Rough Justice in the Backcountry, 1865

"Fort Hamby": Fortified stronghold of band of robbers & army deserters, was captured by force of citizens in May, 1865. Stood one mile northOn May 19, 1865, a band of vigilantes led by Captain R. M. Sharpe began the siege of Fort Hamby in Wilkes County.

A simple log house in Wilkes County that between 18 and 30 United States army deserters called home, the fort took its name from its previous occupants, a group of “disreputable” women. The men used it as a staging point to plunder homes in Wilkes, Watauga, Caldwell and Alexander counties and to murder people who had been left defenseless by the war.

Led by a man with the surname of Wade, the band benefited from the lack of law and order in the region that followed Lee’s surrender in April 1865.

After a 22-man group of former Confederate soldiers unsuccessfully tried to capture Wade and his associates, Sharpe led two companies of local men to try and eliminate the group. Shots were fired back and forth all day and into the night. Only after two men set fire to the house did Wade and his men finally ask to surrender. Sharpe’s reply was:

We will shoot you.

Wade managed to escape, but four of his men were captured, tied to a stake, and executed. Inside the house, the victors found a wealth of stolen goods. Once the valuables had been removed, the house was burned to the ground.

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