Eastern North Carolina
Civil War Battlefields & Sites
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Camden County/Battle of South Mills
Dismal Swamp Canal Visitor Center
Route 17 about 3 miles south of the Virginia border
After Union forces captured Roanoke Island in February 1862, the Northerners turned their attention inland. Among their targets was the Dismal Swamp Canal, which was an important supply artery to Confederates in the area and a potential "back door" to Norfolk. Union infantry unsuccessfully attacked Confederate forts protecting the canal near South Mills April 19, 1862. Ask for a nice brochure on the battle and the Civil War history of the canal at the visitor center. It's open daily Memorial Day-October. Other months, it is closed Sunday-Monday.
Battle of South Mills
Trails sign at the canal at the bend in Canal Drive a few blocks south of Main Street (Business 17)
Battle maps and other illustrations describe the April 19, 1862, battle here. Confederates successfully defended key areas of the Dismal Swamp Canal against Union attackers.
Museum of the Albemarle
501 S Water St, Elizabeth City NC 27909
New main gallery with Civil War exhibits now open at this waterfront museum covering north coastal North Carolina. Open Tuesday–Saturday 10 am–4 pm. Free.
The following Elizabeth City sites are marked with North Carolina Civil War Trails interpretive signs. The theme of the series, “A Town Divided,” helps explain the deep rifts in the community, which resulted in a nasty “war within a war” involving both soldiers and civilians.
Place of Execution
Trails sign at Waterfront Park, South Water Street, Elizabeth City NC 27907
A Confederate guerilla, captured after a February 1863 attack outside the city, was executed here. The attack had killed a Union soldier and a 4-year-old girl, so Unionist emotions in the city were running high. Angry Confederate sympathizers in town called for the arrest of the Union officer ordering the execution, but he never was brought to trial.
Universal Panic & Distress
Trails sign across from Pasquotank County Courthouse, 207 E Main St, Elizabeth City NC 27909
Tension reached a peak here in December 1863 after a Union raid led by Gen. Edward Wild resulted in the hanging of a guerilla and the taking of women hostages. Wild threatened to execute his hostages if the guerillas harmed captured black troops under his command. Local citizens, fed up with the violence, attempted to create a neutral zone around the city but were unsuccessful. The guerillas continued to operate.
1st U.S.C.T. Occupies the Town
Trails sign at the Roanoke Bible College, 715 N Poindexter St, Elizabeth City NC 27909
Members of the United States Colored Troops briefly were part of the Elizabeth City garrison during August 1863 helping to suppress guerilla activity and recruit more black soldiers. After 10 days service here, the black troops transferred to South Carolina.
The following Trails signs are located at the Pasquotank County Library, 100 E Colonial Ave, Elizabeth City NC 27900:
Ambush of Sanders & McCabe – Confederate guerillas killed two men near here Jan. 5, 1863, as they returned from a party celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation.
Burning of Elizabeth City – Confederate-leaning townsfolk convinced evacuating military authorities to burn the town as a Union naval flotilla approached Feb. 10, 1862. Fires were set and the courthouse was destroyed. Unionist citizens and occupying Union soldiers successfully fought the flames and limited the damage, but reports indicated that 2/3 of the town was burned. The town was under Federal control the rest of the war.
Battle of Elizabeth City
Trails sign in Waterfront Park near the Museum of the Albemarle
Soon after the Federal capture of Roanoke Island, Union naval forces headed up the Pasquotank River toward Elizabeth City. Standing in their way was the ragged Confederate "Mosquito Fleet," composed of tugs and other small watercraft converted to military use. The US Navy destroyed the small fleet in a Feb. 10, 1862, battle just downriver from Elizabeth City and then occupied the town.
"A Rare Monument"
("In Memory of the Colored Union Soldiers")
Trails sign located at the First Baptist Church, 211 S Hyde Park, Hertford NC 27944-1327
Monument to those who served in the United States Colored Troops erected about 1912 on Academy Green, the site of the county's first black school, library and church.
The Burning of Winton
Trails sign located at the entrance to Winton Historic Cemetery at the intersection of King and River streets
Situated near two important railroad bridges, Winton became a target after the Union capture of Roanoke Island in 1862. A small contingent of the Union navy steamed up the Chowan River and met resistance here. The town was burned because of the "ambush tactics" of the Confederate defenders.
Trails sign located Murfreesboro at the Roberts-Vaughan House, at the intersection of Main and Wynn streets
This prosperous port and commercial center held the attention of both sides during the war, with numerous raids executed in the area.
Wingfield Plantation (War on the Chowan)
Trails sign located at the Cannon’s Ferry Heritage River Walk (from Edenton travel north on Route 32, turn left onto Cannon’s Ferry Road, continue toward water)
The river became the border between Union-occupied territory to the west and Confederate-held to the east. Union forces seized the area near here in 1862 and built a fort on the river just south. An unsavory collection of Union troops and deserters (The Buffaloes) raided and plundered the area until they left in April 1863.
108 Broad St, Edenton NC 27932
The visitor center offers "on-demand" walking tours of the historic district, which includes the town's Civil War history. Cost is $7 adults, $3.50 children ($15 max per family). The tour includes a visit to "St. Paul," one of four cannon cast from bells donated by Edenton churches. The Edenton Bell Battery served throughout the war. The gun with a sign explaining its history is located in front of the Barker House at the foot of Broad Street. The visitor center is open April–October Monday–Saturday 9 am–5 pm and Sunday 1–5 pm. From November through March, it closes an hour earlier and on Monday.
Edenton during the War, Trails sign on the waterfront near end of Main Street Interpretive sign here tells the story of the May 1864 battle between the ironclad CSS Albemarle and escorts and Union navy vessels waiting in the Albemarle Sound. The Confederates managed to damage several Union ships, then escaped back to its base in Plymouth. The town, like many in the area, contributed troops to both sides.
Somerset Place State Historic Site
2572 Lake Shore Road, Creswell NC 27928
Once one of the most prosperous plantations in the state, Somerset Place extended to more than 100,000 acres and maintained 300 slaves during its 1785–1865 lifespan. The house has been preserved, offering information about both planter and slave cultures before the war. Open April-October Monday–Saturday 9 am–5 pm, Sunday 1–5 pm. November-March the hours are Tuesday–Saturday 10 am–4 pm, Sunday 1–4 pm. Free. Call to confirm hours.
Trails sign located east of Somerset near the Pettigrew grave site in Pettigrew State Park, 7 miles south of Creswell (2252 Lake Shore Road, Creswell NC 27928)
Confederate Gen. James Johnson Pettigrew was born and is buried here on one of his family’s plantations. He was wounded while leading his division during Pickett’s/Pettigrew’s Charge at Gettysburg and again, mortally, during the Confederate retreat from that battlefield a few days later.
Port O' Plymouth Museum
302 Water St, Plymouth NC 27962
Wonderful small museum tells the story of Plymouth during the Civil War including the Union occupation and the battle in April 1864. Special attention is paid to the famous Confederate ironclad CSS Albemarle, its successful exploits against the Union fleet and its sinking Oct. 27, 1864. Scale model of the Albemarle is anchored nearby. Open Tuesday-Saturday 9 am-4 pm (year-round). Small fee charged.
Civil War Trails interpretive signs on the museum grounds or on the waterfront:
Battle of Plymouth – Describes the last major Confederate victory in North Carolina. Combined water-ground assault April 17-20, 1864, resulted in the Confederates recapturing the town, 2,500 prisoners and 25 cannon.
CSS Albemarle – Tells the story of the famous ironclad built in 1863. The Albemarle saw action in the battle of Plymouth and on the Sound in 1864. It was finally sunk Oct. 27, 1864, when the Federals reoccupied its base here.
Cushing's Torpedo - Daring attack by a Union launch commanded by 21-year-old Lt. William B. Cushing, sank the CSS Albemarle here Oct. 27, 1862. The weapon: a cask of gunpowder at the end of a wooden spar impaled the ironclad and exploded.
Trails sign at Third and Washington streets, Plymouth
Bullet holes attest to this home's use as a Southern sniper's nest during a Confederate attempt to take the town Dec. 10, 1862. The Southerners eventually withdrew. The sniper was shot dead here.
Greenville and area
Red Banks Church
Trails sign at 2700 Fire Tower Road, Greenville NC 27858
A sharp fight erupted here Dec. 30, 1863, when a Union detachment burned Red Banks Church, a frequent gathering place for Northern raids against nearby Confederate camps. The Confederates, responding to the fire, attacked but were turned back after hand-to-hand fighting.
Fort Fisher Hero
Trails sign at Hancock Church, 3647 Ayden Golf Club Road, Ayden NC 28513
Christopher Bland, a Confederate hero during the fighting at Fort Fisher near Wilmington, is buried here. Bland, a private, volunteered to raise a flag above Mound Battery during severe bombardment of the fort, Dec. 24, 1865. After the flag was shot down, he again scaled the flagpole, attaching a replacement.
Trails sign at Rose Hill Church, 6236 County Home Road. Winterville NC 28590
Following the Union occupation of New Bern in March 1862, Confederates established a camp here at the intersection of the main road connecting New Bern, Kinston and Greenville. Federals attached the camp Nov. 25, 1863, and won a quick victory, capturing 52 of the 75 defenders. The Confederates re-established the camp, which was attacked once again during the last days of the war in North Carolina.
Engagement at Windsor
Trails sign at 503 Pitt St, Windsor NC 27983
On Jan. 30, 1864, a three-pronged amphibious Union assault routed a small Confederate force stationed here, a Southern recruiting station. Several Confederate sympathizers were taken prisoners after the fighting and were held hostage for the return of Union prisoners in Richmond.
Washington and area
USS Pickett (Battle of Washington)
Trails sign at the waterfront on Stewart Parkway, one block east of Route 17
On Sept. 6, 1862, Confederates under Maj. Stephen Poole attacked a Union garrison here backed by gunboats including the USS Pickett (which exploded during the battle). Union reinforcements overcame initial Confederate success and drove the attackers away, maintaining Union control of the town.
Siege of Washington
Trails sign at the East Carolina Estuarium, 223 E Water St, Washington NC 27889
Hoping to reestablish Confederate supremacy somewhere in Eastern North Carolina, Gen. D.H. Hill staged actions against New Bern and Washington in March 1863. Unable to accomplish much at New Bern, Hill turned to Washington, besieging the town March 30–April 20. Hill held off Union gunboats downriver and infantry attacks against his fortified position five miles from town. Hill was called away by Lee and the siege was soon lifted by Union reinforcements.
Tranter’s Creek Action
6149 US Highway 264 W, Washington NC 27889-8028
Months after the capture of Washington by Union forces March 20, 1862, Confederate Col. George Singletary with a small force moved to this area, threatening the Union garrison there. Learning of the threat, Union Gen. Edward Potter sent a force to clear out Singletary. After a sharp battle June 5, the Confederates withdrew farther west.
2883 Fort Branch Road, Williamston NC 27892
Confederates began fortifying this bluff 70 feet above a bend in the Roanoke River to help deter Union advances against the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad and protect the construction site of the ironclad CSS Albemarle. Work on the fort, begun February 1862, was completed a year later. A December 1864 Union attack failed to capture the fort. Well preserved earthworks in this extensive fortification remain. Original cannon remain at the site. Civil War Trails sign on site. Fort is open weekend afternoons from April to early November and by appointment (www.fortbranchcivilwarsite.com).
Tarboro and area
See also the Potter's Raid Tour
Civil War Cemeteries
Trails sign located between Calvary Episcopal Church and Howard Memorial Church at the intersection of St. James and St. David streets
Confederate Gen. Dorsey Pender, mortally wounded on the second day at Gettysburg, is buried in the Calvary Episcopal Churchyard. He is joined by dozens of other Confederates in both cemeteries including those who died in area hospitals.
Princeville African American Museum
Trails sign located in Princeville at 310 Mutual Blvd (Route 258), 1 block north of the intersection of Route 258 and State Highway 33
Sign here tells the story of local African Americans who joined units of the United States Colored Troops and the settlement created by former slaves here.
Impressive collection of antebellum buildings here remains intact, possibly because Union forces occupied the strategic city early (March 1862) and used it as a North Carolina base and headquarters during the rest of the war. Union officers took up residence in many of the city's finest buildings. Town tour includes Civil War sign on the Neuse River waterfront promenade.
New Bern Visitor Center
203 S Front St, New Bern NC
Civil War info and a downtown walking tour are available here.
Battle of New Bern (Burnside Expedition)
After capturing Roanoke Island, Union Gen. Ambrose Burnside advanced toward New Bern. On March 13, 1862, Union infantry and naval forces approached the city but ran into opposition the next day from Confederates commanded by Gen. Lawrence O'B Branch. After heavy fighting, the Confederate lines were overwhelmed and Union soldiers entered New Bern. The city became the focal point for nearly all Federal activity in North Carolina during the war. Civil War signs explain the action.
• New Bern Battlefield Park
Park entrance near the intersection of Route 70 and Taberna Way, 4 miles east of New Bern
A self-guided tour takes visitors through the remains of Confederate defenses successfully attacked March 13, 1862. For information about guided tours, call the New Bern Historical Society, 252-638-8558. Download a tour brochure from newbernhistorical.org/battlefield-park.
A Civil War trails sign "Battle of New Bern (Thousands of Federal Soldiers)" is located at the entrance to the park just past the railroad tracks.
• Battle of New Bern (Smoke and Flames)
Trails sign in Union Point Park on the waterfront downtown
Retreating Confederates set fire to warehouses full of military supplies and the Trent River bridge as Northern forces closed in by land and water March 14, 1862. After a brief period of bombardment and lawlessness, New Bern was occupied and became a Federal stronghold in eastern North Carolina.
New Bern Academy Museum
511 New St, New Bern NC
This early 19th-century building, which served as a military hospital during the Civil War, now houses exhibits focusing on the history of New Bern, including much on the Civil War. Topics covered include the Confederate defense of the town in 1862, the Union occupation and battles, and the structure's role as hospital. Call for hours. Trails sign on site.
510 Pollock St, New Bern NC 28562
Learn more about New Bern's Civil War role in this 1790/1834 home. Civil War display includes several significant artifacts. Fee charged. Open by appointment. Trails sign on site.
Trails signs at the following sites:
John Wright Stanley House, Trails sign in front of the building in the 300 block of George Street [ Road map ] – Birthplace of two men who chose different sides during the war, Edward Stanley, Unionist military governor of North Carolina and Confederate Gen. Lewis Armistead, who was mortally wounded at Gettysburg. The home also was the headquarters of Gen. Ambrose Burnside after the 1862 Battle of New Bern.
Jones House, Trails sign in front of the home at Pollock and Eden streets [ Road map ] – This 1809 building was used to house Confederate prisoners after New Bern fell to Union forces in 1862. Confederate spy Emeline Pigott may have been imprisoned here.
Greenwood Cemetery, Trails sign at the cemetery, 810 Cypres St, New Bern 28560 [ Road map ] – At least five men who served in the U.S. Colored Troops during the war are buried here along with noted educator and legislator James Edward O’Hara who taught in Freedman’s School here and in Goldsboro after the war.
New Bern National Cemetery, Trails sign at the cemetery, 1711 National Ave, New Bern 28560 [ Road map ] – Established Feb. 1, 1867, this national cemetery holds the remains of Union soldiers and sailors who were killed or died in hospitals in New Bern, Beaufort and Hatteras. A special section honors more than 1,000 unknown soldiers.
William Henry Singleton, Trails marker in St. Peters’s AME Zion Church, 617 Queen St, New Bern 28560 [ Road map ] – William Henry Singleton escaped slavery nearby and fled to the Union army in New Bern. In his book “Recollections of My Slavery Days,” Singleton writes that he helped recruit and train black troops for the Union army and met Abraham Lincoln. He was wounded at the Battle of Olustee in Florida.
Cushing's New River Raid
Trails sign located on the pier at the Sturgeon City Environmental Educational Facility, 4 Court St, Jacksonville
Daring young Union navy Lt. William Cushing led his gunboat crew on a November 1862 raid up the New River aiming to destroy or capture Confederate vessels and destroy salt works in and near Jacksonville. He occupied Jacksonville briefly before Confederate land forces rallied, eventually destroying Cushing's gunboat. Cushing and his crew escaped, however, in one of the captured vessels.
The War Comes to Warsaw
Trails sign at 119 E Hill St, Warsaw NC 28398
Union cavalry struck Warsaw July 5, 1863, after burning the Confederate armory at Kennansville the day before. The primary Union mission during the raid was to demolish track on the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad here. Rail cars and Confederate supplies were destroyed and 30 prisoners were taken during the encounter.
Kinston and Area
For more info about the Kinston area, call 252-522-0004.
Blue and Gray Information Center
101 E New Bern Road, Kinston NC 28504 (on US 70 near Route 258)
This area visitor center stands on the site of the 1862 First Battle of Kinston (see driving tour) and is a few miles west of the Battle of Wyse Fork, fought in the waning days of the war in 1865. Information and exhibits describe both battles. Also find information about the CSS Neuse and many other of the area’s Civil War resources. Open daily.
First Battle of Kinston
This 12-stop tour of follows the action during the battle of Dec. 13–14, 1862, part of Foster’s Raid. Stops include views of original Confederate earthworks, areas of fighting and the bridge over the Neuse River into downtown Kinston, burned during the fighting. A highlight of the tour is a battlefield park, located at Meadowbridge Drive and Harriett Drive, that preserves the left flank of the Confederate final defensive line. Pick up your free brochure at the Blue and Gray Information Center or call 252-522-0004 for a copy.
CSS Neuse State Historic Site
100 Queen St, Kinston NC 28501
NOTE: The remains of the CSS Neuse have been moved to a fully enclosed location in downtown Kinston. Visitors are welcome to see the gunboat and an orientation film while permanent exhibits are installed. 9 am-5 pm Tuesday-Saturday. Free.
The CSS Neuse, named after the river on which it was based, was constructed 1863 amid Confederate hopes the ironclad could help regain control over the rivers and sounds of eastern North Carolina. In April 1864, the Neuse, not yet fully equipped, left Kinston to help with a planned attack against New Bern. Before it reached its target, the Neuse ran aground and eventually returned to its base. On March 12, 1865, she was burned by her crew to prevent capture. The wreck remained in the river until 1963 when it was raised. The remains of the Neuse (much of its wooden lower structure and some of its iron plating) were preserved.
CSS Neuse Replica
Gordon and Heritage streets, Kinston NC 28501
A full-size replica of the Confederate ironclad is nearing completion at this downtown intersection. Worth checking out. Open for tours most Saturdays 10 am-4 pm.
Cat Hole of the Neuse
Trails sign in Neuseway Park
401 W Caswell St, Kinston NC 28504
Heritage Street between King and Caswell streets
Work on the Confederate ironclad CSS Neuse was completed here, taking advantage of the high banks to lower machinery into the vessel. The Neuse steamed out from here April 22, 1864, but soon became stuck on a sandbar and returned. The Neuse fired shots at advancing Union troops March 12, 1865, before being scuttled by its crew.
Battle of Wyse Fork
The battle here east of Kinston March 7-10, 1865, was an attempt by Confederates to delay or block a Federal advance on Goldsboro. The Union move was ordered by Gen. William T. Sherman in order to consolidate Northern forces and open a supply line to the coast through New Bern. Able to slow the advance a little, the Confederates withdrew and Union troops continued west. This was the second largest battle fought in North Carolina with 25,000 total troops involved.
Three areas along US 70 east of Kinston help describe the action:
“Last Mass Capture of Union Troops”
Civil War Trails marker at 1893 US 70, ZIP code 28501 (Woodman of the World Parking lot)
Confederate attacks here March 8 seized about 1,000 Union prisoners and forced a Federal retreat toward New Bern. the tide later tuned with Union troops eventually overrunning this spot and entering Kinston.
US 70 and British Road, Kinston NC 28501
Wayside with parking and markers here (north side of US 70) offers large map and overview of the battle.
Civil War Trails marker at US 70 and Wyse Fork Road, Trenton NC 28585
Foster's Raid Tour
Burgaw Station: Antebellum Railroad Station
Trails sign at the Burgaw Depot, 115 S Dickerson St, Burgaw NC 28425
This is one of two remaining antebellum railroad stations in North Carolina and was once a stop on the famous Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, the “Lifeline of the Confederacy.” Supplies moved along this route to Confederate armies in Virginia from the blockade-running port at Wilmington.
Confederate Arms Factory
Trails signs at the intersection of Routes 11 and 903
Weapons and other supplies for the Confederate armies were produced here beginning in March 1863 and continuing, with a few interruptions, through June 1864. Among the items manufactured here were swords, bayonets, Bowie knives, buttons, surgical instruments and knapsacks. This site is an example of the huge amount of material produced in North Carolina that kept the Confederate armies in the field throughout the war.
Asa Biggs House
Trails sign at North Smithwick and Church streets
Home of prominent politician and jurist Asa Biggs from 1835 to 1862. Biggs served in the U.S. Senate 1854–1858, becoming a Federal, then Confederate district judge.
Links to North Carolina websites: North Carolina Links