Positioned to protect the North Carolina ports of Beaufort and Morehead City, Fort Macon was placed under siege by the Union army’s General Burnside from 23 March to 26 April 1862. As part of his North Carolina Expedition, Burnside advanced on Fort Macon and created a military blockade. The Union gun emplacements were dug out of the sand dunes and the batteries were stocked with ammunition between 11 and 23 April. On the morning of 25 April Burnside assailed the fort with large-bore rifled artillery and successfully breached the masonry walls. After several hours, the slopes around the fort began to collapse. The fort had been allowed to deteriorate and at the time of the siege was in a parlous state. Its woodwork was rotten and ironwork rusty and the 430 Confederate officers and men had limited ammunition and supplies. At 5pm on 25 April the Confederate garrison surrendered by raising a white flag, although final arrangements for surrender were not completed until the following day, when the defenders were marched out of the fort.
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