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Home North Carolina Wilkes County City of Goshen Historical Markers Fort Hamby

Fort Hamby

NC-268, Goshen, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 36° 8' 29.21208", -81° 10' 32.4912"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Fortified stronghold of band of robbers & army deserters, was captured by force of citizens in May, 1865. Stood one mile north."
     In the closing days of the Civil War, a log house in Wilkes County near Lewis Fork on the Yadkin River served as a fort for several Union army deserters. It was the staging point from which the former soldiers wreaked havoc on citizens of Wilkes, Watauga, Caldwell, and Alexander counties. Eighteen to thirty men are believed to have lived in the house that was named after its previous occupants, a group of “disreputable” women. Most of the men had been under the command of Union general George Stoneman, during his raid throughout western North Carolina. Under the leadership of a man with the surname of Wade, the guerilla bandits plundered homes and murdered people who had been left defenseless by the war. With no system of law and order in the region after Lee’s surrender, the raids continued.

     The extreme cruelty of their acts is made evident by a report of them shooting a child who was climbing a fence while its mother worked in a nearby field. On another occasion, they tied a man to a tree and began skinning him with their Bowie knives until he told them where his gold was hidden. In May of 1865, men returning from the war and tired of living in fear, began fighting back. One of the first groups to try to capture the raiders was led by Major Harvey Bingham. He and six other men assaulted Fort Hamby late at night and captured the men. Bingham however let his guard down long enough to allow the men to dress. When he did that, the captives killed two of Bingham’s men, and the others escaped. A few days later twenty-two men, including several former Confederate officers, opened fire on Fort Hamby. The volume and precision of the returned shots forced them to retreat.

     As a result of the defeats, two companies of men from surrounding counties assembled to eliminate Wade and his men. The vigilantes, led by Captain R. M. Sharpe, surrounded Fort Hamby on May 19. Shots were fired back and forth all day and into the night. Only after two men set fire to the house did Wade and his men finally ask for the terms of surrender. Sharpe’s reply was, “We will shoot you.” Wade managed to escape, but four of his men were captured, tied to a stake, and executed. Inside the house, the victors found a wealth of stolen goods. Once the valuables had been removed, the house was burned to the ground.

John C. Inscoe and Gordon B. McKinney, eds., The Heart of Confederate Appalachia: Western North Carolina in the Civil War (2000)
“Outlaw Fortresses,” The State, January 28, 1956
Noel Yancey, “Storm after the Storm,” (Raleigh) Spectator, September 10, 1992
Wilkes Chamber of Commerce Website: http://www.wilkesnc.org/history/hamby/
William R. Trotter, Bushwackers: The Civil War in North Carolina, The Mountains (1988)
Related Themes: C.S.A., Confederate States of America, Confederacy
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North Carolina Civil War Historical Markers.

Fort Hamby Historical Marker Location Map, Goshen, North Carolina