Blame Confederates for cannonballs

Published 12:54 am Wednesday, August 10, 2011

To the Editor:

The recent Sound Off comment suggesting Blackbeard fired cannon balls into the houses on Water Street is improbable. During the summer and fall of 1718 when Blackbeard operated on the Pamlico River, the town that was one day to become Washington, N.C., had yet to be established. You do not see this town appearing on period maps until the latter half of the 1700s.

The cannon balls were probably fired during the American Civil War by Confederate forces operating under the command of Maj. Gen. D.H. Hill, CSA, when he attempted to liberate Washington from Federal control by laying siege to the town during the period March 31, 1863, through April 15, 1863. During this siege, the Confederates established several artillery batteries around Washington and subjected the town to daily artillery barrages. One of these artillery batteries was located directly across the Pamlico River from Water Street in the general area where the modern day railroad bridge connects with the southern shore. Maj. Gen. Hill was not successful in his attempt to force the federal Garrison’s surrender since he was not able to close their resupply line coming up the Pamlico River. With Federal reinforcements approaching and seeing the futility of the exercise, Maj. Gen. Hill lifted the siege on the night of April 15 and withdrew from the area.