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Fort Hill was a Confederate installation on the Pamlico River at Hill’s Point six miles south of Washington. In the spring of 1863, while Union troops occupied Washington, Confederate General D. H. Hill and his men used Fort Hill as a base for their siege of the town. While Hill’s men did not regain Washington from the Union Army, they did make evident the continued threat of Confederate forces in the Beaufort County region. Fort Hill was of reduced importance outside of the siege though, as other forts in the region proved more critical to both Union and Confederate goals.
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After the earthworks were completed in 1861, Confederate supplies proved to be too limited to supply the fort. The consequence was limited Confederate resistance against Union soldiers, who overtook and occupied Washington from 1862 until 1864. Nonetheless, during the Confederate siege of 1863, Fort Hill was equipped with two rifled 32-pound cannons, three smoothbore 32-pound cannons, and two 24-pound cannons. Throughout its existence, Confederate Companies B and I of the 3rd North Carolina Artillery units garrisoned.
Between March 30 and April 16, 1863, Confederate forces attempted to regain control of Washington. Despite his superior fighting forces, Hill never attacked Washington directly, instead blockading the town and Union garrison from supplies. Fort Hill was utilized extensively in Hill’s attack plan, with most of the fighting occurring between the Confederate batteries at Fort Hill and Union gunboats on the Pamlico River.
Hill developed his plan of action for the siege of Washington around goals independent of regaining control of the town. Rather, the Confederate goals were to gather supplies from the surrounding counties and to maintain a presence in the region, keeping the Union forces on the defensive. Union forces maintained control of Washington until 1864, when they abandoned and burned the town.
William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (2006)
Ursula Loy and Pauline Worthy, Washington and the Pamlico (1976)C. Wingate Reed, Beaufort County: Two Centuries of History (1962)
John G. Barrett, The Civil War in North Carolina (1963)