Located on Bogue Banks on the North Carolina coast, Fort Fisher was the second fort constructed on this spot. The first was known as Fort Hamilton. Fort Macon was named in honor of Nathaniel Macon, a North Carolina politician who served in both the US House and Senate. The fort was seen as a way to protect the towns of Beaufort and Morehead City. (Blackbeard was known to sail in and out of Beaufort Inlet; Beaufort was captured by the Spanish in 1747 and the British in 1782.)
Fort Macon was a part of the Third System of US fortifications and designed by Brig. Gen. Simon Bernard, US Army Corps of Engineers. Construction began in 1826 and was finished in 1834, costing $463,790. Because of poor management, the fort was in a sad state of affairs in 1861.
The fort was under the command of Ordinance Sergeant William Alexander. He and his family were the only ones present on April 14, 1861, when the Beaufort Harbor Guards arrived to seize Fort Macon. By the next day, two other companies of North Carolina volunteers had arrived at the fort. On April 17, a force of sixty-one free and twenty-one slaves, all African-Americans, had arrived at the fort to begin maintenance work. Over the next few weeks, a railroad was laid to the wharf, and thirteen 24-pounder cannons were shipped, and in some way, mounted at the Fort. Various volunteer companies from the eastern portions of the state garrisoned Fort Macon, with Col. Charles C. Tew appointed commander. Then, that summer, Tew was replaced by Maj. William L. DeRossett, then Lt. Col. John L. Bridgers, followed by Col. Moses J. White. Later, the independent companies were mustered into traditional regiments or were designated as members of the 1st North Carolina Artillery.
Due to the threat of attack, the newly mustered 26th North Carolina Troops was assigned to the fort in September 1861, along with the 7th North Carolina State Troops, the latter staying for a month. This was followed by a company of the 3rd North Carolina Artillery. In early 1862, Federal forces began a campaign that resulted in the capture of Roanoke Island and New Bern. The Federals turned their attention to Fort Macon next. Although hopelessly surrounded, the garrison at Fort Macon refused to surrender. On April 25, 1862, Federals began to bombard the fort, which was hit an estimated 560 times. The fort surrendered the next day.
Fort Macon is still a state park, in an excellent state of preservation, with a fantastic museum and education center. For more information, see Paul Branch’s Fort Macon: A History (1999).
I last visited the fort in June 2018.