Fort Williams (8)
Fort Williams (8) (1862-1865) - A Union U.S. Civil War Fort established in 1862 in Plymouth, Washington County, North Carolina. Named Fort Williams after Union Brigadier General Thomas Williams, (Cullum 902), who was killed at Vicksburg on 5 Aug 1862. One of several forts established after the Union capture of Plymouth NC in December 1862, captured by Confederate forces on 20 Apr 1864. Abandoned in 1865 at the end of the war.
Union forces under the command of Union Brigadier General Henry W. Wessells, (Cullum 735) captured the town of Plymouth, North Carolina in December 1862. Wessells' forces occupied the town and established a ring of defensive fortifications surrounding the town. Fort Williams was the largest of the defensive works that included several forts and batteries all linked by earthworks. The Union defenses were manned by a garrison of some 3,000 troops and protected by two Union gunboats on the river.
Plymouth was strategically located along the east bank of the Roanoke River and important to both sides. Union defenses built during the occupation included:
The Confederacy built two ironclad ships, the Albermarle and the Neuse, to take on the Union river gunboats.
The Battle of Plymouth
On April 17, 1864, Confederate General Robert F. Hoke, along with 10,000 Confederate infantrymen, advanced on Plymouth. General Wessell commanded only 3,000 defenders in Plymouth, but the Union forces were dug in and repelled many of Hoke’s initial attacks. The next day, General Hoke increased his artillery fire on the Union Fort Gray, Battery Worth, and the Union ship, the Bombshell.
The CSS Albermarle, captained by James Cooke, snuck by Fort Gray undetected in the early hours of 19 Apr 1864 and engaged the USS Southfield and USS Miami in a naval battle. The Albermarle managed to sink the Southfield and the heavily damaged Miami fell back. As this was happening General Wessell was consolidating his defense within the largest fort, Fort Williams.
Now with naval artillery support, General Hoke attacked from the left and General Robert Ransom Jr, (Cullum 1467), attacked from the right. Fort Williams fell to this assault and was the last of the major forts to fall as the Union forces surrendered to the Confederates.
Confederates held Plymouth until the CSS Albemarle was sunk by Union raiders in late October 1864. With their ironclad gone, Confederate troops abandoned Plymouth. The town remained in Union hands for the duration of the war.
Marker only, no other visible remains.
Visited: 23 Mar 2018