Military History from Murphy to Manteo

Civil War battle re-enactors at the Battle of Bentonville's 145th anniversary event

North Carolina has rich military history that stretches back before statehood. From the site of a fort recalling the French and Indian War to a park used by U.S. Army Signal Corps for training during World War II, several state historic sites and parks have strong connections to the conflicts that have played a large role in shaping our nation's history and tell these stories to visitors today.

Scroll down to begin exploring the Old North State's military heritage by era or location.

Colonial Era

Colonial Era

Re-enactors fire a cannon at Alamance Battleground

Statesville's Fort Dobbs, built in 1756, dates to the French and Indian War, and is oldest of North Carolina's colonial military sites. Alamance Battleground near Burlington tells the story of the War of a Regulation, a revolution before the American Revolution.

Fort Johnston near Southport was constructed by the British in 1749 to protect the area from Spanish attack and now is part of the N.C. Maritime Museum at Southport.

Dive Deep Into North Carolina's Early History

Revolutionary War

Revolutionary War

The Tryon Palace Fife and Drum Corps

Brunswick Town in Winnabow has connections to the War for Independence in addition to being the site of a colonial era Spanish attack, while House in the Horseshoenear Sanford, was site of a significant Revolutionary War skirmish. 

Lake James State Park includes a two-mile section of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail from the Revolutionary War era. Part of Elk Knob State Park was the site of a battle between the British and Patriots during the Revolutionary War. 

Through 2017, we're commemorating North Carolina's colonial and Revolutionary War history with a special commemoration called It's Revolutionary.

Experience North Carolina's Revolutionary Spirit

Civil War

Civil War

A Civil War cannon blast at Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson

You may not know that the Civil War truly ended not at Appomattox, but in Durham at Bennett Place, the site of the largest surrender of the Civil War. Bentonville Battlefield in Four Oaks was the location of North Carolina’s largest Civil War battle, and still serves as a site for study in tactics for Camp Lejeune Marines and Fort Bragg soldiers.

The largest American amphibian attack before World War II was seen at Fort Fisher in Kure Beach, and nearby Fort Anderson in Winnabow shares in this history in addition to Fort Fisher State Recreation Area and Carolina Beach State Park, both also in Kure Beach.

The Battle of Fort Macon was fought in Atlantic Beach at what’s now Fort Macon State Park during March and April 1862 at the onset of the Civil War and the CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center preserves the remnants of one of the few remaining ironclad gunboats from the era .

Learn More About North Carolina's Civil War Story

World War II

World War II

Kids salute the Battleship North Carolina

Today a true Tar Heel landmark, the Battleship North Carolina was one of the most decorated U.S. ships of World War II, earning 15 battle stars and participating in every major naval offensive in the Pacific theater.

On the homefront, Camp Davis was built north of Wilmington in Holly Ridge and Fort Fisher was part of that complex. What's now Fort Fisher State Historic Site in Kure Beach was an anti-aircraft artillery training center and became the primary firing range. The Jones Lake area also was part of that training facility. 

The U.S. Army Signal Corps used Hanging Rock State Park for training in 1943 and the 92nd Medical Battalion did week-long trainings there that year.

Read More About World War II Places in North Carolina

Military Discounts Throughout the Year

Though admission to most of our state's cultural and natural attractions is free, the following venues that charge offer daily discounts for military personnel:

  • Battleship North Carolina
  • CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center
  • North Carolina Aquariums
  • North Carolina Transportation Museum
  • North Carolina Zoo

The North Carolina Museum of Art, North Carolina Museum of History, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) all offer military discounts to ticketed exhibits.

Walk Through Tar Heel Military History

Since it's founding the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh has had a strong collection of artifacts related to military history.

The museum's exhibit A Call to Arms will give you a broad strokes overview of North Carolina’s military heritage and includes a wide range of items from a Sioux war club to a German periscope from World War I to a military visial language guide used by the Army in Iraq in 2005.

Plan Your Visit to the N.C. Museum of History

A military banner in military history exhibit at the N.C. Museum of History

Find a Place to Visit Near You