a month after the Newport Shipbuilding Corporation leased the old Liberty 
Shipyard, work began on cleaning up the yard and fabricating forms for the tankers 
commenced ( Wilmington Dispatch , October 11, 1920; Wilmington Star , October 15, 
1920). Under direction of Kirby Smith, general manager for the Newport Shipbuilding 
Corporation, simultaneous construction of a tanker and two river steamers began. By 
mid-November the forms for the first concrete steamer under construction was more 
than halfway built; work on the first tanker forms began on November 27. Meanwhile, 
two of the three river steamers built at the New Bern shipyard-the Col. Frederick G. 
Hodgson and the Gen. M. I. Ludington-arr'weti to be fitted out at the Wilmington 
shipyard ( Wilmington Dispatch . November 7, 28, April, 17, 1920). 



247 



In late May 1921 six concrete steamers, three of whose hulls had been poured at New 
Bern, were under construction at the Newport shipyard. The first vessel to be 
completed, the 600-ton river steamer Gen. D. H. Rucker was launched May 23, 1921, 
from the Wilmington yard. Pouring of concrete for the first 3,500-ton tanker began June 
20, 1920 ( Wilmington Dispatch . May 20, 23, June 19, 1921). The second of the 150- 
foot concrete river steamers, the Gen. George Gibson, was launched from the ways of 
the Newport shipyard on July 8, 1921 ( Wilmington Dispatch , July 8, 1921). 

The 600-ton river steamer Gen. Morgan Lewis was the sixth concrete vessel to be 
launched on August 6, 1921, by the Newport Shipbuilding Corporation and the third 
steamer constructed at the Wilmington shipyard. The steamer still required installation 
of the 1,000-horsepower engines before it could undergo trials ( Wilmington Dispatch , 
August 7, 1 921 ; Wilmington Star . August 7, 1 921 ). 

While work continued on the first concrete tanker, the last of the four 600-ton river 
steamers, the Gen. John Wilkins, was nearing completion. A few minutes after it was 
launched from the ways at the Newport yard on August 29, the vessel sank. The hull 
was raised and towed to the Wilmington Marine Railway for inspection and repair. 
Concrete oil tanker No. 1, the only tanker of the three being built that was self- 
propelled, was also damaged when launched in September and required repair work 
( Wilmington Dispatch , September 1 1 , 1 921 , June 30, 1 922). 

The second concrete tanker, when approximately 90 percent complete, was launched 
from the Newport yard on January 20, 1922. About 1,300 cubic yards of concrete was 
required for its hull ( Wilmington Star , January 21, February 18, 1922). Pouring of the 
concrete for the last of the tankers began shortly after the launch of the second vessel. 
On April 14, 1922, the third and last oil concrete oil tanker built for the government at 
the Newport Shipbuilding Corporation shipyard in Wilmington splashed into the Cape 
Fear River ( Wilmington Dispatch , April 16, 1922). 

When the last tanker was turned over to the U.S. government, the Newport shipbuilders 
had completed their contract requirements of building four concrete steamers and three 
tankers. The Newport Corporation closed the shipyard and it remained vacant until 
Wilmington announced in May 1923 plans for converting the old shipyard into state port 
terminals ( Wilmington Sun . May 24, 1923, January 20, 1927). In July the Newport 
Shipbuilding Company offered for sale all its shipbuilding machinery and tools 
( Wilmington Dispatch . July 9, 1923). The following month the Newport company 
relinquished to the city of Wilmington the lease on the old Liberty shipyard ( Wilmington 
Dis patch . August, 23, 24, 1923). 

North Carolina failed to develop the old shipyard as a port terminal when Wilmington 
first offered it in 1923. Two years later, the city commission still had no intention of 
spending funds to repair the docks or railroad trackage at the old shipyard ( Wilmington 
News Dispatch . October 16, 1925). In March 1926 the Yemassee Lumber Company 
announced its intention to open a stave factory at the site of the old shipyard. The city 



248 



commissioners, leased the site for the plant to the South Carolina firm ( Wilmington 
News Dispatch . March 5, 1926). 

The city commissioners approved a bill in late January 1927 for the construction of 
docks and wharves to be built at the old shipyard, allowing progress toward 
development as a state terminal. Apparently the measure was enacted and the 
improvements added to the shipyard. In May 1930 the local newspaper reported that 
one of the wharves at the old Liberty shipyard had been destroyed by fire. The city 
filled the low-lying areas of the shipyard in May 1931. The sand used in the fill was 
provided by the Atlantic Gulf and Pacific company at no charge from spoil dredged from 
deepening the Cape Fear river channel to 30 feet. Six acres of the old Liberty shipyard 
were eventually filled to an average level of 3 feet. The city and Corps of Engineers 
also bulkheaded the property ( Wilmington Sun , January 29, 1927, April 13, 1931; 
Wilmington News , May 30, 1 930, May 7, 22 1 931 ). 

The city of Wilmington was unable to meet the original ten-year time limitation imposed 
by the U.S. government in 1920 to develop the old shipyard as a terminal facility. On 
July 2, 1930, however, the U.S. government granted to Wilmington an extension to 
September 10, 1935, the deadline by which the free municipal terminals must be 
erected. In August 1932 the U.S. Shipping Board agreed to extend indefinitely the time 
limit during which time the city of Wilmington must erect public piers and terminals at 
the old Liberty shipyard. While limited steps were taken to reach this goal, a small 
boatbuilder utilized the basin at the yard, then used as a yacht anchorage, during the 
late 1920s and 1930s. In 1941 the Taylor-Colquitt Creosote company occupied the site 
of the old Liberty shipyards. In 1945 the General Assembly created the State Port 
Authority and four years later provided five million dollars for Wilmington's port. The 
original port facility opened in 1952 and included only 1,510 feet of wharf, two transit 
sheds, and one storage shed. Presently, the state port includes a 6,940-foot wharf, five 
cranes, and numerous sheds and warehouses ( Wilmington Star , December 1, 1931, 
December 10, 1989; Wilmington News , August 31, 1932, June 27, 1934; Wilmington 
Star-News , September 4, 1988). 



Stone Towing Company Marine Railway (ca. 1924 - 1946) 

R. R. Stone, of the Stone Towing Company, founded in 1895, announced in late 
September 1920 plans to construct in Wilmington a marine railway capable of hauling 
ships up to 2,000 tons, or a length of 250 feet, from the water ( Wilmington Dispatch , 
September 29, 1920). Stone had under consideration two locations for the proposed 
business. The first site was within the city limits on the east side of the Cape Fear 
River, and the second, a site on Eagles Island, formerly served as the Wilmington 
Marine Railway property. Apparently little progress was made in the efforts to build a 
new marine railway for the city. Several years later, in early February 1924, R. R. Stone 
purchased the property of the old Wilmington Marine Railway Company on Eagles 
Island and renamed it the Stone Marine Railway. The existing railway had a capacity of 
hauling out vessels of 80 to 1,000 tons. Stone also planned to add a smaller railway to 



249 



handle small vessels, including yachts. Stone Marine Railway appears on a Corps of 
Engineers 1937 map. 

After several years of operation a fire destroyed much of the Stone marine railway and 
dry docks on June 12, 1946. Mr. Stone said that his storehouse, 175 by 65 feet, and 
contents were lost in the blaze. Neither the building nor the property was insured. A 
grass fire between Stone's shop and the dock may have been the cause of the fire 
( Wilmington Post , June 13, 1946). Ship construction and repair on the Stone Marine 
Railway may have ended as a result of the 1946 fire, although another U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers map shows it three years later. The business evolved into the 
Stone Towing Company, with R. R. Stone Jr. and his brother, H. B. Stone, operating it 
from 1940 until 1956. Russell and Robert Stone, grandsons of R. R. Stone, maintained 
the towing company until it went out of business in 1982 and became the Wilmington 
Towing Company ( Wilmington Star , December 29, 1984). 

The remains of the Stone towing yard are still very prominent on Eagles Island. One 
can see the machine shop with its overhead shaft, the slipway, cradle, and floating dry 
dock and a number of abandoned tugboats from the Stone fleet. Those tugs include the 
Stone 3 {ex-lsabelle, 1905), the Stone 4 {ex-Eva, 1915), the Stone 5 {ex-Sadie E. 
Culver, built 1896), the Stone 6 {ex-Atlantic City, 1890), the Dolphin (1896), the 
Minnesota (1910) and the Cherokee. Among the wrecks is the H. G. Wright, a river 
steamer that had been pulled up on an old marine railway and used for offices and as a 
noontime mess hall. The engines and the paddlewheel from the Wright have been 
removed and restored and are now on display at the Cape Fear Museum. A number of 
abandoned vessels are shown on the USACOE 1937 map. 



Herbst Boatyard (ca 1927 - 1930) 

Julius T. Herbst was a well-known designer and pilot of speedboats. In March 1927 the 
Wilmington board of city commissioners agreed to lease to Frank Herbst and his son 
Julius one of the buildings at the old Liberty shipyard. Herbst proposed going into the 
boatbuilding business on a large scale, featuring the production of small speedster type 
boats. Herbst described his boats as: 

. . . built of Spanish cedar planking on frames of oak and ash. The deck, 
transom and stem are of mahogany, and brass and copper fastenings are 
used. The hulls are of the single-step hydroplane type with a forward fin 
and central steering and throttle control. The steering wheel is mounted 
on a shaft rising vertically from the bottom of the boat. The bows are 
sharp with a moderate flare, and the stem is by a rounded forward deck 
extending to nearly amidships ( Wilmington Star , March 12, 1928). 

The Kayo II produced by Herbst, was regarded by many as his most famous 
speedboat; it broke the world speed record in 1927. In January 1929 Herbst acquired a 
lease on a municipally-owned mould loft at the Liberty shipyard. Herbst sold his 



250 



boatworks, however, in September 1930 at a receivers sale ( Wilmington News- 
Dispatch , March 18, 27, 1927; Wilmington Star September 17, 1927, January 30, 
1929; September 20, 1930). 



Intracoastal Barge Lines, Inc. (1935) 

During May 1935 the Intracoastal Barge Lines, Inc., of Wilmington launched from the 
old Liberty shipyard the self-propelled barge Concord. Construction of the barge had 
begun on December 1, 1934. The Concord was 75 feet in length and powered with 
125-horsepower diesel engine ( Wilmington News , May 14, 1935). 



North Carolina Shipbuilding Company (1941 - 1946) 
Subsidiary of Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. 

As early as 1938 local citizens of Wilmington were requesting the aid of their state 
senators in securing ship construction at local shipyards as a means of furthering 
economic recovery. With the outbreak of World War II in Europe, the city organised the 
Shipyard Committee of Wilmington in 1939 or early 1940, with Thomas Wright as 
chairman. On the recommendation of Adm. Emory S. Land, the U.S. Maritime 
Commission chose Wilmington as one of the sites for construction of 200 emergency 
cargo vessels. The Newport News Shipbuilding Company would again be responsible 
for building ships at Wilmington under a subsidiary now known as the North Carolina 
Shipbuilding Company ( Wilmington News , May 4, 1938; Wilmington Star , January 
10,1941; Still n.d.:2) 

The Maritime Commission chose Wilmington as the site of the new shipyard based 
upon past performance, as well as other factors, including a mild climate for 
shipbuilding, adequate rail links, land, deep water at the yard for launching ships, an 
inland area protected from possible attack, and an ample labor force. The site chosen 
for the shipyard was the old Carolina Shipyard property 3 miles south of the city. 
Approximately 90 acres of the shipyard site was swampland, requiring 650,000 cubic 
yards of fill to bring the site above sea level. According to the contract with the Maritime 
Commission, Newport News would establish and operate the shipyard and the Maritime 
Commission would own the land, equipment, buildings, and constructed vessels. The 
original contract with the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company was for twenty-five 
cargo ships to be completed in thirty-seven months. The shipyard eventually 
constructed 243 vessels ( Wilmington Star , January 10, August 27, 1941; Still n.d.:3-4). 

Construction of the yard began on February 4, 1941. When the first keel was laid on 
May 22, 1941, six shipways and three piers, along with several support buildings, had 
been completed. Three additional shipways were under construction. Housing for the 
growing number of ship construction workers posed an early problem. To overcome 
that problem, the company brought in more than two hundred trailers as emergency 
housing. By the time the first and second keels were in place in late May, the number of 
ships to be built by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company had risen to thirty-seven 



251 



vessels. The cargo ships under construction had a length of 430 feet and a beam of 57 
feet. Six days after the first keel was laid, the third keel was in place. Officially 
designated as the EC-2 type, this type of vessel became well known as the "Liberty 
Ship." The North Carolina shipyard produced one hundred twenty-six of this class of 
vessel. By October 1941 the shipbuilding company had laid a keel on all nine ways, but 
maximum production for each vessel had not yet been achieved ( Wilmington Star , April 
3, 5, 23, October 2, 1941; Wilmington News , May 22, 29, 1941; Still n.d.:4-5). 

The first Liberty Ship to leave the ways of the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company 
yard was the S.S. Zebulon B. Vance, launched on the ominous date of December 6, 
1941. The new cargo vessel when launched was only 80 percent complete and still 
required outfitting ( Wilmington Star , December 6, 1941). The Nathanael Green was the 
second ship launched from the yard. On January 17, 1942, it joined its sister ship at the 
fitting docks. Built at an estimated cost of $1.5 million, the vessel had an overall length 
of 441 feet, 6 inches, a beam of 57 feet, a draft of 27 feet, and a displacement of 
14,100 tons. It was to be staffed with a crew of forty-four officers and men ( Wilmington 
News , December 22, 1941, January 16, 1942). By the end of January the Maritime 
Commission had awarded the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company a contract for an 
additional fifty-three Liberty Ships, with most to be delivered by the end of 1943. This 
amount, combined with the earlier award, brought to ninety the number of ships to be 
built ( Wilmington News , January 26, 1942). 

During 1942 the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company yard launched fifty-three 
ships — a record of one ship per week. The fifty-fourth ship, last to be built in 1942, bore 
the name George Davis. In addition to launching its one hundreth vessel, the Charles 
D. Mclver, on May 25, 1943, the company shipyard set a new construction record in 
May by launching eleven vessels in one month. The Maritime Commission increased 
the number of Liberty Ships to be built at the shipyard to 126. The last of the Liberty 
Ships, the John Branch, was launched in late August 1943 ( Wilmington Star . December 
31, 1942, August 20, November 27, 1943; Wilmington News , June 1, 1943). 

The Wilmington yard also constructed a second vessel class, the C-2, or "Victory Ship." 
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 of 
8,500 tons. The North Carolina Shipbuilding Company produced 117 vessels of the C-2 
type ( Wilmington Star . April 3, 5, 23, 1941; Wil mi ng t on News , May 22, 29, 1941; Still 
n.d.:4-5). There were many variations in the C-2 design that caused considerable 
delays when compared to the amount of time it took to build an EC-2 -type vessel. Each 
variation of the C-2-type ships required a different means of propulsion and prevented 
standardization. The Liberty ship was much easier to produce by comparison (Still 
n.d.:5). 

The shipyard converted to production of the C-2 -type vessel during late summer 1943. 
The original contract called for the delivery of sixty ships of the C-2 type but was 
increased to a final total of 1 17. The first of this type to be built at the Wilmington yard 



252 



was the Storm King, whose keel was laid on July 20, 1943. The vessel was launched 
on September 17. The C-2-class ships were delivered to the Maritime Commission, the 
U.S. Navy, and private U.S. shipowners. The U.S. Navy converted fifty-three of the C- 
2s into AKA (combat cargo), AGC (headquarters), AE (ammunition supply), or AP 
(auxiliary troop transport) vessels. Several of the last C-2 ships built at the North 
Carolina shipyard were converted to refrigerated cargo ships or passenger ships for the 
United States Line and the Grace Line. The final ship built at the shipyard was the 
Santa Isable, completed in September 1946. Two months after the hostilities of World 
War II, ended the U.S. Maritime Commission announced that the North Carolina 
Shipbuilding Company was selected to be a storage depot for surplus ships of the 
American merchant fleet. A large floating dry dock capable of accommodating large 
tankers also added to the North Carolina yard ( Wilmington News , June 1, 1943, 
October 25, 1945, September 17, 1946; Wilmington Post , January 1, February 2, 1945; 
Wilmington Star-News . February 17, 1946; Still n.d.:5). 

Several of the ships built at Wilmington returned to be mothballed within the Brunswick 
River near the city. The first vessel to be placed in the reserve fleet was the John B. 
Boyce (August 12, 1946). By 1948 251 vessels of different types were moored at the 
basin. All of the ships were subsequently removed from the basin, with most being 
dismantled. The last vessel of the Wilmington reserve fleet, the Dwight W. Morrow was 
removed on February 27, 1970 ( Wilmington Post , December 17, 1945; Wilmington 
News , July 1, 1946; Still n.d.:6; Hall 1980:445-447). 

During the war, twenty-three of the Liberty ships and one C-2 built at the North Carolina 
shipyard were lost, but none of those losses were from failure in construction or design. 
One of the C-2 vessels later played a role in the atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll in the 
Pacific. The Navy recalled a very select number of ships for the Vietnam conflict but 
proved too costly to modernize. The Newport News Shipbuilding Company closed its 
subsidiary, the North Carolina Shipbuilding plant in Wilmington, in 1946 after five years 
of wartime operation. Many of the shipways and docks were destroyed following the 
war to make way for oil storage tanks and the North Carolina State Port Terminal. The 
Maritime Commission agreed in 1947 to lease part of the yard to the State Port 
Authority. The mutual parties signed the lease two years later, and by 1952 much of the 
former shipbuilding yard had become a state-owned and-operated port facility (Still 
n.d.:9; Wilmington Post . December 17, 1945; Wilmington News . July 1, 1946; Still 
n.d.:6; Hall 1980:445-447; Wilmington Star . March 6, 1977). 



V. P. Loftis Construction Company (1942 - 1943) 

Tidewater Construction Company Shipyard (1944 - 1945) 

The V. P. Loftis Construction Company of Charlotte, North Carolina, received a 

contract with the U.S. Navy to built eight concrete floating drydocks at its facility located 

one-half mile above the Hilton bridge on the Northeast Cape Fear River. The property 

had been used by the Naul Shipyard during the First World War. In September 1942 

the keels for the first two drydocks were laid. Loftis relinquished his contract with the 



253 



navy in November 1943 which delayed construction on the drydocks. The Tidewater 
Construction Company of Norfolk, Virginia, was brought in to complete the work. It 
succeeded in launching the first two floating drydocks-USS ARDC-1 and USS ARDC-2 
-on February 16, 1944 ( Wilmington Star . April 21, 1944; Still n.d.:7). The company 
commissioned the third drydock on July 3, 1944. The fourth had been built but not 
commissioned or launched when the fifth, the USS ARDC-5, was launched on August 
10, 1944. Each of the 2,800-ton oceangoing drydocks built was 289 feet long and 84 
feet wide. The hulls were constructed entirely of reinforced concrete. Each drydock was 
self contained and provided living quarters for the crew. The last of the concrete 
drydocks was launched in 1945 ( Wilmington Star . August 10, 1944; Still n.d.:9). 



254 



Shipwrecks and Derelicts 

A historical account and description of thirty-two shipwrecks within the Cape Fear and 
Northeast Cape Fear Rivers is discussed below. Appendix 1A contains a list of 
historical accounts of vessels sunk in the lower Cape Fear River. Figures 29, 30, 31 
and 32 illustrate the distribution of shipwrecks along the rivers documented from 
historical accounts. 



Unknown Vessel 


North Heath 


Yeaman's flyboat 


Henrietta 


Fortuna 


Spray 


Liberty 


CSS Caswell 


Fayetteville 


CSS Equator 


Lightship "D" 


Cape Fear 


Kate 


Thorn 


CSS North Carolina 


Planet 


CSS Raleigh 


J. S. Underbill 


CSS Arctic 


Siam 


CSS Yadkin 


Swiftsure 



Wave 

Waccamaw 

Sylvan Grove 

Jacob Brandow 

Frances Elizabeth 

A. P. Hurt 

Belfast 

General H. G. Wright 

Blanche 

Blanchard 



Unknown Vessel (lost 1526) 

The first documented vessel known to have been lost on the lower Cape Fear River 
was an unknown ship that ran aground in 1526 at the mouth of the river. In that year 
Spaniard Lucas Vaquez de Ayllon, a judge on the appeals court at Santo Domingo, 
presently the capital of the Dominican Republic, outfitted six vessels at Santo Domingo 
with the intention of establishing a settlement on the North American mainland. The six 
ships were Ayllon's flagship; a merchant ship named La Bretona; another merchant 
ship, named the Santa Catalina; a third merchant vessel, called La Chorruca; a 
brigantine; and a "patax," or lighter (Oviedo: 1855:627-633). While attempting to cross 
the bar into the Cape Fear River (which Ayllon named the "River Jordan"), one of the 
vessels grounded and was lost. Ayllon's expedition remained in the vicinity long 
enough to build another ship, possibly the first to be built by Europeans on the North 
American continent below Canada. The expedition failed in its attempt to establish a 
permanent settlement in the Cape Fear vicinity (Watson 1992:4; Lee 1971:4; Morison 
1971:332-334). 



Yeaman's flyboat (lost 1665) 

A small flyboat, mistakenly referred to as the Sir John, was lost in November of 1665 at 
the mouth of the Charles (Cape Fear) River. Under an agreement with the Lords 
Proprietors of Carolina, an expedition of three vessels sailed from Barbados a month 
earlier with the purpose of establishing a settlement in the vicinity of Port Royal in 
present-day South Carolina. In command of the expedition was Sir John Yeamans, an 
associate of Proprietor Sir John Colleton. The Lords Proprietors commissioned 
Yeamans Lieutenant General and governor of Clarendon County and he chose to 



255 



establish the settlement in the vicinity of the Cape Fear. An earlier group led by John 
Vassall, with some two hundred settlers, established a settlement called Charlestown at 
the confluence of the river and Town Creek (Saunders 1 886: 1 1 9; Potter 1 993:6). 

The three vessels in Yeamans's convoy consisted of a frigate owned by Sir John 
Yeamans, a sloop purchased by the colonists, and a flyboat of approximately 150 tons 
under the personal command of Yeamans. A storm that occurred during the voyage 
damaged the frigate and scattered the three ships. By early November the vessels had 
regrouped off the entrance to the Charles River. While at anchor waiting to enter the 
river with favorable wind and tide conditions, another storm blew up and almost 
foundered the flyboat with Sir John Yeamans on board. When conditions improved, the 
trio of ships proceeded to cross the bar into the river. The crew of the flyboat, unfamiliar 
with the channel, ran the vessel aground on the shoals to the west of the channel. The 
wind and tide beat the stranded vessel to pieces (Saunders 1886:119-120; Potter 
1993:9). 

A "Concessions and Agreement" document issued by the Lords Proprietors on January 
7, 1664, with William Yeamans gives some indication of the supplies that were on 
board when the flyboat was lost. The document lists items the Lords Proprietors agreed 
to furnish the proposed settlement at Port Royal. 

The Lords do further covenant and promise that they will cause to be 
shipped before the first day of February next, Twelve pieces of 
Ordinance, with Carriages, Ladles, Sponges, and Shot convenient and 
Necessary, and Twenty barrels of powder, one hundred Firelocks, and 
one hundred Matchlocks, with Lead and Bullets fitting, as also two 
hundred pair of Bandoliers, for the Arming and Providing of a Fort, to be 
Erected and built near Port Royall, or near some other harbour, River, or 
creek whose mouth or Entrance is Southward or Westward of Cape 
Romania, in the Province aforesaid, by the Respective Adventurers 
before mentioned, or by any others Under their Authority (Parker 
1963:110; Potter 1993:7). 

The Lords Proprietors shipped the ordinance to Barbados from London in December of 
1664 on the John & Thomas, a merchant ship jointly owned by Thomas Colleton, son of 
proprietor John Colleton, and Barbadian merchant John Strode. In a subsequent 
account of the expedition, Robert Sanford, secretary and registrar of Clarendon 
County, reported that all of the people aboard the vessel were saved by the nearness 
to shore but that "the greatest part of their provision and other Military furniture shipped 
by the Lords Proprietors for the defence of the designed settlement perished in the 
waters . . ." (Saunders 1886:120; Potter 1993:8). 

Secondary accounts often reference the flyboat as the Sir John, which may, in fact, be 
an erroneous assumption. Sanford's report appears to be the only known account that 
indicates a possible name for the boat. Sanford states: "they were after blowne from 



256 



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Figure 29. Historic Shipwrecks 
(Numbers in Circles 



establish the settlement in the vicinity of the Cape Fear. An earlier group led by John 
Vassall, with some two hundred settlers, established a settlement called Charlestown at 
the confluence of the river and Town Creek (Saunders 1 886: 1 1 9; Potter 1 993:6). 

The three vessels in Yeamans's convoy consisted of a frigate owned by Sir John 
Yeamans, a sloop purchased by the colonists, and a flyboat of approximately 150 tons 
under the personal command of Yeamans. A storm that occurred during the voyage 
damaged the frigate and scattered the three ships. By early November the vessels had 
regrouped off the entrance to the Charles River. While at anchor waiting to enter the 
river with favorable wind and tide conditions, another storm blew up and almost 
foundered the flyboat with Sir John Yeamans on board. When conditions improved, the 
trio of ships proceeded to cross the bar into the river. The crew of the flyboat, unfamiliar 
with the channel, ran the vessel aground on the shoals to the west of the channel. The 
wind and tide beat the stranded vessel to pieces (Saunders 1886:119-120; Potter 
1993:9). 

A "Concessions and Agreement" document issued by the Lords Proprietors on January 
7, 1664, with William Yeamans gives some indication of the supplies that were on 
board when the flyboat was lost. The document lists items the Lords Proprietors agreed 
to furnish the proposed settlement at Port Royal. 

The Lords do further covenant and promise that they will cause to be 
shipped before the first day of February next, Twelve pieces of 
Ordinance, with Carriages, Ladles, Sponges, and Shot convenient and 
Necessary, and Twenty barrels of powder, one hundred Firelocks, and 
one hundred Matchlocks, with Lead and Bullets fitting, as also two 
hundred pair of Bandoliers, for the Arming and Providing of a Fort, to be 
Erected and built near Port Royall, or near some other harbour, River, or 
creek whose mouth or Entrance is Southward or Westward of Cape 
Romania, in the Province aforesaid, by the Respective Adventurers 
before mentioned, or by any others Under their Authority (Parker 
1963:110; Potter 1993:7). 

The Lords Proprietors shipped the ordinance to Barbados from London in December of 
1664 on the John & Thomas, a merchant ship jointly owned by Thomas Colleton, son of 
proprietor John Colleton, and Barbadian merchant John Strode. In a subsequent 
account of the expedition, Robert Sanford, secretary and registrar of Clarendon 
County, reported that all of the people aboard the vessel were saved by the nearness 
to shore but that "the greatest part of their provision and other Military furniture shipped 
by the Lords Proprietors for the defence of the designed settlement perished in the 
waters . . ." (Saunders 1886:120; Potter 1993:8). 

Secondary accounts often reference the flyboat as the Sir John, which may, in fact, be 
an erroneous assumption. Sanford's report appears to be the only known account that 
indicates a possible name for the boat. Sanford states: "they were after blowne from 



256 



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Figure 29. Historic Shipwrecks: Smith Creek to Town Creek. 

(Numbers in Circles Correspond to Wrecks listed in Appendix 1A) 

257 




Figure 30. Historic Shi pw reel- 
(Numbers in Circle 




Figure 30. Historic Shipwrecks: Town Creek to Reaves Point. 

(Numbers in Circles Correspond to Wrecks listed in Appendix 1A) 

259 



Vessels Lost Near 
Southport (Smithville) 






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N.C. Division 
of Archives 
and History 

Underwater 

Archaeology 

Unit 



Drawing Title: 

Historic 
Shipwrecks: 

Reaves Point to 
Southport 



Project: 

Cape Fear 
River 

Comprehensive 
Survey 



Legend: 

® Historic 

Shipwreck List 
Site Locations 

(Approximate) 



Imile 




Date: May 1994 



Figure 31. Historic Shipwrec! 
(Numbers in Circle 



Vessels Lost Near 
Southport (Smithville) 

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N.C. Division 
of Archives 
and History 

Underwater 

Archaeoloqy 

Unit 



Drawing Title: 

Historic 
Shipwrecks: 
Reaves Point to 
Southport 



Project: 

Cape Fear 
River 

Comprehensive 
Survey 



Legend: 
® Historic 

Shipwreck List 
Site Locations 

(Approximate) 



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1 mile 



w- 




Date: May 1994 



Figure 31. Historic Shipwrecks: Reaves Point to Southport. 

(Numbers in Circles Correspond to Wrecks listed in Appendix 1A) 

261 




it (present) 



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N.C. Division 
of Archives 
and History 

Underwater 

Archaeology 

Unit 



Drawing Title: 

Historic 
Shipwrecks: 

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Cape Fear 



Project: 

Cape Fear 
River 

Comprehensive 
Survey 



Legend: 

® Historic 

Shipwreck List 
Site Locations 

(Approximate) 



1 mile 




Date: May 1994 



Figure 32. Historic Shipwrecl 
(Numbers in Circle 



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Vessels Lost at 



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General Locations 



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N.C. Division 
of Archives 
and History 

Underwater 

Archaeology 

Unit 



Drawing Title: 

Historic 
Shipwrecks: 
Southport to 
Cape Fear 



Project: 

Cape Fear 
River 

Comprehensive 
Survey 



Legend: 

® Historic 

Shipwreck List 
Site Locations 
(Approximate) 



1 mile 



V- 




Date: May 1994 



Figure 32. Historic Shipwrecks: Southport to Cape Fear. 

(Numbers in Circles Correspond to Wrecks listed in Appendix 1A) 

263 



their Anchors by a suddaine violent Gust, the Fly-boate Sir John was in narrowly 
escapeing the dangerous shoales of the Cape" (Saunders 1886:119). One researcher 
maintains that the name of the flyboat is still unknown and that Sanford's account when 
read with a slight grammatical correction says: "they were after blowne from their 
Anchors by a suddaine violent Gust, the Fly-boate Sir John was in, narrowly escapeing 
the dangerous shoales of the Cape" (Potter 1993:16). 



Fortuna (lost 1748) 

In the early evening of Saturday, September 3, 1748, three sloops arrived at the Cape 
Fear bar and dropped anchor to wait for local pilots to come aboard and guide them 
into the river. The pilots arrived at daybreak, only to discover that two of the vessels 
were Spanish privateers out of Havana. The third vessel was a South Carolina sloop 
seized as a prize of war. The largest of the privateers, the Fortuna, a sloop of 130 tons 
under the command of Vincent Lopez, was armed with ten 6-pound cannons and 
fourteen swivel guns. The second sloop, not as large, was the Loretta, under Joseph 
Leon Munos, and carried four 4-pounders, four 6-pounders, and twelve swivels 
( Charleston (South Carolina) Gazette . October 31, 1748; Lee 1965:232). 

The Spaniards entered the Cape Fear, guided by the hostage pilots, with the intention 
of taking "the negroes that were at work" on Fort Johnston, then under construction. 
Being a Sunday, "few or none" of the Negroes were to be found at work on the fort, 
most having been taken to Brunswick Town. Realizing their mistake, the Spaniards 
forced the pilots to guide them to Brunswick Town. Four miles below the town the 
Spanish put ashore a large number of men to attack the town by land. The Spanish 
sloops proceeded "till they anchored before the town and had fired at some boats that 
retreated on finding their mistake" of approaching the enemy vessels ( Charleston 
(South Carolina^ Gazette . October 31, 1748; Lee 1965:232). 

The people of Brunswick Town, taken completely by surprise, fled from the combined 
land and sea attack, leaving their town and several vessels in the harbor to be 
captured. Among the vessels in the harbor captured by the Spanish were the snow 
Litchfield, the brigantine Diamond, a sloop, and "several small craft." The ships Hannah 
and Nancy escaped up the river ( Charleston (South Carolina) Gazette . October 31, 
1748; Lee 1965:232; Green 1992:17). 

The inhabitants sent out an alarm for assistance. The town dispatched a messenger to 
Charlestown "to get the assistance of the king's ships." On Monday, the fifth, William 
Dry, captain of the local militia and nephew of Roger Moore, founder of Orton 
plantation, organized "about 25 or 30 men" in an attempt to recapture their town. Most 
of the men were unable to arm themselves, however, since their guns and ammunition 
were captured in the attack, delaying any action for a day. In the meantime the Spanish 
sloop Loretta had been ordered upriver in pursuit of the Nancy. About 3 miles above 
Brunswick Town the Nancy grounded on the "Flats" and was easily taken by the 



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Spanish sloop ( Charleston (South Carolina) Gazette , October 31, 1748; Lee 1965:232; 
Green 1992:19). 

The following day, September 6, with reenforcements from the countryside, sailors and 
slaves, and a few more arms, Captain Dry led a counterattack on the Spanish, who 
were busily looting the town. The defenders killed about ten of the enemy and captured 
thirty. The remaining force fled to the Fortuna, which had "anchored before the town." 
While the Fortune shelled the town to cover the Spaniards retreat, one of the cannons 
aboard the vessel ignited a fire. The fire apparently spread to the magazine, for the 
vessel soon exploded violently. Ninety men, including Captain Lopez and his entire 
staff of officers, died in the explosion. The wreckage of the Fortuna quickly settled to 
the bottom, with only the superstructure remaining above water ( Charleston [South 
Carolina] Gazette . October 31, 1748; Boston Weekly News-Letter , October 20, 1748; 
Lee 1965:232-233; Green 1992:19-20). 

Shortly after the Fortuna blew up, the captured Nancy, with twenty men and guns 
placed aboard her, began firing upon the town. The men aboard the enemy privateer 
Loretta, while upriver attempting to burn the captured Hannah, heard the explosion. 
They abandoned the attempt and sailed to join with the Nancy in the bombardment, 
firing upon Orton as they passed. The mate and some English sailors aboard the snow 
Litchfield overpowered the Spanish prize crew and grounded the vessel to prevent it 
from being taken out to sea. In retaliation the Spanish plundered the vessel, and then 
fired upon it with the guns of the sloop Loretta. Captain Wakefield of the Litchfield later 
wrote; "Our Litchfield is plundered of almost all her Stores, Colours, &c. The Boat was 
blown up by the Sloop [Loretta]: my own wearing Apparel except what I had on, with my 
stores, Liquors, Furniture, Papers, Books, Instruments, and every Thing that I had 
except my Bed was carried away" ( Boston Weekly News-Letter , October 20, 1748; Lee 
1965:232-233; Green 1992:20). 

Captain Munos of the Loretta called off the bombardment of the town of Brunswick 
when he realized that the continued destruction of the town was gaining nothing for 
himself. Munos sent a messenger ashore under a flag of truce agreeing to no further 
damage if he were allowed to leave with the Nancy and the captured South Carolina 
sloop with which he had entered the river. Dry refused the offer but was in no position 
to enforce the return of the ships and booty, having no vessel with which to pursue the 
enemy. The Spanish trio of ships prepared to sail. The following morning 
reinforcements, under Captain Swann, arrived from Wilmington and pursued the 
Spanish along the shore. The enemy ships had sailed past the partially completed Fort 
Johnston and anchored in the river off Bald Head. That evening Munos again sent a 
message ashore, agreeing to an even exchange of prisoners. Major Swann agreed to 
an exchange of prisoners on the morning of September 7, as soon as the Spanish 
prisoners could be brought down from Wilmington, where they had been taken. When 
the captives had failed to arrive by three o'clock that afternoon, Munos sailed out of the 
river with his prizes, plunder, and prisoners (Lee 1965:233-234; Green 1992:20). 



266 



Although the Brunswick colonists had suffered major damage to their town, the Spanish 
had paid heavily for their raid. Nearly half of the 260 men of the attacking Spanish force 
were killed, the invaders had lost the twenty-four-gun sloop Fortuna, and most of the 
plunder from the town went down with the vessel. (The Fortuna had sunk in shallow 
water, and the inhabitants of Brunswick Town were able to salvage a considerable 
amount from the wreck.) In 1760 the N.C. Assembly enacted a law stating that certain 
proceeds from the sale of the recovered goods be used to finance the construction of 
St. Philips Church in Brunswick and St. James Church in Wilmington. It is believed that 
the painting Ecce Homo, which hangs in St. James Church, was removed from the 
wreck of the Fortuna. An account of the reimbursements to individuals for items or 
services rendered during the attack indicates payment to "Sailors for Afishing to gett 
the Guns & Anchors &c on Shoar out of the wreck . . ." In 1985 a cannon, probably an 
eighteenth-century 4-pounder, was recovered from the river off Brunswick. The Fortuna 
was known to carry 6-pounders, so it is questionable whether that cannon came from 
the wrecked Spanish ship. A swivel gun has also been recovered from a dredge island 
adjacent to Brunswick Town in the early 1960s ( Boston Weekly News-Letter , October 
20, 1748; Clark XXIII:535; Sprunt 1992:50; Lee 1965:234; Green 1992:20; Military 
Collections, N.C. State Archives). 



Liberty (lost 1803) 

The schooner Liberty of Barrington, Rhode Island, under command of Capt. Curtis 
Ladue, sailed from Wilmington for Washington, North Carolina, on December 24, 1803. 
Encountering severe weather after leaving Wilmington, the schooner was forced to 
return where it anchored off Brunswick. All the passengers and crew except Captain 
Ladue left the vessel to "procure refreshments." Shortly thereafter, the Liberty caught 
fire and was entirely consumed. Captain Ladue escaped, saving only his life 
( Wilmington Gazette , January 31, 1804). 



Fayetteville (lost 1853) 

The 264-ton paddle-sidewheel steam tugboat Fayetteville was lost inside the main river 
entrance near Smithville (Southport) on May, 18, 1853. The previous day the tug, 
commanded by Capt. John Davis, had been outside the bar lightering the brig Invoice 
and had returned loaded about 2:00 a.m. to anchor off Oak Island. About 6:00 a.m. the 
Fayetteville was in the process of getting up steam to bring the brig upriver when one of 
its boilers exploded, shattering the hull of the boat. The tug, loaded with forty-seven 
bars of railroad iron that it had lightered from the Invoice, sank in about a half-hour. All 
of the crew except the engineer escaped injury from the blast. Wilmington partners 
DeRosset & Brown owned the Fayetteville, built in 1852, and valued at $20,000 
(Johnson 1977:101; Lytle and Holdcamper, 1975:72; Wilmington Daily Journal , May 
1 9, 20, 1 853; Wilmington Weekly Commercial . May 21 , 1 853). 



267 



Lightship "D" (lost 1861) 

Lightship "D," formerly stationed on the Frying Pan Shoals, was removed to the Cape 
Fear River near Fort Caswell, were Union forces set it afire on the night of December 
30-31, 1861. This vessel, a first-order lightship, was equipped with two lights forty feet 
above the water level. The lightship was used as a beacon to guide blockade-runners 
and other vessels safely into the river through the Western Cut at the mouth of the 
Cape Fear River. Federal sailors from the USS Mount Vernon rowed a small boat from 
their vessel to the deserted lightship with the intention of burning it. The sailors 
discovered that the vessel had been made ready to mount eight guns-six broadside 
and two after guns for defense of the harbor. The sailors saturated a large quantity of 
wood lying on the deck with turpentine and set it ablaze. The captain of the Mount 
Vernon stated that they watched as the lightship "burned to the water's edge" and that 
not a portion of the vessel could be seen above the water (ORN, Series I, 6:492; Flint 
1989:n.p.). 



Kate (lost 1862) 

The blockade-runner Kate, a 483-ton, side-wheel steamer, was originally the Carolina, 
built in Greenpoint, New York, in 1852. The vessel's dimensions were 165 feet in 
length, 29 feet 10 inches in beam, and 10 feet 4 inches in depth. As the Carolina, it 
plied between Charleston, South Carolina, and Palatka, Florida. In late 1861 or early 
1862 John Fraser and Company purchased the vessel to be used as a blockade-runner 
and changed the name to the Kate. Under the command of Capt. Thomas J. Lockwood 
of Smithville and George C. McDougal as chief engineer, the Kate attempted to run the 
Union blockade twenty times from January to November 1862. With a reported speed 
of nine knots, the Kate was successful each time in eluding the blockade. 

The Kate was responsible for bringing the yellow fever epidemic to Wilmington from the 
port of Nassau in August 1862. The epidemic which began on August 6 and ended 
November 17, resulted in the loss of between 450 and 700 lives. The Kate sailed back 
to Nassau, losing two passengers to the fever, only to find that the epidemic was raging 
in the Bahamaian port. The Kate was again threatened on a subsequent trip into 
Wilmington. On the night of October 8, 1862, three Union boats launched from larger 
vessels offshore tried to enter the Cape Fear River through New Inlet for the purpose of 
destroying the Kate. Breakers prevented the small boats from entering and landing, 
and forced the vessel to turn back. 

During the same month that the yellow fever epidemic was finally brought under control 
in Wilmington, the blockade-runner's career was also coming to an end. On November 
18, 1862, at Fiddler's Drain, now called Bonnet's Creek, one-half mile above Smithville, 
the Kate ran upon some obstructions in the river and "partially" sank. The cargo was 
salvaged but the ship was a total loss. The captain of another blockade-runner later 
wrote of the Kate, "her ribs were to be seen for many a day before the war ended, 
bleaching in the sun on one of the mud flats in Cape Fear River." A young man named 



268 



James Randall wrote that the "wreck of the Steamer Kate" was "a famous fishing 
ground" where he used to lash the boat to "one of the sunken paddle wheels" to fish. 
The Kate claimed another victim eight years later when the schooner Planet, laden with 
dry goods, ran upon the wrecked steamer. Wreckage punched a hole in the Planet's 
hull, causing it to capsize and sink (Wise 1988:126-127,307; Sprunt 1992:287; Watson 
1992:86; Reaves 1978:54; Wilkinson 1877:84; Williams-McEachern Civil War File, 
UNCW; Wilmington Journal , November 22, 1862; Williams and McEachern 1978:4; 
ORN I, 8:152-155). 



CSS North Carolina (lost 1864) 

The North Carolina was one of two Confederate ironclad steamers completed at 
Wilmington during the Civil War. The Beery's built the vessel at their "Confederate 
Navy Yard," or the "Navy Yard" on Eagles Island, across from Wilmington. J. L. 
Cassidey and Sons built the other ironclad, the Raleigh, at their shipyard at the foot of 
Church Street. The Richmond-class ironclad, begun in July 1862, remained nameless 
until October of that year, when S. R. Mallory, secretary of the Confederate States 
Navy, instructed that the ship be named the North Carolina. Built for the Confederate 
government in accordance with the specifications issued by chief naval constructor 
John L. Porter, the North Carolina was the largest ship built by the Beery brothers. It 
measured 150 feet in length, 32 feet in beam, had a depth of 14 feet, and only 800 
tons' burden (Shomette 1973:333; UAU Site Files; Mallison 1959:9). Nearly all of the 
wood used in the construction of the ship was fresh cut or "green." The hull was of 
pine, and the upper works of heavy oak. It was stated that the ironclad steamer had 
low, broad lines and could not cross the bar but rather was intended for river defense 
(ORA I, 18:416; ORN I, 8:88; Hall 1980:339). 

The North Carolina was expected to be completed by October or November 1862, but 
strikes, shortages, and a yellow-fever epidemic postponed the launching of the vessel 
for several months. The guns, railroad iron plating, and engines for both ironclads 
under construction had to be produced at the Confederacy's only iron rolling mill, the 
Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond. Instead of waiting for the engine to be built for the 
North Carolina, Captain Beery was able to locate an engine from another vessel that 
could be installed in the ironclad. At the beginning of the war the town of Wilmington 
seized the tug Uncle Ben and removed the engine. Although the engine from the tug 
proved too small for the larger ironclad, it was better than having to wait for the 
Tredegar Iron Works to build one, as was the case with the Raleigh (ORA I, 18:416; 
Mallison 1959:9; Shomette 1973:333; Robinson 1990:291). 

Nearly complete by the spring of 1863, the North Carolina still lacked guns and what 
would prove a costly omission-lower-hull copper sheathing. There was very little copper 
to be found in the whole Confederacy in 1863, and the sheathing had to be omitted 
from the final plans. The specific armament of the North Carolina has never been 
determined. Most Richmond-class ironclads were designed to carry two 7-inch and two 
6.4-inch Brooke rifles. The guns were arranged so that one gun pointed out of a 



269 



gunport on the bow and another out of the stern; one gun on each broadside was 
capable of being pointed from any of three ports. Both the bow and stern guns were on 
pivots, able to turn to either broadside to fire. That arrangement gave the Richmond 
class a three-gun broadside potential. Although the Wilmington ironclads were meant 
to carry four guns, they carried only three, primarily to conserve weight. Before the 
ironclad was finished, the navy loaned to General Whiting at Fort Fisher two Brooke 
6.4-inch rifles. When the North Carolina was ready to be launched, General Whiting 
returned the guns. The third gun was probably a 7-inch Brooke rifle (ORN I, 8:89; II, 
1:262; Mallison 1959:12). 

The Confederate Navy placed the ironclad steamer North Carolina in commission 
during the later part of the year with Capt. William T. Muse in command of a 
complement of 150 men. Unable to cross the bar for ocean duty and subject to 
breakdowns of its old engine, the North Carolina was involved in little action. It was 
moored at Smithville as a guard ship for the lower entrance to the Cape Fear. The 
ironclad spent most of its entire career at Smithville, where it was subject to progressive 
deterioration below the waterline from teredo worms because of its lack of sheathing. 
Lieutenant William B. Cushing of the U.S. Navy stated in June 1864 that the ironclad 
"is but little relied upon, and would not stand long against a monitor." In April Capt. 
William Maury temporarily replaced Capt. William Muse, who had been overcome by 
typhoid fever. When Captain Maury was stricken with "acute Rhumatism," Capt. John 
Pembroke Jones became the final commander of the North Carolina. Jones spent the 
majority of his time overseeing the "fitting out of a blockade runner" in Wilmington, and 
the ironclad North Carolina quickly deteriorated during the absence of its captain. 
Finally, in September 1864, the North Carolina sprang a leak while anchored in the 
Cape Fear River. Reportedly the Confederates moved the ironclad to Battery Island 
where it was abandoned. In a letter to his sister, Assistant Third Engineer Charles Peek 
stationed at Smithville wrote: "The old North Carolina is no more. She [is] full of water 
before I left. The men are now employed taking the iron from her" ( Wilmington Daily 
Journal . April 14, 1864; Charles S. Peek to Sister, July 6, 8, 24, September 16, 1864; 
Wilmington Dispatch . February 14, 1919; Shomette 1973:333; ORN II, 1:262; 10:203). 

A year after the sinking of the ironclad, Stephen Bartlett, a U.S. surgeon stationed 
aboard a ship at Southport, wrote home to his brother about visiting the partially 
submerged wreck: "Tell Walter I fish from the Rebel iron clad N Carolina which is sunk 
near us but most of the decks are out of water" (Murray and Bartlett 1956:92). In the 
spring of 1868 the Navy Department contracted for the removal of the remaining iron 
plating from the North Carolina. In late June "some fifty tons of iron, stripped from the 
ram North Carolina," was sold at public auction for 2 1/8 cents per pound ( Wilmington 
Star , July 1 , 1868). Three years later the wooden remains of the old ram North Carolina 
were intentionally burnt to the water's edge ( Wilmington Star . September 8, 1871). 



270 



CSS Raleigh (lost 1864) 

During late 1863 the Confederate ironclad sloop-rigged steam-powered ram Raleigh 
was laid down at the wharf near the foot of Church Street in Wilmington at the James 
Cassidey & Sons shipyard. The Richmond-class ironclad, built to John L. Porter's 
plans, similar to those of the CSS North Carolina, was 150 feet in length from stempost 
to sternpost and 172 feet overall, with a 32-foot beam and a draft of 12 feet. Two 
thicknesses of iron plating, or casemate, covered a heavily constructed wooden hull, 
and a subsurface ram was fitted at the bow. The ironclad Raleigh was commissioned 
on April 3, 1864, under Lt. John Wilkinson, CSN, and shortly thereafter placed under 
the command of Lt. J. Pembroke Jones, CSN. Built for river defense, the Raleigh was 
not designed to cross the bar (Farb 1985:322; Shomette 1973:352-353; ORA I, 
18:416). 

The vessel's compliment numbered 188, and her armament consisted of four 6-inch 
rifled cannons. The engine for the ironclad may have been removed from the wreck of 
the blockade-runner Modern Greece, while another source claims the engine was new 
from Richmond (ORA I, 18:416; ORN I, 8:90; Shomette 1973:352). On the evening of 
May 6, 1864, the ironclad left Wilmington and steamed toward the bar at New Inlet 
accompanied by the wooden steamers CSS Yadkin and CSS Equator, to engage six 
vessels of the Union blockading fleet. With the smaller steamers under the protection of 
the guns of Fort Fisher, the Raleigh was successful in briefly breaking the blockade that 
evening, allowing a blockade-runner to escape. Fighting resumed the following morning 
and by 6:00 A.M. the Confederates broke off the action. While attempting to cross back 
over the bar at the inlet, the Raleigh grounded, "breaking her back" on what was known 
as New Inlet rip, a narrow and shifting sand strip. Charles Peek, when assigned to the 
other ironclad, the North Carolina, then stationed at Smithville, commented in a letter to 
his sister that "the weight of the iron upon her shield just crushed her decks in." By the 
following morning the water had reached the Raleigh's gun decks. The severely 
damaged vessel was salvaged of her guns and abandoned ( Wilmington Dispatch . 
February 14, 1919; Charles S. Peek to Sis, May 9, 1864; Shomette 1973:353; Farb 
1985:322; ORN I, 10:203; II, 2:632, 752). 

The wreck of the Raleigh posed a navigation hazard for several years. In June 1864 
James Randall, a young clerk in Wilmington, wrote to his friend Kate after returning 
from a river trip to Smithville. In his letter he noted his sighting of the remains of the 
ironclad Raleigh "just a few yards from the channel." Randall described the condition of 
the wreck and salvage work in progress: 

She was very much sunken at the stern, lifting her bow considerably. Her 
sides had been stripped of their armor, the smokestack prostrate, and 
altogether she had the appearance of a monstrous turtle stranded and 
forlorn. As we passed, the divers were engaged in removing her boilers 
and machinery (Williams and McEachern 1978:3). 



271 



Contemporary accounts reported that the "guns, equipment, iron, etc.," were "being 
saved." The salvors, unable to refloat the ironclad, removed the two boilers and 
destroyed the vessel. The navy sent the boilers to Columbus, Georgia to be used in the 
steamer Chattahoochee. In July Capt. William Cushing reported, after visiting the site 
of the wrecked Raleigh, that nothing of the vessel remained above water ( Wilmington 
Dispatch , February 14, 1919; Shomette 1973:353; Farb 1985:322; ORN I, 10:24- 
25,203; II, 2:632, 752). 

The wreck was indicated on navigation charts of New Inlet for many years. In April 
1868 the schooner L. Waring, laden with 3,000 bushels of corn, ran upon the sunken 
ironclad while passing through New Inlet. The ship's crew made efforts the following 
day to lighten the schooner and save her from sinking. By late May 1868 the schooner 
had been raised and repaired at the Cassidey Brothers shipyard ( Wilmington Star , April 
15, 16 and 22, 1868). The Raleigh was partially salvaged again in 1881. A Wilmington 
newspaper provided the following account of that operation: 

Mr. Horton, was cruising in that neighborhood [the rip off New Inlet] a day 
or two since, when they came across some obstacle on the bottom, 
whereupon Capt. Loring, an experienced submarine diver, donned his suit 
and went down, placing two kegs of gun powder in the midst of the 
obstruction and setting it off. The result enabled him to ascertain that it 
was the wreck of a vessel, and he next placed a thirty-five pound package 
of powder under the wreck and blew it apart, when a portion of the sunken 
gunboat, which proved to be the front of the turret [casemate], was 
brought to the surface, hitched on to the schooner and brought to this 
port, where it was dropped on the railway at Capt. Skinner's yard and 
hauled up out of the water ( Wilmington Star , April 6, 1 881 ). 



CSS Arctic (lost 1864) 

The Arctic, (ex-Utah,) was a 328-ton screw steamer built in Philadelphia in 1851 at the 
navy yard by Theodore Birely. The two-decked, three-masted steamer measured 121 
feet in length, 24 feet in beam, and 12 feet in depth and displaced 125 tons. The 
Pennsylvania Iron Works and the Reaney, Neafie & Company manufactured the direct- 
action engine and tubular boiler for the Arctic. The Arctic was built for the Lighthouse 
Board to be used as an unpowered relief lightship. In early 1855 the navy purchased 
the lightship and specifically modified the vessel with a reinforced hull, a new boiler, 
and rigged it as a brig to be used in a relief expedition to find the lost polar expedition 
of Sir John Franklin to the Arctic region. The vessel was then commissioned as the 
USS Arctic. Later, in 1856-1857, it was used to make soundings for the laying of the 
trans-Atlantic cable (UAU Site Files; Wilmington Journal . January 30, 1867). 

In 1859 the Arctic was transferred back to the U.S. Lighthouse Service for use as a 
lightship in the Cape Fear River. The Navy Department received $10,000 for the 
vessel, minus machinery and boilers. The conversion of the Arctic to Lightship No. 8 



272 



took place at Norfolk, Virginia. The vessel's main mast was left, so that the ship's 
beacon might be raised and lowered as needed. The new lightship was then towed 
from Norfolk to Smithville, on the Cape Fear River. On May 14, 1860, the ship was 
placed on station at the Frying Pan Shoals, where it remained until the outbreak of the 
Civil War (Reaves 1978:41,43 and 46; UAU Site Files). 

Confederate forces seized the Arctic at the beginning of the war and converted into a 
receiving ship for the navy. Its machinery was removed in 1862 for use in the ironclad 
CSS Richmond, then being built in Virginia. In 1863 the vessel was converted into a 
floating battery. Its seaward side was partially iron-plated, and it was armed with three 
42-pounder smoothbore muzzle-loading cannons. When Wilmington was threatened 
with capture in December 1864, the Arctic was "filled with rock and sunk in the channel 
of the river about three miles" from Wilmington to serve as an obstruction to the 
Federal flotilla. The location of the obstruction in front of Fort Campbell on the east side 
of the river is clearly indicated on a Confederate map of the period ( Wilmington 
Journal , June 13, 1866, January 30, 1867; ORN Series II, 1:248; Naval Chronology, 
Part VI: 198; ORN I, 11:786-787; Reaves 1978:66). 

In June 1866 salvors raised the Arctic, described as "a dismantled hull, blackened with 
age and decay," from the Cape Fear River. The ship was brought to the Cassidey and 
Beery shipyard in Wilmington, where it was repaired and refitted during January 1867. 
The government equipped the Arctic with new rigging and lamps with the intention of 
converting it back into a lightship. Reports indicate that U.S. Lighthouse Service 
removed Lightship No. 8 from the Cape Fear region in May 1867 for reassignment. In 
1872 a new mast was stepped and minor repairs made. Lightship No. 8 continued to 
serve as a relief lightship until a structural survey in 1878 condemned the ship. On April 
16, 1879, the lightship was sold at public auction for her junk value ( Wilmington 
Journal , June 13, 1866, January 30, 1867, September 8, 1870; Reaves 1978:71-72; 
UAU Site files). 



CSS Yadkin (lost 1865) 

The Yadkin was a wooden screw steamer built at Wilmington for the Confederate 
forces during 1863-1864. The 300-ton gunboat was English built with no masts, one 
smokestack, a clear deck with awnings spread fore and aft, and two mounted guns. The 
vessel was placed under the command of Lt. William A. Kerr, and served as flagship for 
Comdr. W. F. Lynch. In December 1864 the Confederate command ordered the Yadkin 
to carry reinforcements to Battery Buchanan on the southern end of the point to oppose 
an anticipated Union attack upon Fort Fisher. On February 22, 1865, to prevent the 
gunboat from falling into enemy hands, the Confederates deliberately set it afire during 
the evacuation of Wilmington. The Yadkin was sunk as part of the obstructions below 
the Dram Tree, just opposite Fort Campbell. The location of the obstructions and the 
wreck in front of Fort Campbell are indicated on a Confederate map of the period. In 
January 1866 salvors raised the wreck of the Yadkin from the river where they found 
the engine to be in good order. The boiler had been removed prior to the sinking and 



273 



sent to Fayetteville. The government placed the hull of the Yadkin for sale in March 
1867 (Shomette 1973:393-394; Naval Chronology, Part Vl:326; Wilmington Journal , 
January 31, 1866, March 6, 1867; ORN I, 10:202; Bragg 1865). 



North Heath (lost 1865) 

The blockade-runner North Heath was built in England for Thomas Begbie of the 
Universal Trading Company. The vessel served in the Atlantic from March 1863 to 
January 1865, making five successful runs in five attempts. The 343-ton sidewheel 
steamer was 229 feet in length, 25 feet in beam, and had a depth of 13 feet. On an 
attempt to sneak into the Cape Fear River entrance in October 1864, the blockade- 
runner was badly damaged. As a result, it was still in port when the Federal forces 
arrived off Fort Fisher in December of that year. When Wilmington was forced to 
evacuate in January 1865, the crew of the North Heath sank their vessel to blockade 
the channel opposite Fort Lee in the Cape Fear River. A Confederate map drawn the 
following month shows the position of the sunken vessel (Wise 1988:208, 314; Sprunt 
1920: 112-114; ORN Bragg 1865). 

The Beery's of Wilmington made an unsuccessful attempt to raise the wreck of the 
North Heath in December 1869. In early 1874 the government sold the wreck to Maj. 
John M. Foote of Weldon, North Carolina, who planned a second salvage attempt to 
raise the blockade-runner. At that time the twin funnel smokestacks of the North Heath 
were still visible above the waterline. By March 1874, Major Foote was waiting to have 
a large lighter built at the Beery shipyard to be used in raising the vessel. Foote's plans 
to raise the North Heath ended in failure. In 1886 the American Dredging Company 
received a contract to remove the wreck. The company was successful in moving the 
vessel to one side of the existing channel and then blasting the structure down to the 
prevailing depth of the channel. The company later removed parts of the wreckage to 
obtain the 26-foot depth ( Wilmington Star , December 7, 1869, January 14, March 2, 
1874: Wilmington News . October 5, 1931). 

The rest of the sunken vessel apparently remained undisturbed and forgotten until April 
29, 1927, when dredging of the river again revealed the wreckage. Capt. Edgar 
Williams, harbor master of Wilmington, identified it as the remains of the blockade- 
runner North Heath. Salvors once again made an effort to remove the remains reported 
as lying against a curve in the river near the Galena Signal Oil Company plant and 
Carolina Shipyard below Wilmington. In 1927 the main channel was realigned to the 
westward to avoid dredging rock on the eastern edge, thus once again exposing the 
wreck. It was estimated that 125 feet of the iron vessel still remained. In May 1927 
salvors placed dynamite on the wreck of the North Heath with the intention of blowing 
the vessel into several pieces. The fragments of wreck were then to be removed by the 
snag boat Fayetteville. ( Wilmington Star . May 10, 1927; Wilmi ng ton News-Dispatch , 
April 30, 1927, November 2, 1931). 



274 



The 1 927 attempt to remove the wreckage of the North Heath appears to have been 
only partially successful, as in October 1931 the Wilmington District, Corps of 
Engineers once again issued bids for the removal of the wrecked Civil War blockade- 
runner. Charles T. Johnson of Lewes, Delaware received an award for $7,900 to 
remove the wreckage that lay in a part of the channel near the head of Clarks Island. 
The Johnson company planned to blow the wreckage down to a depth of not less than 
35 feet and to remove the debris by means of a bucket derrick. Blasting began in 
December 1931 to make way for the 30-foot channel and was completed by February 
1932. The salvors delivered one of the iron plates from the North Heath to the city 
government later that year to be mounted as a memorial. A Defense Department 
contract in 1947 once again called for the removal of the North Heath "above the 33 
foot level." The "superstructure" of the blockade-runner was to be exhumed for 
dredging operations to deepen the Cape Fear River channel ( Wilmington News , 
October 5, November 2, 6, 1931, May 13, 1947; Wilmington Star . December 1,10, 
1931, February 4, December 13, 1932). 



Henrietta (lost 1865) 

The steamer Henrietta was one of the original two steamboats to begin operating on 
the Cape Fear River in 1818 (the other was the Prometheus). James Seawell built the 
steamboat Henrietta in 1817-1818 on his plantation on the east side of the Cape Fear 
River, 3 miles above Campbellton, now Fayetteville. Named for Sewell's daughter, the 
side-wheeler Henrietta was launched on April 30, 1818, and placed under the 
command of Capt. Charles Taws. Originally the steamboat had no upper deck, and its 
cabin was set down in the hold. Its dimensions measured 119 feet in length, 20 feet in 
beam, and a depth of 6 feet ( New Bern Centinel , May 9, 1818; Johnson 1977:31,35-36; 
UAU site files). 

In early July 1818 the steamboat made its first trip from Fayetteville to Wilmington 
during low water. The distance of 115 miles took six days, and the vessel achieved a 
speed of 8 miles per hour. Mechanical problems plagued the Henrietta in its early 
travels, and steering was very cumbersome. The vessel was geered "to work like gog- 
wheels like a mill." In order for the steamboat to navigate sharp turns in the river it often 
had to be "dropped around with a line." At other times, members of the crew had to 
secure the bow to a tree or rock on shore and pull the boat around. In 1820 Capt. 
Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia changed the vessel's gearing to a chain-motion drive, 
and later to a connecting-rod-and-crank drive. With the improvements in 
maneuverability and Capt. Rush as its master, the Henrietta increased its passenger 
and freight service. Improvements to the vessel included adding an upper deck and 
better accommodations, and later more powerful machinery to modernize the steamer 
(Johnson 1977:36-37). 

While passing below the Dram Tree south of Wilmington in 1865, one of the three 
boilers aboard the Henrietta exploded, instantly sinking the steamboat. At the time of its 
loss, it was said she was the oldest steamer in the United States. After the wreck, 



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salvors recovered one of the boilers and sold it to a planter in the vicinity for use on his 
farm. In September 1883 the wrecking steamer Siam recovered a second boiler. As late 
as June 1891 "the bones" of the Henrietta were still visible and "rotting" below the city. 
It was then suggested that the wreck be preserved as a "historic relic" ( Wilmington 
Star., September 21,1 883; Wilmington Messenger , June 25, 1 891 ; Wilmington Weekly 
Star , July 24, 1891; Wilmington Dispatch , February 14, 1919). 



Spray (lost ca. 1860 -1890) 

William and Albert Thatcher built at their Wilmington, Delaware shipyard in 1852, the 
107-ton wooden Side-wheel steamer Spray for Richard B. Gilpin. The Spray measured 
133 feet in length, 18.5 feet in beam, and had 4.5 feet depth of hold that drew less than 
24 inches of water. The steamer had a single deck with square stern and carried no 
masts. Its two 50-horsepower engines were built by Betts, Pusey, Jones & Seal at the 
Wilmington Iron Works in Delaware. Each had a 10-inch-diameter piston and 48-inch 
stroke that turned paddlewheels 18 feet in diameter ( Wilmington Journal , December 22, 
1854, January 5, 1855; UAU Site Files, Enrollment No. 15, May, 20, 1852; Lyttle- 
Holdcamper 1975:201). 

In early 1853 A. H. Van Bokkelen, commission merchant of Wilmington, North Carolina, 
purchased the Spray and brought it to North Carolina to be placed upon the Cape Fear 
River between Fayetteville and Wilmington ( Wilmington Journal , January 14, 1853). By 
March the "handsome and swift" steamboat was making regular tri-weekly trips 
between Wilmington and Smithville ( Wilmington Journal , March 18, 1853). 

Van Bokkelen advertised for sale in December 1854 the steamer Spray, "fitted up for 
carrying passengers" and a "large quantity of freight." The following month Van 
Bokkelen went into the "business of purchasing and manufacturing of Naval Stores also 
Cooperage, Wharfage, and Storage of produce" with his brother William. The vessel 
enrollment shows that Van Bokkelen still owned the Spray as late as September 1855. 
By March 1856 Van Bokkelen had sold a half-interest in the steamer to Herman H. 
Robinson ( Wilmington Journal , December 22, 1854, January 5, 1855; Enrollments, 
September8, 1855, March 7, 1856). 

Newspaper accounts and enrollments document the steamer Spray up to 1858, at 
which time there is no further mention. At the beginning of the Civil War Confederate 
forces likely purchase the vessel and placed into service. One possibility is that the 
name of the vessel was changed and that the Spray may have been the CSS Caswell, 
which was deliberately sunk near Wilmington in 1865. Both the Spray and the Caswell 
were wooden side-wheel steamers, although little information is known about the 
Confederate vessel prior to the war. The date the Spray sank is unknown. 

In October and November 1981 the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Unit 
investigated the remains of a side-wheel steam vessel located in the Northeast Cape 
Fear River above the Hilton Railroad Bridge at Wilmington. The investigation was 



276 



conducted as. part of a cultural resource identification and evaluation survey of a 
portion of the Northeast Cape Fear River prior to intensive dredging activities. The 
measured dimensions of the steamer were nearly identical to those of the Spray. One 
horizontal slide-valve steam engine was still attached to the wreck. Another engine and 
the boiler had been previously removed. Artifactual material recovered from the wreck 
suggested that the vessel sank sometime between 1860 and 1880 (Saltus 1982; 
Lawrence 1987:6). 

The most prominent feature of the site was the presence of iron straps or bands 
protruding from the river bottom on both the starboard and port sides at the turn of the 
bilge. The 1.5-inch-by-half-inch bands were spaced every 15 inches and were found to 
run athwartships on the outside of the hull planking, similar to the hoops on a barrel. 
For obvious reasons, the site was named the "Band Wreck." Wilmington historian 
James Sprunt similarly described the Spray as "shaped like a barrell, hooped up on the 
sides" (Lawrence 1987:5; Sprunt, 1896:35). 

The discovery of a 1891 newspaper article provided confirmation that the "Band 
Wreck" was indeed the steamboat Spray: 

Government wrecking crew yesterday succeeded in raising the boiler and 
engine of the steamer Spray which was sunk several years ago in the 
Northeast Cape Fear River just north of the railroad bridge at Hilton in the 
northern limits of the city ( Wilmington Star , October 23, 1891 ). 

The 1892 annual report of the Corps of Engineers further confirmed the removal. The 
report stated that "parts of an old steamboat, scow, and boiler were removed from the 
channel above Hilton Bridge, 2/4 miles above Wilmington" (Corps of Engineers Annual 
Report 1892:1153). 



CSS Caswell (lost 1865) 

The Caswell was a wooden side-wheel steamer used by the Confederates as a tender 
at the Wilmington station between 1861 and 1862. Initially the vessel was under the 
command of Acting Master William B. Whitehead, CSN. The Caswell was burnt at 
Wilmington in February 1865 to avoid capture by the Federal forces. This vessel may 
have been the steamer Spray prior to the war (ORN Series II, 1:250; Shomette 
1973:245; UAU Site Files). 



CSS Equator (lost 1865) 

The Confederate side-wheel steamer Equator was fitted out for gunboat service in the 
Cape Fear River in March 1864 and equipped with one gun. The 64-ton wooden tug 
was built in Philadelphia in 1854. Enrollment records for the vessel at both Philadelphia 
and Wilmington in 1854 show the vessel to be 68 feet in length and 16 feet in the 
beam, with a depth of 6 feet 6 inches. The steam tug was single decked with no masts. 



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The Confederates burned the Equator in January 1865 to prevent capture by Federal 
forces (Shomette 1973:264; Lytle and Holdcamper 1975:66; UAU Site Files). 



Cape Fear (lost 1865) 

The Confederate steamer Cape Fear was built in London, England, in 1862 by John 
and William Dudgeon, who gave it the name Flora. The ship measured 161.3 feet in 
length, 22.5 feet in beam, and 12.4 in depth. Alexander Collie and Company, the 
owners of the 434-ton vessel, used it as a blockade-runner until September 1863 when 
they sold it to the Henry Hart of the Consolidated Steamship Company. As a blockade- 
runner, the Flora was successful in running the blockade eleven times. Hart owned the 
vessel for only one month, during which time he renamed it the Virginia. In October 
1863 Hart sold the steamer to the Confederate States government for $500,000 in 
cotton. The Confederate authorities renamed the ship the Cape Fear and operated her 
on the Cape Fear River as a transport until the evacuation of Smithville. On the night of 
January 16, 1865, the crew scuttled the Cape Fear near Fort Caswell (Wise 1988:299- 
300). 

During the summer of 1870 the Beery firm raised the sunken Confederate steamer and 
took it into Wilmington. In September Beery had the hull towed to Baltimore, in 
company with another recovered wreck, the Federal gunboat Thorn. The Cape Fear 
was falsely reported as again sunk off Cape Lookout during the trip. Several days later 
the Norfolk Virginian reported that the vessels had safely arrived in Norfolk at that port 
on their voyage to Baltimore ( Wilmington Journal , September 8, 16, 20, 28, 1870). 



Thorn (lost 1865) 

The United States transport steamer Thorn was engaged as a lighter on the Cape Fear 
River since the Federal forces occupied Wilmington. The Thorn, built in 1862, 
measured 127 feet in length, 26 feet in beam, and 14Vz deep. On March 5, 1865, the 
403-ton steamer was going downriver to lighten a vessel at the bar when it ran upon a 
rebel torpedo in the river just below Fort Anderson. Adm. David Porter had ordered that 
enemy torpedos be removed from the river after the occupation, so the captain of the 
steamer had not anticipated any threat from torpedoes still remaining there. One 
supposition was that a "prowling band of rebels," had somehow planted the torpedo, 
probably with a view of blowing up one of the transports going out of the river loaded 
with paroled Federal prisoners ( Wilmington Herald of the Union . March 6, 1865; UAU 
Site Files). 

The bow of the Thorn struck the torpedo and instantly broke allowing the steamer to 
quickly fill with water. The ship sank in less than two minutes with no loss of life. The 
Thorn was considered an old vessel, having been in service since the Burnside 
Expedition to Hatteras Inlet. In September 1870 the Baker Wrecking Company of 
Norfolk raised the Thorn from the river and towed to the Beery shipyard in Wilmington 
for repairs. Later in September, the owner, James Clark &Co. towed the Thorn, along 



278 



with the Cape Fear, another raised vessel, to Baltimore. The vessels were falsely 
reported as lost off of Cape Lookout on the voyage north ( Wilmington Herald of th e 
Union . March 6, 1865; Wilmington Journal , September 8, 9, 11, 28, 1870; Sprunt 
1992:499). 



Planet { lost 1870) 

On a Sunday morning in early January 1870, the schooner Planet, owned by Peter 
Davis and laden with dry goods, ran upon the wrecked steamer Kate a half-mile above 
Smithville. At the time the schooner struck the wreck, it was going "at an immense 
speed, the wind and tide both being with her. . . ." Submerged wreckage punched a 
hole in the Planets hull, causing the schooner to capsize and sink. The seven 
passengers and crew, along with a small portion of the cargo were saved ( Wilmington 
Star , January 11,1 870; Reaves 1 978:78). 



J. S. Underhill {\os\ J \878) 

The 80-ton steamer J. S. Underhill was built in New York in 1853 and measured 99 feet 
in length, 22 feet in beam, and 6 feet in depth. The square-stemed vessel was said to 
have one deck and no masts. Its early history is unknown until the 1870s, when it was 
reported as running as a packet between Wilmington and Smithville. Occasionally the 
Underhill substituted for another steamer, the Dixie, on the route to Smithville 
( Wilmington Star , March 19, 21, April 13, 1876; Wilmington Enrollments #2, July 1878). 

An exchange in ownership between the Underhill and the Dixie occurred in late 1876. 
O. G. Parsley, owner of the steamer Dixie, arranged a trade with the owners of the 
Underhill, by which Parsley became the proprietor of the latter boat. The Underhill took 
the place of the Dixie as a regular packet between Wilmington and Smithville. The 
owners took the Dixie to New York ( Wilmington Star , December 10, 1876). 

By 1878 the steamer J. S. Underhill, with Capt. B. F. Latham as master, was making 
regular round trips between its wharf at the foot of Orange Street and Smithville, 
leaving in the morning and returning in the afternoon. After several months of service, 
the steamer was temporarily taken off the river in September 1878 to undergo a 
thorough overhauling and be provided with some improvements and a new boiler. The 
Underhill was expected to be out of service for about one month, during which time the 
steamer Passport assumed the run to and from Smithville and carried the mail 
( Wilmington Star , June 30, September 11, 1878). 

At 3:30 a.m. on the morning of December 24, 1878, the steamer J. S. Underhill was 
lying at its wharf at O. G. Parsley & Co., when it caught fire. The fire originated on a 
timber raft tied on the starboard quarter of the steamer. The Underhill was pointed 
downstream at her wharf where she was awaiting repairs when the fire spread with the 
"west" or "southwest" wind to the steamer. A watchman, asleep in the cabin of the 
Underhill, awoke to notice the ship in flames. The fire quickly spread to the wharf, the 



279 



nearby steamer North East, and all the buildings on the southern end of the block. In 
addition to the loss of the two vessels, the fire consumed everything from Orange 
Street to Muster's Alley. The steamer burned to the water's edge. A vessel towed the 
charred hulk to the west side of the river "near Northrop & Cummings timber pen" and 
the "neighborhood of C. W. McClammy's distillery," where it sunk, "her smoke-stack 
being just visible above the surface of the water." The mill of Northrop and Cummings 
was located on the east side of the river between Castle and Queen Streets. The 
steamer was valued at $6,000 and was fully insured ( Wilmington Sun , December 25, 
1878; Wilmington Star . December 27, 1878; Wilmington enrollments #2, July 1878). 

The wreck of the steamer Underhill lay on the shore of Eagles Island for a number of 
years until it was determined that the "machinery and other articles of value still 
remaining in the hull" would be salvaged. In April 1882 the schooner Wave, belonging 
to Messrs. Watson & Eckel, and a salvage diver were engaged in salvaging the sunken 
steamer on the west side of the river, nearly opposite Kidder's mill at the foot of Kidder 
Street. Two years later the wreck of the Underhill was again mentioned when the 
wrecking schooner Siam, also owned by Watson & Eckel, sank near the steamer 
( Wilmington Star . April 22, 1882). 



Siam (lost 1884) 

The two-masted schooner Siam was built in Greenpoint, New York about 1866, to the 
dimensions of 64 feet in length, 25 feet in width, and 5 feet in depth. The 51 -ton vessel 
was single decked with a square stern. The Siam was enrolled early in its career at 
Edenton and the Rappahannock, but was enrolled by 1874 in Wilmington. The local 
owner of the schooner was a G. Harris, with various masters listed (North Carolina 
Enrollment Records, 1866 - 1874). 

In late January 1874 the schooner Siam, commanded by a Captain Ackley, with a cargo 
of corn, was reported partially sunk on the shoal just inside New Inlet bar. At that time it 
was thought that there was little hope of raising the schooner, which was being stripped 
in preparation for being abandoned. The cargo of corn was entirely destroyed. Within a 
few weeks, however, the Siam was removed from the shoal and brought to Wilmington 
for repairs. B. W. Beery & Son accomplished the salvage with their steam pump to 
refloat the vessel ( Wilmington Star , January 25, February 4, 17, 1874; North Carolina 
Enrollment Records, 1875-1881). 

Contemporay accounts once again reported in 1881 the schooner Siam ashore, this 
time between Fort Caswell and Smithville as a result of a September hurricane. The 
vessel was, however, apparently successfully removed and returned to service. The 
Siam, owned by Watson & Eckel, finally met with an unsurmountable disaster in early 
April 1884. While at anchorage on the west side of the river, nearly opposite Castle 
Street, the Siam was destroyed by fire and sank near the wreck of the steamer 
Underhill. The watchman discovered the schooner on fire just before midnight. By the 
time help arrived, the vessel was engulfed in flames. Captain Myers of the fire 



280 



department, with two or three other firemen, rowed to the burning Siam but were 
powerless to do any good in saving the ship. Captain Myers described the destruction 
as "a grand spectacle to witness the fire as it crept up the spars and rigging and out on 
the booms and bowsprit, burning the furled sails and conjuring up all sorts of fantastic 
shapes and shadows and optical illusions." The owners estimated their loss from 
$4,000 to $4,500. Also destroyed by the fire were a hoisting apparatus, including an 
engine and a boiler used for wrecking, diving apparatus, and a steam pump 
Wilmington Star . April 12, 22, 1882). 



Swiftsure (lost 1885) 

On July 4, 1885, the British brig Swiftsure sprang a leak and was run aground opposite 
Smithville on Battery Island. At the time, the brig was loaded with 173,000 feet of 
lumber. No additional information is known on the vessel (Reaves 1978:87). 



Wave (lost 1886) 

The schooner Wave sank on January 14, 1886, when ice forced the vessel, used as a 
lighter, into the Battery Island shoals. The ice punched a hole in the side of the 
schooner, causing it to fill and sink. The Wave was loaded with rosin for the barque 
Richard, at anchor in Smithville. No additional information is known on the vessel 
(Reaves 1978:88-89). 



Waccamaw (lost 1886) 

Originally named the Nuestra SefSora de Regla, the steamer was built in New York City 
as a ferry for service in Havana, Cuba, in 1861. During the spring and summer of 1861, 
the Nuestra Senora de Regla took shape under the watchful eye of Capt. Ignacio 
Reynals. The Bay of Havana & Regla Co. of Cuba hired Captain Reynals to be its 
master and to supervise the construction of their new steam ferry at the John Englis 
shipyard in New York. According to the plans and specifications, the vessel was a 139- 
foot side-wheel steamer with a beam of 28 feet, a draft of 10 feet 9 inches, and a 
burden of 300 tons. It was built largely of seasoned white oak and had two pilothouses 
on the promenade deck, two rudders, and a square-rigged foremast and topmast. The 
vessel's two paddlewheels were approximately 28 feet in diameter and were powered 
by an inclined engine with a 36-inch cylinder and a 9-inch stroke. The ship had two iron 
bands in the bow, one of which was sheathed in copper and surrounded the entire ship. 
On October 12, 1861, the Regla steamed out of New York harbor under the neutral flag 
of Spain. After being damaged by heavy seas, it returned to New York for repairs and 
sailed once again on October 27 (Triebe and Wilde-Ramsing 1992:10,12). 

On its maiden voyage Union ships captured the Regla near Charleston, South Carolina 
on December 1, 1861, as a supposed blockade-runner and towed to Hilton Head 
Island. On January 29, 1862, the Union ships delivered the Regla to the U.S. Navy at 
Port Royal. The U.S. Navy converted the vessel into a gunboat under the name 



281 



Commodore Hull. From 1862 to 1865 it played an active part in the sounds and rivers 
of eastern North Carolina, including the critical three-hour engagement with the CSS 
Albemarle in May 1864 (Triebe and Wilde-Ramsing 1992:14-15). 

After the war, the steamer was decommissioned, sold to private interests in Wilmington, 
and renamed the Waccamaw. Its new owners brought the ship to Wilmington and 
converted it into a double-ended ferry boat in late 1865 for use as a passenger vessel 
for the Wilmington & Manchester Railroad. The Waccamaw conveyed passengers from 
Wilmington to the Eagles Island depot. In February 1869, after a railroad bridge across 
the Cape Fear River had been completed, the Wilmington & Manchester Railroad 
company advertised the Waccamaw for sale. In early 1871 the steamer sank at its 
wharf in Wilmington. A steam pump belonging to Captain Beery was used to pump out 
the steamer so that it could be raised. The Waccamaw received necessary repairs, 
including a new boiler, and sold to the Wilmington and Smithville Steamboat Company. 
The steamer was again in operation by June, making trips between Wilmington and 
Smithville ( Wilmington Star , February 10, 1869, April 21, 22, June 17, 1871, September 
7, 1886). 

Over the next three years the steamer changed hands at least two times. On November 
2, 1872, F. W. Kerchner purchased the vessel and converted it into a wrecking 
steamer. Kerchner added a Worthington wrecking pump to the vessel and used it in the 
salvage of wrecked vessels. Capt. Benjamin Beery tested the pump for use on the 
Waccamaw in late 1872. The wrecking pump was capable of lifting fifty to sixty barrels 
per minute for freeing wrecked vessels. One of the first uses for the new pump was 
aboard the schooner Maria C. Frye near Smithville. Kerchner owned and operated the 
Waccamaw only one year until he sold it to George Harris in February 1874. When 
Harris purchased the vessel, he converted the steamer Waccamaw back into an 
excursion boat (Enrollment records 1871-1874; Wilmington Star , October 24, 
November3, 28, 1872, February 14, 1873, May 21, 1874). 

The Waccamaw apparently served as an excursion steamer, then as a towboat and 
lighter on the river, until Harris laid up the vessel in 1884. Amazingly, it was during the 
previous year-more than twenty-two years since the U.S. Army had seized the Nuestra 
Senora de Reg/a-that the owners finally reached a financial settlement (Triebea and 
Wilde-Ramsing 1992:17). In September 1886 the Waccamaw met its end when it was 
destroyed by fire while at anchor at Eagles Island across from the city. The following 
Wilmington newspaper notice described the demise of the vessel: 

The old side-wheel steamer Waccamaw, that has been lying for a long 
time on the west side of the river, opposite Capt. Skinner's ship-yard, was 
burned to the water's edge yesterday forenoon. The fire broke out about 
1 1 o'clock, and is thought to have been caused by some boys who were 
seen leaving that side of the river in a small boat just before the fire broke 
out ( Wilmington Star . September 7, 1886). 



282 



As late as 1920 the remains of the Waccamaw were seen on the shore of Eagles 
Island, where "her bones [were] bleaching in the ship graveyard on the west side of the 
river." In 1987 the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Unit recovered the old 
Worthington pump used on the wrecking steamer from the shore at Eagles Island 
( Wilmington Star . February 29, 1 920). 



Sylvan Grove (lost 1891) 

The wooden hull excursion steamer Sylvan Grove was built in New York in 1858 by 
Thomas G. Collyer ( Wilmington Messenger , May 5, 1888). The 320-ton steamer had 
three decks, including a hurricane deck. It had a promenade deck forward, a double 
cabin 100 feet long, and a ladies' saloon aft. Its dimensions were 145 feet in length 
overall, 25 feet in beam, and 8 feet in depth. The engines and boiler were all below the 
lower deck. The Sylvan Grove had one condensing engine of 36 inches in diameter 
and 8 feet of stroke and a turtle-back boiler 27 feet long and 88 inches in diameter 
( Wilmington Star . May 5, 1888; UAU Site files). 

In May 1888 Capt. John W. Harper purchased the double side-wheel steamer in New 
York from the Highland Steamboat Company, one of five of the Sylvan line. Capt. 
Samuel Skinner, the new owner, planned to use the vessel on the run between 
Wilmington, Carolina Beach, and Southport. In 1890 Captain Skinner transfered title to 
the boat to the Southport Steam Boat Company of Wilmington. The vessel's hull above 
the water was painted white, with black gunwales, while her wheelhouses were a light 
buff. A local newspaper claimed that "the boat is admirably adapted for the purpose for 
which she is to be used, of just the right size, comfortably fitted up, with well sheltered 
decks, abundant light and ventilation in all parts of the vessel, and with every appliance 
for safety and speed." The Sylvan Grove was licensed to carry 650 passengers but had 
ample accommodations for a much larger number ( Wilmington Star . May 5, 1888; 
Reaves 1990:8; Peluso 1977:78; Heyl 1965:303). 

On January 9, 1891, the Sylvan Grove, laid up for the winter, burned to the water's 
edge while moored at the wharf pilings of the Northrop Company on the west side of 
the river at a point about opposite Kidder's mill. When the fire was discovered across 
the river, an alarm was sent in from box No. 53, at the foot of Dawson Street. The 
cause of the fire was unknown, but it may have started from a spark emitted from a 
passing steamer or from a stovepipe ( Wilmington Star , January 10, 11, 1891; 
Wilmington Messeng er, January 10, 1891). 



Jacob Brandow (lost 1898) 

The Cape Fear Transportation Company in Charleston, South Carolina, purchased the 
Jacob Brandow, a new tugboat, on July 23, 1895, and brought it to Southport. The 
wooden-hulled tug measured 78 feet in length and 17 feet 5 inches in beam and drew 8 
feet 9 inches of water. On June 21, 1898, the Jacob Brandow was destroyed by fire at 



283 



its Southport dock. The vessel was towed to Battery Island, grounded in shallow water, 
and abandoned (Reaves 1990:105). 



Frances Elizabeth (lost 1912) 

The 30-ton schooner Frances Elizabeth was built in 1879 in Charleston, South 
Carolina, and was listed in 1904 with Femandina, Florida as her home port. The vessel 
measured 60.3 feet in length, 18.8 feet in width and 7 feet in depth and was originally 
manned by a crew of eight. By 1911 the Frances Elizabeth had been brought to the 
Cape Fear River by her owners where it served as a pilot boat with a reduced crew size 
of only three. Captains J. J. Adkins, J. 0. Daniels, and Hawley and Jack Adkins owned 
the vessel. On July, 21, 1912, when about 2 miles north of Southport, bound for 
Wilmington, the pilot boat exploded when gasoline leaked from the fuel tank onto the 
1 00-horsepower Globe engine. Captain Daniels, who was in command of the boat, was 
slightly hurt, and Capt. Bertram Adkins was seriously burned. The Frances Elizabeth 
had been lying at its wharf at Southport for several weeks and was being brought to 
Wilmington to be placed on the marine railway for repairs. The vessel was valued at 
$7,000 ( Wilmington Star , July 23, 1912; Lytle and Holdcamper 1975:61; Vessel 
Enrollments 1911 and 1912). 



A. P. Hurt (lost 1923) 

At Wilmington, Delaware, the shipbuilders Pusey & Jones built in 1859-1860 the 
stemwheel steamer A. P. Hurt for T. C. and B. G. Worth for use in their Cape Fear 
Line. The 100-ton iron-hulled steamer was 100 feet in length, 17 feet in the beam, and 
had a draft of 2 feet ( Wilmington Dispatch , August 21, 1915). It was powered by two 
noncondensing engines, 13 inches in diameter, of 5-foot stroke, and had one 15-foot 
boiler 4/4 feet in diameter. It could carry up to 400 barrels. During the Civil War the 
military used the Hurt as a troop transport and for hauling supplies. It transported U.S. 
troops from the Fayetteville arsenal to Wilmington after the Confederacy seized the 
arsenal in 1861. About 1865 Union forces captured the Hurt during high water near 
Fayetteville and taken to the vicinity of Chinquapin, above Wilmington. The steamer 
remained near Chinquapin until it was indirectly returned to its owners ( Wilmington 
News , June 12, 1934; Johnson 1977:51,54-55). 

It was reported that the A. P. Hurt would be "laid up" or "retired" in February or March 
1890. With the withdrawal of the steamer from the Cape Fear, only two other 
steamboats were then in use between Wilmington and Fayetteville ( Wilmington Weekly 
Star , February 17, 1890). Two years later the owners leased the A. P. Hurt to Capt. D. 
J. Black to run as a passenger and freight boat between Wilmington and points on the 
Black River. On December 1, 1892, the steamer made its first run on the new line. The 
boat made three runs each week to Long View and Point Caswell ( Wilmington Weekly 
Star , December 2, 1892). The steamer burned to the waterline in 1894 but was rebuilt 
( Wilmington Weekly Star . March 18, 1897). 



284 



On March 17, 1897, the A. P. Hurt was involved in a major collision with the draw of the 
Hilton Bridge while returning from Powers, Gibbs & Co.'s guano plant. 

When she neared the bridge it was observed by the crew that the draw 
was not fully open, but the assistant pilot-Irving Parker-thought he could 
steer the boat safely through and didn't signal the engineer to back water. 
The result was the Hurt was raked from bow to stern. The damage was 
estimated as being between $500 and $1,000. The hurricane, promenade 
and lower decks were all badly crushed on one side. The ladies' cabin 
and two state rooms were also damaged. The stanchions, hog chains and 
king posts were torn from their places, and one of the davits broken. 
There was no damage to the engine or to the hull. 

The A. P. Hurt, owned by the Cape Fear and Black River Steamboat Company, had to 
be towed to its wharf for several weeks' worth of repairs ( Wilmington Weekly Star , 
March 18, 1897). 

In February 1905 the owners, the Cape Fear and Peoples' Steamboat Company, sold 
at public auction the forty-five-year-old Hurt to W. J. Meredith for $2,475. Meredith 
formed a new company to operate the boat between Wilmington and Fayetteville. 
Considerable repairs were made to the steamer by its new owner before it was placed 
in service again ( Wilmington Messenger , February 12, 1905). In 1900 the A. P. Hurt 
had its boiler condemned after forty years of service. A boiler from the sunken Katy was 
installed in the steamer (Johnson 1977:65). 

In 1913 the A. P. Hurt again burned. After the steamer was raised and rebuilt by the 
Wilmington Iron Works, it was called the C. W. Lyon. The original C. W. Lyon, built in 
1905, was destroyed by fire in November 1913 about 19 miles above the city. Within 
two years the C. W. Lyon was destroyed again, only to have its hull raised and rebuilt 
and the name changed back to A. P. Hurt ( Wilmington Star , December 16, 1915; 
Wilmington News , March 6, 1939). 

In August 1915 the Wilmington Iron Works had nearly completed work on the "new" A. 
P. Hurt for the Planters' Steamboat Company. The owners planned to use the steamer 
to carry passengers and freight, especially cotton, on the Cape Fear River between 
Wilmington and Fayetteville. The Hurt was described as having a flat bottom, with a 
stern wheel and two decks. The lower deck was used for freight, and the upper had a 
number of staterooms, a dining salon, and a passenger salon ( Wilmington Star , 
December 16, 1915). In December 1915 the steamer made its maiden trip up the Cape 
Fear to Fayetteville carrying freight and passengers ( Wilmington Star , August 20, 
December 16, 1915; Wilmington Dispatch . August 21. 1915). 

The lengthy career of the A. P. Hurt finally came to an end on March 6, 1923, while the 
vessel was tied to its wharf at the foot of Orange Street. During that evening a heavy 
southwest gale pushed waves over the stem of the heavily laden ship, causing it to sink 



285 



in 25 feet of water. Because of the Hurt's low free board and the fact that it was heavily 
laden with 12 tons of merchandize and 68 tons of bagged fertilizer, river swells that 
broke over the vessel quickly filled its engine room. Pumps were unable to keep up with 
the rising water. In less than an hour the four crew members on board abandoned their 
vessel. With the hull resting on the bottom, the severe action of the waves destroyed 
the exposed upper decks, cabins, and pilothouse. Only the hull, boiler, and engines 
were worthy of salvage ( Wilmington Star-News , March 7, 8, 1923). 

Sixteen years after the A. P. Hurt sank along the Wilmington waterfront, the Corps 
granted Capt. W. C. Manson a permit to raise the wreck of the old steamer. To what 
extent he was successful is not known, although part of the Hurt remains buried in the 
mud at the foot of Orange Street. The A. P. Hurt was not only one of the last passenger 
boats to run on the Cape Fear, but also set a record for longevity, with sixty-three years 
of service on the river ( Wilmington News , January 24, 1939; Johnson 1977:61; 
Tidewater 1988). 



Belfast (lost 1929) 

The Belfast was a 944-ton schooner barge built in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1913. The 
barge was 181 feet in length, 40 feet in beam, and 15.4 feet in depth. Gales that struck 
the coast of North Carolina on January 5 and 6, 1929, caused three barges to break 
free from their tug the Neptune while at the Frying Pan Shoals. The tug and barges 
were bound from Georgetown, South Carolina, and Femandina, Florida, to New York 
with lumber and piling. The Coast Guard cutter Modoc, dispatched to the shoals on 
January 6, found the three barges flying distress signals. The Darien was in a 
waterlogged condition; the Belfast was in a waterlogged and sinking condition; and the 
Beaufort, in good condition, had lost its deck load of lumber (Berman 1972:109; UAU 
Site Files; Wilmington Star . January 7, 8, 9, 1929). 

The four crewmen of the sinking Belfast had abandoned their barge forty-five minutes 
before the arrival of the cutter and had taken to their lifeboat, the oars of which they 
had lost. Another steamer, the Birmingham, was standing by when the cutter arrived. 
The Modoc secured the sinking Belfast and anchored for the night along with the other 
vessels. On the following day the cutter towed the Belfast to the entrance of the Cape 
Fear River and put the crew of the Belfast ashore at Southport. The tug Neptune, after 
receiving repairs in Wilmington, returned to the shoals on January 7 and 8 to tow the 
other two barges into the river for repairs ( Wilmington Star . January 7, 8, 9, 1929). 

On January 8, 1929, the Belfast was apparently abandoned west of Battery Island in its 
sinking condition. Ten years after the Belfast sank, the Corps of Engineers mapped the 
wreck location. The map shows an "original" position for the vessel, with its bow 
pointed toward the island, as well as the distribution of scattered debris, indicating that 
the vessel was moved. A review of the Corps of Engineers records could not find any 
evidence to support the possibility that the sunken barge was removed from near 
Battery Island ( Wilmington Star . January 7, 8, 9, 1929; USACOE 1939). 



286 



General H. G. Wright (lost ca 1939) 

The General H. G. Wright was a government side-wheel steamer built in 1884 at 
Fayetteville for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The 130-ton Wright was flat- 
bottomed, with only a draft of about 26 inches, and could be used for improvements of 
the Cape Fear River and tributaries. Its original dimensions were 60 feet long by 10 
feet wide. In 1885 the Corps remodeled it to provide a more suitable hull for 
redispostion of its machinery, thus reducing its draft from 26 inches to about 14 inches. 
The steamer's new dimensions were 101 feet 6 inches in length, 25 feet in beam, and 5 
feet 6 inches in depth. The changes also improved the accommodations for its working 
crew and increased its speed from 3.5 to 6.25 miles per hour. In 1887 a new and larger 
boiler, capable of producing twice the power, was installed on the vessel at Skinner's 
shipyard ( Wilmington Star . January 11, 1885, November 2, 1887, April 13, 1890; UAU 
Site Files; USACOE-AR 1884:1043, 1885:170, 1887:1046). 

By 1896 the hull of the Gen. H. G. Wright was rotten and worn out. It was decided that 
a new snag boat would be built as a replacement, probably at the U. S. government's 
marine railway at the foot of Queen Street. The government had built a new hull, larger 
and stronger than the old one, equipped with an A-frame, boom, and hoisting engine. 
They altered the old machinery to be used as a stern-wheel boat with the same name. 
The new dimensions were: length overall, 102 feet; beam, 20 feet 6 inches; depth of 
hold, 5 feet; draft, 2 feet 6 inches. The total cost of rebuilding the H. G. Wright was 
$2,252.64. The snag boat, while lying at a Queen Street dock in April 1897, caught on 
a submerged piling. As a result of the falling tide, the piling punched a hole in the 
bottom of the steamer, causing it to sink. The Corps raised and repaired the H. G. 
Wright following the incident ( Wilmington Dispatch , June 3, 1900; Wilmington 
Messenger . April 7, 1896; USACOE-AR 1896:168). 

The Corps had a new hull for the snag boat Gen. H. G. Wright completed during 1910. 
They also added a deck house and new machinery. These improvements kept the snag 
boat operational for several more years. By December 1922 the hull was once again 
listed in poor condition and the machinery as fair. The Wright continued working on 
river improvements until 1925, when the new steel snag boat Fayetteville replaced it 
(USACOE-AR 1910:1426; Wilmington News-Dispatch . December 17, 1924). 

The government sold the old snag boat Gen. H. G. Wright as surplus to the Stone 
Towing Company and used on the river for a short time. A few years later the towing 
company placed the Wright on a small marine railway at the Stone yard on Eagles 
Island, where it served as an office and mess hall for the workers. By 1939 the Wright, 
with its machinery intact, was reported as "half-way out of the water across the river at 
Stone's boat yard" in a decaying condition. When the yard became inactive, the H. G. 
Wright continued to rot and rust ( Wilmington News . March 6, 1939). 



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In April 1987 the Underwater Archaeology Unit (UAU) began planning to remove the 
machinery from the wreck of the Gen. H. G. Wright. On July 22, 1987, the UAU lifted 
the boiler, both engines, and the stern wheel from the wreck and deposited them on a 
barge. The UAU removed the machinery to the conservation facilities at the Fort Fisher 
State Historic Site. Within months the UAU had completed conservation of several 
parts of machinery. Finally, the UAU reconstructed the engines and stern wheel, made 
operable by compressed air, and placed them on display at the Cape Fear Museum 
(UAU Site Files: Carnell 1989). 



Blanche (lost 1947) 

The tugboat Blanche was built at Philadelphia in 1878 with a hull of Swedish charcoal 
steel. During the launching of the freighter SS Artemas Ward from a Wilmington 
shipyard during World War II, the tugboat Blanche was accidently sunk. The Blanche 
was made fast to the port side aft, bow to stern, with the freighter. The line from the tug 
parted, and the tug surged under the stern of the ship and was struck several times by 
the turning propeller of the Artemas Ward. The master of the Blanche swung it to the 
nearby Pier No. 2, where the crew safely scrambled off the sinking tug. A month after 
the Blanche sank, its owners raised and rebuilt it to a length of 97 feet ( North Carolina 
Shipbuilder , June 1, 1946; Wilmington News , August 23, 1948). 

The 94-ton tugboat Blanche, owned by the Stone Towing Company, again sank in the 
Cape Fear River on November 5, 1947. The sinking took place along the east bank of 
the river, near Big Island, 8 miles below the city. The tug, under the command of Capt. 
W. R. Williams, was assisting another tug, the Point Cabrillo, in moving the SS Fort 
Abitibi to the layup basin near Wilmington. At a turn in the river the Fort Abitibi swung 
wide of the channel and forced the Blanche onto its side, filling it with water. The tug 
settled, with only the bow remaining above the river, in 32 feet of water. Nearly a year 
later, teh Corps solicitated bids for the raising and removal of the sunken tug. The 
Blanche was nearly seventy years old when it sank for the last time. A photograph of 
the remains of the tug that appeared in a local newspaper in 1949 is the only evidence 
known of the removal of the tugboat. The caption to the photograph states that parts of 
the tug were pulled up. It also gives the dimensions of the vessel as 83 feet in length, 
with an 18 foot beam. The tug had been renovated shortly before it sank ( Wilmington 
Post , Novembers, 1947; Wilmington News . August 23, 1948, February 12, 1949). 



Blanchard (lost ca. late 1940s) 

Designed by Cox and Stevens of New York and built in 1910 by .Pusey and Jones in 
Wilmington, Delaware, this steel-hulled gasoline-powered yacht was originally known 
as the Alacrity. One of the finest vessels of its day, it measured 120 feet in length and 
15 feet 6 inches in beam and a draft of 5 feet. Two 300-horsepower gasoline Winston 
engines powered the Blanchard. On April 28, 1917, the U.S. Navy acquired the yacht 
under a free lease from John H. Blodgett and placed in commission on May 30, 1917, 
at Boston. The navy assigned the ship to the First Naval District as a motor patrol boat; 



288 



there it operated with a 16-man crew near the Boston and Provincetown areas. 
Following World War I Blodgett changed the name of the yacht to the Nedra B, 
although additional information on this period is lacking (UAU Site Files). 

On August 20, 1942, the Nedra B. was commissioned into the Coast Guard Reserve as 
CGR 106 in the Chicago area and used for harbor patrol. Later that year it was 
renamed the USCGC Blanchard and reassigned to patrol duty in the waters around Key 
West, Florida. Shortly after World War II Donald and Buck Bordeaux of Bordeaux 
Salvage and Construction in Wilmington purchased the vessel from the Coast Guard 
Auxiliary at Bucksport, South Carolina. Atop its cabin, the Blanchard still sported the 
round pads on which machine guns had been mounted when it was brought to 
Wilmington. The Bordeaux Salvage and Construction company intended to put the 
vessel to use in its business but found the hull dangerously thin. The salvage company 
sold the vessel to Tom Eagleson, a local radio announcer. Eagleson planned to make a 
houseboat or clubhouse out of the vessel and place it at the site of the old Hamme 
Marine Railway on the west side of the river. Before the Blanchard could be repaired at 
the nearby Wilmington Iron Works, it sank one stormy night while moored at the Lee 
and Smith Wholesale Fish Company wharf at the foot of Orange Street (UAU Site 
Files). 

In the early 1980s local divers discovered the wreck of the vessel and reported it to the 
state Underwater Archaeology Unit. Contract archaeologists again visited the site in 
1987 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. According to information provided the 
archaeologists by Donald Bordeaux and Paul Jennewein, an article by Tom Eagleson 
mentioned the arrival of the Blanchard in Wilmington. Eagleson had located and used 
in his article a photograph of the Blanchard. Bordeaux and Jennewein provided this 
information to the UAU and suggested this as the likely identification of the sunken 
vessel at the foot of Orange Street. When last inspected, the ship was located on the 
western edge of the channel, lying on its port side (UAU Site Files; Tidewater 1988:21- 
22). 



289 



Historic Navigation and Dredging 

Although little knowledge exists of the location and depth of the early eighteenth 
century Cape Fear River channels, some information on the navigability of the river can 
be gleaned from historic maps. On the Edward Moseley map of 1733 it states that, "the 
channel shows itself fairly between the Sholes" from the mouth of the Cape Fear River 
to Brunswick Town. At that time the channel flowed close to Brunswick Town before it 
divided around a shoal just downstream of the settlement. Here the deeper water, as 
much as 18 feet, ran near the western shore. The channel then bent to the east to flow 
around what today is Snow's Marsh, then back close to the western shore. Near the 
mouth of the river the main channel passed near "Barren Head" (Bald Head) with 
approximately 4 fathoms depth. A lesser channel flowed past Oak Island to the west of 
Middle Ground shoal. On the James Wimble map drawn five years later in 1738, the 
channel followed roughly the same course, although fewer channel depths were 
indicated. Wilmington sported two anchorages, while another existed near present-day 
Southport. 

Nature played an important role in shaping the Cape Fear River in 1761. On 
September 20 a "great storm," or hurricane, that lasted four days opened a breach from 
the Atlantic Ocean to the Cape Fear River across a narrow sand peninsula known as 
the lower Haul Over. The opening, about 8 miles north of Cape Fear, eventually 
became known as New Inlet. At first only small vessels could navigate the narrow inlet, 
but it expanded rapidly and with time rivaled the main channel entrance at the river's 
mouth. Sand that swept through New Inlet quickly deposited into the main river channel 
and thus robbed the scouring flow of the current that maintained a natural navigable 
depth within the river. With the reduced scouring effect sand also accumulated at the 
mouth of the river decreasing the depth of water over the bar ( Wilmington Weekly Star t 
October 23, 1874). 

Vessels that entered the river, either over the main bar or through New Inlet, sailed 
upstream in the deepest part of the river. The natural channel tended to flow near the 
western shore as far as Big Island (Campbell Island) just below the mouth of Old Town 
Creek. Silt deposited within the river near the mouth of Old Town Creek formed a shoal 
called the "Flats" where the average depth was only 10 feet of water. Vessels drawing 
more than that depth were compelled to lighter at the Flats at a considerable expense 
of time and money. The earliest account of the Flats is taken from Governor Dobbs's 
report to the London Board of Trade in 1762. In primarily describing the river Governor 
Dobbs referred to the Flats stating: 

The chief river for navigation and trade is Cape Fear river, there being 18 
feet of water upon the bar — navigable for large ships above Brunswick, 15 
miles up the river, and as high as Wilmington after passing the flatts [sic], 
upon which there is about 11 or 12 feet of water and is navigable for 
above 100 miles further up the Northwest branch and above 60 miles 



291 



higher on the Northeast branch, in which a rapid tide flows for near 100 
miles ( Wilmington Star . June 4, 1874). 



Revolutionary War Obstructions 

The formation of the Flats was long thought to have been attributable to the placement 
of a sunken blockade, mostly of derelict vessels, in the river in 1775 by the Wilmington 
Safety Committee to deter British invasion. The sinking of these vessels across the 
channel as obstructions at Big Island, along with the accumulation of driftwood brought 
downstream during freshets, may have contributed to the shoaling, but it appears 
evident from historical accounts and maps that the Flats existed prior to the placement 
of the Revolutionary War obstructions ( Wilmington Star , June 4, 1874; Wilmington 
Weekly Star , October 23, 1874; Lee 1965:5; Schaw 1923:279, 282; South Carolina 
Gazette , June 7, 1740). 

On November 20, 1775, the Safety Committee authorized John Forster, William 
Wilkinson, and John Slingsby to procure any necessary "Vessels Boats and Chains to 
sink in such part of the Channel as they or any of them may think proper." The 
threesome placed a value on those vessels or materials purchased for proper 
reimbursement to the owners (Secretary of State Papers, Committee of Safety 1774- 
1776). 

When the Council of Safety met in Halifax on July 21, 1776, their records contained a 
list of owners whose vessels were selected with a valuation of the ships. At least seven 
vessels, belonging to six different owners, were used as obstructions. The sailing 
apparel of the vessels appears io have been removed prior to their use. The Alexander, 
owned by William Campbell, is the only ship mentioned by name. 

Resolved, That a Copy of the Valuation and Appraisement of sundry 
Vessels sometime since Sunk to obstruct the Navigation of Cape Fear 
River be Transmitted to Nicholas Long Esquire. That he apply to the 
Committee of Wilmington for the Inventories therein mentioned, and take 
into his possession the Masts, Yards, Sails, Rigging, Cables, Anchors, 
and other Apparel to the said Vessels belonging, and deposit them in the 
Care of one or more trusty person or persons there to remain subject to 
the further Orders of the Council or Congress and that he transmit an 
Account of his doing herein and an Inventory of the Various Articles, and 
with whom Lodged to this Board. 

And Whereas the Council are informed That a certain William 
Campbell late owner of the Ship Alexander A Vessel sunk for the purpose 
above mentioned refuses to deliver up the Sails &ca to her belonging, 
detaining them until he shall be allowed for sundry Materials prepared for 
the repair of the said Ship Alexander, Resolved that Nicholas Long, call 
on said William Campbell for delivery of the Sails and other Articles 



292 



aforesaid, and on his refusal to deliver them summon sufficient Aid and 
take them by force, and proceed to take care of them as above directed. 

Resolved, also, That the Committee of Wilmington, be and they are 
hereby directed to appoint five indifferent persons, to value and appraise 
the Materials prepared for the repairs of the Ship Alexander, lately 
belonging to William Campbell, the said Campbell first deposing on Oath 
that they were actually prepared for that purpose and render an Inventory 
and Appraisement thereof to next Congress that they determine of said 
Campbell's Claim for the said Materials (Clark, State Records Vol. 10, pp. 
704-705). 

William Campbell was born in 1745 in Augusta County, Virginia, and served as a 
general during the Revolutionary War. Campbell saw action in the Carolina Campaign 
at Kings Mountain and Guilford Courthouse. He was the brother-in-law of Patrick 
Henry. William Campbell died August 22, 1781, at Rocky Mills, Hanover County, 
Virginia. Campbell Island would later be named for him (Powell, 1976:83). The records 
for Port Brunswick during the 1760s and 1770s indicate that William Campbell was also 
the owner of a ship known as the Friendship. That vessel, listed as built in 
Massachusetts Bay in 1764 and registered at Brunswick in 1773, may have been one 
of Campbell's other "Vessels sunk in Cape Fear River" used for the obstructions. 

Including Campbell's vessels, the Secretary of State Papers list the following owners of 
vessels probably used in the blockade: 

Samuel Willis Vessel sunk in Cape Fear River 

James Walker Vessel sunk in Cape Fear River 

Harrel? Blackmore Brigg sunk in Cape Fear River 

Cuth? Wando Brigg sunk in Cape Fear River 

James Donovan Schooner sunk in Cape Fear River 

William Campbell Vessels sunk in Cape Fear River {Alexander) 

(Secretary of State Papers, Journal of the North Carolina Council of 

Safety ). 

On December 12, 1777, the Senate Journal indicated that vessels sunk in the Cape 
Fear River were to be sold. Although it does not specifically refer to them as the 
vessels used as obstructions, these may indeed be the same ships. 

Mr Speaker and Gentlemen of the House of Commons: We have received 
and herewith return two resolves of your house, ... the other, impowering 
Thomas Benbury and William Hooper, Esquires to sell the vessels sunk in 
Cape Fear, with which this House concurs (Clark, State Records, Vol. 12, 
p. 199). 

When Joshua Potts made a map of the lower Cape Fear river in 1797, he indicated a 
river depth of 10 feet at the approximate location of the Flats. He made, however, no 



293 



specific mention of the Flats or obstructions, but in a commercial report in 1815 he did 
refer to the Flats. By the 1820s the state had employed an engineer to oversee the 
removal of the "remaining obstructions at the Flats below Wilmington, and in removing 
other obstructions at the mouths of our Rivers" ( East Florida Herald , March 7, 1825). 

As late as 1827, vessels sunk in the Cape Fear River at the Flats during the 
Revolutionary War continued to pose obstacles to navigation. Wrecks at the Flats 
located near the mouth of Town Creek, possibly some of those used as obstructions, 
still required removal. 

Flats below Wilmington - In reply to a call by the Committee of 
Commerce, of the Senate, for information relative to a survey of the Cape 
Fear River, Gen. Macomb, Chief Engineer, states that Capt. Bache, of the 
Topographical Engineers, is now engaged on that duty, which he is 
expected to perform before the close of the present year; . . . and also, for 
removing the vessels which were sunk during the Revolutionary War, and 
which now impede the navigation of the Cape Fear River ( Fayetteville 
Carolina Observer , March 1, 1827). 

The Flats continued to hamper the navigation of ships using the river until the sunken 
vessels used to obstruct the channel were eventually all removed several years later. 
Historical accounts often referred to ships grounded on the continuously shifting Flats. 
An act was passed as early as 1784 to improve rivers and creeks and to prevent 
obstructions to navigation (Weaver 1903:49). The Commissioners of Revenue 
authorized James Read in 1795 to receive proposals for staking out a navigable 
channel in the Cape Fear River. Only eight stakes appear to have been required along 
this section of river. Their locations are specified below: 

Two stakes to be fixed on the points of the shoal below five fathom hole, 

called the Narrows. 

One stake, at McNight's shoal, which is opposite Sturgeon Point. 

One stake at Nutt's shoal. 

Two stakes at the Flats opposite Old Town. 

One stake below Reedy Point, on the west side. 

One stake on the east side opposite the Chevaux-de-frize. 

Each stake was to be "three feet clear above high water mark, in common spring tides, 
and to be of good sound light wood, six inches square, except the two to be fixed at the 
Narrows below five fathom hole, which are to be round pine poles, with the bark on. 
The stakes and poles aforesaid to be securely fixed and kept up for the whole of the 
year 1796 . . ." ( Wilmington Chronicle and North Carolina Weekly Advertiser . October 
22, 1795). In 1798 the Commissioners of Revenue authorized a general survey of the 
harbor, outlet, and channel that did not show any great improvement (except in the Big 
Island channel) ( Wilmington Weekly Star . October 23, 1874). 



294 



After 1800 it became apparent that continual shoaling and natural river obstructions 
threatened the usefulness of Wilmington harbor. Often these obstructions prevented 
ships from successfully navigating the river. In 1816 the newly formed North Carolina 
Board of Internal Improvements appointed a committee of Wilmington men to take 
measures to improve the Cape Fear River below Wilmington. One of their early efforts 
that met with limited success on the river above Wilmington was the Cape Fear 
Navigation Company. The efforts of the company in 1816 to remove obstructions 
commenced "with great vigor" after the hiring of James Abemathy, a skillful engineer, to 
arrange and direct the proposed improvements. The company collected tolls from 
vessels for use toward the improvements, but the poor condition of the river maintained 
by the company proved unsatisfactory to the local citizens. Although the Cape Fear 
Navigation Company was unable to meet the great task they faced, their efforts may 
have contributed to the arrival of the first steamboats on the Cape Fear — the 
Prometheus in 1817 and the Henrietta in 1818 ( Favetteville Carolina Observer , August 
22, September 16, 1816; Weaver 1903:30; Hartzer 1984; 11). 



State Improvements 1819 -1829 

The State of North Carolina took up the navigation improvements upon the failure of 
the private attempt, but it too soon met with little or no success. About 1819 the local 
Board of Internal Improvement hired Hamilton Fulton, an English civil engineer, to 
direct improvements to the river below Wilmington. The first detailed survey of the river 
was done in 1821, but it was not until 1823 that the Board of Internal Improvement 
approved a plan submitted by Fulton for improvement of the channel between New Inlet 
and Wilmington and the removal of the Flats. Before the works commenced, vessels 
drawing more than 8 feet of water could not cross the Flats at half tide. Fulton's plan 
also called for the construction of dikes or embankments to close minor channels, jetty 
contraction of the main channel, and dredging across the shoals. Beginning in May 
1 823 Fulton's crews commenced construction on two embankments and one jetty. One 
embankment closed the passage between Clark's and Eagles Islands. The structure 
sufficiently stopped the flow of the river to the west side of Clark's Island, and 
eventually the two islands joined. Early in October 1823 Fulton's contractors built a jetty 
beginning on the western bank that extended 2,000 feet into the river ( Carolina 
Observer and Favetteville Gazette , February 13, 20, March 20, August 7, 1823; Sprunt 
1992:145; Hartzer 1984; 12-1 3; USACOE-AR 1886:1005). 

On February 20, 1823, the Carolina Observer and Favetteville Gazette printed a 
detailed description for the improvement of the embankments and jetties. The full text is 
shown below: 

Specification for the Embankments 

The Embankments between Clark's Island and Eagle Island, and 
betwee[n] Campbell's Island and the western bank of the river, are to 
consist of two rows of piles, with a clear width of ten feet between the two 
rows; in each row the piles are to be made out of good pine timber, of 



295 



such size as will square to 12 inches; they are to be hewn on the two 
meeting sides, so as to present a flat surface to each other of at least 10 
inches wide on an average. They are to be driven quite close together, as 
far into the bed of the river as it is possible to drive them with a pile 
driving machine having a rammer of from 12 to 15 cwt. and falling from a 
height of 25 feet at least, and when driven thus far, the piles are to be of 
such length as to leave 5 feet at least, above the ordinary height of high 
water mark of spring tides. 

2. On the outside of each row of piles there is to be a string piece of pine 
timber of 9 inches square, fixed about 2/4 feet from the top of the piles, 
and to run horizontally for the whole length of the embankment. Opposite 
the centre of each pile there is to be an auger hole of 1 V* inches in 
diameter bored through the string piece and pile, and a white oak trenail 
of sufficient size driven quite through them both. The different pieces of 
timber used in the string pieces are to be joined by a scarf overlapping 18 
inches at least. 

3. In every 10 feet of length in the embankment, there is to be a cross 
piece sufficient in length to extend from outside to outside of the string 
pieces, and to project therefrom at least 12 inches at each end; these 
cross pieces or braces are to be of timber that will square 12 inches, and 
to be notched 6 inches deep, so as to embrace the heads of the piles 
upon which they rest, and the outside string pieces. Immediately on the 
upper side of these cross pieces is to be laid a string piece of 9 inches 
square, along the inside of both rows of piles for the whole length of the 
embankment, and to be fastened to the head of each pile by a trenail as 
described for the outside string pieces. 

4. The whole of the space on the inside of the piling is to be filled up with 
earth flush to the underside of the cross pieces, and in executing this part 
of the work, the contractor is to carefully arrange the soil, so as that part 
of it which is of a vegetable consistency may be put nearest the piles on 
both sides; the intermediate space may be filled up with such soil as can 
be conveniently obtained. 

Specification for the Jetties 

5. The Jetties are to consist of a single row of piles of 9 inches square, 
driven firmly into the bed of the river, at the distance of 10 feet from each 
other. Each of these piles is to have a tenon at the top of three inches 
thick, 10 inches wide and 6 inches long. On the top of these piles is to be 
placed a capsill, 10 inches square, with mortices on the under side for the 
reception of the tenons on the piles, there is to be a trenail of sufficient 
size to fill an augur hole one and a half inches in diameter, to be driven 
through the capsill and tenon; the upper side of this is to be on a level 
with the ordinary height of high water of spring tides. 



296 



6. Between each of the square piles, the place is to be filled up with two 
inch thick pine plank piling, driven firmly into the soil, and spiked by two 
spikes of 5 inches long, into the capsill 

The second embankment connected Campbell Island with the western bank. At first 
that embankment made a dramatic increase in the depth of the main channel. The 
wooden structure, however, collapsed in 1826, and the channel again filled with 
sediment that reduced the depth from 19 feet to 3V 2 feet. Removal of the Flats in the 
vicinity of Campbell Island presented Fulton with a different challenge. In 1823 Fulton 
had built an iron and wood clearing device he called a "bear." A steamboat dragged the 
device across the shoals with the intended purpose of stirring up the sand and mud so 
that the current would carry it away. The "bear" proved to be ineffectual and was soon 
abandoned. Fulton, under approval of the Board of Internal Improvements, later 
contracted in New York for the use of a dredging machine to be used in removing the 
shoals ( East Florida Herald , March 7, 1825; Fayetteville Carolina Observer . March 26, 
1826). The small dredging machine, attached to a low-pressure eight-horsepower 
engine, was mounted in a schooner and used for a short time. The vessel proved too 
small for the task, and Fulton removed the dredge machine. Regardless of the 
drawbacks, by August 1823 the Board reported that the improvements to the Cape 
Fear River had already made a "sensible effect" ( Carolina Observer and Fayetteville 
Gazette T February 13, 20, March 20, August 7, 1823; Hartzer 1984; 12-1 3). 

The following letter written by Capt. William Dougall in 1823, and published in a local 
newspaper, illustrates the temporary effect that the improvement at the Flats 
accomplished: 

The Schooner Chart, which I command, passed the Bulkhead or Upper 
Flats, on Sunday, the 20th inst. at 5 p.m. which I suppose about half 
flood, drawing 10 feet 8 inches water, and I strongly believe that there 
was fully 12 feet at high water on the Bulkhead ( Carolina Observer and 
Fayetteville Gazette . August 7, 1823). 

Fulton continued to make limited progress on improvements to the channel until 1825 
when the state terminated his service. Congress appropriated only one thousand 
dollars on May 20, 1826, to be used to conduct river and harbor surveys at several 
areas in the state. The Cape Fear River was one of the designated areas. In 
September 1826 Maj. Gen. Alexander Macomb, chief of engineers, authorized Capt. 
Hartman Bache of the Topographical Engineers to complete the authorized surveys. 
Although his crew often suffered from illness, Bache made the surveys throughout 
1827. As a result of his findings, Congress gave approval to undertake improvements 
at several areas within the state, including the Cape Fear. Bache submitted an 
improvements project to deepen the channel through the shoals below Wilmington by 
constructing additional jetties. At a careful pace Bache added jetties that resulted in a 
gain of 2 feet in the available channel depth. The largest draft vessel then engaged on 
the Cape Fear had a draft of 12 feet. In order to accommodate slightly larger vessels, 



297 



the shoals still required dredging. Bache recommended using a steam dredging 
machine similar to the one previously used by the state. According to his estimates, a 
channel 12 feet deep at average high water and 500 feet wide through the shoals 
below Wilmington would require 2V* years to dredge. Congress found the figures 
submitted with his survey report reasonable and on March 2, 1829, appropriated 
$20,000 for the improvement of the Cape Fear River below Wilmington ( Fayetteville 
Carolina Observer , March 1, 1827; Wilmington Star , July 20, 1907; Hartzer 1984:13, 
16). 



Federal Improvements, 1829 - 1853 

The improvements for the Cape Fear River below Wilmington came under Federal 
supervision in 1829. At that time the river had three bar entrances with minimum depths 
of about 9 feet at Baldhead channel, 9 feet at the Rip channel, and 10 feet at New Inlet. 
Several shoals still existed from the mouth of the river up to Wilmington that averaged 
only a 7.5 foot depth at low water. The government continued trying to improve the 
navigation of the river but initially met with no better success than the state. 
Supervision of the improvements on the Cape Fear went to Capt. George Blaney, 
Corps of Engineers. Captain Blaney began to build additional jetties in January 1830. 
By August four jetties had been completed and a fifth neared completion when a gale 
struck. The storm destroyed a series of jetties built south of Federal Point and drove 
the state's dredging boat on loan to the Corps into the marsh. The Corps hauled the 
dredge boat from the marsh and returned it to work on the river until November. The 
following year the Corps put a new larger dredge boat into service ( Wilmington Weekly 
Star, October 23, 1874, August 12, 1887; Wilmington Star . February 13, 1886; 
Wilmington Star-News , November 18, 1984; Hartzer 1984:16). 

The wooden jetties constructed by Blaney were in constant need of repair, and 
requests for proposals for repair work were continually issued. One request indicated 
the need for "3,000 piles varying in length from twenty to forty feet. The piles to be of 
pine timber, and squared on two opposite sides, so that the distance from face to face 
shall be twelve inches" ( Peoples Press and Wilmington Advertiser , June 24, 1835; 
Wilmington Advertiser , July 27, 1838). In 1834 the Corps placed stone on either side of 
the jetties in hopes that it would prevent deterioration from the currents. After the death 
of Major Blaney in 1835, Lt. Alexander J. Swift, the son of Brig. Gen. Joseph Gardner 
Swift, replaced him the following year. For the next several years Lieutenant Swift 
carried on the federal improvements, completing six jetties by 1839. When Captain 
Bache made his report in 1827, he stated that vessels drawing only 9 feet or less could 
reach Wilmington. By 1839 the depth had increased to 11 feet, still short of the desired 
depth of 14 feet. The depth at the mouth of the river continued to steadily decrease 
because of sediment accumulation. Between 1839 and 1841, the Corps of Engineers 
transferred all the river and harbor work in North Carolina to the newly formed Corps of 
Topographical Engineers under the supervision of Capt. John McClellan. Few 
improvements were made to the Cape Fear River under the Topographical Engineers 
during that period. The engineers did no additional work on improving the navigation of 



298 



the Cape Fear until 1853. Ten years later the Corps of Topographical Engineers 
merged with the Corps of Engineers (Hartzer 1984:15-17; Wilmington Star-News , 
November 18, 1984). 



Cape Fear Entrance Improvements, 1853 - 1861 

The project of 1853, under Capt. Daniel P. Woodbury, called for deepening the water at 
the main entrance by constructing jetties at Baldhead Point and a jetty between Smith's 
Island and Zeke's Island near New Inlet. Woodbury also raised the possibility of closing 
New Inlet. In 1853 Secretary of War Jefferson Davis appointed a commission to report 
on the conditions of the Cape Fear River. In their report the commission found "that a 
harbor which once afforded easy access to vessels drawing nineteen feet of water will 
now admit only those with less than thirteen." The commission recommended four 
stages of operations to be undertaken to restore the 20-foot depth over the bar. First, 
further erosion of Bald Head had to be prevented by means of jetties and sand fences. 
That stage was to be immediately followed by closing two small openings south of New 
Inlet, and finally the commission recommended a jetty from Zeke's Island and the 
complete closure of New Inlet (Hartzer 1984:17-18; Wilmington Star , February 13, 
1886; Wilmington Dispatch , November 7, 1907; Wilmington Star-News , November 18, 
1984). 

Brig. Gen. Joseph G. Totten, chief of engineers, approved all of the commission's 
proposals except for the complete closure of New Inlet. Commission members Captain 
Woodbury, Corps of Engineers, and Alexander Bache of the Coast Survey had 
recommended that the closure of the inlet be implemented, but Totten refused. During 
1853 Captain Woodbury and his crew built two stone jetties on Bald Head 
perpendicular to the outer beach. One of the jetties had been used to close the 
northernmost of the small inlets by the summer of 1854. Later that year the two inlets 
joined and became one with a width of 2,300 feet. Three times in the 1850s the Corps 
rebuilt the two jetties at Bald Head Island after they were destroyed by storms. These 
works, however, succeeded in only temporarily deepening the water on the main bar 
entrances by several feet. A new commission recommended in 1857 that the old works 
at Zeke's Island destroyed by the storm that year be rebuilt and that if the depth at the 
river's main entrance did not increase within three years, then New Inlet should be 
closed ( Wilmington Star . February 13, 1886; Wilmington Dispatch , November 7, 1907; 
Wilmington Star-News . November 18, 1984; Hartzer 1984:19). 

Prior to 1853 no work had been attempted to improve the depth at the Cape Fear River 
entrance. Considerable shoaling had occurred over the years that posed navigational 
hazards to approaching ships. The project that began in 1853 proposed to straighten 
and deepen the bar channel by dredging, jettying, and increasing the flow. The latter 
was to be accomplished by closing New Inlet and the breaches in Zeke's Island. It was 
known that as the depth increased at New Inlet, sediment accumulation 
correspondingly decreased the depth at the river's mouth. The efforts to deepen the 
water over the bar were further complicated by the fact that the Cape Fear discharged 



299 



into the ocean at its original mouth through two channels separated by a middle 
ground. The main, or eastern channel, passed near Bald Head, while the western 
channel ran near Oak Island. Bald Head had eroded nearly three-quarters of a mile 
between 1761 and 1853, contributing to the shoaling problem. When work began on 
the bar in 1853 the depths at low water were 7 1 /4 feet in Bald Head channel, 7 feet in 
the Western or Rip channel, and 8 feet at New Inlet. When the Coast Survey examined 
the entrance depths in 1858, they found that the temporary jetties at New Inlet had only 
maintained the same channel depths as in 1853. Improvements on the river ceased in 
1861, and the engineers undertook no further work on the Cape Fear until after the 
Civil War ( Wilmington Weekly Star , October 23, 1874; Wilmington Dispatch , November 
7, 1907; Hartzer 1984:17-18; Rayburn 1984:1). 



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

The Corps of Engineers made a postwar survey of the Cape Fear River in 1870 under 
Gen. J. H. Simpson. The results of Simpson's survey supported the closing of New Inlet 
prior to any dredging in the river, since sand washed in from the inlet would quickly 
refill the channel. It was also determined that a large portion of the old works built by 
Captain Woodbury between 1854 and 1856 still existed and could be utilized. The 
River Improvements Act of July 11, 1870, appropriated funds for the Cape Fear 
improvements. General Simpson and Colonel Craighill of the U.S. Engineers devised a 
work at the New Inlet breaches 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 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 work of closing the breaches between 
Smith 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 the stone dike constructed by Captain Woodbury. 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 (Rayburn 1984:3; Hartzer 1984:34-35; USACOE- 
AR 1870:422; Wilmington Weekly Star . May 17, 1872; Wilmington Star . January 26, 
1873). 

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 (Rayburn 
1984:3; USACOE-AR 1871 2:75; Wilmington Star . February 13, 1886). In 1873 the 
Corps reported that the closing of the breaches between Zeke's and Smith's Islands 



300 



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. Federal Point, however, and the 
outer point of Smith Island beach continued to wear. By 1877 Zeke's Island had entirely 
lost its identity. Bald Head channel had lost about one foot of depth, and the outlet 
moved slightly westward (Rayburn 1984:4; Wilmington Star , February 8, 1877). 

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. 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. While revaluation 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 (Rayburn 1984:3-4; Hartzer 1984:35; Sprunt 1896:109-1 11). 

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 from year to year by piling small stone riprap 
on and over the foundation. As the dam lengthened, the amount of riprap needed 
increased as the current scoured the mud and sand from around the dam, increasing 
the depth of water. By 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 (Sprunt 1896:109-111; Hartzer 
1984:35; Rayburn 1984:5; Wilmington Star March 29, 1876; Wilmington Star , June 3, 
1876). 



301 



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. 
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 (Hartzer 1984:37). 

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 (Hartzer 1984:37-38; 
Rayburn 1985:1). 

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 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 (Sprunt 1896:109-111; Hartzer 1984:35; Rayburn 1984:5). 



Civil War Obstructions 

A major task faced by the Corps in improving navigation of the Cape Fear River after 
the Civil War was the removal of obstructions intentionally placed by the Confederates 
to block the channel. The Confederates commonly used two types of sunken 
obstructions, called "Yankee Catchers." The first type consisted of rows of grillage, or 
triangluar-shaped wooden frames, loaded with stone and anchored in position in the 



302 



river. Ten-by-ten-inch timbers pointed downstream at a forty-five-degree angle from the 
wooden structure just below the surface of the water. As enemy ships crossed the 
hazard, the timbers would hinge to a vertical position and puncture the bottom of the 
vessel (Figure 33) 




Figure 33. Civil War River Obstruction. 

The Corps of Engineers made arrangements for removing the obstructions that still 
remained at several locations within the river by 1873; however, work did not 
commence until 1875. The Corps removed these hazards in July and August by 
breaking off the pointed timbers. Railroad irons arranged in an X and sharply pointed 
on the ends comprised the second type of obstruction. A local newspaper reported in 
August that "the obstructions which were placed . . . during the late war have all been 
removed and there is now no hinderance to navigation in that quarter" ( Wilmington 
Star , December 20, 1873, August 31, 1875; Rayburn 1984:4; Hartzer 1984:33-34). 

At several locations along the Cape Fear River Confederates placed obstructions to 
destroy Union vessels, prevent them from entering the river, or to protect their own 
defenses. The defenders used a variety of obstruction types, as well as sunken 
vessels, to block the channel at six or more locations. 

New Inlet 

Lieutenant Braine, commander of the USS Monticello, which was stationed off 
Wilmington, North Carolina, in early 1862, reported the placement of stone-filled, 
wooden cribs by the rebels to obstruct New Inlet: 

[Kent Newton who] has worked for several years on the ferryboats that 
cross the river at Wilmington . . . states about the middle of December 
[1861] the rebels towed down by steamer Uncle Ben four large, heavy 
wooden cribs, diamond shape, about 40 or 50 feet wide and 12 feet deep, 
which they moored on the shoal and in the channel way close together at 
the northwestern end of Zeek's Island, and filling three of them, as he 



303 



saw, with rocks, sunk them and completely blocked the channel of New 
Inlet at that point, and the fourth one they said was to be sunk alongside 
(ORN, I, 6:499). 

Newton's report seemed to be confirmed by Lieutenant Braine who stated that a small 
steam tug that had once traveled beyond "Zeek's Island" to the east was now 
apparently prevented from doing so: 

Now that we are aware of the fact that these cribs have been sunk in the 
channel at Zeek's Island, I know that it is an impossibility for her to pass, 
or any other vessel drawing 9 feet of water (ORN, I, 6:499). 

Lt. Francis Bunce of the USS Penobscot reported in June 1862 additional obstructions 
placed by the Confederate forces within the Cape Fear River at New Inlet. In his report 
to Commander Braine, the lieutenant described the number, type, and design of the 
obstructions: 

From the contraband ... I have learned the construction of the 
obstructions in Cape Fear River and New Inlet. They consist of 25 pens 
constructed of heavy timber, mortised and tenoned, filled with stone and 
sunk on Horseshoe Shoal, in New Inlet, to the westward of Zeek's Island, 
and one brig filled with stone and sunk in the same place (ORN I, 7:493). 

F ort C aswel l 

Off Fort Caswell another type of obstruction consisted of sunken vessels and rafts. On 
February 14, 1862, Comdr. O. S. Glisson of the USS Mount Vernon witnessed the 
placement of sunken vessels as obstructions by the Confederates near Fort Caswell. 
He stated that two rebel steamers, having one schooner and lighters in tow, "came 
down to the inner bar, and when abreast of Fort Caswell and about 100 yards distance 
from the shore, they sunk two of the lighters and threw overboard a quantity of heavy 
articles from the others, with the evident view of obstructing the channel." Commander 
Glisson then ordered the USS Mount Vernon to fire on the steamers over 2 miles in 
distance. The steamers fled upriver with the schooner and remaining lighters in tow, 
after only partially completing their objective (ORN I, 6:646). 

A map produced for Union Gen. Q. A. Gillmore in September 1864 shows a line of 
obstructions extending northeast across the main channel at Fort Caswell. In 
describing the Fort Caswell obstructions in June 1862, Lieutenant Bunce reported that 
"the obstructions in Cape Fear River consist of two rafts, each 700 feet in length, 
anchored off Fort Caswell, at the rips, bearing southeast from the fort across the 
channel." Whether the obstructions were southeast of the fort according to Bunce, or 
northeast of the fort as shown by Gillmore, or at both locations, has not been confirmed 
(ORN I, 7:493; ORA I, 42:732; USACOE, 1864). 



304 



< 



Mueiux 



B*axy 
Timitt 



J/ealy Timier. 



V.lAneham. 



nnennt 
5 




Figure 34. Civil War River Raft Obstruction. 

The above diagram (Figure 34) provided by Lieutenant Bunce in his report represents 
one section of each raft. Twenty feet separated each section, and the sections were 
connected by heavy mortise and tenoned timbers. The pointed ends were aligned up 
and down the channel. A very heavy chain ran across the middle of each raft, then 
anchored at each end and amidship. Chains located in midchannel connected the two 
rafts. At high water the complete rafts, or a portion, were afloat (ORN I, 7:493). 

Old Brunswick 

In June 1864 Lt. William Cushing, U.S. Navy, reported that "The river is also obstructed 
by spiles at Old Brunswick, and there is a very heavy earthwork there." The earthwork 
referred to by Lieutenant Cushing was of course, Fort Anderson. In February 1865, not 
long after the fall of Fort Anderson, Assistant Surgeon Stephen C. Bartlett aboard the 
USS Lenapee wrote home stating that the men on his ship helped remove the ob 
structions and about thirty torpedos from near the fort (ORN I, 10:202; Murray and 
Bartlett 1956:78). 

Clar k's Is land 

In 1865 Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg submitted a detailed map of the obstructions 
and defenses below Wilmington at Clark's Island and at the mouth of the Brunswick 
River. A similar map was later prepared under the direction of Capt. William James for 
the Union forces. General Bragg's map shows the location of floating chain 
obstructions across the main channel of the Cape Fear River from the north end of 
Clark's Island to the shallow water in front of Fort Lee on the eastern shore. The 
floating chain obstructions ended in front of the fort before reaching a floating gate. On 
the upstream side of the floating chain obstructions, near the northern end of Clark's 
Island, the wreck of the blockade-runner North Heath formed a part of the obstructions 
(CSAE 1865b). 



305 



On the Bragg map, approximately 1,200 yards below the floating chain, the wrecks of 
the screw steamers Arctic and Yadkin are shown as part of the obstructions opposite 
Fort Campbell between two lines of sawyers and Chevaux-de-frise. An additional line of 
sawyers is shown parallel to the current below the south end of Clark's Island. 
Lieutenant Cushing's report in June 1864 described the obstructions 3 miles below the 
city as "consisting of iron-pointed spiles, driven in at an angle." A short distance nearer 
the city, located at a ten-gun navy battery, another line of obstructions consisted of 
"diamond-shaped crates filled, and supported in position by two rows of spiles." The 
Confederate obstructions in front of Fort Campbell were removed by the U.S. Engineer 
Department in 1875 (ORN I, 10:202; CSAE 1865b; USACOE 1876b). 

Assistant Surgeon Stephen Bartlett again commented in a letter on the river 
obstructions after moving upriver from Fort Anderson: "Soon we came to a line of 
stakes and saw we have arrived at the second line of obstructions with the channel 
blocked by a Blockade Runner [North Heath] sunk." Bartlett also referred to a second 
sunken blockade-runner, possibly in reference to one of the screw steamers. In 1875 
the Yadkin and the Arctic were removed as navigational hazards. The North Heath was 
partially removed in December 1869 and entirely removed years later in 1932 
( Wilmington Star , December 7, 1869, December 13, 1932; Wilmington Journal , January 
31, June 13, 1866; Murray and Bartlett 1956:78-79; CSAE 1865b; USACOE 1876b). 

Mouth of Brunswick River 

At the mouth of the Brunswick River rows of "Sawyers," "Round Piling," and "Square 
Piling 12x12" blocked the entrance. A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers map from 1876 
indicates that the line of obstructions sunk by the Confederates was "bare at low 
water." On June 13, 1902, a River and Harbor's Act appropriated an expenditure not 
exceeding $1,000 for the improvement of Cape Fear River at and below Wilmington 
and for removing Civil War obstructions at the mouth of the Brunswick River 
( Wilmington Messenger . October 9, 1902; Sprunt 1992:13; CSAE 1865b; USACOE 
1876b). 

Wilming ton 

Above the city an additional row of obstructions and another battery completed the 
defences. In April 1865 Union forces removed some obstructions and torpedoes from 
the river, but it was several years before all the hazards were completely removed. In 
1875 work again commenced to eliminate the two types of obstructions, or Yankee 
Catchers, that still remained. The Corps of Engineers removed the hazards in July and 
August 1875 by breaking off the pointed timbers. The local paper reported in August 
that "the obstructions which were placed . . . during the late war have all been 
removed" ( Wilmington Star . December 20, 1873, August 31, 1875; Rayburn 1984:4; 
Hartzer 1984:33-34; ORN I, 10:202; Murray and Bartlett 1956:83). 



306 



River Channel Improvements, (1873- 1891) 

While construction on New Inlet dam was under way, the Corps of Engineers also 
continued to maintain a navigable river channel. The Corps had at first proposed to 
dredge wherever necessary across the river shoals to secure a 12-foot channel, 200 
feet wide; later the project was expanded to maintain a 16-foot channel, 270 feet wide, 
at low water. The latter depth, partially achieved by 1874, combined with the average 
rise of tide on the bar {AV 2 feet) and at Wilmington (2 1 /2 feet) provided a good 18-foot 
navigation at high water from the ocean to Wilmington ( Wilmington Star , February 13, 
1886, July 30, 1947: Wilmington Dispatch , November 7, 1907). The section of river 
most difficult to maintain at 16 feet was at Horseshoe Shoal, opposite New Inlet, where 
the channel made a broad curve around Snow's Marsh. After the Corps closed the inlet, 
however, the increased river current began to rapidly scour the eastern side of 
Horseshoe Shoal and the sharp bends of the channel in that locality, thereby 
straightening it. Contractors for the Corps began in September 1874 dredging a new 
channel west of Horseshoe Shoal to 100 feet wide and 9 feet deep. The new channel 
avoided much of the circuitous Horseshoe channel and considerably shortened and 
straightened the main route. Within two years the Corps had increased the width of the 
channel to 190 feet and the depth to nearly 12 feet. The Corps completed dredging the 
channel, later referred to as "Snow's Marsh Cut," in 1876. Within a few years after 
dredging ceased on the new cut, the depth had seriously dropped to about 3 feet in the 
upper end, with only 9 feet at low tide possible. By late 1878 only smaller class vessels 
could safely navigate the cut (USACOE-AR 1875:90; 1876:308 1878:476; 1879:560; 
Wilmington Star , February 8, 1877; Wilmington Star , November 21, 1878). 

Shoaling continued to occur at several other places in the river. In 1875 the cutting of a 
channel through the shoal known as the "Logs," immediately above Campbell Island, 
began. Engineers for the Corps removed two small shoals — one near the point of 
Campbell Island, the other above the upper jetty — in 1876 so as to allow vessels 
drawing 14 feet to pass without difficulty to and from the city wharves. At a point VA 
miles below the Market Street dock, a new channel was discovered. Capt. Edgar 
Williams of the steamer Wm. Nyce found the newly formed channel, which became 
known as the "Nyce Cut." The new route provided 18 inches more water than the 
channel generally used ( Wilmington Star , March 17, 1873, March 30, June 2, 1876, 
November 21, 1878; Hartzer 1984:46). 

The project of 1881 sought to obtain, by dredging, a channel 270 feet wide and 16 feet 
deep at low water up to Wilmington. While the Snow's Marsh cut had decreased in 
depth, the Horseshoe Channel had increased its depth by 18 inches, making 
consideration of redredging the Snow's Marsh cut doubtful. After conducting a resurvey 
of the entire river from the mouth to Wilmington, the Corps determined that only the 
upper portion of the Snow's Marsh cut had reshoaled. During 1881-1884 the principal 
maintenance work done was on that channel, aligning and extending the cut to the axis 
of the natural channel. The cut now extended 2 1 /4 miles, saving V 2 mile by avoiding the 
Horseshoe Channel, and maintained a width of 270 feet and depth of 16 feet 



307 



( Wilmington-Star . July 20, 1907; Wilmington Weekly Star , April 15, 1881; USACOE-AR 
1881:920-921; 1882:937; 1883:718; Hartzer 1984:46). 

Not all of the improvements initiated by the Corps of Engineers met with approval by 
the local citizens. The Wilmington Star reported in September 1884 that the Cape Fear 
jetties were doing considerable injury to navigation. Mariners were upset by the 
changes in the depth of water at some locations as a result of the jetties; where the 
river was once sufficiently deep for boating, shoals were now encountered. "The 
steamboatmen-for whom the jetties are intended to benefit-would be glad to see the 
last one of them removed." It was also during 1884 that Capt. William H. Bixby, chief 
engineer, for the U.S. Army Corps, came to Wilmington to take charge of the rivers and 
harbors in the district. By the following year he had determined to widen and deepen 
the existing river channel to its full dimensions — 270 feet wide and at least 16 feet deep 
at low water — and further protect them against subsequent deterioration by using 
submerged stone dikes where necessary. It was also recommended that the projects be 
further extended, so as to deepen the bar entrance to at least 16 feet least depth at low 
water ( Wilmington Star , September 19, 1884, February 13, 1886; Hartzer 1984:46). 

In 1887 Captain Bixby and Assistant Engineer Henry Bacon recommended abandoning 
the Horseshoe Shoal Channel and dredging a new channel that would follow the 
natural course of the river. The Corps implemented the recommendations and a new 
cut was completed in 1890 and renamed the Snow's Marsh Channel. The new cut, 
located about 1,000 feet west of the Horseshoe Shoal Channel, followed the natural 
course of the river through "Five Fathom Hole" to the deep water at Southport. The 
single straight channel measured 233 feet wide and 16 feet deep at low water. The 
length was only about two-thirds that of the old cut and was hoped to prove more easily 
navigated and more permanent than the old channel. Captain Bixby reported in August 
1891 that "the old Horse Shoe Channel and the old Snow's Marsh Channel seem to be 
steadily shoaling and closing up, and the volume of water, formerly moving through 
them, is daily going more and more into the new Snow's Marsh Channel, so that there 
is every indication of the latter's naturally expanding to 18 feet depth and about 300 
feet width within the next one or two years" ( Wilmington Weekly Star , June 14, 1890; 
August 21, October 23, 1891; Wilmington Star . June 2, 1876, July 31, 1913; Hartzer 
1984:46). 

While the shoals in the Snow's Marsh vicinity created the biggest obstacle to 
navigation handled by the Corps of Engineers, other shoal areas in the Cape Fear also 
had to be maintained. Opposite Wilmington a channel from the main river into the 
Northeast Cape Fear River had been dredged to a width of at least 264 feet and a 
depth of 16 feet at low water; thus allowing a 16-foot draft up the Northeast River clear 
to the railroad bridge at Hilton. By 1890 at the shoal opposite Kidder's mill and Alligator 
Creek (1 mile below Wilmington); at Brunswick River shoal (3 miles below Wilmington); 
at Logs and Big Island shoal (7 miles below the city); at Lilliput shoal (11 miles below 
Wilmington); at Midnight shoal (16 miles below the city); and at Reaves' Point shoal (19 
miles below Wilmington), the channel had been completely dredged to a width of at 



308 



least 270 feet and a depth of at least 16 feet at low water ( Wilmington Weekly Star 
June 14, 1890). 



Cape Fear Bar Improvements, (1870 - 1891) 

Before 1839 Bald Head Channel, also referred to as the Eastern or Seward Channel, 
was the natural and main entrance to the Cape Fear River. From 1839 to 1872 the Rip, 
also known as the Oak Island or Western Channel, and New Inlet were the main 
entrances, and navigation discontinued at Bald Head Channel. After 1872 and the 
closure of New Inlet, Bald Head Channel once again became the main channel, slowly 
regaining its former depths (USACOE-AR 1886:1005; Wilmington Star , December 20, 
1873, April 6, 1879). By 1875 river traffic used Bald Head Channel almost entirely for 
shipping, as it was then superior to the Oak Island Channel. Water depths measured 
11 1 /4 feet at ordinary low tide over the river bar and an available depth of 16 feet at 
ordinary high water — a gain of 3 feet since dredging operations began in 1870. 
Conversely, the western entrance was seldom used by river traffic and only by vessels 
of very light draft having 6V2 feet depth at mean low water on the "Rip." The Corps's 
project for 1875 proposed occasional dredging upon the outer bar to assist in the 
gradual straightening and deepening of the bar entrances ( Wilmington Star . February 
13, 1886; USACOE-AR 1875:100; 1881:924). 

A newspaper account from 1875 shows how the Corps's improvements by deepening 
the Bald Head Channel at the bar accomplished their objective. On February 8, 1875, 
Captain Potter reported that the steam tug Alpha towed the German Barque Fear Not 
into Bald Head Channel. The barque at the time drew 16 feet 8 inches. He goes on to 
say that "This is thought to be the deepest water over the bar within 60 or 80 years, and 
is an evidence of the thoroughness of the work of the Bar Improvements." Assistant 
Engineer Bacon stated that by 1879 there was 12 feet of water in Bald Head Channel 
at mean low tide, that ships drawing 17 feet could pass in and out of the channel on 
spring tides at high water, and that there was 1514 feet in the channel on ordinary high 
tides. Lighterage was no longer required. Vessels could cross the outer bar and 
proceed directly to Wilmington to unload ( Wilmington Weekly Star , February 19, 1875; 
Wilmington Post Weekly . July 6, 1879; USACOE-AR 1886:1007). 

The natural scouring effect at the mouth of the river, combined with the dredging, gave 
reason for the engineers to state in 1880 that "the navigation of the Cape Fear is better 
than it has been for more than a century." With the total closure of New Inlet the 
following year and the improvements accomplished at the bar, complete efforts turned 
to dredging the shoals upriver where only a 9-foot depth at low water was maintained. 
As previously mentioned, the worst of the shoal areas were located at Horseshoe Shoal 
and the Logs Shoal. Captain Bixby stated in his engineer's report that during the 1886- 
1887 fiscal year the Corps did not do any dredging or diking until October 1886 
because of a lack of funds. After that time the Corps spent their efforts and funding in 
opening a continuous channel of at least 111 feet in width and 16 feet in depth at low 
water from Wilmington to the ocean bar, keeping the newly dredged Baldhead Channel 



309 



open, and in placing stone in position upon the major work, the Swash Defense 
Dam — a dike that ran southward from Zeke's Island that further extended the New Inlet 
dam ( Wilmington Weekly Star , August 12, 1887; Wilmington Star , February 13, 1886; 
USACOE-AR 1880:109). 

In 1887 the Corps once again conducted navigational improvements at the main river 
entrance. Although dredging had greatly increased the depth at the Baldhead Channel, 
several sharp curves made maintaining a sufficient dredged depth difficult as well as 
posing a hazard to entering vessels. To correct this problem the Corps engineers 
decided to dredge a new and straight channel across the bar. Capt. J. W. Woodside of 
the U.S. steam dredge Woodbury dug a new channel 13 feet 8 inches deep at mean 
low water with the intention of reaching the old channel depth. The Corps named the 
new cut the Woodbury Channel for Capt. D. P. Woodbury, who was in charge of the 
river improvements under the Corps of Engineers from 1855-57 ( Wilmington Star , 
December 15, 1889, July 20, 1907; Wilmington Dispatch , November 7, 1907; Reaves 
1990:5). 

For nearly three years the suction dredge Woodbury steadily worked on the new 
channel across the bar. By 1889 the old crooked channel had been abandoned and the 
new straight channel adopted by all navigation. The following year a published account 
provided the local residents some satisfying news about the river improvements: 

The new bar channel is steadily growing in width and depth, and is now 
everywhere at least 15 feet deep at low water, and 200 feet width of 
channel. The rise of the tide at Wilmington is about 2Y 2 feet. Thus there is 
a depth of at least 16 feet at low water from Wilmington to the bar, and at 
least 18 feet at high water from Wilmington to the ocean. During the past 
year vessels drawing over 17 feet have been loaded at the city wharves 
and have passed safely out to sea in a single tide; and vessels of 18 feet 
draft might do the same in calm weather ( Wilmington Weekly Star . June 
14, 1890). 

Captain Bixby provided in a communication later that year his assessment of the 
improvements at the bar and an optimistic goal for the near future: "With the exception 
of three short sections the survey shows a depth of 20 feet along that new route over 
the bar. This is 2V 2 feet more depth than existed in 1884, and the indications are that 
there will be another two feet additional depth inside of the next three or four years." 
Along with the improvements at the bar, the project for 1889 included maintaining the 
river channels at 270 feet in width and the increased depth of 20 feet from the mouth of 
the river to Wilmington. On the Northeast Cape Fear River dredging provided a depth 
of at least 6 feet at all stages of tide and water for small steamers ( Wilmington Star . 
July 2, 1890; Wilmington Weekly Star . February 27, 1891; Wilmington Star, July 30, 
1947). 



310 



Snow's Marsh Dike, (1895 - 1897) 

By 1892 a navigable river channel, 270 feet wide and 16 feet deep, had been achieved, 
and a new project authorized to obtain 20 feet in depth. Work on that project proceeded 
very slowly, mainly because of continued shoaling on the new Snow's Marsh Channel 
and the Lilliput and Midnight shoals. The lower Snow's Marsh Channel proved to be the 
hardest place in the Cape Fear to keep from constantly refilling, thus making it difficult 
for deep draft vessels going up and down the river. Constant dredging in that section of 
the channel just kept pace with the sand accumulation. Clearly something else needed 
to be done. In 1893 Corps Engineer E. D. Thompson and his assistants made a 
preliminary survey of the lower portion of Snow's Marsh Channel to assess the situation 
and make recommendations for improvement. Thompson submitted a plan to build a 
dike on the east side of the cut ( Wilmington Messenger , January 13, 1893, May 5, 
1893; Rayburn 1985:3). 

In the spring of 1895 Maj. W. S. Stanton, Corps of Engineers, implemented 
Thompson's plan by constructing a training dike, or wall, of brushwood bound in 
bundles by heavy wire. The bundles were 22 feet long and 2 feet in diameter, piled to 
the high tide level, and placed between 33-foot pine piles driven 15 feet into sand and 
mud, 8 feet apart, in two rows 5 to 6 feet apart. The first part of the pile work was 
constructed to the southeast of the Snow's Marsh Channel. On April 3, 1896, the Corps 
announced that it would extend the training dike at Snow's Marsh 2,992 feet farther 
from the northern, or upstream end, and 556 feet downriver from the lower end, 
covering the distance from Zeke's Island to Price's Creek. The Corps completed work 
on filling the dike with brush in May 1896 and extended the dike another 228 feet 
upstream and 496 feet at the lower end as a result of needed repairs — a total distance 
of 9,964 feet. After improving the channel the Corps abandoned the dike in 1897 
because it was difficult to maintain and highly exposed to the wind and waves. By the 
close of the century the Corps of Engineers had dredged much of the channel from 18 
to 20 feet deep, varying in width from 150 to 270 feet along the entire river. During high 
water a depth of 24V£ feet was possible, with 22 feet in channel depth up to Wilmington 
( Wilmington Messenger . March 6, March 19, April 26, 1895, 1899; Sprunt 1896:112- 
113; Rayburn 1985:3-4; USACOE-AR 1895:1339, 1342, 1896:1132). 



Twentieth-century Navigation Improvements 

The first major project planned after the turn of the century came in 1902 and called for 
establishing a turning basin in the harbor of Wilmington. That same year the Corps 
reported that their goal of dredging the channel to 20 feet deep and 270 feet wide from 
Wilmington to the ocean was about sixty percent complete. Wilmington merchants 
desperately wanted the Corps of Engineers to dredge a turning basin below the 
confluence of the Cape Fear and Northeast Rivers and to deepen the water along the 
Wilmington waterfront to handle the increasing number of arriving vessels. The Corps, 
however, felt that the cost of such a project was too much and instead recommended 
construction of mooring dolphins in the river at the city. Although the dispute was not 
immediately settled, the Corps did have the government dredge Ajax enlarge the 



311 



anchorage basin at the foot of Nun Street during 1905. The enlarged basin gave 
arriving vessels the advantage of more room to maneuver with the tide. In 1907 
Wilmington citizens finally convinced the Corps to dredge a turning basin in the 
Wilmington harbor instead of constructing dolphins. In 1909 Capt. Earl I. Brown 
reported that the turning basin had been dredged over its length of 5,300 feet to a 
depth of 24 feet and a width of 150 to 300 feet ( Wilmington Star , July 25, 1902; 
Wilmington Dispatch , February 8, 1905; ( Wilmington Messenger , January 13, 1906; 
Rayburn 1985:4). 

The snag puller H. G. Wright in late September or early October 1902 began removing 
obstructions at the mouth of the Brunswick River consisting of old pilings as well as 
obstructions put down in accordance with the plan for the defense of Wilmington when 
the war broke out with Spain in April 1898 (Figure 35). The Corps removed 
obstructions during 1903, securing a channel at the river's mouth 100 feet wide and 7 
feet deep ( Wilmington Messenger , October 9, 1902; Sprunt 1992:13; CSAE 1865b; 
USACOE 1876b). By 1907 all ten channels from Wilmington to Baldhead bar had been 
completed to a width of between 148 feet to 270 feet, and all except Snow's Marsh had 
a depth of 20 feet. Dredging deepened the ocean bar to 22 feet. Congress approved 
additional funding on March 2, 1907, for continued improvements to the 20-foot depth 
and the anchorage basin at Wilmington — 2,000 feet in length, 900 feet wide at its upper 
end, and 1,100 feet wide at its lower end ( Wilmington Star , July 25, 1902; Wilmington 
Dis patch, February 8, 1905; Wilmington Messenger , January 13, 1906; Rayburn 
1985:4). 

Dredging continued by the Corps of Engineers on the channels, and by 1912 the Cape 
Fear had reached a depth of 26 to 28 feet and a width of between 74 and 270 feet up to 
Wilmington. The river channel reached 26 feet deep by Reaves' Point, then 28 feet on 
up to Wilmington at a width of 150 feet (excepting the lower reach of Snow's Marsh 
Channel where the channel depth was 26 feet and 270 feet wide, and at Keg Island 
shoal where the channel width was 28 feet and 150 feet wide). By 1911 or 1912, the 
Snow's Marsh Channel had also been straightened into one reach instead of two. 
Navigational improvements to the Cape Fear by the summer of 1912 had obtained a 
channel 26 feet deep across the bar, varying in widths from 250 to 300 feet. With the 
use of the Baldhead Bar Channel, instead of the Western Rip Channel, the inner bar 
had progressively moved west 500 feet, while the outer bar remained unchanged 
( Wilmington Star . October 21, 1911, August 3, 1912, July 30, 1947; Rayburn 1985:4-5; 
Hartzer 1984:48). 

Hazards caused by the shoaling of Brunswick Cove, located just below Orton Point, 
continued to cause great concern for the ship crews using the Cape Fear River. About 
1911 they recommended to the Board of Commissioners of Navigation and Pilotage 
that a straight cut from Orton Point to the cut opposite Brunswick be made in order to 
permanently eliminate that obstruction to navigation. In the opinion of the pilots, the 
cove "would never be made permanently navigable, as it required dredging every year 



312 



If 





313 



or 18 months; but that this expense and danger might be avoided by the cut of a 
straight channel" ( Wilmington Star , October 5, 1911 ). 

With the outbreak of World War I, the commerce of Wilmington declined, as it did at 
many other ports, when hostile enemy raiders and submarines prevented the free 
navigation of the Atlantic Ocean. At the close of the war in 1918 the commerce and 
river improvements that had dwindled were once again revived. A new peacetime 
project adopted in 1919 called for dredging a 400-foot-wide channel at a depth of 30 
feet over the bar. By 1922, however, the bar channel measured only 26 by 200 feet, 
despite continual maintenance dredging. The Corps of Engineers had recently made a 
series of water current studies at the bar and found that water flowed straight out to sea 
on a southwesterly course from the channel west of Bald Head Point, instead of due 
west, the direction of the channel. In 1922 the Corps began dredging a new channel 
that followed the current. An average depth of 26 feet had been obtained by 1925 when 
the channel was first opened to navigation, and when finally completed the straight 
southwesterly channel was 30 feet deep and eliminated the curve that existed in the old 
route to the sea ( Wilmington News-Dispatch , May 2, June 30, July 1, 1925; Rayburn 
1985:5; Hartzer 1984:48). 

At Wilmington the Corps of Engineers conducted other improvements to navigation 
during the early 1920s. At Point Peter, opposite Champion Compress, the Corps 
removed a shell rock ledge where a number of vessels had previously grounded 
( Wilmington News-Dispatch , July 9, September 30, 1925). The city also made 
provisions for conversion of the old Liberty Shipyard, located at the foot of Greenfield 
and Willard Streets, to public docks and terminals. Wilmington purchased the property 
with the condition that public port terminals be developed within ten years. In late 
August 1920 the city council accepted the deal made by the Wilmington Chamber of 
Commerce to purchase the Liberty Shipyard from the government for $37,500. The 
Corps engineers later made improvements to the dock and dredge slip to increase the 
depth to correspond with the 26-foot anchorage basin ( Wilmington News-Dispatch , 
November 10, 1925). 

A major element of the Corps's improvement project of 1927, under district engineer 
Maj. William A. Snow, called for the construction of a lock at a new cut between two 
tidal areas on opposite sides of Federal Point as part of the proposed Inland Waterway 
system. In 1929 a private contractor for the Corps of Engineers began making the 
nearly VA mile cut across Federal Point to a 12-foot depth and a 100-foot width. It was 
feared that swift currents and a difference in tidal movement would restrict navigation 
through the cut, thus requiring the need for a lock. Upon completion of the cut in 1931 
the Corps found that the change was minimal and a lock not necessary. In appreciation 
for the efficiency shown by the Wilmington District and Major Snow, Wilmington citizens 
petitioned the chamber of commerce to adopt a resolution in recognition of Snow's work 
by naming the cut after him. Although the cut could not officially be named for Snow, 
local residents continued to call the inlet Snow's Cut (Hartzer 1984:62; Wilmington 
Star-News , November 18, 1984). 



314 



In 1930 federal authorization allowed the Corps to maintain a 30-foot channel. A 
congressional act on July 3, 1930, modified the old act and approved the new 
depth— an increase of 4 feet over the old depth ( Wilmington News , December 3, 1929; 
Wilmington Star . July 30, 1947). In 1931 local interests put forth the motion at a public 
hearing to deepen Smith's Creek to allow for light navigation. Early plans submitted 
noted that the mouth of the steam should be dredged to a depth corresponding to the 
river channel. A Corps survey of the project later supported improving the Northeast 
River above the city ( Wilmington Star , March 6, 1931). During 1931 the Corps removed 
nearly 6,000 cubic yards of rock opposite the city wharfs to reach the proposed 30-foot 
navigation depth and for a turning basin ( Wilmington News , June 2, 5, 1931). After 
months of dredging the Corps obtained the 30-foot Cape Fear River channel from 
Wilmington to the Atlantic Ocean on August 22, 1932. Work of dredging the Cape Fear 
to 30 feet with a 300-foot bottom width had cost more than two million dollars. In 
addition to the increased channel width, the Corps dredged adequate anchoring and 
turning basins at Wilmington. The anchorage basin measured 2,000 feet long, 900 feet 
wide at the upper end, with approaches 1,500 feet long at both ends. The turning basin 
was 1,000 feet long and 600 feet wide, with approaches 500 feet long at both ends 
( Wilmington Star , August 9, 1932; Wilmington News , August 22, 1932). Natural sand 
accumulation filled New Inlet completly in 1931. A local resident, J. W. Winner, 
reported that he was able to drive his car across the strand to the connecting island. A 
bay known as Buzzard Bay formed between the dam and the strand ( Wilmington Star , 
March 17, 1931). 

The dredge Henry Bacon began work on straightening out "a curve" in the channel of 
the Cape Fear River at Orion in November 1932. Local pilots had made the suggestion 
to the Board of Commissioners as early as 1911 to eliminate the curve through Orton 
(Brunswick) Cove. The project called for the new dredging of roughly 7,400 feet. Two 
reaches were cut out with the view of eliminating shoaling at that point in the 30-foot 
channel. Upper Midnight channel was extended by dredging northward to an 
intersection with the Lower Liliput Channel. The extension eliminated the old channels 
in Orton Cove by the following year ( Wilmington Star , October 5, 1911, April 16, 1933; 
Wilmington News , December 21, 1932). In 1933 the Wilmington District, Corps of 
Engineers granted permission to the Texas Oil Company, to dredge a channel 80 feet 
wide, 540 feet long, and about 28 feet deep at its dock just below Wilmington. The 
company deposited their dredged material near the mouth of Redmond Creek on 
Eagles Island. In 1936 the same company again made an application for permission to 
dredge 5,500 cubic yards of material from in front of their terminal ( Wilmington Star , 
December 19, 1933; October 11, 1936). 

In March 1937 the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce requested that the river channel 
from Wilmington to Southport be widened from 300 to 400 feet, that the turning basin at 
the northern end of the harbor be deepened, and that the river channel leading from 
Snow's Cut to the Cape Fear River channel and the river channel opposite the old 
Liberty Shipyards be straightened. The Corps, however, only pursued one new project 



315 



in 1937 — the dredging of portions of Smith Creek to a depth of 12 feet ( Wilmington 
News , March 5, 1937, January 13, 1938). The following year the Corps approved three 
improvement projects: widening the river channel from the inner end of the ocean bar at 
Southport to Wilmington from 300 to 400 feet, maintaining its present channel depth of 
30 feet; making the 30-foot-deep by 600-foot-wide basin into a 30-by-800-foot basin; 
and dredging a channel 12 feet deep and 100 feet wide from the eastern entrance of 
the Inland Waterway to a connection about 3 miles upstream with the main river 
channel. This new dredging was known as the Snow's cut "shortcut" project, but work 
did not begin until 1948 ( Wilmington Star , September 15, 1938; Wilmington Star , 
November 5, 1948). 

Before 1940 the Northeast Cape Fear River had been maintained as a separate 
navigation project, but the Corps recognized the consensus that it was a part of the 
harbor of Wilmington and afterward considered it with the Cape Fear River work. Maj. 
Gen. J. L. Schley, chief of the U.S. Army Engineers in 1940, approved a 
recommendation that the Northeast Cape Fear River be deepened to 25 feet and 
widened to 200 feet for 1% miles above Wilmington. The project also provided for 
increasing the width at the bends of the river extending from Hilton bridge and included 
a new turning basin of the same depth and 600 feet wide at a point 1 % miles above the 
bridge. Originally the project had authorized a 22-foot channel, for which local interests 
were to contribute half of the costs. With the approval of Major General Schley, the 
Corps canceled the original project ( Wilmington Star , March 15, 1940). 

When the United States entered World War II in 1941, the Maritime Commission once 
again selected Wilmington as the location of a major wartime shipbuilding center. While 
most of the river improvements were placed on hold during the war, the Corps 
conducted some dredging activity at new shipways of the North Carolina Shipbuilding 
company located 3 miles south of the city. Following the war, the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers resumed dredging of the Cape Fear. The Corps "began dredging operations 
in the Cape Fear River channel to a project depth of 30 feet and increased its width to 
300 feet from Wilmington to the sea." Shoals that had accumulated during the war at 
the turning basin and anchorage basin in Wilmington and within the river were removed 
( Wilmington News , January 9, 1942, November 30, 1945, December 26, 1945). 

By 1946 the postwar commerce of Wilmington was making a rapid and expanded 
recovery. The newly created North Carolina State Ports Authority developed terminal 
facilities in the southern part of Wilmington. An increase in the number and size of 
vessels arriving at Wilmington prompted the Corps of Engineers to recommend 
deepening the Cape Fear River to accommodate these larger ships. The Corps 
announced in June 1946 that the channel would be dredged to 32 feet with a 400-foot 
width. The year-long job of increasing the depth of the Cape Fear River channel got 
under way in April 1947 as the huge dredge Pennsylvania began operations at the 
mouth of the Brunswick River. During the war dredges had been diverted to military 
work neglecting maintenance at the ocean bar. The shoals that built up forced ships to 
wait for high tide. By the spring of 1947 the Wilmington District engineers revealed that 



316 



restoration of the bar from 26 to 30 feet was practically completed, and oil tankers and 
cargo ships were soon expected to cross over the bar without having to wait for high 
tide Wilmington News . June 20, 1946, April 17, 1947; Wilmington Star . July 16, 1946; 
Wilmington Post . March 11, 1947). 

One of the largest projects during the 1950s was the construction of the Military Ocean 
Terminal at Sunny Point (MOTSU), a specially designed ammunition loading facility. In 
accordance with the Army's plan of keeping loading facilities as far away from 
populated centers as practical, they selected a location in Brunswick County, 15 miles 
below Wilmington on the Cape Fear. The completed project encompassed 7 miles of 
shoreline between the mouth of Walden Creek and a point just below the ruins of 
Brunswick Town. The Wilmington District began construction on the terminal in 
December 1952 and completed it by the fall of 1955. Three huge docks — situated a 
halfmile apart — were built by the Diamond Construction Company of Savannah, 
Georgia, each being 2,400 feet long and 87 feet wide. Beginning in January 1953 the 
Corps dredged ship channels 34 feet deep and 300 feet wide to each of the docks from 
the main channel. They also dredged at each dock a 800-foot turning basin (Angley 
1983:29; Hartzer 1984:75). 

During the 1960s and 1970s improvements continued to be made at various places in 
the Cape Fear River. In 1965 the Corps extended the 200-foot-wide by 25-foot-deep 
channel above the Hilton Bridge 2,200 feet upstream of the turning basin; the width and 
length of the turning basin were increased 100 feet. In 1967 Col. Beverly C. Snow Jr., 
district engineer for the Wilmington District, recommended to the chief of engineers that 
the authorized project depth be increased from 30 to 32 feet in the river from Castle 
Street to the Hilton Railroad Bridge and widened to 400 feet. The chief of engineers 
accepted Snow's recommendations and dredging commenced. Under contract work 
dredges deepend the river channel below Castle Street to Southport from 34 to 38 feet. 
Congress authorized during the early 1970s a channel 40 feet deep and 500 feet wide 
over the ocean bar and 38 feet deep by 400 feet wide to the upper end of the 
anchorage basin at Wilmington. In 1982 the turning basin at Wilmington was widened 
by 100 feet to accommodate ships up to 800 feet long. The basin is now approximately 
2,000 feet long and between 900 and 1,200 feet at its greatest width, allowing vessels 
up to 750 to 850 feet long to visit at the port ( Wilmington Star-News , January 8, 1967, 
March 4, 1967, June 14, 1967; Wilmington Star . July 21. 1982; Hartzer 1984:107, 110). 



Current Navigation Projects 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers presently maintains a turning basin and anchorage 
basin at Wilmington and a smaller turning basin in the Northeast Cape Fear above 
Smith's Creek. From the ocean bar to Wilmington twenty ranges have been 
established: Baldhead Shoal, Smith Island, Baldhead-Caswell, Southport; Battery 
Island, Lower Swash, Snows Marsh, Horseshoe Shoal, Reaves Point, Lower Midnight, 
Upper Midnight, Lower Lilliput, Upper Lilliput, Keg Island, Lower Big Island, Upper Big 
Island, Lower Brunswick, Upper Brunswick, Fourth East Jetty, and Between Channel. 



317 



An additional six reaches are located at and above Wilmington on the Northeast Cape 
Fear River. Collectively the basins and ranges are referred to as Wilmington Harbor 
and extend about 35 miles. 

At the time the Underwater Archaeology Unit conducted the survey in 1993, the Corps 
of Engineers Federal Project was authorized to maintain a main channel 40 feet deep 
and 500 feet wide from the Atlantic Ocean through the ocean bar and entrance 
channels (including Baldhead Shoal, Smith Island, Baldhead-Caswell, Southport, and 
Battery Island Channels). However, because of dredging inaccuracies and rock 
obstructions, the authorized depth of 40 feet has not been achieved at Smith Island or 
Baldhead Shoal Channel. From the entrance channels to the upper end of the 
anchorage/turning basin at the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge the Corps has been 
authorized to maintain the main channel at 38 feet deep and 400 feet wide. From the 
Cape Fear Memorial Bridge to the Hilton Railroad Bridge over the Northeast Cape Fear 
River, a channel 32 feet deep and 400 feet wide is maintained (including a turning 
basin of the same depth). The channel is maintained at a depth of 25 feet and a width 
of 200 feet from the Hilton Railroad Bridge to a point 1.7 miles above the bridge. A 
turning basin located 1.25 miles above the Hilton Railroad Bridge is also dredged to the 
same depth (USACOE report 18 September 1992). 

Additional projected improvements include the Turns and Bends project, Baldhead 
Shoal Channel rock dredging, widening Smith Island channel and the Northeast Cape 
Fear River project. The Turns and Bends project consists of widening six turns and 
bends below Wilmington by 75 to 140 feet. The Northeast Cape Fear River project 
includes: 

Widening of the Fourth East Jetty Channel 100 feet to the west at the 
existing project depth of 38 feet for a distance of about 8,000 feet. 

Deepening the navigation channel from the project depth of 32 feet to 38 
feet at a width of 400 feet between Cape Fear Memorial Bridge and the 
NC 133 Bridge. 

Widening the turning basin just upstream from the mouth of the Northeast 
Cape Fear River by 50 feet on the west side at a project depth of 38 feet. 

Deepening the navigation channel from a project depth of 32 feet to 38 
feet at a width of 300 feet from the NC 133 Highway Bridge to the Hilton 
Railroad Bridge, located 2,600 feet upstream, and deepening the 
navigation channel from a project depth of 25 feet to 38 feet at a width of 
200 feet from the Hilton Railroad Bridge to a point approximately 750 feet 
upstream (USACOE report 18 September 1992). 



318 



The Baldhead Shoal project included deepening to the 46-foot contour. The Smith 
Island channel. project will deepen an additional 2 feet and add a 50-foot widener to the 
west side of the channel to retard the shoaling rate. 

Port facilities maintained at Wilmington Harbor include 47 major piers, wharves, docks, 
and mooring dolphins. Fourteen of the major docking facilities in Wilmington Harbor are 
owned by the North Carolina State Ports Authority. The State Ports Authority facilities 
include eleven berths and approximately 6,800 feet of berthing. Five container cranes 
are now in operation at the State Ports (USACOE report September 18, 1992). 

Approximately 82 percent of the commerce in Wilmington Harbor is deep-draft, 
oceangoing trade. In 1990 Wilmington Harbor had 881 vessel calls. Twenty percent of 
these vessels required some amount of tidal assistance for under-keel clearance, and 9 
percent could enter only at high tide. Vessels with drafts greater than 36 feet must be 
light loaded to transit the ocean bar, regardless of tide. While draft limits are most 
severe for larger vessels, they affect practically all traffic in Wilmington Harbor. Over 
the last 4 years an annual average of approximately 240 ships calling at the Port of 
Wilmington were "Panamax" class ships. Ships in this class are 750 to 950 feet long, 
have a beam of about 106 feet, and a draft of 38 to 40 feet. The term "Panamax" 
indicates that this is the largest class of vessel which negotiates the 38.5-foot draft 
limitation of the Panama Canal. However, these vessels cannot enter Wilmington 
Harbor without being light loaded, even during high tide (USACOE report 18 
September 1992). 

With a controlling depth of 38 feet the bar channel effectively limits the use of the entire 
Wilmington Harbor project. Deepening the ocean bar channel to its authorized 40-foot 
depth would allow full utilization of the river channels to the Port of Wilmington. 
However, based on historical data and projections of future vessel sizes, light loading 
and tidal delays would still occur even if the bar channel is deepened to its authorized 
40-foot depth (USACOE report 18 September 1992). 



319 



Table 1-1. 

Chronological list of Navigation Improvements on the Cape Fear River 

1733 - Cape Fear River channel shown on the Edward Moseley map to flow near the western 
shoreline. 

1761 - New Inlet opened by storm. 

1762 - Earliest mention of the Flats from Governor Dobbs's report to the London Board of Trade. 

1775 - Wilmington Committee of Safety authorized John Forster, William Wilkinson and John 
Slingsby to procure any necessary vessels to be sunk as a blockade across the channel at the Flats to 
protect against British ships. 

1795 - The Commissioners of Revenue authorized James Read to receive proposals for staking out 
a navigable channel in the Cape Fear River. 

1817 - State of North Carolina authorized the creation of a commission to investigate the navigability 
of the state's rivers. The first steamboat, Prometheus, arrived on the Cape Fear River. 

1822 - State of North Carolina implemented a program under Hamilton Fulton to improve the river 
between Wilmington and Big Island (Campbell Island) by embankments, jetties, and dredging. This 
resulted in a gain of depth of 2 feet. 

1829 - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) undertook the dredging and maintenance of 
the ship channel in the river for a period of ten years. This channel extended from a point 2.7 miles 
above the confluence of the Cape Fear and the Northeast Rivers and extended 3 miles into the ocean, 
across the bar formed by Middle Ground and Baldhead Shoals. 

1853 - A USACOE project under Capt. Daniel P. Woodbury called for deepening the depth of water 
at the main entrance by constructing jetties at Baldhead Point and by a jetty between Smith's Island and 
Zeke's Island near New Inlet. 

1871 - The USACOE began straightening and deepening the river channel by dredging and diverting 
the tidal flow from New Inlet by closing the breach between Zeke's Island and Federal Point. Work began 
to close New Inlet by a stone dam, 5,300 feet long. The channel was dredged to a depth of 12 feet and a 
width of 100 feet from the entrance channel to Wilmington. 

1874 - Contractors for the USACOE dredged a new channel west of Horseshoe Shoal, 100 feet wide 
and 9 feet deep. This new channel avoided much of the circuitous Horseshoe Channel and considerably 
shortened and straightened the main route. 

1881 - The navigation project began dredging a channel 270 feet wide and 16 feet deep at low water 
up to Wilmington. 

1 887 - The new Woodbury Channel was dug at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. 

1889 - Swash defense dam, a stone structure 12,800 feet long running between Zeke's Island and 
Smith Island, was completed. 



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1890 - The ship channel was dredged and maintained to a depth of 20 feet and a width of 270 feet 
from Wilmington to the ocean. 

1895 - The USACOE constructed a training dike southeast of Snow's Marsh. The dike improved the 
channel somewhat but was abandoned in 1897 because it was not cost effective to maintain. 

1909 - A turning basin at Wilmington was dredged to a length of 5,300 feet, a depth of 24 feet, and a 
width of 1 50 to 300 feet. 

1912 - The Rivers and Harbors Act provided for a 26-foot-deep channel with a width at the ocean bar 
of 400 feet, thence 26 feet deep and 300 feet wide to Wilmington. 

1929 - Work began on Snow's Cut Channel across Federal Point. The cut was completed in 1931 
with a 12-foot depth and 100-foot width. 

1930 - The river channel was deepened to 30 feet with increased width at its bends. The anchorage 
basin at Wilmington and turning basins opposite principal terminals were enlarged. The 30-foot Cape 
Fear River channel from Wilmington to the Atlantic Ocean was completed by August 1932. 

1937 - A portion of Smith Creek was dredged to a depth of 12 feet. 

1945 - The North Carolina State Ports Authority was created and established at Wilmington. 

1946 - The ship channel was increased to a width of 400 feet and a depth of 32 feet up to 
Wilmington, and the turning basin was enlarged. 

1948 - A channel 200 feet wide by 25 feet deep was dredged from the Hilton Bridge upstream for 
1.25 miles. A 600-foot-wide by 600-foot-long turning basin was also dredged at the upstream end. The 
Snow's cut "shortcut" channels, 12 feet deep and 100 feet wide, were dredged between Snow's cut and 
the river channel. 

1950 - The depth over the ocean bar was increased to 35 feet, and the depth of the remaining 
reaches was increased to 34 feet up to Castle Street in Wilmington. 

1955 - Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point (MOTSU) was opened and entrance channels dredged. 

1965 - The 200-foot- wide by 25-foot-deep channel above the Hilton Bridge was extended 2,200 feet 
upstream of the turning basin, and the width and length of the turning basin was increased 100 feet. 

1966-1970 - The navigation channel in the river was increased to 38 feet by 400 feet up to Castle 
Street in Wilmington. 

1971 - The navigation channel over the ocean bar was deepened to 40 feet and maintained at a 
width of 500 feet. 

1972 - Navigation improvements were made in the section of the river adjacent to Wilmington 
(above Castle Street) to a depth of 32 feet by 400 feet. 

1982 - The turning basin opposite the North Carolina State Port Terminal was widened. 

1995 - Baldhead Channel deepened to a depth of 46 feet through rock. Smith Island Channel 
deepened an additional 2 feet and widened by 50 feet. 



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Cartographic Research 

Maps from the Lower Cape Fear River vicinity were extensively investigated in an effort 
to identify current and historical sites associated with the project area. Each map was 
inspected for any significant information and that data noted for comparison. The Cape 
Fear River has a lengthy historic background resulting in numerous maps of the region. 
Although many maps were reviewed, the following list is not exhaustive. Those maps 
not covered in the inventory include county and state highway maps, aerial 
photographs, road maps, and those published specifically for books. Maps are listed in 
chronological order (See also Appendix 1B). 



Untitled Map, John White, 1585. 

The White map (1585) is one of the earliest English maps available that shows the 
eastern coast of North Carolina following the period when explorers came to the Cape 
Fear vicinity. The map illustrates the coast from Virginia to Florida with the Outer Banks 
of North Carolina reasonably well shown. Cape Fear appears unlabeled on the map 
with shoaling marked in the area of the present Frying Pan Shoals. The Cape Fear 
River is labeled as the "R. Jordan." 



Americae pars, Nunc Virginia . . . , John White and Theodore De Bry, 1590. 

The White-De Bry map of 1590 illustrates the Atlantic coast from the Chesapeake Bay 
"Chesepiooc Sinus" to below Cape Fear in North Carolina. The Outer Banks are well 
shown with inlets and Indian villages. Several unlabeled rivers appear on the map 
along the North Carolina coast. 



Virginiae Item et Floridae Americae Provinciarom, Nova Descriptio, 
Mercator-Hondius, 1606. 

Illustrators drew this map in 1606 based upon earlier works. It documents the coastal 
region from the Chesapeake Bay to north Florida. Place names appear in Latin, 
French, and Spanish. Indian village names and those for capes are depicted. Cape 
Fear is shown in Spanish on the map as "C. S. Romano Hispanis." 



The South Part of Virginia Now the North Part of Carolina, 
Nicholas Comberford, 1657. 

The Comberford Map of 1657 depicts part of the northern coast of North Carolina. The 
distorted view in this seventeenth-century map mistakenly indicates the Outer Banks as 
extending to a point labeled on the map as "C Feare," just south of the "Neus" River. 
This point, in fact, is Cape Lookout. The error began on earlier maps and was repeated 
on this map. Nothing from the actual vicinity of the project area is shown on this map. 



323 



Untitled sketch of the Discovery made by William Hilton, Nicolas Shapley, 1662. 

This map, prepared by Nicholas Shapley of Massachusetts Bay in 1662 to accompany 
a written report by William Hilton, illustrates the coast from Cape Hatteras to Cape 
Romain. The Shapley map is the first to show the lower Cape Fear in any detail. Cape 
Fear is not labeled, although it was called "Cape feare" in Hilton's report. At the mouth 
of the "Charles River" (Cape Fear River) two anchorages are shown at the bar. On the 
western side of the river, in the vicinity of present-day Southport, a point is identified as 
"P Winslow," after one of Hilton's crew, Edward Winslow. Nearby "Crane Hand" is 
labeled. "Indian River" (Town Creek) appears farther upstream on the same side of the 
river. On the south bank of Indian River a point, or plantation, appears as "Sachoms P." 
The Brunswick River is indicated as "Hiltons R," while the Northwest branch of the 
Cape Fear may be indicated as "Greens R," named for John Green, a member of 
Hilton's crew. On the eastern shore "Goldsmith R," named for crew member Samuel 
Goldsmith may represent the current Smith Creek. A parapeted fortification identified 
as "James fort" is marked on the eastern side of the river. 



Carolina Described, Anonymous, Robert Home, 1666. 

This fanciful map of a section of the Atlantic coast from Cape Henry to south of Port 
Royal done by Robert Horen dates to 1666. Present-day Federal Point is shown as a 
long narrow strip of land that terminates at the "C. Fear." Water depths near the shoals 
at the entrance to the river range from 2 1 /2 feet to 8 feet. "Charles Town" is indicated 
along the western side of the "Charles Riv." Several islands depicted within the river 
include "Crane lie" and "Goose lie." In what is likely the area of Eagles Island, 
topographic features by name include "Blowers lie," "Green Riv." and "Swampy 
Branck." 



A New Discription of Carolina By Order of the Lords Proprietors, 
John Ogilby, ca. 1672. 

On the Ogilby map the area of Carolina between the coast and the Appalachian 
Mountains are covered. The Lords Proprietors provided the information used in making 
the map, and as such, it is often called The First Lords Proprietors' Map. The "Cape 
Fear" is marked on this map at the mouth of the "Clarendon River," named for Edward 
Hyde (1609-74), Earl of Clarendon, one of the Lords Proprietors. Also illustrated is 
"Clarendon County," formed in 1664 and in existence until 1667. "Cranes Hand," now 
Eagles Island across from present day Wilmington, is shown on the Ogilby map. "Longs 
Hand," located just north of "Cranes Hand," was probably named for Capt. Anthony 
Long, a member of an expedition led by Capt. William Hilton in 1663 to explore the 
lower Cape Fear region. In addition to "Longs Hand" there is also shown on the map 
"Longs Delight" near the headwaters of the Cape Fear "Clarendon" River. Located 
between "Longs Delight" and "Cranes Hand" are three place names: "New Town," 
"Turky Quarters," and "Pine Plains." "New Town" probably refers to the settlement of 
Charles Town in 1662 under the leadership of Captain Hilton on Town Creek in present 



324 



day Brunswick County. Charles Town was abandoned in 1663, reoccupied, and again 
abandoned in 1665. Hilton also provided the names "Turkey Quarters" and "Pine 
Plains." 



To The Right Honorable Will. Earle of Craven, Pallatine and the rest of ye true and 
absolute Lords and Proprietors, of the Province of Carolina, Joel Gascoyne, 1682. 

Joel Gascoyne's New Map of the Country of Carolina in 1682 illustrates the coast from 
Cape Henry to St. Augustine. The mainland at the mouth of the Cape Fear River is 
shown as a well-defined peninsula into the ocean and marked "Cape Fear." Water 
depths are shown ranging from 9 to 16 feet off of Cape Fear. The river is indicated on 
the map as both the "C. Fear or Clarendon R." Above the confluence, the Cape Fear 
River is labeled "The West Branch," and the Northeast River is marked "Ye East 
Branch." On the western side of the Cape Fear River, "Charles Towne" is shown. An 
unlabeled river or creek enters the Cape Fear River near its mouth from the west. This 
is presumably the Elizabeth River. The islands of "Longs" and "Cranes" are marked. 



A New Map of Carolina, Philip Lea, 1695. 

Philip Lea's map of 1695 shows most of the Carolina coast. West of the "C. Fear R. or 
Clarendon River" the area is clearly labeled as "Clarendon County." At the "Cape Fear" 
water depths range from only 3 feet to 9 feet. Two anchorages are also shown near the 
mouth of the river. On the west shore of the river "Charles Towne" is noted. Near the 
confluence of the Cape Fear River and 'The West Branch" the islands of "Longs I" and 
"Cranes I" are visible. 



A Map for the Lords Proprietors of Carolina in America, John Lawson, 1709. 

In 1709 John Lawson prepared a map for the Lords Proprietors in Carolina that 
illustrated a large section of the Carolinas. Limited information is detailed for the project 
area. Shown at the mouth of the "Clarendon R." is "Cape Fair." On the western shore of 
the river "Charles Town" has been depicted. Also noted are "Crany I" and 'The West 
Branch." 



Untitled southeastern North America, John Barnwell, 1722 

The 1722 Barnwell map of the southeast shows the area from Cape Charles, Virginia, 
southward to Cape Canaveral, Florida, and westward to the Mississippi River. 
Numerous geographic locations, including French, Spanish, Indian, and English 
settlements, are shown. The "Cape Fear" is indicated as a prominent penisula similar 
to that shown on the Gascoyne map. The Barnwell map is the first to solely label the 
river as the "Cape Fear River." 



325 



Carolina, Herman Moll, 1729 

In 1729 geographer Herman Moll created a map of the southeast region. His map 
covers the area from "The South Bounds of Carolina" to "C. Charles" in Virginia and 
westward to the mountains. Considerable detail is shown for the coast, with towns, 
counties, rivers, inlets, and other information marked. Cape Fear is shown as "C. Fear" 
and is additionally marked to indicate that it "Divided N. and S. Carolina." The Cape 
Fear River is again labeled as the "Clarendon R." with "The North West Branch" and 
"The West Branch" shown. "Longs I." and "Charles T." are indicated on the map within 
"Clarendon County." 



A New and Correct Map of the Province of North Carolina, 
Edward Moseley, 1733 

The Moseley map of 1733 is a remarkable improvement in detail over earlier maps. It 
illustrates the coast from north of Currituck Inlet to Cape Carteret in South Carolina. 
The "Cape Fear" is clearly indicated on the map with a southeasterly line of shoals 
marked. Text shown in the area of Frying Pan shoals reads, "Between 5 & 6 miles from 
the shore is a Swatch, about half a mile wide, discernible in moderate weather which 
Swatch has 12 feet water, the rest of the Shole has 5 or 6 feet water." On Smiths 
Island, shown as "Landgrave Smiths I," small tributaries flow west into the river near a 
point marked "Barren Head." The channel is depicted from the ocean into the river. 
Water depths at the mouth of the river range from 2 to 7 fathoms. The channel passes 
to the east of a visible shoal (Middle Ground), then curves to the west side of the river 
around a group of islands (Battery, Striking and Shellbed), then continues up the west 
side of the river approximately 10 miles. The "Elizabeth R" is shown near the mouth of 
the Cape Fear River. 

"Brunswick Town" is marked on the west side of the Cape Fear River on the "Road 
from Charles Town in South Carolina to North Carolina." An unnamed ferry at this 
location transported people and goods across the Cape Fear River where the road 
continued up the eastern coast of North Carolina. A second ferry is marked on the map 
on the western shore of the river north of "Old Town Creek." Southeast and opposite 
Brunswick Town the "Lower Haul over" that crosses the narrow section of the Cape 
Fear penisula is marked. From the mouth of the river northward the western shore is 
labeled with points of land that include "Bonnets," "Deep water," "One Tree," and 
"Sturgeons," as well as several names of property owners. 



A Large and . . . Draft of the Sea Cost of No. Carolina from Sholote Inlet to 
Coretuck with a true draft of Cape faire Rever, James Wimble, 1733. 

A map to accompany a manuscript produced by James Wimble in 1733 shows a 
section of the North Carolina coast. Spelling of most of the place names on the map are 
incorrect. The Frying Pan shoals at Cape Fear are shown as "Cape faire Shole." Text 
on the map states that "A pasagde over Severall parts of the Sole [shoal] in 10-1 1 feet 



326 



wat[e]r" were indicated or "marked down" on the map. Smith Island is shown as "Cape 
Land," while Bald Head is labeled as "Bol Hed." A line of sail into the river is indicated 
as "Channel way" through water depths that range from 4 feet to 7 feet. Sailing 
instructions "over the Barr" are given in text on the map, indicating a depth of 3 
fathoms. The "Channel way" is a straight line from the ocean into the river passing 
between "Bol Hed" and "oak Island" just east of Middle Ground shoal. It enters the river 
past the anchorage and ends at the "Govennors pine" on the west side of the river 
above "govennor creeks." Above this location "Brownswick town" is depicted. A river 
anchorage is displayed on the map adjacent to the town. The east side of the river is 
indicated as shoaled. Above Brunswick Town, "ole town" is marked. For the first time 
Wilmington is listed on a map as "New Carthage town" at the confluence of the "N.W. 
Rever" and the "N.E. Rever." Three anchorages are shown at "New Carthage." 



North Carolina, James Wimble, 1738. 

In 1738 James Wimble made a map showing the eastern coastline of North Carolina 
from Currituck Inlet to Shallote Inlet. The Cape Fear vicinity is fairly well illustrated with 
some spellings corrected. Cape Fear is now shown as "C. Fair" with an east-west 
passage across the "C. Fair Shoals." Four cuts across the shoals are shown with 
depths of 9, 10, 11, and 18 feet, respectively from north to south. On the Cape, 
"Balhead" is shown. "Middle Ground" is marked for the first time on this map, and "Oak 
I." is also labeled. A fortification (Fort Johnston) is visible on the western shore above 
the mouth of the "Elizabeth R.," and "Governor's Point," "Brunswick" and "Old Town" 
are also present on the western side of the river. The names of several property owners 
are given along both sides of the river. "Eagles" (Eagles Island) is first mentioned on 
this map. On the eastern side of the Cape Fear River, the town of "Wilmington" is now 
listed with two anchorages. Shoaling is still indicated on the eastern side of the river. A 
sailing line into the Cape Fear River is marked on the map and indicated by "This line 
leads over the Bar." The line again enters from the ocean to "Governor's Pt." on the 
western side of the river. In the lower right corner of the Wimble map sailing 
instructions for entering the "C. Fair R." are given as described below: 

You must keep in the Latt. of 33° 20" (or Southerly) till You make Land 7 
Leagues from Shore in 12 fathom, hauling toward the Shore to the 
Eastward till You make the Cape Land, trenching from Ye River's mouth 
S.E. by E. 10 miles to the Pitch of the Cape, which is a white Sandy Pt. 
from thence the Shoal trenches out 7 Leagues S. Westerly through which 
run Several final Channels 9 10 & 12 foot, and in the Middle of the Cape 
Land You'l discern a Gap in the Trees and the Breakers of the Middle 
Ground, then keep to the Eastward, till You just Shut in the Governor's 
Pt. (which is the Westermost & furthest Pt. in the River) with the Bald 
Head, (which is the Eastermost Pt. of the Harbour and is a white sandy 
Pt.) that mark will run You in the best Water 3 1 / 2 fathom, between the 
Middle Ground & the Eastern Flat keep close to the Bald Head, and then 
Steer N by W 3 Miles for the E. End of Oak I. keeping a small distance 



327 



from the Mouth of Elizabeth R. for the flood and ebb Tide both set in upon 
the Oyster beds; then Steer N.E. 3 Miles from Oak I. leaving a Small 
Sandy I. on the starboard side, and come to an Anchor there 8 fathom 
Water, a Cables length from the MaineLand and there runs a Strong Tide, 
take a Pilot to carry You up the Country; Close along Oak I. and the 
Middle Ground, You have a 9 foot Channel for Smal Vessels. 



A New and Exact Plan of Cape Fear River from the Bar to Brunswick, Edward 
Hyme, 1749. 

Edward Hyrne's map of the Cape Fear River from the Bar to Brunswick, completed in 
1749, shows a number of interesting geographic locations and features. The shoals 
located at "Cape Fear Point" are indicated "to run out 7 Leagues." A swash across the 
shoal is marked as being "3 Feet deep at Low Water." Text written beside the swash 
states that "There is another Swash about 4 leagues from the shore." Also mentioned is 
"the South Point of the Frying Pan islands 7!4 Leagues from the Shore in Lat 33-32. . . 
." Between "Cape Land" (Smith Island) and Oak Island are the shoals at the mouth of 
the Cape Fear River. Adjacent to Oak Island is the "Bason" from "6 and 7 Feet deep at 
Low Water." The "Elizabeth R." and "Dutch Mans Creek" are also indicated on the map. 

Three swashes to the west of the channel cut across the shoals "through which small 
vessels go into the Bason 3 Feet deep at low Water." The bar is "12 Feet at Low 
Water." Just past the bar begins the channel that roughly follows the present-day 
course. It winds to the west side of the river in front of "Fort Johnston" then heads 
northeast until it turns back northwest in front of "Buringtons Creek" (Walden Creek) 
toward "Brunswick." At the mouth of the Cape Fear River north of "Cape Land," "Marsh 
Islands" and "Shoals" are labeled. A narrow channel is marked crossing the "Shoals" 
from the main channel below "Fort Johnston" then back to the channel above the fort. 
Adjacent to "Fort Johnston" is indicated "The Pilots." Between the fort and "Buringtons 
Creek" are noted "Bonnets Point," "Deepwater Point," "One Tree Point," and "Dutch 
Mans." Above "Buringtons Creek" on the west side of the river, "Buringtons Point," 
"Sturgeon Point," and "Brunswick" are also marked. 



A Plan of Wilmington Situate on the East Side of the North East Branch of Cape 
Fear River Agreeable to the Original Survey, Anonymous, 1750. 

The 1750 Plan of Wilmington shows a section of the waterfront from Market Street six 
blocks north and eight blocks south. East of the Cape Fear River is shown for five 
blocks. Only Market and Front Streets are labeled. Five or six lots are numbered for 
each block. The Cape Fear River is indicated as the "North East" and "North West" 
rivers. The Brunswick River is referred to as the "Thorough-Fare." On the west side of 
the river, across from Wilmington, "Eagles Island" is marked. Eight small tributaries that 
flow into the river are depicted but not named. Little other detail is included on the map. 



328 



Plan of the Town of Willmington In New Hanover County, North Carolina, 
C. J. Sauthier, 1769. 

In 1769 Sauthier depicted the town plan of Wilmington in a general landscape view 
along the "Cape Fear River." A vast wooded area surrounds the few town blocks and 
unnamed streets that make up Wilmington. The general placement of structures within 
each of the town blocks are shown, but the majority have not been identified. Those 
buildings or structures referenced include: a "church," "court house," "goal" (jail), "tann 
yard," and "still house." Numerous roads disect the surrounding vicinity. Some roads 
indicated lead to the Brunswick Ferry, Sound, and the northeast. Across from 
Wilmington on "Eagle's Island" a road leads to Cape Fear. 



Plan of the Town and Port of Brunswick, in Brunswick County, North Carolina, 
C.J. Sauthier, 1769. 

In the same year that Sauthier produced the map of Wilmington, he also drew a plan 
view of the town of Brunswick. This map is similar to the other map in showing a 
general overview of the town and surrounding forests. The town is situated directly 
along the western shore of the "Cape Fear River." At least two piers or wharfs are 
shown. Within the partially developed town unlabeled streets and lots have been 
depicted. The only structures to be named include: a church, courthouse, goal (jail), 
and Governor Tryon's house and plantation. Several roads lead into the town from all 
directions. 



A Compleat Map of North-Carolina from an Actual Survey, Capt. Collet, 1770. 

The Collet map of 1770 illustrates eastern North Carolina. Present-day geographic 
names within the "Cape Fear" vicinity were by this time established. "Bald head" is 
shown on the cape with "Oak I" and "Elizabeth R." to the west. The "Middle Ground" 
shoal is depicted, and for the first time the labeling by name of the "Frying Pan Shoals." 
The entrance to the "Cape Fear River" is marked as "10 feet bar low Water." In the 
area marked "MasonBorough," access to the river is shown through "New Inl." On the 
western side of the river "Fort Johnston" is illustrated. "Brunswick" is also marked on 
the map with several roads now connecting it with various locations. One road is shown 
between Brunswick and Fort Johnston. Above Brunswick "Lilliput to the G" and "Old 
town Cr." are shown. "Snow Pt" is marked below Brunswick. Two sawmills are indicated 
on the Collet map. "Dr. Green Saw Mill" is located below Wilmington, and "Cap Ellis 
Saw Mill" is shown above Brunswick. "Mt. Misery" is located north of Eagles Island. The 
"Ferry house" is illustrated on the eastern shore of the Cape Fear River opposite 
Brunswick. Names of property owners are indicated along both sides of the Cape Fear 
River. 



329 



An accurate map of North and South Carolina with their Indian frontiers . . . , 
Henry Mouzon, 1775. 

Mouzon's map of 1775 shows most of eastern North and South Carolina. The degree of 
detail found in other maps is not present in the Mouzon map because of its large scale. 
"Cape Fear" and the "Frying Pan Shoals" are shown. The entrance to the Cape Fear 
River to the east of "Middle Swash" is marked showing "10 Feet Bar at Low Water." 
"New Inlet" is also illustrated. Waterways present on this map, in addition to the Cape 
Fear River, include the "Elizabeth R," "Lillyput," and "Old Town Cr." Both "Brunswick" 
and "Wilmington" are noted. An unnamed fort, most likely Fort Johnston, is illustrated 
south of Brunswick. Several roads are marked, and the "Ferry Ho" (house) is again 
shown opposite Brunswick. "Dr Greens Saw Mill" below Wilmington and "Saw Mill Capt 
Ellis" above Brunswick are again noted on this map. 



Riviere du Cap Fear de la Bare a Brunswick, Anonymous, 1778. 

During the Revolutionary War the French produced this map of the lower Cape Fear 
River below Brunswick. Shoals shown at the mouth of the river include "the bar," 
"Middle Ground," and "the Fingers." The "Bassin" south of Oak Island is indicated with 
only 6 or 7 feet of water. Entrance over the shoals into the basin from the west passes 
through the "Middle Swash" at a clearance of 5 feet depth. Due south from the "Cape 
Fear Pitch" are the "Frying Pan" shoals. Only the upper swash from east to west is 
shown across the shoal. "Fort Johnston" is indicated on the west side of the "Cap Fear 
Riviere Canal," north of "Dutchmans Creek" and the "Elizabeth Rivere." Between these 
two tributaries the name "Waldrons" is shown. A small canal is illustrated that passes to 
the east of Battery Island. Two anchorages are noted opposite Fort Johnston. The 
promontory noted immediately north of Fort Johnston is labeled "Bonnets Pointe." 
"Deep Water Pointe" and "One Tree Pointe," respectively, are indicated progressively 
north. Shown at One Tree Pointe is a structure noted as "Dutchmans." 

"Marsh Islands" are depicted at the mouth of the unlabeled Walden Creek; however, a 
structure identified as "Waldrons" is shown on the south side of the creek. Another 
"Waldrons" is also located between the Elizabeth River and Dutchmans Creek. Two 
points are identified between Walden Creek and the town of "Brunswick" on the west 
side of the river. At "Snow Pointe," just north of Walden creek, "Snow's" house is noted. 
"Sturgeons Pointe" is shown directly upstream. Brunswick Town has been depicted -in 
plan view, with two structures identified north of the town. One of the structures is 
identified "Govemeur"; the other may be "Nicholas's." Directly across the river from 
Brunswick, "Merricks Pointe" has been indicated with "Merricks" house located along 
the river farther upstream from the point. The entrance to the Cape Fear River through 
"New Inlet" is identified. 



330 



A Map of the Seat of War in the Southern Part of Virginia, North Carolina, and the 
Northern Part of South Carolina, Thomas Kitchin, ca. 1778 

The eastern coast from the "Chesapeak Bay" to South Carolina is illustrated on this 
Revolutionary War period map. The "C. Fear" vicinity of North Carolina is depicted. 
"Brunswick" and "Ft. Johnston" are shown on the west side of the "C. Fear R." On the 
eastern shore across from Brunswick, "Ellis's P." is noted. "Wilmington" is also shown 
at the confluence of the two branches. 



Cape Fear River with Counties Adjacent and the towns of Brunswick and 
Wilmington Against which Lord Comwallis detached a Part of his Army the 17th 
of January last, Anonymous, 1781. 

This anonymous map from 1781 shows southeastern North Carolina. Located directly 
south of "Cape Fear" are "The Frying Pan Shoals." Two cuts through the shoals 
indicate depths ranging from 5 to 7 feet. At the mouth of the Cape Fear River "the 
Channel" is marked with an entrance depth of "10 feet." To the east is the "Middle 
Ground" and "Oak I." Passage into the river proceeds by "Bald Shoals" then turns 
northeast in front of "Fort Johnson" with "5 feet" of navigable water. Several unnamed 
creeks, in addition to the "Elizabeth River" and "Old Town Creek," are shown on the 
west side of the Cape Fear River. "Brunswick" is also marked. On the east side of the 
river directly across from "Brunswick" a "Ferry" location is indicated. "Wilmington" is 
shown at the confluence of the "Cape Fear River North West Branch" and the "Cape 
Fear River North East Branch." Between the two rivers (Point Peter) another "Ferry" 
location is shown as well as "Mount Misery." 



Plan of Wilmington in the Province of North Carolina, 
Anonymous, ca. 1781. 

This Revolutionary War-era map of Wilmington illustrates a partial plan view of the 
town and adjoining "British Redoubts." Within the "Redoubts," three "Sailors Bty," 
"Heights," "Grenadiers Quarters," "Marines Quarters," and "Light Companies Quarters" 
are indicated. Additional British quarters and a hospital location are shown within 
Wilmington. "Hametts Road" connects "Hametts house" on the "North East River" with 
the town. "Negro Head Point" (Point Peter) occurs at the confluence of the "North East 
River" and the "North West River." Three British galleys are depicted in the river. A 
"Ferry" is indicated at the foot of "South Carolina Road" on the west side of the Cape 
Fear River. 



Untitled Plan of Wilmington, J. E. Hyde, 1785. 

The Hyde plan map of 1785 drawn for the Commissioners of Wilmington shows a 14- 
by-5-block area of downtown Wilmington along the "Cape Fear River." North to south 
street names from Coney to Water streets are labeled and east to west from Front to 
Fourth streets. Each block is divided into five or six numbered lots. Across from 



331 



Wilmington,. "The Great Island between the N.E. thoroughfare & NW Rivers called 
Eagles Island" is shown. 



A New Chart of the Coast of North America From Currituck Inlet to Savannah 
River Comprehending the Coasts of North and South Carolina, Capt. N. Holland, 
1794. 

The area covered by the Holland map of 1794 includes the coast of North Carolina 
from the Albemarle Sound to south of Charleston, South Carolina. Extending 
southeasterly from the "Cape Fear" are the "Cape Fear Shoals." The shoals are 
described in detaH on this map with breaks between segments labeled as "Upper 
Swash," "Middle Swash," and "Lower Swash." The extreme southern end of the shoal is 
marked "the Frying Pan" and "breakers," while the segment between the "Lower 
Swash" and "the Frying Pan" is referred to as "the Spit." Depths in the vicinity of the 
shoals near "the Frying Pan" tend to be less than 10 feet. The "Upper Swash" and 
"Lower Swash" have clearance depths of 6 feet "at Low Water," while the "Middle 
Swash" has only 1 to 3 feet. Text next to the "Upper Swash" reads, "Most of the Sloops 
from the Northward come through this Swash which is very Discernible in moderate 
Weather." A description of the composite of the shoals, i.e., shells, gravel, or sand, is 
also noted for several locations. 

The entrance over the bar into the "Cape Fear River" is given as "10 Feet at Low 
Water." River depths below Wilmington range from 3 to 5 feet, and several shoal areas 
are present on both sides of the river. From north to south on the western side of the 
river, "Oldtown Cr.," "Lilyput" Creek, "Brunswick," "Snow Pt," "Snow Cr," "Fort 
Johnston," and the "Elizabeth R." are shown. The eastern side of the river from north to 
south has "Smiths Cr.," "Wilmington," a "Saw Mill," the "Ferry" across from Brunswick, 
and "New Inlet" indicated. "Mt Misery" is located between the branches of the Cape 
Fear River. A few names of property owners are mentioned on this map. 



The State of North Carolina from the best Authorities, &c, Samuel Lewis, 1795. 

In 1795 Samuel Lewis produced a map of eastern North Carolina that noted some 
topographical and structural features within the lower Cape Fear River vicinity. Shown 
on "Smyths Id" at the mouth of the Cape Fear River is "Bald Head." "Frying Pan 
Shoals" are noted with two east-west swashes. Entrance to the river was also 
accomplished through "New Inlet," shown north of "Smyths Id." The towns of 
"Smithville," "Old Town," and "Brunswick" are depicted on the western shore of the 
Cape Fear River; "Wilmington" is shown on the eastern shore. Plantations noted in 
"Brunswick C." include "Clarendon," "Kendal," and "Orton." 



332 



A Map of Cape Fear River and its Vicinity from the Frying Pan Shoals to 
Wilmington, Joshua Potts, 1797. 

The lower Cape Fear River is illustrated on this 1797 map by Joshua Potts. The 
"Western Bar" channel with a depth of 8 feet and the main channel with a depth of 
approximately 30 feet located east of the "Middle Ground," are shown. The "Smith" 
house and the "Light House" are indicated on Smith Island. The "Frying Pan Shoals" 
are noted off "Cape Fear" with two swashes. The northern of the two swashes has a 
depth of 9 feet and the lower swash 13 feet. "Fort Johnston" is shown at "Smithville." 
Indicated above Smithville are "Deep Water Pt," "One Tree Pt," and "Snow Pt." "Orton 
Crek," "Lilliput" creek, and "Old Town Creek" are also shown on the west side of the 
Cape Fear River. Several anchorages are depicted below Wilmington, at the western 
end of "New Inlet," and off "Smithville." 



Untitled map of Eagles Island and vicinity, Anonymous, ca. late 18th century. 

This anonymous map of "Eagles Island" and the vicinity west of the Cape Fear River 
dates to approximately the late eighteenth century. "Eagles Island" is prominently 
displayed with a network of roads that generally cross the island from east to west. One 
road continues on the west side of the "N W River" (Brunswick River), where "Eagans 
Ferry House" is marked. "Eagles Plantation" is indicated north of "Town Creek." Below 
"Eagles Island," near the confluence of the rivers, "Clarks Island" is labeled. Farther 
downstream at the mouth of "Town Creek," the "Pleasant Oaks" plantation and road are 
shown. Opposite the mouth of the creek is "Large I" (Campbell Island). Near the 
western shore of the Cape Fear River, below "Town Creek," a third island, "Negro 
Island," is drawn. On the east side of the Cape Fear River below Wilmington is the 
"Dram Tree." 



A Map of Cape Fear River and its Vicinity from the Frying Pan Shoals to 
Wilmington by actual Survey, Jonathon Price and John Strother, 1807 

The Price and Strother map of 1807 shows the Lower Cape Fear River below 
Wilmington. The "Frying Pan Shoals" are well illustrated southeast of "Cape Fear Id." 
The entrance to the river passes to the east of a large shoal (Middle Ground) where 
water depths are indicated from 20 to 40 feet as they proceed upstream past the "Light 
House" and "Smith" property on the cape. The second entrance to the river over the 
"Western Bar" shows only a navigable depth of "8 feet." On the western shore above 
the "Elizabeth River" and "Dutchmans Cr." are shown "Fort Johnson," the village of 
"Smithville," "Deep Water Pt.," "One Tree Pt.," and "Snow Pt." South of "Orton Creek" 
the town of "Brunswick" is noted. "Old Town" is shown on the north side of "Old Town 
Creek." Depicted on the eastern side of the Cape Fear River below "Wilmington" are 
"Jumping Green Run" and "Wildon's Cr" (Bernards Creek). Across from "Brunswick," 
"Sugar Loaf is noted for the first time. Passage through "New Inlet" is shown with 14 
feet of water. Sailing instructions to enter the river indicate to steer a course of "N. 66 
by Federal Point and a white group of Trees!" Anchorages within the Cape Fear River 



333 



are marked below "Wilmington," two at the mouth of "Old Town Creek," one at "Snow 
Pt," and another two off "Fort Johnson." 



This First Actual Survey of the State of North Carolina, Jonathon Price and John 
Strother, 1808 

Price and Strother's map of eastern North Carolina drawn in 1808 shows the Cape Fear 
River vicinity in considerably smaller detail than on their 1807 map. At "Cape Fear" the 
"Frying Pan" shoals are marked. On the western promontory of "Smith I" the "Light H" 
tower is drawn at the entrance to the Cape Fear River. Also labeled at this location is 
"Seat of Ge[n]l. Smith" and "Sea Gull." North of "Dutchmans C" the village of 
"Smithville" is shown. Along the western shore of the river in "Brunswick County," 
"Brunswick," "Orton C," and "Old Town C." are indicated. "Mt. Misery" is shown 
between the rivers. Below "Wilmington" the tributary "Jumping Run" is noted. Illustrated 
at "New Inlet" is the promontory "Federal Point." 



Untitled map, Mr. Potter, Esq., ca. 1814. 

A map of the Cape Fear River entrance and western end of Bald Head Island were 
sketched about 1814 by a Mr. Potter. The "Middle Ground" and "Channell" are crudely 
shown between the eastern end of "Oak Island" and Bald Head Island. Near the 
entrance to the river the "Breaker head" and "Bar" are illustrated. To the east of the 
main channel the shoals, or "Fingers," have been indicated. Shown near the western 
end of Bald Head Island, below "Cape Creek," are the "Ship yard," "New light" (Old 
Baldy), and "Sea Castle." Sea Castle was the summer residence of Benjamin Smith, 
great-grandson of Landgrave Thomas Smith, for whom the island was later named. 
Located near the Southwestern shoreline, or "Sea Beach" of the island, are "S. Springs 
house" (house of Sedgwick Springs, lighthouse keeper) and the "old light house." 



A Diagram of the Entrances of Cape Fear River & the Frying Pan Shoals, 
United States Topographical Bureau, ca. 1820. 

This map, drawn around 1820 by the U.S. Topographical Bureau, shows the entrance 
to the Cape Fear River and the Frying Pan Shoals. Several breakers south of "Cape 
Fear" and the banks, exposed at low water, are indicated on the map. In the area 
known as "The fingers," near the entrance to the river, only 3 to 5 feet of water cover 
the bank. At "The Bar" a "buoy" marks the "Ship Channel" west of "Middle Ground" and 
less than 3 feet of water. The "Old ship Channel" to the east of "Middle Ground" is 
marked as nearly filled in. On the Middle Ground shoal the "stern post of a wreck" is 
indicated. The "Lighthouse" at "Bald Head" is also shown. 



334 



Survey of the Cape Fear River from the Upper to the Lower Flats, 
Hamilton Fulton, 1823. 

In 1823 Hamilton Fulton, hired by the Board of Internal Improvement, made a map 
showing the Upper and Lower Flats around "Campbell's Island" near the mouth of 
"Town Creek." Both shorelines of the Cape Fear River are shown with transects across 
the river showing water depths. On the western shore, features shown from north to 
south include "McKenzie's," "Sand Hill House," "Rice Machine," "The Oaks," "Town 
Creek," and "Colonel Corvan's." Just south of the "Brunswick River" are shown "Read's 
Creek" and "Campbell's Island" canal. An "embankment" is illustrated extending from 
"Eagles Island" to the northern section of "Clark's Island." 

On the eastern shore of the Cape Fear River opposite Eagle's Island, the "Dram Tree" 
is illustrated. Slightly above Clark's Island on the eastern side of the river is "Mr. 
Waddell's House." "Reedy Point" is placed opposite "Read's Creek," and two "Salt 
Houses" are shown opposite "Campbell's Island." A "Wreck" is indicated on the map 
northeast of "Campbell's Island" in approximately 3 feet of water. Water depths to the 
west of "Campbell's Island" are shown ranging from 13 to 19 feet, with depths to the 
east of the island being much shallower. "Town Creek Shoal" is located north of 
"Campbell's Island," and "Nutts Shoal" is marked below the island. A "Salt House" is 
shown on the eastern shore southeast of Campbell's Island. An "Embankment" 
connects the island to the west side of the river in front of "The Oaks" plantation. 



Cape Fear River, N.C. Below the Town of Wilmington, 
United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1827. 

The Corps of Engineers map drawn in 1827 shows sections of the Cape Fear River 
above "New Inlet" to "Wilmington." Shorelines are illustrated with coverage in either 
wooded, marsh, diked, or agricultural areas. River depths and conditions are shown in 
addition to brief mention of topographical features. "Snow's Point" is shown across the 
river from "New Inlet" and "Federal Point." In midriver "Snow's Marsh" is illustrated. 
Other sections of the map depict the "light House" on "Bald Head," as well as 
"Smithville," "Fort Johnson," and "Deep Water Point" on the western shore. "Battery" 
and "Oak Island" are marked near the entrance to the river. Farther upriver on the 
western side, "Orton Point" and "Brunswick Point" are shown south of "Liliput" and 
"Orton" Creeks. "Campbell's Island" is shown at the mouth of "Town Creek." The 
embankment between the western shore and the island is also illustrated. On the 
eastern side of the river "Barnham Creek" is shown. "Clarks Id" is indicated north of the 
"Brunswick River." North of the Brunswick River the tributaries "Redmans Cr" and 
"Aligator Cr" are shown on Eagles Island. On the eastern shore across from the 
Brunswick River "Reedy Point" is labeled. 



335 



A New Map of The State of North Carolina, John Mac Rae and Robert Brazier, 
1833 

Mac Rae and Brazier's 1833 map of the state of North Carolina shows great detail 
considering the scale. The "Cape Fear" is shown, as well as "Bald Head" on "Smith's I." 
The "Light House" is also noted. At "Federal Point," "New Inlet" is depicted, while on 
the western side of the Cape Fear River the towns of "Brunswick" and "Smithville" are 
marked. Tributaries on the western shore that flow into the Cape Fear River include 
from north to south: "Mallory Cr," "Town Cr," "Allen's Cr," "Liliput Cr," and "Orton Cr." 
Dutchmans Creek, although unnamed, and the "Elizabeth River" are also illustrated. 
"Eagles Is" is illustrated across from "Wilmington," and below the city on the eastern 
shore of the Cape Fear River, "Barrum Cr" and the "D Tree" are shown. Ferries are 
marked over the Brunswick and Cape Fear Rivers at Eagles Island. 



Cape Fear River North Carolina, United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1839. 

The 1839 map of the lower Cape Fear River made under the direction of Lt. James 
Glynn shows the navigable channel. Numerous water depths are given along the main 
part of the river. Shorelines are illustrated with the type of vegetation or land use 
present. Several jetties are pictured on the map on both sides of the river. One jetty 
connects the western shore to "Campbell's Island." 



Plan of Wilmington North Carolina as extended by Act of Legislature 1848, 
A. C. Dickinson, ca. 1848. 

The Dickinson plan view of Wilmington provides little detailed information. City streets 
on both sides of the "Cape Fear River" are indicated by name. At the confluence of the 
"North East" River and the "North West or Thoroughfare" River, "Point Peter" is 
marked. The Brunswick River is not shown. River depths are indicated in front of 
Wilmington. The "Wilmington & Raleigh Rail Road" appears on this map and 
terminates at the foot of "North Water" Street. On the west side of the Cape Fear the 
"Wilmington & Manchester Rail Road" terminates at the foot of "Gum" Street on the 
North West Cape Fear River. 



Sketch of Frying Pan Shoals and Cape Fear River, United States Coast Survey, 
1851. 

Frying Pan shoals have been illustrated in this 1851 U.S. Coast Survey map. The 
"Frying Pan Shoals" located off "Cape Fear" are shown with "Breakers" and water 
depth measurements. "Bald Head Shoal," "Marshall Shoal," and "Reeper Shoal" are 
noted near "Bald Head Point" on "Smith's Island." The "High Lt." and "Low Lt." are 
illustrated west of "Fort Caswell" on "Oak Island." "Fort Johnston" is noted at 
"Smithville." At "Price's Creek" two lighthouses are shown, as well as the "Light Ship" 
southwest of "Zeek's I." The lighthouse and beacon on "Federal Pt." are indicated for 
navigation through "New Inlet." 



336 



Preliminary Chart of the Entrances to Cape Fear River and New Inlet North 
Carolina, United States Coast Survey, 1853. 

In 1853 the U.S. Coast Survey mapped the entrances to the Cape Fear River and New 
Inlet. This detailed map lists several historical features near the study area. "Cape 
Fear" and "Bald Head Pt" are shown on "Smith's Island." The "Main Ship Channel" 
which leads into the Cape Fear River, and the "Western Bar Channel" are indicated by 
dashed lines that run north then northeast among the numerous shoals near Smith and 
"Oak Island." Shoals labeled by name west of the ship channel through the bar include 
from north to south: "Burch Shoal," "Reeper Shoal," and "Marshall Shoal." "Bald Head 
Shoal" is shown on the western side of the channel off "Bald Head Pt." The "Bald Head 
Lt." appears on the map just north of Bald Head Point. Navigational beacons are shown 
on the southern shore of "Oak Island" where the "High Light" and "Low Light" are 
indicated. "Fort Caswell" is shown on the extreme eastern end of Oak Island. 

After crossing the bar, the river channel turns northwest between Oak and Smith's 
Islands and continues upstream past "Elizabeth Creek" and "Dutchman's Creek" to the 
west before turning to the northeast. Below "Smithville" the channel then turns 
northeast and continues west of "Battery I," "Striking I," and "Muddy Slue." Above 
"Smithville" the channel is no longer marked. North of "Price's Creek," on the west side 
of the river, the map indicates the presence of "Bug Light" and "Horseshoe" shoal. 
"New Inlet" into the Cape Fear River is drawn between "Federal Point" and "Zeek's I." A 
"Beacon" and "Federal Pt. Light" warn of several "breakers" near the entrance. 

The following sailing instructions into the Cape Fear River by way of the Main Ship 
Channel and Western Bar appear on the 1853 Coast Survey map: 

To enter Cape Fear River by Main Ship Channel. When in 5 fathoms 
water Bald Head Light bears N. by E V* E. (N.14 1 /4° E) steer for it until well 
up with the Bar. Bald Head Point (a sand spit distinctly seen) is in range 
with Mr. Miller's house, (the largest and most prominent house in 
Smithville about V* of a mile to the Northward and Eastward of the Flag 
staff) keep this range which will near Marshall Shoal and strike the outer 
buoy, which leave on the port hand. Having passed the buoy steer NNW 
% W (N.27 1 /2° W) passing the middle buoy on the port and the inner buoy 
on the starboard hand until Fort Johnston Flag staff is on with the Eastern 
end of the Citadel in Fort Caswell; the course is then on this range, due 
North until Bald Head Light is in range with Bald Head Point; then N.E. % 
N (N.37 E.) until Bald Head Light bears S.S.E. (S.22 E.) then keeping 
this bearing steer N.N.W. (N.22 W). Having passed Fort Caswell wharf 
bring the inner end of it on with the lone tree on Bald Head Bluff, which 
will clear the spit of Battery Island. Having cleared the point of Battery 
Island, and opened the river, anchor at pleasure in mid-channel abreast 



337 



of Smithville. The shoalest water in crossing the Bar is 8 feet at mean low 
water near the middle buoy. 

Western Bar Channel. When in 4 fathoms water bring the High & Low Lts. 
on Oak I. in range and keep that range (N.35/4 degrees E.) passing either 
side of the buoy, until Bald Head Light bears E. S. E. {S.67V 2 ° E.) and 
Cape Fear is open about 2 ships length to the Southward of the South 
point of Bald Head Point: when steer E V 2 S. (E.5° S.) or nearly parallel 
with the beach, until Bald Head Light bears S.E. by E Va E. (S.58 E.) and 
the Citadel in Fort Caswell N. by E. Va E. (N.15 1 / 2 ° E.) when steer N.E. Va 
E. (N.48/4 E.) until reaching 5 fathoms water; when Bald Head Light 
bears S.S.E. Va E.) steer N.N.W. Va W. (N.24 3 /4° W.) as before directed. 



Plan of Wilmington North Carolina, L.C. Turner, 1856. 

Turner's 1856 Plan of Wilmington covers a considerably larger area than previous 
plans of the town. On the east side of the river, blocks divided into lots cover from Ashe 
Avenue at "Smith's Creek" south to Marsteller Avenue. From the Cape Fear River 
eastward, Water Street to Thirteenth Street are shown. The Turner map represents 
streets and town blocks laid out on the west side of the river. Thirteen named, but 
short, streets are listed. Also illustrated on the western shore is the "Wilmington & 
Manchester Rail-Road" that curves along the "North West" branch of the Cape Fear 
River. The "Wilmington & Weldon Rail-Road" is shown entering "Wilmington" on the 
eastern shore, and four tracks terminate at the water's edge between "Campbell" and 
"Red Cross" Avenues. River depths depicted are the same as those from the 1851 U.S. 
Coast Survey map. Some shoals are indicated where the most shallow depths occur at 
the mouth of the "North East" branch directly in front of the rail line terminus. Between 
the two branches of the river, "Point Peter" is marked. 



Preliminary Chart of Lower Part of Cape Fear River North Carolina From Near 
Federal Point to Wilmington, United States Coast Survey, 1856. 

The U.S. Coast Survey map of 1856 shows the Cape Fear River from Wilmington to 
below the "Ruins of Old Brunswick" town. Shorelines on both sides of the Cape Fear 
River are illustrated with timber, marshes, and diked areas. Above "Old Brunswick" on 
the western side of the river, in the vicinity of "Lilyput Cr" and "Orton Cr," are several 
large diked areas. At "Orton Pt" the "Lt. Ho." (lighthouse) is marked. "Sugar Loaf hill is 
shown on the eastern shore across from "Old Brunswick." Located just below "Old 
Town Cr" the tributary "Sand Hill Cr" is now indicated. "Campbell I or Big I" is shown at 
the mouth of this creek. "Mallory Cr" is labeled north of "Old Town Creek." Several 
diked fields and "Redmond Creek" are visible on "Eagle's Island" at the confluence of 
the two branches of the Cape Fear River. "Clark's I" is shown off the southeastern 
shore of "Eagle's Island." "Point Peter" is also labeled. 



338 



South of "Wilmington," on the eastern shore, "Greenfield Cr" is represented. "Dram 
Tree Pt" is also indicated on the map; however, the "Dram Tree" is shown located 
slightly north of the point and within shallow water along the river. A "Beacon" is 
marked at both of these locations. A "wreck" is depicted between the "Dram Tree" and 
"Dram Tree Pt," while another "wreck" is shown just below the point. At an unnamed 
point located south of "Dram Tree Pt," a "Hospital" is represented. Two other tributaries 
on the eastern side of the Cape Fear River are labeled: "Barnard's Cr" and "Motts Cr." 
Jetties, buoys, shoals, and water depths are marked for the river. 



Comparative Chart of Cape Fear River Entrances North Carolina, United States 
Coast Survey, 1857. 

This 1857 map drawn by the U.S. Coast Survey compared two earlier hydrographic 
surveys done in 1851 and 1856. The results of the dynamic nature of the sediments at 
the two entrances to the Cape Fear River can be seen on this map. Considerable 
change in the lines shown for the water depths at 6, 12, and 18 feet are shown, as well 
as some modification in the shorelines for "Smith's Island," "Zeek's I," and "Federal 
Point." Buoys mark the presence of "Reeper Shoal," "Marshall Shoal," and "Bald Head 
Shoal" at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Navigational lights are represented on 
Federal Point ("Federal Point Lt."), Smith's Island ("Bald Head Light") and Oak Island 
("Tall Light" and "Low Light"). 



Preliminary Chart of Frying Pan Shoals and Entrances to Cape Fear River North 
Carolina, United States Coast Survey, 1857. 

This U.S. Coast Survey map of 1857 illustrates the mouth of the Cape Fear River. The 
location of "Bald Head" and "Cape Fear" are again indicated on "Smith's Island," along 
with the presence of the lighthouse. "Cape Creek" and "Buzzard or Oyster Bay" are 
shown toward the northern side of the island. Southwest of "Bald Head" are "Bald Head 
Shoal," "Reeper Shoal," "Marshall Shoal," and "The Fingers." Text shown on the map 
states that "Marshal Shoal has connected with The Fingers, and has obliterated the old 
channel. The buoys have been removed." Entrance to the Cape Fear River passed 
through the "Western Bar Channel" between "Oak Island" and the "Middle Ground," or 
through "New Inlet." The Western Bar Channel passed over the bar on a northeast 
course in front of the high and low lights on Oak Island, then went southeast of "Ft. 
Caswell, turned northwest toward "Smithville" past the "Elizabeth River." North of 
"Smithville," "Deep Water Pt." and the lighthouse at "Price's Cr." are depicted. "Battery 
I," "Striking I," and "Muddy Slue" are illustrated among the marshes and shoals east of 
Smithville. 

"New Inlet" provided the alternative passage into the Cape Fear River. The channel 
marked on this 1857 map approached "Federal Point" below the lighthouse on a 
northwest course. It passed between "Federal Pt. Shoal" and "Caroline Shoal," then 
turned southwest and passed between "Federal Point" and "Caroline Shoal." The 
channel continued past "Zeek's I," then turned north at "No. 7 Light Boat," which 



339 



marked the dangers of "Horse Shoe" shoal. The map indicates that the channel 
continued on the western side of the river toward Wilmington past the "Oyster Beds," 
"Walden Cr," and "Reeves' Pt." 



Preliminary Chart of Frying Pan Shoals and Entrances to Cape Fear River North 
Carolina, United States Coast Survey, 1858. 

The Cape Fear vicinity from "Wilmington" to the southern edge of the "Frying Pan 
Shoals" is depicted on this 1858 chart. At the entrance to the Cape Fear River, "Bald 
Head Pt." on "Smith's Island" and "Fort Caswell" on "Oak Island" are shown. "Deep 
Water Pt.," "Walden Cr.," "Reeves Pt.," "Milmor's Pt.," and "Orton Pt." are indicated on 
the western shore of the river above "Smithville." "Sugar Loaf Pt." and "Sugar Loaf Hill" 
are noted on the eastern shore opposite "Milmor's Pt." "Fort Fisher" is shown on 
"Federal Point" at "New Inlet," indicating that some of the features may have been 
added to the map at a later date. 



Comparative Chart of Cape Fear River Bars North Carolina, United States Coast 
Survey, 1859. 

The U.S. Coast Survey compiled this map of the Cape Fear River bars to compare 
hydrographic surveys completed in 1851 and 1858. Between "Smith's Island" and "Oak 
Island" considerable change has been noted at the shore line and 6, 12, and 18 foot 
water depths. Located between the "Middle Ground" and "Bald Head" is the "Pocket" 
shoal. "Reapers Shoal," "Marshall Shoal," "Bald Head Shoal," and the "Breakers" are 
again mentioned. The "Rip Channel," or Western Bar Channel, is shown crossing the 
bar along the south shore of Oak Island. "Ft. Caswell" and the High and Low 
lighthouses are also indicated on the island. 



Comparative Chart of New Inlet Bar Northern Entrance of Cape Fear River North 
Carolina, United States Coast Survey, 1859. 

The New Inlet Bar map drawn by the U.S. Coast Survey in 1859 shows comparative 
hydrographic surveys conducted in 1851 and 1858. Noticeable changes in the 
shoreline and water depths at the Inlet are indicated. The "Middle Ground," "Breakers," 
and the "Bar" delineate the eastern entrance to the Cape Fear River, and their 
presence is forewarned by the lighthouse on Federal Point. New Inlet channel is shown 
to pass between "Federal Point" and "Carolina Shoal" just north of "Zeek's Island." 
"Constant and Heavy Breakers" mark the southern extent of the channel. "Zeek's I. 
Flat" forms the extreme western end of the "Carolina Shoal." 



340 



Bird's Eye View of North and South Carolina and Part of Georgia, 
John Bachman, 1861. 

Bachman's Bird's Eye view of the North Carolina coast at the beginning of the Civil War 
presents a limited, although different, perspective of the Cape Fear River vicinity. 
"Cape Fear" is shown on "Smiths I," while the town of "Smithville" is illustrated at the 
mouth of the river. "Fort Johnson," located above "Smithville" on the western side of the 
river, is also depicted. "Wilmington" has been drawn to show the considerable size of 
its population. 



J. H. Cotton's Topographical Map of North and South Carolina. A Large Portion of 
Georgia & Part of Adjoining States, J. H. Colton, 1861. 

The extensively detailed map by J. H. Colton in 1861 depicts the lower Cape Fear 
River area on a larger scale as one of four insets to the map. The entrance to the 
"Cape Fear River" is again shown to pass between "Smiths I." and "Oak I." Both the 
"Frying Pan Shoals" and unnamed "Shoals" southeast of "Bald Hd" are marked. The 
"Western Channel" through the bar is located in front of "Ft. Caswell." On the 
"Brunswick" county side of the Cape Fear, "Ft. Johnson" is represented at "Smithville." 
The tributaries of "Orton Cr.," "Aliens Cr.," and "Town Cr." are portrayed on the western 
side of the river. Between the mouth of the river and "New Inlet" the islands of "Battery 
I," "Zeeks I," and "Marsh I." are drawn. One "light Ho." is shown on "Federal Pt," while 
another can be seen on Oak Island. At "Wilmington" the Wilmington and Weldon Rail 
Road is pictured as far north as Smith Creek. The Wilmington & Manchester Rail Road 
is illustrated crossing the Brunswick River and "Eagles I." 



Chart of the Obstructions in the Cape Fear & Brunswick Rivers and the Batteries 
Commanding Them, Confederate States Army Engineers, 1863. 

This Confederate States Army Engineers map drawn in 1863 shows the obstructions 
and fortifications just south of Wilmington at the mouth of the "Brunswick River." At the 
confluence of the Brunswick and Cape Fear Rivers "Eagle's Island" and "Clark's Island" 
are drawn. Fortifications that are illustrated below Wilmington on the east side of the 
"Cape Fear River" include from north to south: "Ft. Strong," "Cannoneer By," "Ft. 
French," "Fort Meares," and "Fort Hill." Located within the Cape Fear River in front of 
"Ft. French" is a "Floating Gate." Extending from "Clark's Island" almost to the "Floating 
Gate" are the "Floating Chain Obstructions." Water depth at this obstruction shows 40 
feet. A line of "Sawyers" crosses the main channel in front of "Fort Meares." An 
additional line of "Sawyers" block the entrance to the "Brunswick River," immediately 
followed upstream by two sets of "pilings." A "Jetty" that extends across one-third of the 
river is shown south of the "Brunswick River." Two other jetties, forming a V-shape, 
extend from the eastern shore into the river below "Fort Hill." Water depths are 
generally less than 20 feet within the river, with extensive shoaling illustrated along the 
eastern shore, south of the Brunswick River, and between Eagles and Clark's Islands. 



341 



Gen. Braxton Bragg submitted a later version of this map with his February 7, 1865, 
report. 



Topographical Map showing the Fortifications & Roads in the vicinity of the Cape 
Fear, Confederate States Army Engineers, 1863. 

The 1863 map by the Confederate States Army Engineers covers the area from above 
Wilmington to the mouth of the Cape Fear River. A network of roads and rail lines 
traverse the vicinity At the mouth of the Cape Fear River "Smith's Isd" and "Oak Isd" 
are marked, with "Fort Caswell" depicted at the eastern end of Oak Island. Both 
"Battery Isd" and "Striking Isd" are labeled opposite "Smithville." The navigable channel 
is shown with depths in the location of the Western Channel. After rounding Oak Island 
and passing in front of Smithville, the channel generally follows the western side of the 
Cape Fear River up to Wilmington. Water depths average less than 20 feet with some 
spots in the river as great as 33 feet. Jetties are portrayed below Wilmington. 
Tributaries shown on the western side of the river above "Smithville" include from south 
to north: "Price Creek," "Walden Cr," "Orton Creek," "Lilliput Creek," "Sand Hill Cr," and 
"Town Creek." Located in the Cape Fear River between the mouth of "Sand Hill Cr" on 
the west shore and "Motts Creek" on the east shore is "Campbell Isd." 

Entrance to the Cape Fear River through "New Inlet" occurs opposite "Walden Cr." 
Water depths within the channel range from 8 to 27 feet. "Zeeks Isd" is represented 
southwest of the inlet. "Fort Fisher" and "Camp Wyott" (Camp Wyatt) are shown on the 
Federal Point access road. "Fort St. Phillip" is shown on the western side of the river 
below "Orton Creek" near the old Brunswick site. "Fort Strong," "Cannoneer By," "Fort 
French," "Fort Meares," "Fort Hill," and "Obstructions" are indicated below "Wilmington" 
on the eastern shore of the Cape Fear River opposite the mouth of the "Brunswick 
River." Obstructions are also displayed at the mouth of the Brunswick River. 



Chart Accompanying Project For Effectually Closing Cape Fear River and the Port 
of Wilmington, N.C. to Blockade Runners, United States Army Corps of 
Engineers, 1864. 

This Civil War map, drawn to accompany the project of Maj. Gen. Q. A. Gillmore, is one 
of several military maps included in The Official Atlas of the Civil War . The entrances to 
the Cape Fear River are illustrated on this chart and reflect much of the same 
topographical information as other contemporary maps. Some items of note include the 
presence of a "wreck" near shore southeast of "Bald Head" and a line of "obstructions" 
across the main channel at "Fort Caswell." The small "Burch Shoal" is shown in the 
area commonly known as the Middle Ground. The "Main Ship Channel" is illustrated to 
the east of this shoal, while the "Western Bar Channel" is shown to the west. Farther up 
river the "Light Boat" is illustrated between "Zeek's Island" and "Horse Shoe" shoal. 



342 



Map of Parts of Brunswick & New Hanover Counties Showing the Approaches to 
Wilmington, N.C., Confederate States Army Engineers, 1864. 

In 1864 this map of the Lower Cape Fear River vicinity was produced under the 
direction of Capt. James of the Confederate States Army Engineers. Along sections of 
the "Cape Fear River" the "main channel" is indicated. Shown on "Smiths I.," within the 
vicinity of Bald Head, are "Ft Holmes" and the "Light Ho." On the opposite side of the 
river on Oak Island, "Ft Caswell," "Ft Shaw," and "Ft Campbell" are indicated. "Ft 
Pender" is shown at "Smithville" as well as the location of a "Saw Mill" and the "Signal 
Sta." "Deepwater" Point along with the "Signal Sta" and "Light House" at Price's Creek 
are marked above Smithville. On the north side of Price's Creek the name "Burke" 
appears. Approximately hallway between Price's Creek and "Walden's Creek" is shown 
the name "W. McCrackin." Within the river directly opposite this location the "Wreck of 
Raleigh" is indicated. North of "Waldens Creek" are shown "Reeves Pt," "Ft Lamb," and 
"Robins Pt." A "Landing" is indicated at the mouth of a "Canal" that connects with 
"Orton Pond." The "Ortons" Point "Light Ho" and the "Lt. Ho." on "Big Island" are also 
marked. 

"Wilmington" has been illustrated at the confluence of the "North West River" and the 
"North East River." On the eastern side of the Cape Fear River opposite, the mouth of 
the "Brunswick River," "Fort Stoke," "Fort Lee," "Fort Campbell," and "Fort Mears" are 
shown. On the eastern shore opposite Old Town Creek, an "Old Salt Landing of 1812" 
is indicated. "Sugar Loaf is noted across from "Old Brunswick/' and "Craig Wharf is 
depicted opposite "Robins Pt." At the extreme southern end of "Confederate Point" are 
located "Ft. Fisher" and "Mound By." "New Inlet" is illustrated between Federal Point 
and "Zekes I." 



Map of the vicinity of Wilmington, Confederate States Army Engineers, 1864. 

The Confederate States Army Engineers mapped in detail in 1864 an area east of the 
Cape Fear River to the sounds below "Wilmington" as far as "Mott's Creek." A vast 
network of roads dissected the region. Along the eastern shore of the Cape Fear River 
the location of "Ft. Strong," "Ft. Lee," "Camp Lee," "Ft. Campbell," and "Ft. Meares" are 
indicated. Property owners indicated on the map within the vicinity of the forts are 
"Tizor," "Simpson," and "Wadd." The "Hilton Ferry" is shown to cross the Northeast 
Cape Fear above Wilmington. 



Copy of a Map of Cape Fear River and adjoining Coast of North Carolina made 
from Material furnished by the Coast Survey (April 7, 1863), United States Coast 
Survey, 1864. 

This Coast Survey map drawn in 1864 for the U.S. Navy Department illustrates the 
Lower Cape Fear River vicinity. The "Frying Pan Shoals" south of "Cape Fear," as well 
as "Reeper Shoal," "Bald Head Shoal," "Middle Ground," and "The Fingers" south and 
west of "Bald Head" are depicted. The main channel appears to be closed by the 
joining of the shoals, leaving passage into the river through the "Western Bar Channel." 



343 



"Obstructions" of "Heavy Chain" and "Loaded Cribs" partially block the 18-foot channel 
at the eastern end of "Oak Island." On Oak Island the "Old Light Ho." and "Fort 
Caswell" are noted, and on "Smith's Island" the "Lighthouse" is shown. Shoals with only 
6 feet of water depth occur south of "Battery I." and "Striking I." The location of "Fort 
Johnston," including the "Encampment," "Breastworks," and "Salt Works," is indicated 
at "Smithville." Northeast of Smithville at "Deep Water Pt." another line of "obstructions" 
crosses the main channel indicated by 6, 12 and 18 foot depths. Above Deep Water 
Point the lighthouse is shown at "Price's Cr." 

Entrance into the Cape Fear River by way of "New Inlet" is marked between "Federal 
Point" and "Zeek's Island." Water depth along the northern edge of "Carolina Shoal" is 
shown as only 6 feet. "Sunken Hulks" in the "Main Channel" of the Cape Fear River are 
indicated to the west of "Zeek's Island." The "Lighthouse" is illustrated on "Federal 
Point," and offshore to the east is noted the "Wreck of the English Steamer Modern 
Greece." Several "Marsh Islands" and shoals are located at the mouth of "Walden Cr." 
up to "Reeve's Pt." "Obstructions" are again placed across the river channel at "Old 
Brunswick." A "Jetty" that extends to "Sugar Loaf on the eastern shore and "Chain & 
Cribs Ready To Sink Across the Channel" are present opposite the "Encampment" and 
"Masked Batteries." 

On "Campbell or Big Isd." the "Light Ho." and a "Battery" are noted. Above the mouth of 
the "Brunswick River" a line of "Sunken Cribs" extends across the Cape Fear River to 
the eastern shore where a "Battery" and "Hospital" are indicated. Slightly farther 
upstream at "Dram Tree Point," a "Casemated Battery" is illustrated. It occurs south of 
the "Dram Tree" illustrated just off the shoreline. Within "Wilmington" are noted the 
location of "Berry's Ship Yard" (Beery) on "Eagles Island" and "Cassidy's Shipyard" 
near the southern section of the city. The "Kidde & Martin Mill" is shown south of the 
city near the "Arsenal" for "Swords & Bayonets." Additional military installations are 
illustrated within and to the east of Wilmington. Above the city on the east side of the 
river three mills and two piers are depicted. 



Map of The Country adjacent to Smithville, Confederate States Army Engineers, 
1864 

This 1864 map depicts the western side of the Cape Fear River from just north of 
"Walden Creek" to Oak Island. On the north side of "Prices Creek" the "Signal Station" 
and "Light House" are noted. A "Salt Works" is shown below Price's Creek. The "Signal 
Station," "Fort Pender," and a "Saw Mill" are indicated at "Smithville." "Fort Caswell" 
and "Fort Campbell" are represented on Oak Island. 



Map of "Bald-Head" & Cape Fear, Confederate States Army Engineers, 1864. 

In 1864 Confederate Engineers' added features to this 1834 map that shows Smith's 
Island as far north as an unnamed stream that dissects the island. Cape Fear is 
illustrated as a barren southeast peninsula. No indication of vegetation or man-made 



344 



structures are evident on the cape. Bald Head is shown as the southwestern corner of 
Smith's Island. "Ft. Holmes" is illustrated in a nearly cleared area with trees or dense 
vegetation northeast of the fortifications. The Bald Head "Lighthouse," a "Horse Pond," 
and a cleared area of land marked "T.M. Thompson" are visible on the map northeast 
of "Ft. Holmes." A brief network labeled the "Artillery Road" connects the places 
indicated on the map with other natural or military locations farther inland and on the 
southern shoreline. A "Proposed Road" extends from the "lighthouse" to the eastern 
shoreline, while another runs along the southern shoreline. South of the stream two 
cleared areas with structures are marked "Todd" and "Bowers." 



Chart of the Obstructions in the Cape Fear and Brunswick Rivers and the 
Batteries Commanding Them, Confederate States Army Engineers, 1865. 

In 1865 Confederate General Braxton Bragg submitted this detailed map of the 
obstructions and defenses below Wilmington and at the mouth of the Brunswick River. 
Forts shown on the eastern shore of the "Cape Fear River," as illustrated from north to 
south, are "Fort Davis," "Fort Lee," "Fort Campbell," and "Fort Meares." Located at the 
confluence of the "Brunswick River" and the "Cape Fear River" are "Eagle's Island" and 
"Clark's Island." A "Floating chain obstruction" runs from the northern end of "Clark's 
Island" across the Cape Fear to just in front of "Fort Lee." The obstruction ends before 
reaching a "Floating Gate" at "Fort Lee." On the upstream side of the "Floating chain 
obstruction, near the northern end of "Clark's Island," the wreck of the "North Heath" is 
shown. 

"Fort Campbell" appears to be the largest of the four forts. At least three lines of 
"Sawyers" and "Chevaux de Frise" block the channel in front of "Fort Campbell." The 
wrecks of the "Arctic" and "Yadkin" also form part of the obstruction. Water depths 
around the obstructions range from 9 to 1 9 feet. At the mouth of the "Brunswick River" 
two lines of "Sawyers," "(Round) Piling," and "(Square) Piling 12 x 12" block the 
entrance progressively upriver near the mouth. Jetties extending to the edges of the 
channel are depicted on both sides of the Cape Fear River below the mouth of the 
Brunswick River. 



Plan of the Attacks by Gun-Boats on Forts Strong and Lee, Cape Fear River, N.C., 
United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1865. 

Forts Strong and Lee, located below Wilmington, are shown on this 1865 map as they 
appear under fire on February 20-21, 1865. The two forts are situated on the east 
shore of the Cape Fear River across from the mouth of the Brunswick River. A line of 
"obstructions spike heads" extends across the Cape Fear from one of the forts to the 
opposite shore. On the downstream side of the obstructions, near midchannel, two 
"wrecks" are indicated. Jetties and "Flats" within the vicinity of the forts are also 
represented on this map. 



345 



Sketch of Vicinity of Fort Fisher and Plan of Fort Fisher Carried By Assault by the 
U.S. Forces, United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1865. 

Maj. Gen. A. H. Terry used this plan of Fort Fisher and a sketch of the surrounding 
vicinity in 1865. The sketch and plan include the lower portion of Federal Point showing 
the location of the "Hospital," "Headquarters," "Commissary," "Mound Battery," "Ft. 
Buchanan," and additional earthen structures. On the Atlantic Ocean side of Federal 
Point the "Wreck of the Powder Vessel" is indicated offshore from the fort. Along the 
Cape Fear River side only the presence of a "Wharf 1 is noted. 



The Capture of Fort Fisher, The New York Herald , January 18, 1865. 

A map titled "The Capture of Fort Fisher" appeared in The New York Herald on January 
18, 1865, with a number of geographical and structural features noted. Rail lines 
indicated at "Wilmington" include the "Wir[ming]ton & Weldon R.R." the "Wilmington 
Charlotte & Rutherford R.R." and the "Wilmington & Manchester R.R." "Fort St Philip" 
supporting "nine guns" is depicted on the southern tip of "Eagles Island." On the east 
side of the "Cape Fear River" below Wilmington, "Fort French (Iron Clad with T Iron)" is 
shown with the "Obstructions" extending from the eastern shore to Eagles Island. The 
"Light House," "Water Batteries," "Stag Park," and "Barrum Creek" (Bamards Creek), 
are shown below Fort French. An additional "Light House" is illustrated on Campbell 
Island. Tributaries on the western side of the river include from north to south, "Mallary 
Creek," "Smith Town Creek," "Aliens Creek," and "Orton Creek." Shown between 
"Orton Creek" and "Smithville" is the "Quarantine Fort." Additional fortifications shown 
on the map include "Fort Fisher" and the surrounding batteries on "Federal Point," "Fort 
Johnson" at "Smithville," and "Fort Caswell" on "Oak Island." "Wrecks" are noted near 
the southern shore of Oak Island. 



Untitled North Carolina Map, United States Coast Survey, 1865. 

This untitled 1865 map of North Carolina drawn by the U.S. Coast Survey depicts the 
Cape Fear River vicinity with limited detail. "Cape Fear" is noted on "Smith's Id." along 
with "Bald Head Pt." On "Oak Id." the presence of "Ft. Caswell" is shown. "Fort Fisher" 
is marked at "Federal Pt." Tributaries to the "Cape Fear River" located on the western 
shore include from south to north: "Elizabeth R.," "Walden Cr.," "Orton Cr.," "Lilliput 
Cr.," and "Old Town Cr." South of "Wilmington" on the eastern shore the map denotes 
a "Hospital," "Barnard's Cr.," and "Sugar Loaf." 



Cape Fear River Entrances — New Inlet N.C., United States Coast Survey, 1865. 

The New Inlet entrance to the Cape Fear River is shown on this 1865 U.S. Coast 
Survey map. Located on "Federal Point" north of "New Inlet" are "Federal Point Lt.," 
"West Light," "E. Light," and "Mound Light." All of these navigational markers are 
portrayed on the eastern side of Federal Point. "Breakers" and low-water marsh areas 
denote the southern limit of "New Inlet." Water depths are given for the inlet, ocean, 
and a portion of the river from "Deep Water Pt. Battery" upstream to "Reeves" point. 



346 



The "Range Lts" and "Bug Lts" are also illustrated at "Prices' Creek." At the ocean 
entrance to "New Inlet" the wrecks of the "Aster" "Condor," one labeled "Paddle," and 
an unidentified "Wreck" are marked. Two other wrecks are shown within the Cape Fear 
River. The "Wreck of Str Raleigh" occurs near midchannel in the river directly west of 
New Inlet. The wreck of the "Hetzer is noted on the eastern side of the river at the 
anchorages northeast of Prices' Creek. 



Entrances to Cape Fear River North Carolina, United States Coast Survey, 1866. 

This U.S. Coast Survey map of 1866 is based upon the preliminary map made in 1857 
and illustrates the mouth of the Cape Fear River. The location of "Bald Head" and 
"Cape Fear" are indicated on "Smith's Island." The lighthouse is not shown on this 
version. "Cape Creek" and "Buzzard or Oyster Bay" are shown toward the northern side 
of the island. Represented southwest of "Bald Head" are "Bald Head Shoal," "Reeper 
Shoal," and "The Fingers." Marshall Shoal has been omitted from this version. The 
"Western Bar Channel" is shown between "Oak Island" and the "Middle Ground." The 
Western Bar Channel passed through the bar on a northeast course in front of the 
"Range Lights" on Oak Island. "Ft. Caswell" is marked on the eastern end of the island. 
Noted on the map are the "Elizabeth River," "Smithville," "Deep Water Pt.," and "Price's 
Cr." Battery and Striking Islands are drawn but unlabeled. "Muddy Slue" is noted 
among the marsh islands north of "Smith's Island." 

Navigation is still shown into the Cape Fear River through "New Inlet." The channel 
passed south of "Federal Point" below the "Light House" and above "Carolina Shoal" 
and the "Breakers" on a southwest course. The channel continued past "Zeek's I.," 
although the lightboat is no longer shown. "Horse Shoe" Shoal, near the middle of the 
Cape Fear River channel, the "Marsh Islands" at the mouth of "Walden Cr.," and 
"Reeves Pt." are also noted. 

A "Caution" to mariners on this map describes the entrances to the Cape Fear River: 

The Channel of both Entrances are constantly changing. No reliable 
sailing directions therefore can be given. The Range Lights at West 
entrance, which are marked as occasion requires, lead over best water of 
outer bar. The postions of the Buoys are also altered to meet the 
changing conditions of the channels. No vessel drawing over 6 feet water 
should attempt to enter without a local pilot. 



Map Showing Position of Proposed Work from Smith's l[slan]d to Zeeks l[slan]d, 
United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1870. 

The Corps of Engineers drew this simplistic map in 1870 to illustrate the proposed work 
between Smith's Island and Zeek's Island. A line of construction titled "Remains of Old 
Works" appears across a few shoals in the respective area between the two islands. 



347 



"New Inlet" is labeled south of "Federal Pt." Also indicated on "Federal Pt" are "Fort 
Fisher," the "Light House," and "Lamb's M." 



Map of Wilmington, N.C., James & Brown, 1870. 

Wilmington is shown to have considerably increased in size as indicated on the plan 
map of 1870. Block development is depicted along the Cape Fear River from as far 
north as "Smiths Creek" to "Greenfield" Street at the southern edge. Development is 
seen from "Water" Street as far east as "Seventeenth" Street. Little change is noted for 
the area across the Cape Fear River in Brunswick County. Railroads are illustrated on 
both sides of the river, including the "Wilmington and Weldon Rail Road" and the 
"Wilmington Charlotte and Rutherford Rail Road" on the east side. "Point Peter" is 
shown at the confluence of the "North East" and "North West" Cape Fear River. 



Hydrography of New Inlet Cape Fear River North Carolina, United States Coast 
Survey, 1872. 

In 1872 the U.S. Coast Survey mapped New Inlet and the adjacent section of the Cape 
Fear River. The map produced that year reflects the water depths, shoals, marsh 
areas, and shipwrecks located near the inlet. "Federal Point" forms the northern 
boundary of the inlet, and the "Federal Pt. Lt. erected 1866" on the east side and a 
"Fish House" on the extreme southwestern tip next to the river are shown. The "West 
Light," "East Light," and "Mound Light" are also indicated. Five shipwrecks are depicted 
near the entrance to New Inlet. The "Twilight (wreck)" is shown near the eastern beach 
on Federal Point. Located farther offshore are the "Powder Wreck" and "Feather 
Wreck." The remaining two are each simply indicated as "Wreck." Where New Inlet 
enters the Cape Fear River, the "Raleigh Wreck Buoy" is shown just southwest of the 
"Fish House." Adjacent to the Smith Island spit of land south of the inlet a "Crib," and 
possibly jetty, are illustrated. On the eastern shore of the spit near the Inlet an 
additional "Wreck" is marked. The wreck of the "Kate walking beam" in the Cape Fear 
River is noted south of "Price's Cr. Range Lights" and "Bug Lt." Shown between 
"Smithville" and Battery Island is the "North Carolina wreck." 



Gray's New Map of Wilmington North Carolina and Central Part of Wilmington, 
O. W.Gray, ca. 1873. 

Gray's New Map of Wilmington appears to be an improvement on the map done by 
James and Brown in 1870. Although the maps are nearly identical in the area shown, 
Gray's map provides more detail. In addition, Gray has done an enlargement of the 
central section of Wilmington. The "Wilmington & Weldon Rail Road" and the "Carolina 
Central Rail Road (incorporated 1873)" are marked on this map with both rail lines 
terminating at the Cape Fear River between "Harnett" and "Red Cross" Streets. Along 
the eastern side of the "North East river," above where the rail lines terminate, a couple 
of mills, a "Timber Pen" and the "Empire Sectional Dry Dock" are depicted. On "Point 
Peter" the "G.F. Alderman & Bro. Point Peter Distillery" is shown. The enlarged plan of 



348 



the "Central Part of Wilmington" covers the waterfront from the "Carolina Central R. 
Road Docks" to the "Wilmington Cotton Mills" at "Wooster St." Located between these 
two points on the Wilmington downtown waterfront are twelve wharves indicated by 
name. In addition to the wharves, several mills, companies, and distilleries are 
indicated. 



Diagram Showing Plan of Proposed lines of Work for Closing New Inlet, July 
1875, United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1875. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a map in July 1875 showing the 
proposed construction for the closing of New Inlet. Between "Federal Point" and 
"Zeek's Isd" are four sections of the intended line of works. On the map the first section 
beginning at Federal Point is marked "500 feet of Cribs Completed." The remaining 
three sections are "920 ft," "1,550 ft" and "1,715 ft" in length. Profiles of the four 
sections are also shown on the map. Depth soundings taken in the vicinity of the 
proposed construction and across the Cape Fear River to "Snow's Marsh" are 
described as being made by the U.S. Coast Survey in 1872. A channel to the east of 
"Snow's Marsh" is illustrated, and the map states "Channel cut 100 feet wide and 9 feet 
deep at low (mean) water." A "Note" provided on the map indicates that 'The Bar has 7 
ft on it at Low Water; and is about 2Vz miles from proposed line of works." 



Comparative Chart of Lower Part of Cape Fear River, North Carolina, United 
States Army Corps of Engineers, 1876. 

In 1876 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers compiled a comparative chart of shorelines 
in a section of the lower Cape Fear River. Surveys done by the U.S. Coast Survey in 
1852, 1858, 1866 and Corps of Engineers surveys in 1872 and 1875 were used in 
compiling the map. The area illustrated includes the southern tip of "Federal Point" to 
the northern half of Smith Island. "Lamb Ft.," "Fort Buck" (Battery Buchanan), and the 
"Lt. Ho. erected 1866" are represented on Federal Point. Across New Inlet a line of 
"Cribs" and "Apron" connects "Federal Point" to "Zeek's Island" and then to "Smith Is 
Point." The "Raleigh wreck" is shown directly west of the line of obstructions. Of interest 
is a section of the northern spit on Smith Island marked "Storm Sept 1 857 makes a 
breach 850+ yds wide now closed 1875." Between "Snows Marsh" and "Horse Shoe 
Shoal" a navigation channel is illustrated "12 feet deep Cut 100 feet wide April 1876." 
Marked slightly above "Smithville" is the "Kate wrk" (wreck). The mouth of "Cape 
Creek" on Smith Island and "Muddy Slue" in the marsh area to the north are noted. 
"Battery Isd" and "Striking Isd" are also portrayed. 



Obstruction Channel Cape Fear River, N.C., United States Army Corps of 
Engineers, 1876. 

In 1876 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mapped the Civil War obstructions that 
remained after the war in the Lower Cape Fear River. On this map the southern 
confluence of the "Cape Fear River" and the "Brunswick River" are illustrated, along 



349 



with "Eagle's Island" and "Clark's Island." On the eastern shore of the Cape Fear River, 
across from the mouth of the Brunswick River, two areas are shown as the "Ruins of 
Confederate Battery," while another is marked "Confederate Battery." The two areas 
marked ruins correspond with Fort Campbell and Fort Meares shown on Confederate 
Gen. Braxton Bragg's map in 1865. Located in front of one of the "Ruins" (Fort 
Campbell) is a "Line of Obstructions Sunk By Confederates Removed by U.S. Engineer 
Dept in 1875." A second "Line of Obstructions Sunk by Confed's Now Bare at Low 
Water" is marked just below the mouth of the Brunswick River. A jetty is shown between 
the "Line of Obstructions" and the river mouth. The "Hospital" and structures indicated 
as "Halifax" and "Waddell" are depicted north of the "Ruins" of Fort Campbell. Just 
upstream from "Clark's Island" the map indicates where a "Steamboat Sunk," probably 
the North Heath as shown on Gen. Bragg's map. The "Ella Wrk" (wreck) is noted on the 
shoals southeast of Bald Head. The "Seaward Channel" is shown to pass through the 
shoals south of Bald Head. 



Town Creek, N.C., United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1880. 

An 1880 map by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers illustrates Town Creek from "Saw 
Pit Ld'g" to where Town Creek flows into the Cape Fear River. Numerous named 
landings, "rice canals," and "flood gates" are indicated along Town Creek. "Rice" and 
"Cotton" agriculture is shown on both sides of the creek. A "Sunken Flatboat" is also 
noted above "Indigo Cr." Shown just below the mouth of Town Creek is "Campbell's or 
Big Is'd." An angled "Jetty" connects the western shoreline of the river below Town 
Creek with the island. Another "Jetty," located slightly south of the first jetty, extends 
halfway to "Campbell's Is'd." Water depths shown at the mouth of Town Creek range 
from 2 to 1 4 feet. 



Map of North Carolina, W.C. Kerr and William Cain, 1882. 

The scale used by Kerr and Cain's state map of 1882 allows the Lower Cape Fear 
River vicinity to be shown with only limited detail. "Smith's Is." is indicated and the 
"Cape Fear" marked. On the south side of the Elizabeth River, "Ft. Caswell" is pictured. 
The towns of "Smithville" and "Brunswick" are shown upstream on the western side of 
the river. The tributaries of "Walden C," "Lilliput C," and "Old Town C." enter the river 
from the west. "Wilmington" is pictured opposite the unlabeled Eagle's Island. Located 
on Federal Point are "Fort Fisher" and "Sugar Loaf." 



Annual Progress Map Cape Fear River (below Wilmington), United States Army 
Corps of Engineers, 1884-85. 

The Corps of Engineers submitted this map showing sections of the Cape Fear River 
below Wilmington with their report for 1885. Three shoal areas where proposed 
dredging would occur are illustrated. At "Lilliput Shoal," located "About 11 miles below 
Wilmington," the existing channel, "finished to 74 feet width and 16.0 feet depth," 
connected portions of the river with a natural depth of 16 feet. Intended dredging 



350 



located at just above "Orton Point Light" at the mouths of "Orton Creek" and "Lilliput 
Creek" showed the "Proposed channel 11,100 feet total length and 270 feet total 
width." 

The Corps also intended new dredging at the "Logs and Big Island Shoal" located 
"About 7 miles below Wilmington." Connecting two portions of the river already at 16 
feet in depth, the existing channel northeast of "Big Island" (Campbell Island) had been 
finished to a width of 74 feet and a depth of 16.0 feet. The proposed channel would be 
8,500 feet in total length and 270 feet wide. "Old Jetties" are also shown extending 
from either shore above "Big Island." 

The remaining shoal illustrated on the map is the "Brunswick River Shoal," located 
"About 3 miles below Wilmington." Shown southeast of "Clark's Island" near the 
eastern shore of the Cape Fear River, the existing channel had been "finished to [a] 
16.0 feet depth and [a] 74 feet width/111 feet width." Again connecting two portions of 
the river at natural river depths of 16 feet, the improvements would make the "Proposed 
channel 5,000 feet [in] total length and 270 feet [in] width." An "Old Jetty" and "Wharf" 
are shown southwest of the channel. 



Cape Fear River Entrances, United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1885. 

This simple four-section chart by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers accompanied the 
Annual Report of 1885. The chart is a comparison of the "Baldhead Channel" water 
depths as taken from a U.S. Coast Survey drawn in 1866 and Army Corps of Engineers' 
surveys from 1877, 1883, and 1885. Water depths are indicated for the 6, 12, 14, and 
18-foot contours. The 1866 survey showed "Baldhead Channel" with a maximum depth 
of 30 feet. "Reeper Shoal" is indicated with a 3.5 foot water depth, while the "Middle 
Ground" shows only 4 feet. In the "Western Channel" a maximum depth of 24 feet is 
indicated. The 1877 survey data has "Baldhead Channel" marked with a maximum 29 
foot depth and the "Western Channel" still with only 24 feet. Both the 1883 and 1885 
survey information show only the "Baldhead Channel," each with a maximum water 
depth of 29 feet. 



N.E. Cape Fear River N.C., United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1885. 

This Army Corps of Engineers' map illustrates a portion of the Northeast Cape Fear 
River approximately 2 miles above Wilmington. Water depths are shown on the 
western half of the river with depths ranging from 25 to 35 feet near midstream. 
Features indicated include a "Ferry Landing" and the "R.R. Bridge" (Hilton Bascule) for 
the "W.C.& A.R.R. and C.C.R.R." ' 



351 



Annual Progress Map Cape Fear River (Below Wilmington), United States Army 
Corps of Engineers, 1885-86. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers submitted this map showing sections of the Cape 
Fear River below Wilmington with the Corps of Engineers' Report for 1886. Four shoal 
areas where proposed dredging would occur are illustrated. 

At the "Brunswick River Shoal," located "about 3 miles below Wilmington" near the east 
shore of the Cape Fear River, the existing channel had been dredged to a width of 1 1 1 
feet. Connecting two portions of the river at natural river depths of 16 feet, the 
improvements would make the "Proposed channel 5,000 feet [in] total length, 270 feet 
[in] width." An "Old Jetty" and "Wharf" are shown southwest of the channel. Two others 
are shown on the eastern shore of the river. 

The Corps also proposed dredging at the "Logs and Big Island Shoal" located "about 7 
miles below Wilmington." Connecting two portions of the river already at 16 feet in 
depth, the existing channel northeast of "Big Island" (Campbell Island) had been 
"Finished to 148 feet width." The proposed channel would be "8,500 feet [in] total 
length, 270 feet [in] total width." "Old Jetties" are also shown extending from both 
shores above "Big Island." 

At "Lilliput Shoal," located "about 11 miles below Wilmington," the existing channel, 
"Finished to 1 1 1 feet" and "to 148 feet [in] width" at the turn, connected portions of the 
river with a natural depth of 16 feet. The map's representation of the intended dredging 
from the mouths of "Orton Creek" and "Lilliput Creek" upstream shows the proposed 
channel with a length of 1 1 ,000 feet and a width of 270 feet. 

The remaining area to be dredged was "Snow's Marsh Channel" located "about 20 
miles below Wilmington." The channel to the east of "Snow's Marsh" had been 
"dredged in 1881-1883 to 13,000 feet [in] total length and 270 feet [in] width." The 
channel was redredged in 1885-1886 in five sections totaling 6,300 feet in length and 
either 74 or 1 10 feet in width. 



Cape Fear River North Carolina, United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, 1886. 

The U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey map of 1886 is a corrected and updated version 
of the map drawn in 1866 illustrating the mouth of the Cape Fear River. The location of 
"Bald Head" and "Cape Fear" are indicated on "Smith's Island." "Range Lights" are 
shown at "Bald Head" and "Range Beacons" on the south side of "Cape Creek." 
"Buzzard or Oyster Bay" is depicted toward the northern side of the island. Southwest 
of "Bald Head" the "Bald Head Shoal" and "The Fingers" are shown. Reeper Shoal and 
Marshall Shoal have both been omitted from this version. A "Wreck" is indicated on the 
map on the northwest side of the "Bald Head Channel." The "Western Bar Channel" is 
shown between "Oak Island" and the "Middle Ground." The Western Bar Channel 
passes over the bar on a northeast course in front of the "Range Lights" on Oak Island. 



352 



"Ft. Caswell" is marked on the eastern end of the island. Also noted on the map are the 
"Elizabeth River," "Smithville," "Deep Water Pt.," and "Price's Cr." "Battery I.," and 
"Striking I." are drawn but unlabeled. "Muddy Slue" is noted among the marsh islands 
north of "Smith's Island." 

Across the former entrance to "New Inlet" a "Dam under construction" revealed that 
New Inlet was no longer open to navigation. The existing "Dam" extended from 
"Federal Point" to "Zeek's Is," while the "Dam under construction" is shown from 
"Zeek's Is" to the Marsh Islands above "Smith's Island." "Horseshoe shoal," near the 
middle of the Cape Fear River channel; the "Marsh Islands" at the mouth of "Walden 
Cr."; and "Reeves Pt " are noted. 



Progress Map Cape Fear River (Below Wilmington), United States Army Corps of 
Engineers, 1886-87. 

The Corps of Engineers progress map for 1886-1887 is similar to those issued in the 
previous years but simplified to show only the five channels. The Corps accomplished 
dredging at "Wilmington Shoal" in 1886-1887. The Corps proposed that the channel be 
maintained at "2,000 feet long, 185 feet wide, and 16 feet deep." At "Brunswick River 
Shoal," located "3 miles below Wilmington," the existing channel is shown as 5,000 feet 
long and nearly 1 85 feet in width. The improvements would make the proposed channel 
"5,000 feet long, 270 feet wide and 16 feet deep." At the "Logs and Big Island Shoal," 
located "7 miles below Wilmington," the existing channel had been finished to 8,500 
feet in length and 185 feet in width. The proposed channel would be "8,500 feet long, 
270 feet wide and 16 feet deep." At "Lilliput Shoal," located "11 miles below 
Wilmington," the existing channel is shown as 11,000 feet in length and 111 feet wide 
at the northern end and 185 feet in width at the southern end. The intended dredging 
would increase the channel to 11,000 feet in length and 270 feet in width overall. The 
remaining dredged area was "Snow's Marsh Channel" located "20 miles below 
Wilmington." The Corps redredged a small section of the channel in 1887. The 
engineers intended that the proposed channel be maintained at "13,000 feet long, 270 
feet wide and 16 feet deep." 



Coast of North Carolina From Federal Point to Smith's Isd., United States Coast & 
Geodetic Survey, 1887. 

In 1887 the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey mapped the coast from Federal Point to 
Smith's Island. Numerous depth soundings are recorded on this chart, along with 
several of the navigation points. The dam, or rocks used to close New Inlet, is shown 
between "Federal Point," "Zeek's Island," and the northern edge of "Smith Island." The 
"Government Wharf" is indicated just west of the dam within the "Cape Fear River." 
"Gold Leaf Inlet" and "Corn Cake Inlet" northeast of "Smith's Island" are also shown. 



353 



Cape Fear River From Entrance to Reeves Point North Carolina, United States 
Coast & Geodetic Survey, 1888. 

This 1888 map of the lower Cape Fear River presents an updated image of the river 
with some interesting features not seen on earlier versions. Located between "Oak 
Island" and "Smith's Island" at the mouth of the river is "Middle Ground." "Fort Caswell" 
is pictured on "Oak Island." Passing to the west of the "Middle Ground" is the "Western 
Bar Channel." The "Bald Head Channel" is shown to the east of "Middle Ground." Text 
on the map indicates that the "Bald Head," or "New Channel," was "dredged 200 ft. 
wide and 14 1 /4 ft. deep." "Bald Head Shoal" and "The Fingers" are indicated southwest 
of "Smith's Island." The "Cape Fear Light" is noted at Bald Head, while the "Cape Fear 
Life Saving Station" is shown at "Cape Fear." Also depicted at "Smith's Island" are 
"Cape Creek," "Muddy Slue," and "Buzzard Bay." The northeastern spit of "Smith's 
Island" is bisected by "Corncake Inlet" and "Goldleaf Inlet" slightly farther north. A 
"Channel" is apparent leading from "Goldleaf Inlet" into "Buzzard Bay." 

"New Inlet" is shown south of "Federal Point," although water depths at the inlet are 
shown to have decreased to less than 10 feet. The "dam" is shown between "Federal 
Point," "Zeke's I.," and the marshes north of "Smith's Island," with the "Government 
Wharf' marked just to the west. Carolina Shoals have been exposed and are now 
marked as "Carolina Shoals Beach" shown joining with the eastern side of Federal 
Point. "Lambs Mound" is illustrated in this vicinity. 

Near the mouth of the Cape Fear River, just north of the "Elizabeth River," "Dutchmans 
Creek" is now shown flowing directly into the Cape Fear. Smithville is now marked as 
"Southport." "Battery I" and "Striking I" are labeled. Illustrated above "Price's Creek" 
and at the mouth of "Walden Creek" is "Snow's Marsh." Located to the east, between 
Snow's Marsh and "Horseshoe Shoal," is "Snow's Marsh Cut." To the southeast of the 
shoal, "Horse Shoe Channel" is marked. Shown between "Reeve's Pt" on the west side 
of the river and "Peter's Pt." directly across on the east side, are "Drum Shoal" and 
"Midnight Shoal." 



Northeast Cape Fear River, N.C., United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1889. 

During 1889 Capt. W. H. Bixby of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers produced a map of 
the "Northeast Cape Fear River" from "Wilmington" to "Komgay's Bridge." Along the 
more than 100 miles of river illustrated, towns, crossings, geographical locations, and 
river mileage are noted. The section of Northeast Cape Fear River north of Wilmington 
to "Smith's Cr" includes the "Carolina Central R.R." and the Wilmington, Columbia & 
Augusta Railroad bridge. The Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley Railroad is shown extending 
to the river north of "Point Peter." 



354 



Hilton, James & Brown, 1889. 

George W. Grafflin drew this map that shows Wilmington from the northern city limits to 
Smith's Creek based upon the 1889 survey of James & Brown. A plan view of north 
Wilmington, including street names, is shown. The "C.C. R.R. Track" (Carolina Central 
Railroad) and wharfs are also noted. Along the south shore of Smith's Creek, areas are 
indicated as "Rice Lands." The "R.R. Bridge" is depicted across the "North East Cape 
Fear River." Northeast of the bridge (Hilton) the "Mansion House" is shown. Just 
downstream from the bridge a "Ferry" is shown to cross the river directly from the foot 
of "Hilton St." to Point Peter. 



Progress Map for 1891 Cape Fear River beiow Wilmington, N.C., United States 
Army Corps of Engineers, 1891. 

The 1891 Corps of Engineers progress map shows the dimensions of six channels 
along the lower Cape Fear River. The "Ocean Bar" is the first and only one of the six 
illustrated that depicts the channel in relation to adjacent topographical and historical 
references. The "Ocean Bar" channel, located "29 Miles below Wilmington," is shown 
as an extension of the existing "Bald Head Channel" between "Oak Island" and "Smith's 
Island" at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. The "Ocean Bar" channel passes between 
the "Middle Breaker" (Middle Ground) and the "East Breakers" (Bald Head Shoals and 
The Fingers). The "navigable channel is indicated as "200+ft. wide, 16+ft. deep." "West 
Breakers" are also noted on the map, although the Western Cut is not illustrated. 

"New Cut opposite Snow's Marsh Channel," located "20 miles below Wilmington," 
shows the existing channel to be maintained at "9,600 ft. long, 270 ft. wide and 16 ft. 
deep." Dredging on the channel located at the "Old Brunswick Cove Shoal 13 miles 
below Wilmington" was completed during fiscal year 1890-1891. The dredging 
produced a channel "1,000 ft. long, 270 ft. wide and 16 ft. deep." The Corps utilized a 
natural river depth of 16 feet to complete the short channel at Old Brunswick Cove. At 
"Lilliput Shoal," located "11 miles below Wilmington," the much longer channel of 
"11,000 ft. long" is shown. This channel would also be maintained at "270 ft. wide and 
16 ft. deep." A new channel was begun during 1890-1891 at "Alligator Creek Shoal 1 
mile below Wilmington." Only a small section of the proposed channel, "9,800 ft. long, 
270 ft. wide and 20 ft. deep," was completed during the reported fiscal year. Initial 
dredging also began in 1890-1891 at the "Wilmington Shoal." When completed the 
channel in front of the city would be maintained at "3,200 ft. long, 270 ft wide and 20 ft. 
deep." 



District of U.S. River & Harbor Improvements, United States Army Corps of 
Engineers, 1891. 

The River & Harbor Improvements map of 1891 illustrates the central Atlantic coast. 
Little information is shown for the Cape Fear River vicinity other than "Wilmington" and 
"Southport." A table provided on the map entitled "Improvement of Certain Rivers & 



355 



Harbors of N. Carolina, S. Carolina & Virginia" presents the most useful information on 
navigational improvements and commerce. Included is the statement that the Cape 
Fear River above Wilmington had been under improvement since 1881 and the lower 
portion since 1870. Improvement on the Northeast Cape Fear is shown as only having 
begun in 1891. 



Map of Wilmington, N.C. showing the Vicinity of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, 
Southport, Carolina Beach, Anonymous, 1892. 

The lower Cape Fear River vicinity, and in particular the Wilmington area, is 
represented on this 1892 map. A plan view of the city shows streets, rail lines, and a 
few structures. Rail lines that traverse the city include the "W & W R.R." (Wilmington 
and Weldon Railroad) and the "C.C R.R. and W.C. & A. R.R." (Carolina Central 
Railroad and the Wilmington, Columbia and Augusta Railroad). Cars on the "C.F.& Y.V. 
R.R." (Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad) are shown to be transported from "Point 
Peter" across the river to their facility at the foot of "Mulberry St." A "shipyard" at the 
foot of "Nun St.," the "Ferry" over the Cape Fear from "Market St." to "Eagles Island," 
and the "Clyde Line" at the foot of "Chesnut St." are all indicated. "Kidders Mill" is also 
shown as being located near the foot of "Wright St." The "Quarantine Hospital" is 
depicted northeast of "Clarks Is," just south of "Dram Tree Pt." 



North East (Cape Fear) River, N.C, United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1893. 

Robert C. Merritt mapped during a survey for the Corps of Engineers in 1891 a portion 
of the Northeast Cape Fear River from the Old County Ferry to a point one mile north of 
the Hilton Railroad bridge above Wilmington. The site of the "Old County Ferry" 
crossing is shown 700 feet downstream from the "Hilton R. R. Bridge." Docking piers for 
the ferry are shown on both sides of the river. Directly below the ferry on the eastern 
side of the river is "Parsley's Mill Wharf." Above the bridge on the western shore of the 
Cape Fear River the location of "Evan's Saw Mill" along with a "Lumber Pen" is 
indicated. Farther upstream, on the western side of the river, are the "Wharf of Powers, 
Gibbs, and Co's Fertilizer Works" and the "Wharf of C. W. Pike & Co.'s Saw Mill." 



Improvement of the Cape Fear River, N.C, Below Wilmington, Showing Cuts 
Dredged Through 10 Shoals to Obtain a Depth of 18 Feet at Mean Low Water, 
United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1895. 

This 1895 Army Corps of Engineers map is useful for showing the location of three 
channels in the vicinity of Wilmington. The map covers a section of the Cape Fear 
River from just below the mouth of the Brunswick River to the Hilton Railroad Bridge 
above Wilmington. Water depths are given for the illustrated area. The "Brunswick 
Channel" is shown as a straight channel approximately 7,200 feet in length below the 
mouth of the Brunswick River. The "Alligator Creek Channel" begins across from "Dram 
Tree Pt." and ends opposite "Wilmington." Two sections form this channel with a total 
length of 9,800 feet. The remaining channel is the "Wilmington Channel" that begins off 



356 



the tip of "Point Peter" at the confluence of the Cape Fear and Northeast Rivers. The 
"Wilmington Channel" is comprised of two sections located within the Northeast Cape 
Fear River totaling 3,200 feet in length. 



Improvement of the Cape Fear River, N.C., Showing Channel Through Alligator 
Creek Shoal, United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1895. 

This map showing Alligator Creek Channel is a detailed examination of the larger 
Improvements map showing the section of Cape Fear River below Wilmington. Water 
depths are indicated for the complete channel. The only map notation other than water 
depths and buoys is the "Wreck Sch. Enchantress" (wrecked schooner) shown west of 
the channel. 



Post Route Map of the States of North Carolina and South Carolina, von Haake, 
1896. 

The postmaster general of the United States ordered this 1896 map published. Since 
the purpose of the map is to show the postal routes of the state, little detail of the Lower 
Cape Fear River is noted. However, the "W.S.R.R." (Wilmington Seacoast Railroad) is 
illustrated between "Wilmington" and "Wrightsville." 



Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, 1884, 1889, 1893, 1898, 1904, 1910 and 1915. 

The Sanborn Fire Insurance Company compiled these maps of Wilmington 
approximately every five years from 1884 to 1915. These city maps provide accurate 
and detailed information on a block-by-block basis. Much of the Wilmington waterfront 
is depicted, often with specific information such as the owner's name, type of industry, 
and the number and placement of buildings on each commercial lot. Wharves, piers, 
docks, and railway facilities bordering the Cape Fear River are commonly noted. 



Map of Wilmington Harbor North Carolina showing proposed Anchorage Basin, 
United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1900. 

The Corps of Engineers mapped the Anchorage Basin at Wilmington Harbor to 
accompany their annual report of 1900. The improvements to the Anchorage Basin 
located at the southern "City Limits" of "Wilmington" on the Alligator Creek Channel 
would include dredging to a depth of 28 feet. Water depths averaged approximately 13 
feet in the area. The map also indicates the proposed 20-foot-deep approaches into the 
harbor along the Alligator Creek Channel. The Wilmington Channel is also shown in 
the northern part of the city above Point Peter. The northern edge of this map is defined 
where the "A.C.L. & S.A.L. Railroad" (Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Air Line) 
crosses the Northeast Cape Fear River. 



357 



Cape Fear River from Reeves Point To Wilmington North Carolina, United States 
Coast and Geodetic Survey, 1901. 

The U.S. Coast Survey map of 1901 shows the Cape Fear River from Wilmington to 
"Reeves Pt." Shorelines on both side of the Cape Fear River are illustrated with timber, 
marshes, and diked areas. Above "Reeves Pt.," on the western shore of the river, are 
located the "Ruins of Old Brunswick." Marked between the ruins and "Orton Pt." is the 
"Old Brunswick Cove Channel." "Orton Creek" and "Liliput Creek" flow into the Cape 
Fear River above "Orton Pt." An area labeled as "Ballast Rock" is noted southwest of 
"Keg I." Located just below "Old Town Creek," the tributary "Sand Hill Cr" is indicated. 
"Campbell I" is shown between the mouths of these creeks. "Mallory Cr" is labeled 
north of Old Town Creek. "Eagle's Island" is depicted between the "North West Branch" 
of the Cape Fear and the "Brunswick River." "Clark's I" is shown off the southeastern 
315 
shore of Eagle's Island. "Pt. Peter" is also labeled. 

South of "Wilmington," on the eastern shore, "Greenfield Cr" is represented. "Dram 
Tree Pt" is also indicated on the map. At an unnamed point south of Dram Tree Point 
the "Hospital" is represented. Two other tributaries on the eastern side of the Cape 
Fear River are "Barnard's Creek" and "Todd's Creek," located directly east of Campbell 
Island. The "New Hanover Transit R.R." connects "Carolina Beach" with the shore of 
the Cape Fear River slightly north of "Doctor's Pt." "Sugar Loaf hill is shown on the 
eastern shore across from the ruins of Old Brunswick. 



Cape Fear River from Entrance to Reeves Point North Carolina, United States 
Coast and Geodetic Survey, 1901. 

This 1901 map of the lower Cape Fear River presents an updated image of the river 
from the Cape Fear River entrance to Reeves Point. Located between "Oak Island" and 
"Smith Island" at the mouth of the river is the "Middle Ground." "Fort Caswell" is 
pictured on Oak Island. Passing to the west of the Middle Ground is the "Western Bar 
Channel." The "Bald Head Channel" is shown to the east of Middle Ground. "Bald Head 
Shoal" is indicated southwest of "Bald Head." The "Cape Fear Light" is noted at Bald 
Head, while the "Cape Fear Life Saving Station" is shown at "Cape Fear" on the 
southeastern side of Smith Island. Also depicted at Smith Island are "Cape Creek," 
"Light House Creek," "Muddy Slue," and "Buzzard Bay." The northeastern spit of Smith 
Island is disected by "Comcake Inlet" and, slightly farther to the north, "Goldleaf Inlet." 
A "Channel" leads from Goldleaf Inlet into Buzzard Bay. "Frying Pan Shoals" are noted 
south of Cape Fear. 

"New Inlet" is still shown south of "Carolina Shoal Beach" and "Federal Point," although 
the "Dam" long ago closed the inlet. "Lambs Mound" is illustrated in the vicinity where 
"Carolina Shoal Beach" joins Federal Point. The Dam is shown between Federal Point, 
"Zeke's I.," and the marshes north of Smith Island. Near the mouth of the Cape Fear 
River just north of the "Elizabeth River," "Dutchmans Creek" is indicated as flowing 
directly into the Cape Fear. "Southport," "Battery I," and "Striking I" have been labeled. 



358 



Northeast of Battery Island the "National Quarantine" is indicated. Illustrated above 
"Price Creek" and at the mouth of "Walden Creek" is "Snow's Marsh." Located to the 
east of Snows Marsh is "Horse Shoe Shoal." Shown between "Reeves Pt." on the west 
side of the river and "Peters Pt." directly across on the east side, are "Drum Shoal" and 
"Midnight Shoal." 



Untitled, United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1906. 

The "Harbor Lines Approved by Sect'y of War, Dec 26, 1895" are indicated on this 
1906 map of the Wilmington waterfront between "Orange St" and above "Brunswick St." 
Shown between "Chestnut St" and "Redcross St," a "Modification of Harbor Lines 
recommended on Jan 8, 1906" places them farther from shore then the previous harbor 
lines. The "Champion Compress Wharves," "WW & WCRA RR Wharf," (Wilmington 
and Weldon & the Wilmington, Columbia, Raleigh and Augusta Railroad), "CC RR 
Wharf," (Carolina Central Railroad), "Wilmington Compress Wharf," and "Chadbourn's 
Mill Wharves" are noted on the map. The "Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley RR Depot" is 
indicated on "Point Peter," and "Willard's Wharf' is shown on the west side of the Cape 
Fear River. 



Cape Fear River at and below Wilmington, N.C. Plat of Proposed Engineer Yard, 
United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1909. 

This map of the proposed Wilmington Engineer Yard drawn by the Corps of Engineers 
in 1909 shows the site on the west side of the river between "Grainger Land" and 
"Robinson Land." In addition to the yard, a "Powder House" and the "Sut Factory" are 
marked north of the proposed site. On the east side of the Cape Fear River, across 
from the yard, is a marine railway at the foot of "Church Str." 



Cape Fear River, N.C. At and below Wilmington, N.C. Proposed Yard for Engineer 
Plant, United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1909. 

The proposed site of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers yard on the west shore of the 
Cape Fear River across from Wilmington is illustrated on this 1909 map. Several 
details are indicated along the riverfront just north of "Alligator Creek" near the site of 
the property "Purchased by Government." The shoreline is mainly shown to be in 
"Brush & Swamp," "Woods & Swamp," and "dyked" areas. Shoreline features shown 
along the northern section include "Capt. Williams Wharf," "House," "Lumber Shed," 
and "Old Chimney." In addition an "Old Mill Site" and two "Old houses" are illustrated. 
Eight "Old Wrecks" are shown offshore from the "Old Mill Site." Seven of the wrecks 
are depicted with rounded ends, while one rectangular vessel may be a barge. All of 
the wrecks occur outside of the "Harbor Line" in the "Tide Land." 



359 



Cape Fear River, North Carolina From the Ocean to Wilmington, 8 Sheets, United 
States Army Corps of Engineers, 1910. 

The Cape Fear River at Wilmington is shown on sheet one of this set of maps drawn by 
the Corps of Engineers in 1910. The channel and water depths are shown for the river 
from the railroad bridge north of the city to the "Anchorage Basin" at the southern city 
limits. Sheet eight of this set illustrates the mouth of the Cape Fear River. The "New 
Channel Range" is marked west of "Bald Head Pt." 



Map of Wilmington North Carolina, P. P. Pilcher, 1911. 

Pitcher's map of Wilmington drawn in 1911 illustrates the street layout for the city with 
the location of several named structures. The Atlantic Coast Line Rail Road is indicated 
on the map encircling most of Wilmington. Several steamer routes are depicted on the 
map. The "Clyde Line" wharf is noted at the foot of "Mulberry St.," and the docks for the 
"Sprunt Line Cotton Steamers" are shown between "Red Cross St." and "Walnut St." 
The "Wilmington & Fayetteville" steamer is shown to load on the Wilmington waterfront 
between "Chestnut St." and "Princess St." The "Wilmington & Southport" steamer 
docks near the "Customs House" at the foot of "Market St." 



Cape Fear River, N.C. in the immediate vicinity of the U.S. Quarantine Station, 
United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1912. 

The Cape Fear River in the vicinity of the "Quarantine Station" east of "Southport" is 
depicted on this 1912 map. The Quarantine Station is situated near mid-channel, 
slightly north of "Battery Isd" and "Striking Isd." An inset illustration shows a plan view 
of the station, including a "Wharf" and "Landing." Water depths shown on the west side 
of the quarantine wharf average approximately 24 feet. 



Cape Fear River, N.C. at and below Wilmington showing Conditions of 
Improvement at End of Fiscal Year 1914, United States Army Corps of Engineers, 
1914. 

This useful map compiled by the Corps of Engineers in 1914 illustrates the Lower Cape 
Fear River vicinity from "Wilmington" to "Cape Fear." From the Bar to the city ten 
channels are shown: "Ocean Bar Channel, Snows Marsh Ch, Reaves Pt Ch, Midnight 
Channel, Old Brunswick Cove Channel, Lilliput Channel, Keg I Ch, Logs & Big I Ch, 
Brunswick R Ch, and Alligator Cr Channel." The Ocean Bar Channel entered the mouth 
of the Cape Fear River from the southwest and turned east toward "Baldhead Light." 
From Baldhead ships entering the river turned northwest toward "Southport," then back 
to the northeast past the "Quarantine Sta" to "Price Cr" where naturally deep river 
depths eliminated the need for dredged channels in this area. At Price Creek began the 
Snows Marsh Channel that passed west of "Zekes" Island and the "Swash Defense 
Dam," then passed by Reaves Point Channel and Midnight Channel, all near midriver. 
Old Brunswick Cove Channel followed the western shore to opposite Orton Point, 



360 



where the Lillip.ut Channel began. Keg Island Channel passed to the west of Keg Island 
and east of Campbell Island. The remaining three channels: Logs & Big Island, 
Brunswick River, and Alligator Creek continued along midriver to Wilmington. 

Text shown on the map briefly summarizes the work done by the Corps during 1913- 
1914: 

The total results obtained on the project to the end of the fiscal year 1913 
may be summarized as follows: There was a channel 26 feet deep at 
M.L.W. from the Ocean to Reaves Pt.; from Reaves Pt to Wilmington 
there was a channel 26 feet deep at M.L.W. and from 150 to 300 feet 
wide. The Ocean Bar channel was from 1 50 to 400 feet wide and from 26 
to 28 feet deep. 

The results obtained up to the end of the fiscal year 1913-14 may be 
summarized as follows: There is a channel 26 to 28 feet deep from the 
Ocean to Wilmington. The Ocean Bar channel is from 250 to 400 feet 
wide. The balance of the channel is from 1 50 to 300 feet wide. The project 
is 65% completed. The tide rises 4V 2 ft. at the bar; 314 ft. at Keg Island 
and 2 1 /4 ft. at Wilmington. Wilmington is 30 miles from the bar. 



Town Creek, N.C. (Brunswick County), United States Army Corps of Engineers, 
1916. 

In 1916 the Corps of Engineers mapped 20 miles of Town Creek west from its mouth at 
the Cape Fear River. Numerous landings and some bridges are shown on Town Creek. 
On the south side of the creek, where it enters the Cape Fear River, an "Old Jetty" 
connects the shore with "Big Island." The "Route taken by Boats entering Town Creek" 
from the channel either pass over, or through, the jetty. An additional "Old Jetty" is 
marked on the western shore upstream from the mouth of the creek. The jetty extends 
to the channel at midriver. 



Entrances to Mouth of Town Creek, N.C. Brunswick County, United States Army 
Corps of Engineers, 1916. 

In November 1916 the Corps of Engineers produced a map that details the entrance to 
Town Creek. The "Old Jetty" that connected the western shore with "Big Island" is 
shown. A "Cut dredged in 1900" extends from the mouth of Town Creek to the Old 
Jetty. A "Proposed Cut" is illustrated that would lead straight out of Town Creek, then 
turn upstream north of Big Island. This "Route to Channel in Cape Fear River" would 
connect with the first reach of the "Logs & Big Island Shoal" channel. This new route 
would pass into the channel directly over the other "Old Jetty" north of the mouth of 
Town Creek. 



361 



Cape Fear River, N.C. below Wilmington Ocean Bar, United States Army Corps of 
Engineers, 1917. 

The Corps of Engineers illustrated the Ocean Bar located at the mouth of the Cape 
Fear River in 1917. The Ocean Bar Channel is depicted seaward of Oak Island (shown 
with a "Tower") and Smith's Island. West of "Baldhead Lighthouse" the location of a 
"Wrecked Fishing Smack" is marked. Water depths are noted over the bar and channel 
area. 



Wilmington, North Carolina, J. L. Becton, 1918. 

J. L. Becton compiled this 1918 plan view of Wilmington for the Wilmington Chamber of 
Commerce. A number of structures are identified within the city and along the 
waterfront on this map. The extensive network of rail lines that terminate at the Cape 
Fear River west of Point Peter are also shown. Maritime associated facilities illustrated 
on the eastern waterfront include: the "Wilmington to Southport Boat Line" at the foot of 
"Princess Street," the "Clyde Steamship Co. New York-Wilmington and Georgetown" a 
half block north of the foot of "Queen Street," and the "Cushman-McKown Co Shipyard" 
on the riverfront between "Queen Street" and "Wooster Street." "Ship Building Sites," 
the "Wilmington Marine Railway & Shipyard," and the "Hamme Marine Railway" are 
indicated across from Wilmington on the western side of the Cape Fear River. The 
"Anchorage Basin" is depicted with a notation of a "26 Ft Channel - 300 Ft Wide 30 
miles to Sea." 



Sailing Lines Ocean Bar, United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1921. 

In 1921 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mapped the sailing lines into the Cape Fear 
River through the Main Channel and the Western Bar Channel. As many as ten 
different sailing lines are shown for the Main Channel and three for the Western Bar 
Channel. Directly south of "Baldhead Point" the wrecks of the "Levy Davis" and "Ella" 
are shown. 



Port Facilities at Wilmington, North Carolina, United States Army Corps of 
Engineers, 1922. 

The Corps's 1922 plan view of the port facilities at Wilmington shows an extensive 
amount of detail for the waterfront district. The area covered by this map is from 
"Smiths Creek" to "Greenfield Mill Cr." Just north of "Greenfield Mill Cr" the "City 
Wharf' and the "Bates Lumber Co" wharf are shown. Farther north riverfront facilities 
include the "Clyde Line S.S. Co" at the foot of "Queen St" and the "North Carolina Line" 
wharves between "Ann St" and "Nun St." The berth for the "Stmr. Wilmington" is shown 
near the foot of "Orange St." Several other wharves, terminals, and warehouses are 
shown along the Wilmington waterfront. At the foot of "Market St" the ferry route is 
illustrated crossing the river to the opposite shore. Terminals and warehouses, many 
associated with the rail lines, are detailed in the northern section of the city. On the 
western shore of the Cape Fear, below the confluence, more facilities of the "North 



362 



Carolina Line" are shown along with the "Stone Marine" railway and the "Hamme 
Marine" railway. 



Cape Fear River Below Wilmington, N.C. and from Wilmington to Navassa, 
United States Army Corps of Engineers, Sheet No. 1, 1927. 

The "Wilmington Shoal Channel" and waterfront are shown on this 1927 Corps of 
Engineers map. The "Proposed Turning Basin," "U.S. Harbor Line," and river depths 
are indicated. Structures, rail facilities, and marine railways are shown in detail but are 
not identified. The "Ferry" route is identified from the foot of "Market St" directly across 
to the western shore of the Cape Fear River. The highway bridges across both 
branches of the Cape Fear and the Hilton railway bridge over the Northeast Cape Fear 
are shown. 



Cape Fear River Below Wilmington, N.C. and from Wilmington to Navassa, 
United States Army Corps of Engineers, Sheet No. 2, 1927. 

On this map completed by the Corps of Engineers in 1927 the Cape Fear River channel 
and anchorage basin are depicted. The "Anchorage Basin" at the southern city limits 
above "Greenfield Mill Creek" is "2,000 Ft Long, 900 Ft wide at Upper End 1100 wide 
at Lower End, [with] Approaches 1,500 Ft long." Two channels are depicted — the 
"Alligator Creek Channel" and the "Upper Brunswick River Channel." "Dram Tree Pt" is 
indicated on the east side of the river across from "Redmond Creek." 



Cape Fear River From Reeves Point to Wilmington, United States Coast and 
Geodetic Survey, 1929. 

In 1929 the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey mapped in detail the Cape Fear River 
from Reeves Point to Wilmington. "Smith's Creek" enters the Cape Fear River above 
Wilmington. "Eagle's Island," across from "Wilmington," is shown as largely uninhabited 
with some agricultural areas on the eastern and northwestern riverfronts. "Clarks I" 
appears as a small land mass apparently connected to the southern tip of Eagle's 
Island. The larger island is dissected by "Alligator Creek" and "Redmond Creek." A 
wreck is shown east of the 1929 channel at "Dram Tree Pt" below the city. Northwest of 
"Campbell I." both "Mallory Creek" and "Old Town Creek" enter the Cape Fear River 
from the west. Flowing into the river from the eastern shore, northeast of Campbell 
Island and "Keg I.," are "Barnard's Creek" and "Todd's Creek." A "landing" is noted 
above "Doctor Pt" on the eastern shore of the river. A pier extends northwestward from 
Doctor Point. Directly across from Doctor Point, "Liliput Creek" and "Orton Creek" are 
illustrated entering the river just north of "Orton Pt." South of the "Ruins of Old 
Brunswick" some piers or wharves are shown protruding into the Cape Fear halfway to 
the "Upper Midnight Channel Range, June, 1929." A wreck is indicated near the 
shoreline at the town ruins. "Sturgeon Cr" enters the river above "Reeves' Pt." 



363 



Smiths Creek in the Vicinity of Wilmington, N.C., United States Army Corps of 
Engineers, 1931. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mapped Smiths Creek located above Wilmington in 
1931. Northern "Wilmington" and the "North East Branch" of the "Cape Fear River" are 
shown from above the confluence to just north of "Smiths Creek." The "Proposed Cut" 
leading from the main river channel, along with depths, are indicated on the map. A 
"Timber Pen" is shown on the eastern shore of the river, south of the mouth of Smiths 
Creek. Extensive soundings at the mouth of Smiths Creek are indicated on an inset on 
the map. The proposed cut angles north-northeast from the main channel, then turns 
northeast to enter the creek. Areas marked "Wreckage" and "Sunken Scow" are shown 
east of the proposed cut at the mouth of Smiths Creek and above the timber pen. 



Smiths Creek, Wilmington, N.C., United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1937. 

The Corps of Engineers again surveyed and mapped the Cape Fear River at the mouth 
of "Smiths Creek" in 1937. The resulting map depicts the "Proposed Cut" east of the 
main channel that leads into the creek. The cut does not appear to connect with the 
main channel, (15 feet in depth in 1936,) located on the west side of the "Northeast 
Cape Fear River." The proposed dredged cut is shown to parallel the shoreline then 
turn nearly ninety degrees to the east to enter Smiths Creek. A "Wreck" is illustrated at 
the bend in the cut near the mouth of the creek. Another "sunk barge" or "Scow" is 
depicted near the main river channel west of the proposed access cut. South of Smiths 
Creek the "Atlantic Refining Co" and the "Dump Ground" are shown. Depicted offshore 
of the Atlantic Refining Company are two wrecks — one a "Barge" and the other a 
"Boat." A large "Timber Pen" is illustrated in the river offshore from the dump ground 
and factory. 



Cape Fear River, N.C. At and Below Wilmington, Wilmington Harbor. 
United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1937. 

Wilmington Harbor from the confluence of the Northeast and Cape Fear Rivers to the 
"U.S. Engineer Yard" is shown on this 1937 map by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 
The "U.S. Harbor Line" and river channel depths are indicated along a moderately 
detailed "Wilmington" waterfront. Several structures, including factories, wharves, and 
rail terminals, are illustrated, but few are named. An "Old Railway" and two areas 
marked "Old Wharf' are indicated along the river at the foot of "Church St" and "Castle 
St." Directly across the river the "Hamme Marine Railway" and the "R. R. Stone Marine 
Railway" are illustrated in some detail. Six wrecks are shown between the "U.S. 
Engineer Yard" and the "Hamme Marine Railway." Four of the wrecks appear to be 
barges based on their rectangular shape. The remaining two have rounded ends. Five 
additional rounded-end vessels and one barge are shown adjacent to the "Stone 
Marine Railway Co" property, but they are not described as wrecks. The "Ferry Slip" is 
depicted at the foot of "Market St." and directly across the river on the opposite shore. 
On the western side of the Northeast Cape Fear River above "Pt. Peter" three other 
likely wrecks are marked. One is a rounded-end ship, and the other two are barges. 



364 



Cape Fear River, N.C. At and Below Wilmington, Wilmington Harbor (Anchorage 
Basin). United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1937. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prepared a map of the Anchorage Basin near south 
Wilmington in 1937. The limits of the "Anchorage Basin" and the "U.S. Harbor Line" are 
indicated on the map. The "Bates Lumber Co.," the "Cape Fear Terminal Co. Inc.," and 
other facilities are shown along the eastern waterfront in a detailed plan view. At least 
ten "wrecks" are illustrated just south of the Cape Fear Terminal Company pier near the 
foot of "Meares St." Half of the wrecks appear to be barges, while the others may be 
sailing or steam vessels. Slightly farther from shore, 400 feet south of this group of 
wrecks, a second area is marked "wrecks" but does not show the individual vessels. 



Cape Fear River Below Wilmington, N.C. In Front of Southport, United States 
Army Corps of Engineers, 1937. 

The Cape Fear River from just above Southport to Oak Island is illustrated on this 1937 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers map. The "Swash Channel" is marked between 
"Southport" and "Battery Island" with the "Intracoastal Waterway" shown southwest of 
the town. Along the waterfront at Southport several piers are shown that extend into the 
river. North of Battery Island the "Quarantine Station" is clearly indicated east of the 
channel. 



Cape Fear River Below Wilmington, N.C. Southport to Fort Caswell, United States 
Army Corps of Engineers, 1939. 

The Cape Fear River in the vicinity of Southport is illustrated on this 1939 U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers map. The "Swash Channel" and a portion of the "Lower Snows 
Marsh Channel" are depicted. The "Decommissioned Quarantine Station" is shown in 
detail east of the Swash Channel. A "Wreck," pointing upstream, is located between the 
channel and "Battery Island." An additional "wreck," probably a barge, is indicated 
along the western river shoreline just south of the intracoastal waterway at "Southport." 
Several piers and wharves are visible along the waterfront at Southport. A "dock," 
"wooden Bulkhead," and "concrete seawall" are depicted at "Fort Caswell" on Oak 
Island. 



Cape Fear River, N.C. Location of Wreck of Barge "Belfast" United States Army 
Corps of Engineers, 1939. 

The Corps of Engineers surveyed and mapped in 1939 the wreck of the barge Belfast 
(lost in 1929). The wreck is illustrated approximately 800 feet northwest of "Battery 
Island" and 600 feet southeast of the "Swash Channel." An inset to the map shows that 
the "Original Position" of the wreck oriented on an east-west axis, was in approximately 
22 feet of water. The Belfast, based upon map measurements, was 190 feet in length 
and 40 feet in width. An area is marked around the wreck showing the limits of 



365 



scattered wreckage. Several wharfs and piers are pictured along the waterfront at 
"Southport." 



North Carolina — New River Inlet to Cape Fear, United States Coast & Geodetic 
Survey, 1944. 

The Lower Cape Fear River is shown from "Wilmington" to eastern Smith Island on this 
1944 Coast & Geodetic Survey map. Little change is noted for the main channel of the 
river. Below "Orion Point" two side channels extend from the main channel to the 
eastern shore. The Cape Fear River is fed by the tributaries "Price Cr," "Walden Cr," 
"Orton Cr," "Liliput Cr," "Sand Hill Cr," "Old Town Cr," and "Mallory Cr" from the west 
and "Barnard Cr" and "Mott Cr" on the east. "Orton Pt," "Reaves Pt," and the present 
"Sunny Pt" are labeled between Orton Creek and Walden Creek. On the east side of 
the river below Wilmington, from north to south, "Dram Tree Pt," "Doctor Pt," and 
"Peters Pt" have been indicated. The "Dam," "The Basin," and "Corncake Inlet" are 
marked between "Federal Point" and "Smith I." 



North Carolina — Approaches to Cape Fear River, United States Coast & 
Geodetic Survey, 1944. 

In 1944 the Coast & Geodetic Survey mapped the Lower Cape Fear River from "Sunny 
Pt" to the bar. The main channel is illustrated from the bar to opposite Sunny Point, 
except for the stretch of river between "Southport" and "Ft. Caswell" on Oak Island and 
a small section opposite "Bald Head." Sufficient natural water depths occuring in these 
two sections are shown. Southeast of Southport depths range from 37 to 46 feet and 
west of Bald Head from 33 to 35 feet. The "Dam" is shown between "Federal Pt," "Zeke 
I", and the marsh islands north of "Smith I." 

"Corncake Inlet" is present on the map, but New Inlet is now shown as completely 
closed over. The "Western Bar Chan[.]" appears navigable northwest of the "Middle 
Ground." "Cape Fear Slue" and "Four Mile Slue" are marked southeast of the "Cape 
Fear." During late 1943 and early 1944, "the controlling depth at mean low water to 
Wilmington was 29 1 /4 feet." Two partially submerged shipwrecks are indicated south of 
"Striking I," while three others are present near the shoreline of Smith Island at Bald 
Head. 



Cape Fear River, North Carolina at and below Wilmington, Wilmington Harbor, 
United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1947. 

In 1947 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mapped in detail Wilmington Harbor. This 
map shows the Cape Fear River from just above "Smith Creek" to the "Brunswick 
River." The "Anchorage Basin" and two "Turning Basin[s]" are defined opposite 
Wilmington. Recommended widening of the channel below the Anchorage Basin is 
marked opposite "Redmond Creek." Several of the piers, wharves, and warehouses 



366 



located along the Wilmington waterfront are identified and listed. The Hilton Railroad 
Bridge and the highway bridge are illustrated crossing the Northeast Cape Fear River. 



Cape Fear River, N.C. at and Below Wilmington, Wilmington Harbor Turning Basin 
and Approaches, United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1948. 

An examination of the 1948 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers map of the Wilmington 
turning basin reveals some interesting features along the western shore of the 
"Northeast (Cape Fear) River." Opposite Wilmington, slightly above "Pt. Peter," the 
presence of a "sunken boat" is noted. "Dock Ruins," "Wharf Ruins," and three 
abandoned or wrecked barges are shown south of the "Bate Lumber Co." The 
"Wilmington Terminal and Warehouse Co." is detailed on the eastern side of the 
Northeast River. 



Cape Fear River, N.C. at and Below Wilmington, Wilmington Harbor (Anchorage 
Basin), United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1948. 

The Corps mapped the Anchorage Basin at Wilmington in 1948. Along both sides of 
the Cape Fear River the "U.S. Pierhead and Bulkhead Line" is indicated, along with 
water depths for the entire anchorage. On the west side of the river, north of "Alligator 
Cr," the "Corps of Engineers Yard" and the "International Paper Co Wharf' are shown. 
Directly across the Cape Fear from the Corps of Engineers Yard is the "Clyde S.S. Co" 
facilities. Other shoreline properties on the Wilmington side of the river are depicted. A 
"Sunken Barge Area" is marked on the east side of the Cape Fear River opposite 
"Alligator Cr." A note states that the "Survey of [the] area [was] taken 11 Nov. 1948 
after removal of [a] sunken barge." 



Cape Fear River, N.C. at and Below Wilmington, Harbor Lines, Wilmington, N.C, 
United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1948. 

This map depicts the 1948 Wilmington Harbor Lines compiled by the Corps of 
Engineers from surveys dating back to 1896. A portion of the Cape Fear River from 
"Castle St." to 'Turlington Street" is indicated. The "U.S. Pierhead and Bulkhead Line" 
is shown on both sides of the river. "Ruins" are depicted adjacent to the "Bate Lumber 
Co," "Republic Oil Co.," and "American Molasses Co." properties. The "City Wharf 
leased to Taylor Colquitt Creosoting Co." is located across from "Alligator Cr." 



Cape Fear River, N.C. at and below Wilmington, Wilmington Harbor, United States 
Army Corps of Engineers, 1949. 

Wilmington Harbor, as drawn by the Corps of Engineers in 1948, shows the Cape Fear 
River from above "Point Peter" to "Castle St." The "U.S. Pierhead and Bulkhead Line" 
is indicated on both sides of the river. On the west bank of the Cape Fear River, 
opposite Wilmington, the "R.F. Hamme Marine Railway" and the "R.R. Stone Marine 
Railway" are shown in detail. The railways and what may be abandoned vessels are 



367 



depicted at the water's edge. At the adjacent property on the north side of the "U.S. 
Engineer Yard" five barges, possibly abandoned, are indicated. The property is directly 
across the river from the foot of "Church St." Above "Pt. Peter" two additional barge-like 
features are indicated along with an area of pilings. 



Wilmington Harbor, N.C., Lower Swash Channel, United States Army Corps of 
Engineers, 1949. 

The Lower Swash Channel located between "Southport" and "Battery Island" is 
illustrated on this 1949 Corps of Engineers map. River depths are noted for the entire 
channel. Extensive shoaling can be seen on the northern and southern ends of "Battery 
Island." North of Battery Island the "Quarantine Station" is drawn and includes the 
location of a "Water Tank." The Southport waterfront is detailed with several piers and 
wharves that extend beyond the shoreline shoals. At least one marine railway is 
indicated. 



Wilmington Harbor, N.C., Turning Basin and Approaches, United States Army 
Corps of Engineers, 1959. 

In 1959 the Corps of Engineers mapped the turning basin in the "Northeast [Cape Fear] 
River" above "Pt. Peter." River depths within the basin are shown. The railway facilities 
on the eastern shore are depicted in detail with several structures identified by name. 
On the western shore of the Northeast River above Point Peter, two marine railways 
and a "junk yard" are shown. 



Cape Fear River, Cape Fear to Wilmington, United States Coast and Geodetic 
Survey, 1959. 

The 1959 map of the Cape Fear River by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey is similar 
to the current USCGS map. Shoaling is less extensive on the 1959 map than on later 
editions. "Keg Island" and the southern tip of "Campbell Island" exhibit fewer shoal 
areas than today. The "New Battery I channel range," "New Southport channel range," 
and the "New Baldhead-Caswell channel range" are present on this map. Three wrecks 
are shown on the west side of "Battery Island," while three other partially submerged 
vessels are indicated east of the island. The 1959 map also shows three wrecks on the 
western edge of the "Frying Pan Shoals." "Comcake Inlet" is marked. 

Site of Brunswick Town. Brunswick County, North Carolina. Archaeological Base 
Map correlated with C.J. Sauthier's map of April 1769 and the Reconstruction Lot 
Plan of Maurice Moore, 1726 with a list of the Property owners and Fort Anderson 
1862-65, North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1960. 

A composite map of the site of Brunswick Town drawn by the North Carolina Division of 
Archives and History in 1960 combines the works of Sauthier's map of 1769, Maurice 
Moore's lot plan of 1726, and the plan of Fort Anderson, 1862-1865. The western shore 

368 



of the Cape Fear River at Brunswick is depicted with piers, wharf ballast piles, wharves, 
pilings, and a catwalk. Some of the pilings are associated with the "Steamer 
Wilmington, 1890-1922." Two possible wrecks, indicated by the word "Boat," are also 
shown on the river shoreline. The plan of Brunswick, keyed to property owners, and old 
Fort Anderson are also illustrated. 



Cape Fear River, N.C., Above Wilmington, Wilmington to Fayetteville, United 
States Army Corps of Engineers, 1961. 

In 1957, then revised in 1961, the Corps of Engineers produced a map of the Upper 
Cape Fear River from Wilmington to Fayetteville. River mileage is shown over the 1 15- 
mile distance, as well as numerous towns, landings, creeks, crossings, and locks. On 
this scale map very little detail is included from the Wilmington waterfront to Point 
Peter. 



Cape Fear Penisula & Estuary North Carolina, Anonymous, 1964. 

This map drawn in 1964 of the Cape Fear vicinity illustrates the mouth of the Cape 
Fear River from "Federal Point" to the cape. Several creeks traverse and divide the salt 
marshes and islands of "Smith Island" and "Middle Island." An area referred to as "The 
Lumps" is shown off of "Cape Fear" in the region of the "Frying Pan Shoals." Several 
wrecks are noted near "Bald Head Island," including the "Ella," "Phanton II" "Antonica" 
"Kate II" and a vessel between the channel and "Fort Holmes." The main channel 
entrance to the Cape Fear River, east of the "Middle Ground," and the "Western Bar 
Channel" are indicated on the map. On Smith Island the locations of the 1796 and 1817 
Bald Head lighthouses and the 1905 Cape Fear lighthouse are noted in addition to the 
"abandoned Coast Guard Station." Between "Federal Point" and Smith Island the past 
locations of "New Inlet," "Corncake Inlet" and "Bald Head Inlet" are marked. The 
"Current New Inlet" is noted at "Carolina Shoal Beach." 'The Rocks" (breakwater) 
connect Federal Point with "Zekes Island" and "Shellbank Island," which is part of 
Smith Island. 



Carolina Beach, N.C., United States Geological Service, 1970. 

The Carolina Beach vicinity showing the Cape Fear River from "Campbell Island" to 
"Reaves Pt" is covered on this current topographical map. The western shore of the 
river opposite Campbell Island and "Keg Island" is marked as "levee" or "Tidal Flat." 
"Liliput Creek" and "Orton Creek" continue to flow into the river above "Orton Pt." 
"Orton Plantation" is indicated at Orton Point, while "Brunswick Town" and "Anderson 
Landing" are noted farther south. Two of the "Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point" 
wharves are depicted north of "Reaves Pt." The eastern shore of the Cape Fear River 
across from the MOTSU facilities is included in the military buffer zone. Across from 
Federal Point "Snows Cut" is shown north of the town of Carolina Beach. "Lords Creek" 
enters the river north of "Doctor Pt." "Mott Cr" is illustrated east of "Campbell Island." 



369 



Castle Hayne, N.C., United States Geological Service, 1970. 

The current Castle Hayne topographic map illustrates the "Northeast Cape Fear River" 
above "Wilmington." The "Seaboard Coast Line" railway bridge (Hilton Bridge) crosses 
the river just south of the mouth of "Smith Creek." The U.S. Highway 421 bridge is also 
shown north of Wilmington. 



Cape Fear, N.C., United States Geological Service, 1970. 

The current Cape Fear topographical map shows the southern half of "Smith Island." 
Along the western shoreline of the island, "Bald Head" and the "Bald Head Lighthouse" 
are noted. Tidal flats and several creeks dissect the interior of the island. The "Frying 
Pan Shoals" are illustrated southeast of "Cape Fear." Along the eastern shore of Smith 
Island is "East Beach." 



Kure Beach, N.C., United States Geological Service, 1979. 

On this photo-revised map of the Kure Beach vicinity, the lower Cape Fear River is 
depicted from "Reaves Pt" to "Smith Island." The southernmost of the three wharves 
belonging to the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point is shown on the western side of 
the river between Reaves Point and "Sunny Pt." "Snows Marsh" and "Snows Pt" are 
shown at the mouth of "Walden Creek" below MOTSU. "Deep Water Pt" and the 
present-day western terminus of the "Ferry Landing" at "Price Cr" are also indicated on 
the western shore. The eastern shoreline of the river has "Peters Pt" and the eastern 
terminus of the "Ferry Landing" indicated on "Federal Point." "The Rocks" are depicted 
connecting Federal Point, "Zekes Island," and the northern marsh islands of "Smith 
Island." "The Basin" is shown between Federal Point and Zekes Island. 



Wilmington, N.C., United States Geological Service, 1979. 

This photo-revised topographical map shows the current vicinity of the Cape Fear River 
from above Point Peter to Campbell Island. A grid plan of "Wilmington" is shown at the 
confluence of the Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear Rivers. The Cape Fear 
Memorial Bridge connects Wilmington with "Eagle Island." The USS North Carolina 
Battleship Memorial is illustrated opposite Wilmington at Eagle Island. Shown on the 
eastern shore of the river, across from the southern end of Eagle Island, are the "State 
Port Authority" facilities. "Mallory Creek" and "Town Creek" are depicted flowing into 
the Cape Fear River from the western shore. "Bamards Creek" enters the river from the 
eastern shore below Wilmington. 



Index Map For Dredging, Wilmington Harbor, N.C., United States Army Corps of 
Engineers, 1983 

In 1983 the Corps of Engineers produced a map of the lower Cape Fear River that 
documents the dredged channel. Each of the channels are shown and labeled, and 



370 



their dimensions are given. At Wilmington the map indicates the presence of the 800- 
foot-wide "Turning Basin" and the 1 , 1 50-foot-wide "Anchorage Basin." A "Connecting 
Channel" (marked near the mouth of "Lilliput Cr" and "Orton Cr") leads to the "A. I. WW" 
(American Intracoastal Water Way) at "Snows Cut" between the Cape Fear River and 
the Atlantic Ocean. Above "Southport" the ruins of the "Quarantine Sta" are shown. 
Buoys and mile markers are also noted along the river. 



Southport, N.C., United States Geological Service, 1990. 

"Southport," "Battery Island," and the "Oak Island" vicinity are illustrated on this latest 
topographical map of the Lower Cape Fear River. Battery Island appears mainly as 
tidal marsh with only a small section of sand beach along the western shoreline. The 
eastern and southern shores of Oak Island are depicted as sand with only marsh areas 
along the northern section. "Fort Caswell" is illustrated. 



United States — East Coast, North Carolina, Cape Fear River — Cape Fear to 
Wilmington, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 1992. 

The current National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) map shows the 
present navigation channel from the mouth of the Cape Fear River to the mouth of the 
Northeast Cape Fear River above Wilmington. Existing ranges are indicated by name 
and location. At the mouth of the Northeast River the 'Turning Basin" is shown between 
the U.S. 421 bridge and "Point Peter." Below the confluence of the rivers, two partially 
submerged wrecks are noted on the shoreline of "Eagle Island" opposite downtown 
"Wilmington." A third wreck is shown in the pond on Eagles Island opposite Alligator 
and Redmond Creeks. The anchorage basin is illustrated near the mouth of "Greenfield 
Cr." 

At the mouth of the "Brunswick River" a partially submerged wreck is indicated. Another 
wreck is shown opposite "Mallory Creek." Near the mouth of "Town Creek" a 
submerged jetty and pilings are indicated that connect with "Campbell Island." Above 
Campbell Island and "Keg Island" the tributaries of "Barnards Creek" and "Mott Creek" 
enter the Cape Fear River from the east. "Liliput Creek" and "Orton Creek" are shown 
on the western side of the river above "Orton Point." "Doctor Point" is situated directly 
across the river from "Liliput Creek." 

"Snows Cut" dissects "Pleasure Island" north of "Carolina Beach." Two connecting 
channels — one leading to the northwest, the other to the southwest—join "Snows Cut" 
with the main navigation channel in the river. South of "Anderson Landing" and the 
"Ruins of Old Brunswick" a shipwreck is marked on either side of the "Upper Midnight 
Channel Range." "Peters Point" is depicted on the east side of the Cape Fear River, 
while "Reaves Pt" and "Sunny Point" are shown on the west side of the river. Two 
extension channels connect the main channel with the deep water wharves at the 
Military Ocean Terminal at Reaves and Sunny Points. Beyond the mouth of "Walden 
Creek" can be found "Snows Marsh" and "Horseshoe Shoal." To the east of the 



371 



Horseshoe Shoal, "The Rocks," or breakwater, joins "Federal Point," "Zekes Island," 
and the northern marsh of "Smith Island." The "Ferry" connects Federal Point with the 
western side of the river at "Price Creek." 

The main navigation channel passes between "Southport" and "Battery Island." Four 
shipwrecks are indicated on the south and west sides of Battery Island. One partially 
submerged vessel is indicated on the Southport waterfront. At the Bald Head Channel 
Range the current NOAA map shows one wreck west of the range and another to the 
east of "Bald Head Shoal." Four shipwrecks are indicated in the vicinity of "Cape Fear 
Slue" at the "Frying Pan Shoals." 



372 



Conclusions 



Historical and Cartographic Research Conclusions 

Historical and cartographic research played an important role during the Cape Fear- 
Northeast Cape Fear Rivers Comprehensive Survey in determining how and where the 
priority areas were chosen and providing clues to the identification of sites found within 
those areas. The areas evaluated by historical and cartographic research tried to follow 
the notion of a "comprehensive" survey and were not limited to selection from any 
defined portion of the river. A considerable part of the research effort was expended on 
the development of a historical and environmental context against which site 
significance and research potential could be judged. Archival information was 
organized so that factors that might bear on the predictability of cultural resource 
locations could be easily recognized. 

A closely related goal was the development of a list of historic place-names for various 
cultural and natural landmarks along the river. Such a listing has long been an 
important need because many place-names have disappeared from common usage 
and, through the years, mapmakers have often been inconsistent in their use and 
placement of place-names. Additionally, written historical accounts often referenced 
place-names no longer found on modern maps. The primary tool for compiling place- 
name information was historical map projection — that is, the transfer of historic features 
from a number of old maps onto modern maps and, where appropriate, a search for 
those features in the field. That work was an important part of the overall 
documentation effort. Historic maps allowed the researchers to identify cultural and 
natural features that might be directly influential in maritime trade and exploration or 
that might affect the disposition of a shipwreck. Thus, the researchers searched for the 
locations of landings, plantations, careening grounds, shoals, fortifications, ferry 
crossings, boat works, shipwrecks, and virtually anything else that might conceivably 
have had some relationship to the river and river traffic. 

Documentation of the historic features along the river began with the acquisition and 
inspection of 139 maps of the Cape Fear River from various federal, state, and private 
collections. Those maps ranged in date from 1585 to 1992; some covered only a 
portion of the river, while others documented the lower Cape Fear in its entirety. Upon 
examination of each map, the key historical features were first entered in a database 
file, and then presented in text as cartographic descriptions. When a change occurred 
in the spelling or location of a place name, the change was noted. In many cases the 
earliest known usage of the historical feature was also indicated. Through the process 
of chronicling historic features across a large collection of cartographic sources, the 
researchers were able to document the first occurrence, subsequent changes, and 
length of usage for many of the historic and natural features along the Cape Fear. This 
approach allowed the researchers to later evaluate all of the accumulated cartographic 
information in conjunction with historical information in determining the placement of 



373 



survey, or priority areas, with unrestricted areal coverage, and especially in testing 
ideas about the distribution of shipwreck locations. 

In addition to the historical documentation used in the selection of survey areas, the 
UAU also defined the areas with the highest potential for yielding cultural resources 
based upon environmental review guidelines it had established in 1982. According to 
the guidelines, a high potential area exists when "a known archaeological site or 
charted historic wreck is present or when historic research indicates that a project lies 
in an area with active maritime history, documented vessel losses, or known hazards to 
navigation." Using the accumulated historical information on the Cape Fear project 
area and the defined criteria for high potential areas from the environmental review 
guidelines, the researchers selected eleven priority areas with the potential to contain 
submerged archaeological sites. A twelfth priority area was limited to a shoreline 
survey of the land exposed during low tide. The selection of the priority areas generally 
followed the distribution of shipwreck losses or abandonment at three primary 
localities — the Wilmington waterfront, New Inlet, and the mouth of the Cape Fear River. 
The selection of those areas supported the common-sense premise that archaeological 
remains (i.e. shipwrecks) are most likely to occur in highly used areas such as harbors, 
or hazardous areas such as inlets. From that distribution four of the priority areas were 
placed at or near Wilmington, four areas at or near Southport, two areas near New 
Inlet, one area at Brunswick Town, and one area at Campbell Island. The success of 
pre-survey research and selection of priority areas was borne out by the field 
investigations, which succeeded in locating and identifying shipwrecks and other 
significant cultural remains in nine of the twelve priority areas. 

An examination of both historical and cartographic information revealed some general 
distribution patterns of cultural resources along the Cape Fear. It is not surprising that 
the greatest number of maritime-related sites were found in areas with the most and 
longest historic activity or closely associated with habitable topography of the lower 
Cape Fear — high points of land adjacent to deep water, near the mouth or confluence 
of creeks or rivers, and on land suitable for cultivation. The following historical 
summary of development along the lower Cape Fear provides an indication of the 
river's extensive use. 

Following a lengthy occupation along the shores of the Cape Fear River by native 
inhabitants, European exploration of the region began in the 1520s. From the early 
exploration and attempt at settlement by the Spaniard Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon comes 
the earliest known account of a ship lost on the river in 1526. Following 1526 the Cape 
Fear River remained unvisited for nearly a century and a half until the English arrived in 
1662. That year a small group of people from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, under the 
command of William Hilton, briefly established the Charles Town settlement and named 
the prominent cape at the mouth of the river the Cape Fear— a name later applied to 
the river. Although the attempt by those colonists to inhabit the region failed, their 
efforts encouraged others to consider, and eventually explore and develop, the Cape 
Fear. In 1725 Brunswick Town, on the western shore of the Cape Fear River 



374 



approximately. 13 miles above the mouth, became the first permanent settlement. 
Within a few years other colonists began a small community at the confluence of the 
Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear Rivers that is today the prosperous major 
shipping center known as Wilmington. 

As development spread along the shores of the Cape Fear River, local inhabitants 
were either granted or purchased property, on which many established plantations. 
Before the existence of passable roads, navigable streams were the only way the 
owners could travel or transport their plantation goods, especially naval stores, lumber, 
and rice, to market. Shipping and trade constituted the very lifeblood of the Cape Fear 
economy, and the majority of the commerce on the river passed through either 
Wilmington or Brunswick Town. Vessels that sailed to and from those two communities 
formed a trade network with other coastal ports, the West Indies, and points as far 
away as Europe. As the number of farmers and merchants increased in and around the 
communities, so did the quantity of shipping and trade along the river. Thirty-five 
plantation sites dating from the eighteenth to early twentieth centuries have been 
recorded in the vicinity of the study area. Very few of the structures originally located 
on those plantation sites still exist, and only the well-maintained Orton plantation house 
is still standing. Recently the house foundation of another historic plantation — Sedgeley 
Abbey— has been located near Snow's Cut, and as development advances to the areas 
south of Wilmington, Eagles Island, and rural Brunswick County, additional plantation 
sites are likely to be found. 

While a number of the plantations occurred adjacent to the river priority areas, the 
survey recorded no underwater or archaeological site directly associated with any of 
the plantations. This is likely to have resulted from the fact that the survey concentrated 
on the deeper portions of the river. Only Priority Area 12 included a survey of the 
shorelines of the Northeast Cape Fear River between Smith Creek and the USS North 
Carolina Battleship Memorial during low tides. The low-water survey within Priority Area 
12 culminated in the location of several wreck sites, which complimented the large 
number of wrecks found during the 1 985 river survey. None of the wrecks, however, 
were associated with plantations. 

As trade and shipping on the lower Cape Fear River increased in importance, so did 
the area's vulnerability to attack. Nearly two dozen fortifications, or batteries, were built 
from the colonial period through the Civil War. Most of the fortifications were small 
earthen works that have been obliterated by modern development, although remnants 
of the larger forts still exist. Forts Johnston, Caswell, and Anderson, located on the 
west side of the Cape Fear River, protected the navigational channel up to Wilmington. 
Sufficient water depths within the river adjacent to those forts allowed surveyors to 
establish priority survey areas and conduct a remote-sensing investigation for cultural 
material. Fort Fisher, the largest remaining fortification, was oriented seaward for the 
protection of New Inlet, however. Historical accounts exist for a number of Civil War 
shipwrecks in the ocean off Fort Fisher and New Inlet, although the shallow depth of 
water on the river side of the fort has made investigation of that section of river 



375 



opposite the. main channel difficult. The historical records also indicate that additional 
shipwrecks, including those intentionally sunk as obstructions by the Confederates, 
were lost within close proximity of the other fortifications. None are known to have been 
sunk as a result of direct military engagements with the forts, however. 

Along with the expansion of trade came the need for improvements in land and water 
transportation. The necessity of improving the river's navigability was expressed as 
early as the mid-eighteenth century. A lack both of sufficient funding and an organized 
effort by the local inhabitants, however, yielded little gain in river improvements until 
1819, when the local Board of Internal Improvement hired Hamilton Fulton, an English 
civil engineer, to direct improvements on the Cape Fear. From that humble beginning 
by the state, the river has undergone nearly continuous maintenance by the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers and its predecessors. 

Although there exists little information about the location and depth of the eighteenth- 
century Cape Fear River channels, historic maps as early as 1733 indicate that the 
deeper water, as much as 18 feet, ran near the western shore on the lower portion of 
the river — similar to the channel location maintained today. One area, however — Orton 
Cove, located immediately north of the ruins of Brunswick Town — underwent a 
significant realignment of the channel. In that area, as well as offshore of the colonial 
settlement, extensive dredging may have disturbed or destroyed any remnants of 
historic ship losses. On the upper portion of the river, from just below the mouth of Old 
Town Creek up to the confluence of the Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear, the 
natural channel tended to flow near the central part of the river like the one used today. 
Vessel losses that occurred outside the maintained channel may still be preserved. Silt 
deposited within the river near the mouth of Old Town Creek formed a shoal called the 
"Flats," where the average depth of water was only 10 feet. Vessels drawing more than 
that depth were compelled to lighter at the Flats at a considerable expense of time and 
money. With the subsequent maintenance of a channel through the shoals, larger 
vessels were able to proceed on to Wilmington, which in turn led to the town's 
expansion and growth. 

Nature also played an important role in shaping the Cape Fear River. In 1761 a severe 
storm opened a breach between the river and the ocean that eventually became known 
as New Inlet. Until the Corps of Engineers closed New inlet in the 1870s, the river 
could be entered through either of two passages. At first only small vessels could 
navigate the narrow inlet, but it expanded rapidly and with time rivaled the main 
channel entrance at the river's mouth. The mouth of the Cape Fear River has 
continually proven to be the most difficult section of the river in which to maintain a 
navigable channel — especially during the period that New Inlet was open. At that time 
water entering New Inlet deposited sand and reduced the scouring effect of the main 
channel and in turn sand accumulated at the mouth of the river decreasing the depth of 
water over the bar. The earliest historic accounts reveal that the main channel entrance 
at the river's mouth entered on the east side, adjacent to Bald Head Island. During the 
mid to late 1800s the main channel flowed near the west side of the entrance, adjacent 



376 



to Oak Island.. Near the turn of the century it once again shifted to the opposite side of 
the river, near Bald Head Island. As a result of the dynamic nature of sand deposits, 
the majority of the ships known to have been lost on the Cape Fear River came to grief 
in the vicinity of the river's mouth. It is this same unpredictability and change that has 
buried and likely preserved many of those vessels. 

Shipbuilding along the lower Cape Fear River dates back as far as the early exploration 
period. The earliest ship construction along the river is thought to have been 
accomplished by Spaniard Lucas Vaquez de Ayllon, the first European to venture up 
the Cape Fear River. The building of a ship in 1526 to replace one he lost crossing the 
bar may well be the basis of the local tradition that "a Spanish shipyard" was once 
located on the west bank of the Cape Fear River, approximately 2 1 /4 miles upstream 
from what is now the town of Southport. No other shipbuilding is known to have taken 
place on the Cape Fear until after the settlement of Brunswick Town in 1725. Other 
small sites for the construction or repair of sailing craft followed at Wilmington, 
Southport (Smithville) and Bald Head Island from the mid-eighteenth to the mid- 
nineteenth century. Wilmington's two prominent Civil War shipbuilding projects 
included the construction of the Confederate ironclads Raleigh at the Cassidey & Sons 
shipyard and the North Carolina at Beery's shipyard. While the vessels themselves 
brought little fame to the local area, their construction did establish Wilmington as one 
of the leading shipbuilding centers in the state. From the end of the Civil War until the 
turn of the century, the city experienced a boom in the ship construction industry. 
Several local shipyards produced vessels of wood and iron. 

Because of Wilmington's established reputation as a shipbuilding center, the U.S. 
Shipping Board in 1917 selected the city as the site for a facility to build vessels for use 
in World War I. While the Carolina Shipbuilding Company was building fabricated steel 
ships, the Liberty Shipbuilding Company began building concrete vessels. It was also 
during that period that the last large sailing vessels, two wooden four-masted 
schooners, were built in Wilmington. When war returned in the early 1940s, the city 
was again selected as a shipbuilding site. The U.S. Maritime Commission chose 
Wilmington as a site for the construction of cargo vessels. The Newport News 
Shipbuilding Company was responsible for building ships at Wilmington under a 
subsidiary known as the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company. That firm produced 126 
Liberty ships and 117 Victory Ships at the Wilmington shipyard during the war. From 
the end of the war until the present, shipbuilding at Wilmington steadily declined. 
Today only small pleasure craft are constructed along the lower Cape Fear River. 

Foremost among the cultural resources that are of concern to. this project are 
shipwrecks, inasmuch as they are the resources most likely to be affected by channel 
dredging. The identification and distribution of shipwrecks has been examined both for 
historical accounts of vessel losses and known sites. Information on the historical 
vessel losses is presented here, while data concerning known wreck sites is discussed 
as part of the archaeological conclusions. 



377 



Historical documentation indicates that 291 ships have been lost along the lower Cape 
Fear River and Northeast Cape Fear River (Appendix 1A). Currently there are 92 
known wreck sites, although many do not correspond with the historical accounts. This 
comparison would suggest that a number of vessels either lost or abandoned along the 
river are not accounted for in the historical record, and as such the record may 
represent an underestimate of the actual number of vessels wrecked within the project 
area. Those vessel losses included in the historical record are distributed as follows: 
171 have been lost on the Cape Fear River, 68 at the main entrance to the river, 45 at 
New Inlet, and 7 on the lower portion of the Northeast Cape Fear River near 
Wilmington. 

A wide variety of both sailing and steamships are included in the historical accounts of 
vessel losses (Figures 36, 37). Of the 291 vessels documented in the historical record 
the greatest number of losses are steamers and schooners. From the overall popularity 
and quantity of those vessel types, it is not surprising that their numbers exceed other 
types. The following table represents the variation in vessel types known to have been 
lost in or near the project area: 

Table 1-2 
Types of Historic Vessels Lost in the Cape Fear Vicinity 



SAIL 



STEAM/OIL/GAS 



OTHER/UNKNOWN 



Vessel 


Number 


Vessel Number 


Vessel 


Number 


Type 


Lost 


Type 


Lost 


Type 


Lost 


Schooner 


60 


Steamer 


66 


Unknown 


11 


Brig 


19 


Ironclad 


2 


Rowboat/launch 4 


Bark 


17 


Gunboat 


5 


Flatboat 


4 


Sloop 


9 


Torpedo Boat 


1 


Barge 


6 


Ship 


7 


Tugboats (gas) 


14 


Scows 


4 


Lighter 


11 


Tugboat (steam) 


1 


Tenders 


2 


Pilot boat 


12 


Freighter (oil) 


2 


Dredge 


1 


Flagship 


1 


Ferryboat (steam) 


1 


Yacht 


1 


Sharpie 


6 


Pile Driver 


1 


Boat 


1 


Privateer 


1 


Lightship 


1 






Smack 


1 


Screw (oil) 


1 






Batteau 


1 


Screw (gas) 


7 


TOTAL: 291 




Flyboat 


1 


Launch (gas) 


1 






Skiff 


1 


Boat (gas) 


3 






Sail 


1 


Yacht (gas) 

motorboat 

cabinboat 


1 
1 
1 







The earliest recorded ship loss in the Cape Fear vicinity occurred near the mouth of the 
river in 1526. The most recent dates to 1965. The distribution of vessel losses clusters 
at three localities— Wilmington waterfront, New Inlet, and the mouth of the Cape Fear 



378 







379 




380 



River. Ship losses at the latter two localities can be attributed primarily to the high 
number of vessels that concentrate at those narrow ocean entrances into the river. 
Additionally, inlets and sandbars present hazards to navigation with the accumulation 
of constantly shifting shoals. The vicinity of Wilmington, situated at the confluence of 
two major waterways, is an area in which the longest continuous period of concentrated 
maritime activity along the lower Cape Fear River occurred. Also contributing to the 
high number of losses associated with the development of the Wilmington area are 
ships that have been destroyed at or near their wharfs from collisions, fire, or other 
accidents. The uninhabited Eagles Island shoreline, across from Wilmington, also 
served as an area for the abandonment of old or obsolete vessels. The following table 
lists the various causes of shipwrecks in or near the project area: 

Table 1-3 
Causes of Shipwrecks in the Cape Fear Vicinity 



Cause 


Number 


Burnt 


52 


Sunk 


46 


Exploded 


5 


Collision 


11 


Capsized 


6 


Foundered 


2 


Grounded 


3 


Ashore 


56 


Stranded 


6 


Aground 


11 


Sunk as obstruction 


8 


Sunk by mine 


2 


Hit obstruction 


5 


Hit wreck 


1 


Hit rock jetty 


1 



Cause 



Number 



Struck piling 


1 


Destroyed by British 


4 


Destroyed by USN 


16 


Destroyed by CSA 


1 


Abandoned by CSA 


1 


Scuttled by CSA 


3 


Went to pieces 


3 


Overloaded 


1 


Swamped 


1 


Abandoned 


4 


Wrecked 


3 


Cast away 


2 


Lost 


7 


Unknown 


29 


TOTAL: 291 





The study and use of the Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear River historical and 
cartographic resources in a comprehensive manner provided a valuable evaluation tool 
both prior to and during fieldwork. By using a historical and environmental context 
against which site significance and research potential could be judged, the researchers 
were able to select survey areas with the highest probability for containing cultural 
resources. Conversely, the selection of those priority areas significantly reduced the 
overall amount of river to be surveyed. When questions about the possible identity of a 
cultural resource arose in the field, the historical background often supplied likely 
candidates in the identification process. 

Archaeologists and historians are of the general consensus that settlements from both 
the prehistoric and historic periods were often concentrated along watercourses. 



381 



Numerous small aboriginal sites, as well as a wide variety of historic period settlement, 
farmstead, and commercial sites, can be found along navigable waterways. While 
shipwrecks are the category of underwater sites most commonly recognized and 
sought, other categories are lesser known and often overlooked. Among the other 
types of underwater sites are submerged aboriginal middens, remains of prehistoric 
watercraft, abandoned docks and wharves, old boatyard or plantation landings, and 
submerged river navigational structures. Future research by cultural resource 
managers should strive to incorporate into their methodology the identification, 
evaluation, and possible impact projects will have on these lesser known underwater 
sites. Finally, with the publication of historical documentation such as place-names, 
cartographic summaries, and maritime-related sites, future researchers will be provided 
with the foundation for locating and assessing the significance of cultural resources 
throughout the Cape Fear region for years to come. 



382 



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389 



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1973 The Wilmington Town Book . Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, 
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Lewis, Richard H. 

1 982 "Investigation of Civil War Era Fortifications Located at the Carolina 

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1976 "An Archaeological Reconnaissance of Certain Areas of the Lower Cape 
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1975 Merchant Steam Vessels of the United States: 1 790-1 868 . New York: 
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390 



McEachern, Leora and Isabel Williams (editors) 

1976 Wilmington-New Hanover Safety Committee Minutes, 1774-1776 . 
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McKoy, Elizabeth F. 

1967 Early Wilmington Block by Block: From 1733 On . Raleigh: Edwards and 
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1973 Early New Hanover County Records . Wilmington, North Carolina: 
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1968 Stories Old and New of the Cape Fear Reg ion. Wilmington r N.C: 
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1970 Naval Documents of the American Revolution . Washington: U.S. 
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1956 "The Letters of Stephen Chaulker Bartlett Aboard U.S.S. Lenapee, 

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1981 "Cultural Resource Magnetic Survey, Northeast Cape Fear River, 
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Olsberg, R. Nicholas. 

1973 "Ship Registers in South Carolina, 1734-1780." South Carolina Historical 
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Payne, Ted M. and Ann Brown. 

1983 "Cultural Resource Survey: Reaves Point, Proposed Area 5 and Disposal 
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1985 Native Carolinians: The Indians of North Carolina . Raleigh: Division of 
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1968 The North Carolina Gazetteer Chapel Hill: The University of North 
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1982 "Gander Hall Plantation." The Coastal Carolinian . September 23, 1982. 

1988 "Notes on the Brunswick River and its Environs." Unpublished manuscript 
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Schaw, Janet. 

1934 Journal of a Lady of Quality : Being the Narrative of a Journey from 

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1896 Tales and Traditions of the Lower Cape Fear 1661-1896 . Wilmington: 
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1920 Derelicts . Wilmington, N.C.: Privately printed. 

1958 The Story of Orton Plantation. Wilmington, N. C: Privately printed. 

1992 Chronicles of The Cape Fear River 1660-1916 . 2d ed. 
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1980 North Carolina Lighthouses . Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, 
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1985 Bald Head: A History of Smith Island and Cape Fear . Wendell, N.C: 
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Still, William N., Jr. 

1976 North Carolina's Revolutionary War Navy . Raleigh: Division of Archives 
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1981 "Shipbuilding in North Carolina: The World War I Experience." The 
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Thomas, Cornelius. 

1959 James Forte . Printed for The Charles Towne Preservation Trust. 
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1983 "A Study of Four Proposed Coal Fired Facilities in Bertie County, North 
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Tidewater Atlantic Research, Inc. 

1982 "Williams Coal Export Terminal Submerged Cultural Resource Remote 
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1988 "Archaeological Reconnaissance of the Wilmington Harbor/Northeast 
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1990a "A Report on Magnetic and Acoustic Targets Identified by Remote 
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1990b "An Underwater Archaeological Investigation of the Hilton Wreck, 

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1993a "A Submerged Cultural Resource Survey for Channel Improvements at 
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396 



1994b "A Remote Sensing Survey and Diver Investigation at Wilmington Harbor 
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1995c "Underwater Archaeological Assessment of Eight Magnetic Anomaly 

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1989 Ironclads and Columbiads: The Civil War in North Carolina, The Coast . 
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1975 "Brunswick Town Magnetometer Survey." Unpublished manuscript on file 
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1980a 'Town Creek Magnetometer Survey." Unpublished manuscript on file 

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1980b "Magnetometer Survey of Battery Island and the CSS North Carolina 
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1985 "Underwater Archaeological Survey at Brunswick Town for the Wreck of 
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397 



1 986a Field Notes and Records of the Wilmington Harbor Side Scan Sonar 

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1986b Selected Notes from the First North Carolina Maritime Workshop. Material 
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1992b "Shoreline Survey of the West Bank of the Northeast Cape Fear River in 
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1977 "Final Environmental Statement. Maintenance of Wilmington Harbor North 
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1 981 "Magnetometer Survey and Cultural Resource Assessment of Selected 
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1983 "Diver Hands-on Cultural Resource Assessment of Selected Magnetic 
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1985 Letter to William S. Price, State Historic Preservation Officer, North 
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1989 "Final Environmental Impact Statement. Long-Term Maintenance of 

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1992 "Reconnaissance Report on Improvement of Navigation Cape Fear - 

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1994 "Fina! Interim Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement on 
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1996 "Draft Feasibility Report And Environmental Impact Statement on 

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1977 Soil Survey of New Hanover County, North Carolina . United States 
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1973 "The Eagles Island Causeway: A Note on Travel in Colonial North 
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1992 Wilmington: Port of North Carolina . Columbia: University of South 
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1961 Plantation Memories of the Cape Fear River Country . Asheville, N.C.: 
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Weaver, Charles, C. 

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1972 Brunswick County 1860 Rice Plantation Economy . Raleigh. 

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1972 Development and Environmental History of the Dismal Swamp. Ecological 
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1978 "A Report on the New Hanover County Archaeological Survey: A C.E.T.A. 
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Willey, Gordon R. 

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1973 Salt, That Necessary Article . Wilmington, N.C: Published by the authors. 

1978 'River Excursions 1864." Lower Cape Fear Historical Society, Inc. 
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Wilmington City Directory, 

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Wilmington Cape Fear Recorder (Wilmington. N.C). 

Wilmington Centinel (Wilmington, N.C). 



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Wilmington Chronicle and North Carolina Weekly Advertiser (Wilmington, N.C). 

Wilmington Commercial (Wilmington, N.C). 

Wilmington Daily Journal (Wilmington, N.C). 

Wilmington Dispatch (Wilmington, N.C). 

Wilmington Gazette (Wilmington, N.C). 

Wilmington Herald of the Union (Wilmington, N.C). 

Wilmington Messenger (Wilmington, N.C). 

Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, N.C). 

Wilmington News (Wilmington, N.C). 

Wilmington News-Dispatch (Wilmington, N.C). 

Wilmington People's Press (Wilmington, N.C). 

Wilmington Post (Wilmington, N.C). 

Wilmington Recorder (Wilmington, N.C). 

Wilmington Semi-Weekly Messenger (Wilmington, N.C). 

Wilmington Star-News (Wilmington, N.C). 

Wilmington Sun (Wilmington, N.C). 

Wilmington Tri-Weekly Commercial (Wilmington, N.C). 

Wilmington Weekly Star (Wilmington, N.C.) 

Wrenn, Tony P. 

1981 Wilmington, North Carolina: An Architectural & Historical Portrait. 
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401 



Maps 

Anonymous 

1750 A Plan of Wilmington Situate on the East Side of the North East Branch of 
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Anonymous 
1778 



Riviere Du Cap Fear de la Bare a Brunswick . Lower Cape Fear Historical 
Map Collection, Wilmington, N.C. 



Anonymous 

1781a Cape Fear River with Counties Adjacent and the towns of Brunswick and 
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Anonymous 

c. 1781b Plan of Wilmington in the Province of North Carolina . Photostat copy 
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Anonymous 

1892 Map of Wilmington, N.C. showing the Vicinity of Wilmington , Wrightsville 
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Anonymous 
1964 



Cape Fear Penisula & Estuary North Carolina . Division of Archives and 
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Anonymous 

n.d Untitled of Eagles Island and Vicinity. Division of Archives and History, 

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Bachman, John. 

1861 Birds Eye View of North and South Carolina and Part of Georgia- 
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403 



Barnwell, Col. John. 

1722 Untitled Southeastern United States. London: Public Records Office 
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Becton, J. L. 

1 91 8 Wilmington, North Carolina . Compiled for and under direction of 

Wilmington Chamber of Commerce by J. L. Becton. Division of Archives 
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Coastal Caroliniar (Wilmington, N.C.). 

Collet, Capt. 

1770 A Compleat Map of North-Carolina from an Actual Survey . By Capt. 

Collet, Governor of Fort Johnson. Engraved by I. Bayly. North Carolina 
in Maps , W. P. Cumming. State Department of Archives and History, 
Raleigh, 1966, Plate VII. 

Colton, J. H. 

1861 J. H. Colton's Topographical Map of North and South Carolina A Large 
Portion of Georgia & Part of Adjoining States . (Wilmington Inset) North 
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History, Raleigh, 1966, Plate XI. 

Comberford, Nicholas. 

1657 The South Part of Virginia Now the North Part of Carolina. North 

Carolina in Maps, W. P. Cumming. State Department of Archives and 
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Confederate States Army Engineers. 

1 863a Chart of the Obstructions in the Cape Fear & Brunswick Rivers and the 
Batteries commanding them . Prepared under the direction of Capt. Wm. 
James. Division of Archives and History, Raleigh, N.C., Map Collection, 
306-D #29. 

1 863b Topographical Map Showing the Fortifications & Roads in the vicini t y of 
the Cape Fear . Prepared under the direction of Capt. Wm. H. James, 
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Confederate States Army Engineers. 

1 864a Map of the vicinity of Wilmington . Made under the direction of Capt. 

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404 



1864b Map of "Bald-Head" & Cape Fear . Made under the direction of Capt