“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Winton in Hertford County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)

Burning of Winton

"Fire... accompanied the sword"

— Coastal Expeditions —

Burning of Winton Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Dave Twamley, July 17, 2010
1. Burning of Winton Marker
Inscription.  After Union Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside captured Roanoke Island in February 1862, he decided to "sweep Albemarle Sound clean of [Confederate] defenses," establish inland bases of operation, and encourage eastern North Carolina Unionists. Winton, the Hertford County seat, was located near two railroad bridges and, as Burnside was informed, packed with Union sympathizers. On February 18, he issued a proclamation stating that "the Northern people were Christians and would inflict no injury unless forced to do so." The same day, Commander Stephen C. Rowan's eight-gun-boat flotilla steamed up the Chowan River toward Winton, carrying part of the 4th Rhode Island Infantry and the 9th New York Infantry under Col. Rush C. Hawkins.

As they approached, Confederate Lt. Col. William T. Williams concealed his 400 infantrymen atop a high bluff overlooking the river, with Capt. J.N. Nichols's four-gun battery in support. Williams planned to lure the flotilla to the dock, then blast it with artillery and small-arms fire. Hawkins, however, saw the glint of muskets from the rigging of the USS Delaware and shouted warnings to the pilot. As the Confederate
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opened fire, Delaware swept by the dock just ten feet away and escaped. That night, Winton's townspeople feted Williams and his men as heroes.

The next morning, the gunboats returned and bombarded Winton. Williams, his soldiers, and the residents fled. Hawkins, enraged by Williams's ambush tactic, led his men into Winton to loot and set the town ablaze with barrels of tar, burning the courthouse with the county records. Only the Methodist church and two buildings belonging to Union sympathizers remained standing. Hawkins claimed that Confederates had used the buildings "as storehouses and quarters" and boasted that the burning of Winton was "the first instance during the war... where fire has accompanied the sword." Winton was rebuilt after the war.
Erected by North Carolina Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical month for this entry is February 1862.
Location. 36° 23.878′ N, 76° 55.953′ W. Marker is in Winton, North Carolina, in Hertford County. Marker is on King Street, 0.1 miles Tryon Street, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Winton NC 27986, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as
Burning of Winton Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Dave Twamley, July 17, 2010
2. Burning of Winton Marker
the crow flies. Hertford County WWI Memorial (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Burning of Winton (about 500 feet away); Hertford County UDC Monument (about 600 feet away); Chowan Academy (approx. 0.9 miles away); Potecasi Creek (approx. 4 miles away); Richard J. Gatling (approx. 8 miles away); Robert Lee Van (approx. 8.1 miles away); 4-H Club (approx. 8.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Winton.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on June 15, 2011, by Dave Simpson of Durham, North Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,244 times since then and 49 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 15, 2011, by Dave Simpson of Durham, North Carolina. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.

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Sep. 26, 2023