On March 29, 1862, Union forces led by General John G. Parke landed unopposed on Bogue Banks at the mouth of Hoop Pole Creek.
With successes in 1862 at Roanoke Island and New Bern, Union commanders set their sights on Fort Macon, built between 1826 and 1834 to protect Beaufort Inlet. Garrisons had manned the facility at irregular intervals leading up to the Civil War, usually only during periods of international tension. Consequently, the masonry fort had begun to deteriorate by the 1860s.
Morehead City, just across the sound, was a strategic target since it was the terminus of the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad. The only significant Confederate force still operating on the coast between Wilmington and Norfolk was defending the fort. Gen. Ambrose Burnside selected Parke to capture the fort. Early on, Parke hoped but failed to compel the Confederates to surrender without resistance. He set up his headquarters in Carolina City, a village of about 100 inhabitants just outside Morehead City. Forces on both sides amassed their weapons and the siege lasted for more than four weeks.
In the end the fort’s commander, Col. Moses J. White, surrendered. Given the intensity of the firing, casualties on both sides were remarkably light.
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