north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 

 
 
 

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Essay:
     The CSS North Carolina, an ironclad steamer and among the most noteworthy of the Confederate blockade runners, was built in 1862 at Beery’s Shipyard, on Eagles Island across from the Wilmington waterfront. Construction there complemented work by J. L. Cassidey and Sons, who in 1863 built the CSS Raleigh at their shipyard at the foot of Church Street in Wilmington. Iron plating for both vessels was acquired from the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond.

     Benjamin Beery and Brothers built the North Carolina at their “Confederate Navy Yard” or simply “Navy Yard.” Like the Raleigh, the North Carolina was a Richmond-class ironclad, built to plans prepared by John L. Porter. Its dimensions were similar to those of the other ship, 150 feet in length from stempost to sternpost and 172 feet overall, with a 32-foot beam and a draft of 12 feet.

     The North Carolina was to launch in late 1862 but strikes, shortages, and a yellow fever epidemic delayed completion. By the spring of 1863 the vessel still lacked guns. It is unclear whether in time it was armed with three or four guns, likely 7-inch Brooke rifles. The Confederate Navy deployed the North Carolina late in 1863 with Capt. William M. Muse in command. The ironclad was stationed at Smithville (present-day Southport) for most of the war. Capt. J. Pembroke Jones took over its command in 1864. In September of that year, the vessel sprang a lead and was abandoned next to Battery Island. The remaining iron plating was removed by the U.S. Navy in 1868.

     In February 1865, as the fall of Wilmington was imminent, Confederates burned storehouses, foundries, shipyards, and vessels throughout the city. Beery’s shipyard on Eagles Island as well as Cassidey’s shipyard were among those torched.


References:
James Sprunt, Chronicles of the Cape Fear River, 1660-1916 (1916)Federal Point Historic Preservation Society Newsletter, vol. 3, no. 6 (June 1996)
Fred Mallison, “Blockade Busters That Failed,” The State, December 26, 1959, 9-12
Chris Fonvielle, Jr., The Wilmington Campaign: Last Rays of Departing Hope (1997)
Donald G. Shomette, Shipwrecks of the Civil War (1973)



     
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