Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Hamilton in Martin County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Fort Branch

A Mighty Fortress

 
 
Fort Branch Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, July 28, 2012
1. Fort Branch Marker
Inscription. 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
Fort Branch, 1863-1865 image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, July 28, 2012
2. Fort Branch, 1863-1865
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.
 
Erected by North Carolina Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails marker series.
 
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. Touch for map. Located at the entrance of Fort Branch Historical Site. Marker is in this post office area: Oak City NC 27857, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 7 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 Church (approx. 8.5 miles away); Skewarkey Church (approx. 8.5 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
Fort Branch under construction, October 1862-February 1863 image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, July 28, 2012
3. Fort Branch under construction, October 1862-February 1863
. The site is operated by the Fort Branch Battlefield Commission. (Submitted on September 3, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. Forts, CastlesWar, US Civil
 
32-pdr cannon in position at Fort Branch, 1863 image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, July 28, 2012
4. 32-pdr cannon in position at Fort Branch, 1863
CSS <i>Albemarle</i> passing Fort Branch, April 1864 image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, July 28, 2012
5. CSS Albemarle passing Fort Branch, April 1864
Fort Branch Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, July 28, 2012
6. Fort Branch Marker
Recovered Cannons image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, July 28, 2012
7. Recovered Cannons
Four of the recovered cannons on display at Fort Branch. The guns are, left to right, a 24-pdr siege gun, a 4.62-inch Gibbon & Andrews siege rifle, another 24-pdr siege gun, and a 32-pdr banded and rifled navy gun.
Recovered Cannons and other Artifacts image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, July 28, 2012
8. Recovered Cannons and other Artifacts
Other items recovered from the river include a rare 4-inch Blakely Rifle imported from England during the war, an iron 6-pdr field gun, a fragment of a 32-pdr navy gun, and field and siege carriages for the guns. Surprisingly much of the wood work remains intact.
Rainbow Bend at Fort Branch image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, July 28, 2012
9. Rainbow Bend at Fort Branch
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 3, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 468 times since then and 56 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on September 3, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
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