Havelock News
  • Newport to celebrate its Civil War history

  • The Battle of Newport Barracks might have just been a footnote in the Civil War. But, some Carteret County residents don’t want to see the community’s role go unnoticed.
  • The Battle of Newport Barracks might have just been a footnote in the Civil War. But, some Carteret County residents don’t want to see the community’s role go unnoticed.
    The Battle of Newport Civil War Memorial Park will be celebrated this weekend on a half-acre plot at 220 Chatham St. in Newport.
    Local volunteers have been putting sweat equity into building the park, which will recreate features of the original barracks that were burned on Feb. 2, 1864.
    Volunteer Michael Bell said his family goes back to the time when Newport was called Bell’s Corner. In his family tree is Josiah Bell, a confederate spy, which is one of the reasons he has put so much time into the park project.
    “I felt like being that my family probably had certain aspirations to help burn the place, I felt like I ought to help build it back,” Bell said as he stood next to a log structure erected to look like one of the original barracks buildings.
    “As far as history goes, Newport has probably had more than any other place in the county,” Bell said.
    Gerald Mann, chief architect of the project, said many know little about the battle he called the largest in Carteret County during the war.
    “History is very important for our young people to learn about, so we want to bring history alive here in the park,” he said. “We want to tell the story of the Civil War, and particular, the story of Newport Barracks.”
    Mann has personal connections to the war just like Bell. His great-grandfather fought in the battle of New Bern, and his great- great-grandfather, a Baptist minister, was thrown into a Confederate prison for preaching to Union soldiers.
    Mann said the project wouldn’t be possible without volunteer help and donations.
    “It’s going to take us a while because it’s all being done by volunteer help and almost all contributed materials and paid for with individual contributions,” he said of the project. “We’ve got a little help from the town, no help from the county and none from the state, so this is being done by personal money.”
    Volunteers Joseph Bell, Russell Bell and Jonathan Stokes built the park’s first structure, the log barracks building.
    “They kind of gave their Christmas up to help build it,” Michael Bell said. ”All of us helped, but this kind of thing is what makes the difference. Without these young men, this wouldn’t have happened.”
    The building is like one prominently shown in a photograph of Newport Barracks when it was occupied by Company K of the Ninth Vermont after a snowfall.
    Part of the exhibit that is to be unveiled this weekend includes a cannon. Confederate and Union flags will be flown, and an old section of railroad trestle donated by the North Carolina Railroad will be on display.
    Page 2 of 2 - Other features will be added to the park in the coming years, including a covered wagon, more reconstructed barracks, a cook building, a railroad hand car, and other reproductions of period pieces.
    “It will take the community to make sure that it works,” Bell said.
    The weekend’s events begin Friday with the Newport Heritage Dinner at St. James United Methodist Church Community Life Center. Dinner is from 5 to 7 p.m. with barbecue chicken, potato salad, green beans, rolls, dessert and a drink for a $10 donation. Tickets are available at the Newport Historic Museum on Chatham Street.
    Entertainment is scheduled for 5 to 9 p.m. and includes Morris Willis and Company, Pickin’ and Grinnin’ and others. Mann is scheduled to speak about the project at 7 p.m.
    On Saturday, living history characters will be on the grounds of the museum and park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and include members of the 5th North Carolina troops, Ellis’ Battery and a contingent from Pennsylvania. The museum will be open all day and refreshments will be available.
    Living history will again fill the grounds of the museum and the park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. A dedication of the park is scheduled for 2 p.m. with a battlefield tour to follow the ceremony at about 3:30 p.m. The museum will be open throughout the day and refreshments will be available.
    For more information, call Dianne Johnson, museum executive director, at 241-1793.
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