Near Hamilton in Martin County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
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
Erected by North Carolina Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Forts and Castles • 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 April 1923.
Location. 35° 55.626′ N, 77° 10.282′ W. Marker is near Hamilton, North Carolina, in Martin County. Marker is on Fort Branch Road (County Route 1416), on the right when traveling east. Located at the entrance of Fort Branch Historical Site. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Oak City NC 27857, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 13 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named Fort Branch (approx. 1.8 miles away); Asa Biggs House (approx. 8.1 miles away); Skewarkee Primitive Baptist ChurchSkewarkey Church (approx. 8½ miles away); Camp Williamston (approx. 8.7 miles away); Roanoke River (approx. 8.7 miles away); Flat Swamp Church (approx. 9.9 miles away); Locke Craig (approx. 12.4 miles away).
Also see . . . Fort Branch Civil War Site. The site is operated by the Fort Branch Battlefield Commission. (Submitted on September 3, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
Credits. This page was last revised on September 13, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 3, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 707 times since then and 33 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on September 3, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 10. submitted on September 14, 2020, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.