“Plunging Shot and Screaming Shells:” 155th Anniversary of the Fall of Fort Anderson


Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site will commemorate the 155th anniversary of the fall of Fort Anderson Feb. 15 and 16.

The site is offering a free living-history event during the daytime, and a special program Saturday night requiring tickets purchased in advance.

Free activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days will include artillery and infantry demonstrations, medical and embalming interpretations, an expanded torpedo demonstration, and more. On Saturday morning the fort’s reproduction 32-pounder seacoast cannon will be fired for the first time for the public. 

Three speakers will present during the program: Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle Jr., professor emeritus, Department of History, University of North Carolina Wilmington; Chris Grimes, 19th-century naval medical expert; and Jim McKee, site manager of Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site. 

From 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday evening the night sky will come alive during the “Plunging Shot and Screaming Shells” program. This realistic reenactment of the final hours of Fort Anderson will include a spectacular heavy artillery duel. Six artillery pieces, including the fort’s new 32-pounder seacoast cannon and the site’s new 30-pounder Parrott rifle, will duel. 

Visitors, especially those sensitive to loud noises, should note that the evening program will be very loud, and may even be heard as far as Wilmington. 

“This promises to be an immersive event that has not been seen in North Carolina,” said site manager Jim McKee “This will be the first time that heavy artillery will duel in North Carolina since 1865.” 

Admission to the evening program is $10 for ages 16 and up. Children 15 and under are free. Tickets can be purchased in advance at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/plunging-shot-and-screaming-shells-a-nighttime-bombardment-tickets-88282175363?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

Repairs to the site visitor center due to extensive damage from 2018’s Hurricane Florence are expected to be fully completed by Feb. 14, and visitors will have the chance to see the newly renovated and repaired museum during the weekend

A major pre-Revolutionary port on North Carolina's Cape Fear River, Brunswick was partially burned by British troops in 1776 and never fully recovered. During the Civil War, Fort Anderson was constructed atop part of the ruins of the town and served as part of the Cape Fear River defenses below 
Wilmington before the fall of the Confederacy. Colonial foundations dot the present-day tour trail, which crosses the earthworks of the Confederate fort. 

Today, visitors to the site can see the archaeological ruins of the foundations of the colonial kitchens, homesites and various outbuildings that once stood as a colonial port town, along with the shell of St. Philip’s Anglican Church. 

Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site is administered by the Division of State Historic Sites in the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.