Fort Branch is located two miles below Hamilton, North Carolina and 60 miles upriver of the town of Plymouth. Sitting 70 feet above a bend in the Roanoke River, this Confederate earthen fort provided a safe and clear view of Union gunboats approaching from down river. Today, the Fort Branch site is the winter headquarters for the First North Carolina Volunteers, a Civil War re-enactment group. A battle re-enactment is held annually at the fort on the first weekend in November and includes a unique Living History Program. The annual events schedule often includes a springtime Living History Program and a unique Civil War Christmas celebration, as well.
Visit the site and you can see eight of the fort's original cannon, making Fort Branch the only earthwork fortification in the South with its original artillery in place. You can also see a restored late 1800s steam engine from The Ranger, and local Native American pottery and artifacts from Hoggtown, a nearby eighteenth century river community. Other attractions include rebuilt gun emplacements and an 1850s farmhouse which is being restored.
The Fort Branch Battlefield Commission works to preserve and restore the Fort and its heritage. Browse this web site to learn more about the history of Fort Branch and the ongoing preservation project. We invite you to visit during one of our events and to take part in supporting the fort's preservation.
History of Hamilton
Hamilton, incorporated in 1804 and located on the Roanoke River, long prospered as a bustling commercial port. Shallow-draft steamboats, the cotton gin, and a burgeoning textile trade here and abroad, brought river traffic to its peak during the years preceding the Civil War.
The small but thriving town might have been even more prosperous before the Civil War if any of several efforts to improve land travel had been successful. Proposals in 1832 to establish a railroad from Hamilton to Tarboro, and in the 1850s to build plank roads to Tarboro and Murfreesboro were each abandoned in the discussion stage.
Many of Hamilton’s fine old homes were built during this period (1830-1850) and are found today in the town’s National Register Historic District. The district includes some of the finest antebellum homes assembled in the county. It also includes the circa-1881 St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, a remarkably unaltered and sophisticated example of the Gothic Revival frame church from the early post Civil War period. It is one of the most outstanding examples of frame Victorian Gothic architecture in Eastern North Carolina.