Fort Branch

Fort Branch (HM1440)

Location: Oak City, NC 27857 Martin County
Country: United States of America

N 35° 55.626', W 77° 10.282'

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Inscription

A Mighty Fortress

At the beginning of the Civil War, the Confederates fortified the high bluffs of Rainbow Banks here on the Roanoke River. The fort helped prevent Union gunboat attacks in the upper Roanoke River Valley, guarded the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad bridge at Weldon that helped supply Gen. Robert E. Lee's army in Virginia, and protected the construction site of the ironclad ram CSS Albemarle just north of Hamilton. Fort Branch was named for Confederate Gen. Lawrence O'Bryan Branch, a local hero who was killed at the Battle of Antietam, Maryland, on September 17, 1862.

The high bluffs gave the Confederates a great advantage over Union gunboats and essentially prevented the Federals from moving upriver. The fort was armed with 11 cannons and held provisions for a thousand men. The Confederates began evacuating Fort Branch on April 10, 1865, the day after Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. They pushed the artillery pieces into the river and destroyed the magazine and commissary to keep Union troops from using them.

In May 1865, the U.S. Navy retrieved three of the cannons, but it was not until 1972 that interest in the other eight surfaced. A judicial restraining order prohibited an Alabama group from salvaging three of the guns. After a court battle, the state won custody of the remaining pieces, and then placed them on permanent loan to the nonprofit Fort Branch Battlefield Commission. Through the coordinated efforts of various state agencies, four additional guns were raised from the river in 1977, accounting for ten of the eleven once at Fort Branch. The brass cannon is still missing.
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Details
HM NumberHM1440
Series This marker is part of the North Carolina Civil War Trails series
Tags
Placed ByNorth Carolina Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, October 18th, 2014 at 8:08pm PDT -07:00
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 304105 N 3978041
Decimal Degrees35.92710000, -77.17136667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 35° 55.626', W 77° 10.282'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds35° 55' 37.56" N, 77° 10' 16.92" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)252
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 2322-3246 Fort Branch Rd, Oak City NC 27857, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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