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Southport in Brunswick County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Fort Johnston
Guardian of the Cape Fear River
 
Fort Johnston Marker Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, January 15, 2008
1. Fort Johnston Marker
 
Inscription. Confederate Lifeline. On January 9, 1861, as secession fever swept the South, an armed body of civilians overwhelmed Fort Johnston’s lone occupant, Ordinance Sgt. James Reilly, and demanded the keys. Reilly quickly surrendered them and received a receipt in return. North Carolina Gov. John W. Ellis, however, on January 11 ordered Fort Johnston and several other strongholds restored to the Federal government. The confederates reoccupied the fort on April 16, after the fall of Fort Sumter, once again taking possession from Reilly. He soon resigned from the U.S. Army, joined the Confederacy as an artillery officer, and, in a strange twist of fate, oversaw the surrender of Fort Fisher to Union forces on January 15, 1865.

Behind you is the Cape Fear River, flowing between Oak Island and Bald Head Island. During the war, vessels attempting to run the Federal blockade of Southern ports passed through this inlet en route to Canada, Bermuda, the Caribbean islands and Cuba. They steamed back to Wilmington with tons of military supplies, which railroads transported to Petersburg and Richmond in Virginia to support Gen. Robert E. Lee’s
 
Markers and former Weather Signal Tower Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, January 15, 2008
2. Markers and former Weather Signal Tower
 
Army of Northern Virginia. Eventually, the Union blockading squadron sealed every Southern port except Wilmington, which was protected by Fort Fisher, Fort Johnston, and several other fortifications on the Cape Fear River.

(left sidebar)On February 29, 1964, U.S. Navy Lt. William B. Cushing led a small party ashore at night to kidnap Confederate General Louis Hébert, Fort Johnston’s commanding officer. Hébert was away, so Cushing’s raiders took another officer to let the garrison know they had breached the fort’s security. Cushing took possession of Fort Johnston and Smithville (present-day Southport) for Federal forces on January 18, 1865, after Fort Fisher fell. Union troops assembled nearby for the assault on Fort Anderson in February.

(right sidebar) In 1745, the North Carolina Assembly authorized the construction of a fort here to protect Cape Fear River from the Spanish. Little more than a century later, Fort Johnston (named for colonial governor Gabriel Johnston; also called Fort Pender) and other confederate forts helped safeguard the river and Wilmington from attack by U.S. Navy forces. Fort Johnston remained an active military facility until
 
Close-Up of Marker Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, January 15, 2008
3. Close-Up of Marker
The legend reads, “Fort Johnston barracks, 1865. The building in front of you was built about 1810 and used as officers’ quarters. The white columns were added during the 20th century.”
 
decommissioning began in 2004.
 
Erected by Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 33° 55.059′ N, 78° 1.026′ W. Marker is in Southport, North Carolina, in Brunswick County. Marker is on East Bay Street east of South Davis Street, on the left when traveling east. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Southport NC 28461, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Fort Johnston (a few steps from this marker); Josiah Martin (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Fort Johnston (within shouting distance of this marker); (Map of the First 100 Lots) (within shouting distance of this marker); Mrs. Jessie Stevens Taylor (within shouting distance of this marker); Catalino Tingzon (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Southport’s First Fire Alarm (approx. 0.2 miles away); Indian Trail Tree (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Southport.
 
The Former Fort Johnston Barracks Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, January 15, 2008
4. The Former Fort Johnston Barracks
The Cape Fear River is directly behind the photographer.
 

 
More about this marker. Marker has a portrait of Maj. James Reilly, Confederate artillery in the center. On the left sidebar is a portrait of Lt. William B. Cushing. On the upper right is a photo of the Fort Jackson barracks in 1865, reproduced in Photo 3. Compare with Photo 4.
 
Also see . . .  Fort Johnston, The Civil War. by Jack E. Fryar, Jr. (Submitted on January 15, 2008.) 
 
Cape Fear River Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, January 15, 2008
5. Cape Fear River
Marker is directly behind the photographer.
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on January 15, 2008, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,769 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on January 15, 2008, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.
 
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