What Is Fort Macon Known For?

If you’re asking the question: “What is Fort Macon Known for?” read on! I ran across Fort Macon while on a brief getaway to the Crystal Coast in North Carolina, and I’m so glad I found it.

Though I had hopes of doing some research for my next book while at the beach, I never dreamed I’d run across an old fort that had been used during the Civil War.

Fort Macon’s original purpose was to guard the eastern North Carolina coastline, specifically to protect Beaufort Inlet and Beaufort Harbor, but there’s a lot more to this fort than that.

Pro Tip: If you’re planning to explore Fort Macon, I recommend going in the morning before it gets too hot. Wear good walking shoes and bring bug spray during the warmer months.

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History of Fort Macon

If you want to know what Fort Macon is known for, you have to start at the beginning.

Fort Macon’s original purpose was to guard the eastern North Carolina coastline, specifically to protect Beaufort Inlet and Beaufort Harbor.

Named after Nathaniel Macon, who was a U.S. Senator from the State of North Carolina, the fort was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

This part of the eastern North Carolina was highly vulnerable to naval attacks in the 18th and 19th centuries from both plundering pirates and enemy warships.

The famous pirate, Blackbeard, along with other lesser known pirates, passed through Beaufort Inlet at will, while successive wars with Spain, France and Great Britain during the Colonial Period set the stage for potential attacks.

Cannon at Fort Macon under a cloudy sky, pointing to an American flag, gives visitors a hint at what Fort Macon is known for.

When Was Fort Macon Built?

Fort Macon was constructed between 1826 and 1834 to guard against an invasion from England or Spain, both of whom had invaded the port in the eighteenth century.

An invasion from a foreign country never came but the fort was used during the War Between the States, the Spanish American War, and World War II.

It also served as a military prison from 1862-1877.

Fort Macon is known for a rich history of use through a wide expanse of time.

Artillery at Fort Macon sitting on green grass above a brick wall tells the story of what is fort macon known for. It was used as a defense from invasion.

What Is Fort Macon Known For During The Civil War?

Fort Macon is known during the Civil War for being used by Confederate forces. They prepared Fort Macon for battle and armed it with 54 heavy cannons.

Early in 1862, Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside swept through eastern N.C., and part of Burnside’s command under Brig. Gen. John G. Parke was sent to capture Fort Macon.

Colonel Moses White and 400 North Carolina Confederates in the fort refused to surrender even though the fort was hopelessly surrounded.

On April 25, 1862, Parke’s Union forces bombarded the fort with heavy siege guns for 11 hours. They were aided by the fire of four Union navy gunboats in the ocean offshore and by floating batteries in the sound to the east.

While those at Fort Macon easily repulsed the Union gunboat attack, the Union land batteries, utilizing new rifled cannons, hit the fort 560 times.

There was such extensive damage that Col. White was forced to surrender the following morning, April 26.

The Union army held Fort Macon for the remainder of the Civil War.

Read about an old tree that witnessed the Civil War action at Fort Macon.

Amazing Construction Of Fort Macon

If you’re still asking what is Fort Macon known for, take a look at the fascinating construction of the fort.

Fort Macon is five-sided and made up of 2,379,546 bricks – more than any other U.S. fort.

Twenty-six vaulted rooms (or casemates) are enclosed by outer walls that are 4.5 feet thick.

Other features of the fort include powder magazines, counterfire rooms with cannon emplacements, and a wide moat, which served to protect the fort when flooded with waters from Bogue Sound.

Fort Macon is known for its large inner court or parade ground that is now the scene of historic reenactments during special events.

The interior of Fort Macon, showing the brick walls, and green grass in the middle.

Visiting Historic Fort Macon

Even though Fort Macon is known for being the second most visited park in North Carolina, we mostly had the entire place to ourselves. It was really fun to get to wander around and look out over the water.

It was warm that day with a nice breeze…I can’t imagine the heat of summer pounding down on soldiers in hot uniforms.

Fort Macon made my getaway even better than I’d hoped. It’s always fun to find some unexpected history. It’s all around us, just waiting to be found.

How Many People Visit Fort Macon?

Fort Macon State Park is one of North Carolina’s smallest parks, but welcomes more than 1 million visitors each year.

What Can You Do At Fort Macon State Park

You can explore the restored pre-Civil War fort and take part in their daily guided tours, as well asa the fort’s cannon and musket demonstrations.

The Beach at Fort Macon is known for swimming, beachcombing, or even spotting a dolphin or two.

As you walk along the beach you may see one of the 302 different species of birds found in the park or experience the thrill of watching dolphins playing in the ocean.

If exploring the fort is not to your liking, check out the park’s hiking trails.

If you want a short walk, check out Yarrow’s Loop. It’s a quarter mile nature trail that starts and ends at the north end of the fort parking lot. Information signs along the trail tell about some of the common plants and animals that can be found in the park.

If you’re looking for a longer trail, then the Elliott Coues Nature Trail is for you. It’s a new hiking trail that connects the Fort area with the Swim Beach. It stretches approximately 3.2 miles round trip and travels along the marsh, through the maritime forest, and through the sand dunes.

Not far from Fort Macon is the beautiful seaside town of Beaufort.

If you enjoy visiting old cemeteries, with moss-draped trees and amazing stories, stop by the Old Burying Ground.

Things To Remember When Visiting Fort Macon

If you ask me, What is Fort Macon known for, I would say mosquitos!

Make sure you have some mosquito repellant life OFF with you, if you plan to visit during the hot summer months.

You should also dress comfortably and wear comfortable walking shoes.

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A hat and sunglasses are also recommended.

Lastly, as always, take water with you, preferably in a bottle that you can hook to your belt or pants or loop, like this one, or a tactical water sleeve.

Where Is Fort Macon?

Fort Morgan is part of the Fort Macon State Park, and is located in Carteret County, N.C., on Bogue Banks, near Atlantic Beach.

Fort Macon reminds me a lot of Fort Morgan in Alabama.

Planning A Visit To Fort Macon

Whether you come for a few nights or want to spend the night, Bogue Island has lots of hotels and rentals to choose from.

Hampton Inn Moorehead City: Pet friendly, pool, free breakfast.

South Winds: If you’re staying at least three nights, you can book an apartment. Five minute walk to Fort Macon.

Inn at Pine Knoll Shores: Small restaurant on premises. Close to NC Aquarium.

If you’re planning a visit to North Carolina, consider a stop at the Country Doctor Museum in Bailey, N.C.

Another place I came across while on vacation was the Pon Pon Chapel of Ease. Amazing history that I’d never heard of before.

If you’re in Virginia and love history, you won’t want to miss the Matildaville ruins, an abandoned town from the 1700s.

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