people of Masonboro Sound southeast of Wilmington could hear the
thundering cannon of Fort Fisher under siege by an enemy fleet in
January 1865. After taking the fort, “federal troops began to move
inland, looting farms and houses as they went” as they re-asserted the
political supremacy of the Northern government in Washington.
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"Unsurpassed Valor, Courage and Devotion to Liberty"
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"
Sad Ghost of Masonboro Sound
the fall of [Fort Fisher], the Confederacy’s days were numbered. By
late spring the four years of struggle were over. Gradually Masonboro
men found their way home. Some were badly wounded, but all came back to
do what John Hewlett had said he wished them to do – assist in building
up the Kingdom of God at Masonboro.
was late for plowing and planting, but there was no choice but to
begin. Pine seedlings, briars, and honeysuckles had taken over the
fields. Fish nets had rotted or disappeared altogether, and new ones
had to be fashioned. Food everywhere was scarce, but persons on the
sound fared better than most, they could find oysters, fish and shrimp
at their doorstep. Some ex-slaves stayed to help them.
ex-slaves who had left plantations all over the Southland followed
Yankee soldiers because they didn’t know what else to do. They became a
burden to Northern armies, which could not care for them and feed them.
Jim Irving, a South Carolina slave, followed Yankee soldiers to
Wilmington, but soon found himself stranded in the city with nothing to
eat and no way to earn anything. He met up with Elijah Hewlett, who
told him to go with him down to the sound and he would give him work.
after the war, a soldier friend came to visit Dr. Anderson. He had
been wounded in the war, had lost a leg, and had been fitted with a
wooden leg. He was disturbed emotionally by his war experiences, and he
would lapse into long silences. He would walk out on the pier and
stand for hours, not moving, just gazing at the water.
old pier was rotten and listing at a dangerous angle, but it was the
habitual roosting place of a sad old egret, which, dull and gray like
the weather at times, sat hunched over even in a blowing misty rain.
old soldier often stood there looking just as forlorn and dejected as
the sad old bird, and almost in the same spot. One morning the old
soldier rose early and went out before the family was up.
they found him, lying face down in the water.
that, members of the household thought they could sometimes hear the
old soldier with his wooden leg thumping across the floor upstairs.”
(Between the Creeks, Crockette W. Hewlett and Mona Smalley, New Hanover Printing Company, 1971, pp. 41-42)