Fort Branch (2)
Fort Branch (2) (1862-1865) - A Confederate earthworks fort first established in 1862, during the U.S. Civil War, in Martin County, North Carolina. Named for Confederate Brigadier General Lawrence O’Brian Branch, who was killed at Sharpsburg, 17 Sep 1862. The fort was abandoned in April 1865 at the war's end.
Fort Branch was located on a 65' bluff at Rainbow Banks on the Roanoke River. The fort was designed to help block Union gunboat access up the Roanoke River and to protect a critical railroad trestle.
The original fortification was built in February 1862 with an upper battery of three guns and a lower battery of two guns by a Confederate engineer, Captain Richard K. Meade. Part of his original fortification was destroyed by a Union raid but a stronger eleven gun fortification was completed in two months and the guns mounted by 9 Feb 1863.
The fort was evacuated on 10 Apr 1865, a day after General Lee surrendered at Appomattox. The magazine was blown up and the remaining ammunition was dumped into the Fort's well and the guns were dumped into the Roanoke River.
Must See! Privately owned but open to the public, administered by the Fort Branch Historical Society, Martin County, North Carolina. The site has been partially restored/recreated. Eight of the original twelve cannons and their carriages were recovered from the Roanoke River and are on display in the visitor center/museum.
A 25 stop walking tour is provided with numbered markers at each location. The markers are referenced to a handout and a facsimile of an 1861 plan of the fort. Adjacent to the fort is a replica of what the winter quarters for the troops may have looked like. The visitor center/museum is a gold mine of information and artifacts including the recovered guns and carriages. Don't miss the collection of miniature Confederate gunboat models. Next to the visitor center/museum is a restored 1850s period cabin.
The site is staffed by volunteers from the Fort Branch Historical Society and is currently open to the public beginning on the first Saturday in April through their re-enactment weekend in November. The hours of operation are from 1:30 to 5:30 pm on those Saturdays.
A roadside marker is located on NC 125 at the intersection with Fort Branch Road (SR 1416). The site itself is well marked with a sign and a reader board at the entrance. The road leads directly to the visitor center/museum.
Visited: 23 Mar 2018