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How many troops were stationed in the Masonboro Sound area during the Civil War?

Si Cantwell

Col. Collett Leventhorpe was a former British military officer who commanded the 11th Regiment North Carolina Troops during the Civil War. He and his unit were stationed at Confederate Camp Davis on Greenville Sound, eight miles east of Wilmington, in the autumn of 1862. Photo courtesy of Chris Fonvielle.

We asked Chris Fonvielle, a Civil War author who teaches history at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Here’s his answer:

Unfor-tunately that is next to impossible to quantify, as the Confederate records do not exist. Itineraries for some Confederate units document their stations in the Lower Cape Fear, including Masonboro Sound, but do not record the number of soldiers that garrisoned them. Two Confederate encampment sites have been located at Masonboro Sound: one large early war encampment — perhaps called Camp Hedrick — at the headwaters of Hewlett’s Creek, and a small picket camp at Grainger’s Point. I do not doubt that there were others, but their locations have been lost to time and modern-day development.

The largest Confederate encampment in the general area was Camp Davis, located on the north side of Hewlett’s Creek, above Masonboro. Thousands of troops moved in and out of that camp with their regiments or battalions between 1861 and late 1864. Most of the soldiers were Tar Heels, but South Carolina and Virginia troops also garrisoned Camp Davis from time to time. Camp Davis was the largest Confederate encampment between Fort Fisher and Wilmington’s outer defenses at Virginia Creek, 25 miles north of the city. Indeed, Camp Davis was located roughly halfway between Fort Fisher and Virginia Creek.

The great fear of Confederate military authorities was that Union forces would attack Wilmington by way of Masonboro, Wrightsville or Topsail sounds. They could use the major creeks — Whiskey, Hewlett’s, Bradley, Pages, etc. — to assault Wilmington from the east, thus bypassing the strong defenses, including Fort Fisher, at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Thus Confederate forces were deployed along the sound areas to contest an enemy landing and slow their advance until reinforcements could arrive.


Was there a Confederate camp near the Graingers Pointe neighborhood at Masonboro Sound?

Is a Civil War blockade runner sunk off the Crystal Pier at Wrightsville Beach?

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3 Responses to “ How many troops were stationed in the Masonboro Sound area during the Civil War?”

  1. On November 13, 2012 at 1:32 pm Dan Wheldon wrote:

    I have lived on Masonboro Sound for 44 years. We use to find artifacts from that era all the time. My father has a bayonet that he dug up near whiskey creek about 10 years ago. We also have found buttons and coins that were minted in Richmond in 1863. My cousin found a harmonica under a house in the sound area that was made in 1856. This was a hotbed of action that has gone untouched for years.

  2. On December 5, 2012 at 8:41 am Betsy Casey wrote:

    Proud to say I had a great great uncle who was killed next to Col. Lamb when he was shot in the hip with a cannon ball…His name is mentioned in one of the histories of Fort Fisher…He was Lt. Daniel R. Perry and he had several brothers who all died as a result of the Confederate War. Save for the fact that he had a few sisters I would not be here….

  3. On July 11, 2013 at 11:28 pm Beth Morrison wrote:

    When was the first school on Masonboro Sound? Prior to this school hoe were children educated?

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