Black History Month: Battle of Forks Roads

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY)– Amanda Fitzpatrick sat down with Anne Brennan from the Cameron Art Museum to discuss the importance of the USCT story on the Battle of Forks Road.

According to Brennan it’s Considered one of the most important social and political events in Wilmington’s history, the Battle of Forks Road was fought for the possession of Wilmington. Occurring February 20-21, 1865, on the site that Cameron Art Museum occupies today, the Union army and the United States Colored Troops (U.S.C.T.), led by Brigadier General Charles J. Paine, successfully defeated the Confederate army under the command of Major General Robert F. Hoke. Wilmington was, at that time, the Confederacy’s last major seaport. The Union won control of the city, the railroads, the seaport, and Cape Fear River.

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Over 1,600 United States Colored Troops fought in the Battle of Forks Road. These individuals emerged from the war as heroes, seen by fellow slaves and freedmen alike as liberators. Among all of these heroes were at least three Medal of Honor recipients: Powhatan Beaty, Milton M. Holland, and Robert Pinn. Beaty and Holland both escaped slavery and joined the U.S.C.T. in 1863. Pinn was born a free black in Ohio. Many of the U.S.C.T. regiment members who fought at Forks Road escaped slavery with their families and joined the army in Union-occupied New Bern, NC, just up the coast from Wilmington. They joined the U.S.C.T. with a vision and desire to fight for freedom. Following the war many of these soldiers remained in the Wilmington area, lending it the reputation as a place of opportunity and optimism for African Americans.

As stewards of the Forks Road Battleground, the Cameron Art Museum is dedicated to the recognition of the courage and sacrifice of everyone that endured the physical, emotional, and spiritual hardships of the Civil War and its aftermath.

For more information you can watch the full interview above.