Courtyard at the Fort Raleigh NHS
Historic Civil War Sites Across NC
Across North Carolina, you'll find a wide range of Civil War history – from battle sites to museums, and every thing in between. Plan your next trek through the Tar Heel State and be sure to explore as many of these top sites as you can.
1. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
Out along the North Carolina coast you'll find Manteo, home of the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. An easy drive in from nearby Kill Devil Hills along Highway 64, Fort Raleigh NHS is 14 acres in size, and helps to preserve what was once the Roanoke Colony.
As you explore the Fort Raleigh NHS Visitor Center & Museum, be sure to check out the many exhibits, displays, and artifacts relating to the area's deep ties to the Civil War – in particular, they feature a wide range of insights into Feedmen's Colony, were former slaves lived after being liberated by Union General Major John G. Foster.
2. Roanoke Island
Early in 1862, less than a year into the Civil War, the Battle of Roanoke Island occurred. More than 20,000 soldiers and close to 60 sea vessels were engaged in a small, but very important fight whose repercussions where huge. It was the first engagement of the Burnside Expedition.
Today, you'll be able to have a full-day experience at Roanoke Island – be sure to try the Thomas Hariot Trail, which yields a quick hike through island's maritime forest. Don't miss the Visitor Center for unique insights, and the Waterside Theatre offers dramatic reenactments.
Waterside Theatre on Roanoke Island
3. Fort Anderson
Another worthwhile Civil War site along NC's coast, Fort Anderson can be found just south of Wilmington. During the Civil War, Fort Anderson was part of what was known as they Cape Fear River Defense System. It's main purpose was to help defend the Port of Wilmington.
Today, the Fort Anderson State Historic Site is operated by the state, and it features a visitor center, and wide range of walking trails which will take you in and around the ruins of the town and the fort.
4. Bentonville Battlefield
Far from the coast within NC's Piedmont region, be sure to check out the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site. Found in Four Oaks, just south of Smithfield, this site marks the spot of the March 1865 Civil War engagement.
Major General William T. Sherman lead his 60,000 union troops to a victory over Maj. Gen. Joseph E. Johnson and his near 22,000 Confederate soldiers. Today, you can explore the restored Harber House, which, in it's time, was a Civil War hospital.
5. Fort Fisher
Much like Fort Anderson, Fort Fisher can be found along the banks of Cape Fear. During the Civil War, it was the largest of the Confederate forts dedicated to protecting Wilmington and its port, all part of the Cape Fear River Defense System. By 1864, Wilmington was the last remaining Confederate port open. The Union took Fort Anderson, and subsequently captured Fort Fisher with the largest naval bombardment of the war.
Today, Fort Fisher State Historic Site is a premier destination for vacationers and locals alike. Along with wide open beaches, this site features what's left of the main fort complex, a visitor center, and a museum.
See Fort Mason State Park
6. North Carolina Museum of History
Originally known as the Hall of History when it was first established in 1902, the North Carolina Museum of History is a premier destination for Civil War buffs. Make your way to downtown Raleigh to explore this impressive landmark.
Few sites or museums in North Carolina offer the breadth of history and artifacts as you'll find at the NCMOH.
7. George W. Dixon House
Make a trip out to Swansboro and check out the George W. Dixon House. Also known as the Tryon Palace, this is another of NC's premier Civil War attractions.
Nearby New Bern was under Union occupation, and this house served as a hospital for the 9th Vermont Infantry. Today, it's part of the larger Tryon Palace Historic Sites & Gardens – be sure to add it to your travel agenda.
8. Fort Macon State park
As the site of the April 1862 Battle of Fort Macon, Fort Macon State Park is one of the most exceptional Civil War sites in all of North Carolina. A Confederate stronghold for many years, Fort Macon would eventually fall to the Union army.
With a range of well-preserved fortifications, barracks, and other landmarks, this park also offers ranger-led tours, trails for walks and hikes, and even a protected swimming area. Live demonstrations of muzzle loading are available, and during the summer months, they shoot off canons to mark the start of Memorial Day weekend and other events.