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Fort Johnston, which was named for royal governor Gabriel Johnston, was established by a legislative act in April 1745. Fort Johnston was the first fort in North Carolina, the last residence of a royal governor of the colony, and part of a defense system which enabled Wilmington to stay open longer than any other major port of the Confederacy. Stirred by a Spanish raid and looting of Southport on September 3, 1748, colonists rushed to complete the fort by April 1749. Royal governor Joseph Martin fled to Fort Johnston on June 2, 1775 after aroused patriots learned that he was attempting to instigate a slave revolt. On July 19, 1775, the fort was burned to the ground by patriots who believed that Martin was still inside. In 1794, the Federal government sought its repair after realizing the strategic importance of its location. Lt. William B. Cushing, who would later be commissioned as the youngest Commander in the U.S. Navy for blowing up the Confederate ironclad C.S.S. ALBEMARLE at Plymouth, NC, rowed ashore alone on the night of February 28, 1864 to kidnap the commanding officer of the confederate fort, Gen. Hebert. Gen. Hebert was out, but Cushing managed to take his chief engineer and escape without notice.
The State (NoCar F 251 S77), Vol. 38 Issue 15, Jan 1971, p8-10, 63, il, por
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