Musket and cannon fire will ricochet off the brick walls of Fort Macon State Park this weekend when the 1st North Carolina Volunteers hold a Civil War re-enactment Saturday and Sunday.
About 30 to 40 men, women and children dressed in period clothing are expected to participate.
"They will portray life in the 1860s during the War Between the States and they’ll have the weapons of the period and the uniforms of the period, hot as it may be," said Paul Branch, ranger for Fort Macon State Park in Atlantic Beach.
He said the volunteers come from all over North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
"They do things like flag demonstrations, musket-firing demonstrations, marching and firing. There’s a skirmish that they have at 1:30. We will have cannon firings," Branch said. "They just re-enact soldiers and life here, how they fought, how they would have dressed.
"Some Union will attack the fort and they’ll show you how a fort like this would have driven off a land assault. They’ll go to some of the rooms on the outer wall and be firing out of those. The rooms around the fort are for interior defense, and if the enemy got into the fort, then the guys in the rooms around the fort would open fire and cross fire. They show some of the defenses of Fort Macon and how it would have operated in a ground attack."
The event starts at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and runs through 4 p.m., with skirmishes every half hour.
"We do show the cannons and that gives the sense of how the fort typically defended itself with artillery," Branch said. "These are all reproductions. We have one that we got in 2010 and the other two came last year in 2012. We have also recently got a replica of another cannon that we placed outside, what we call a parrot rifle that would have been used against the fort in the Union bombardment. Also we have a little naval gun that the Navy Department has loaned us, and we display that on the west wall out here. The only two cannons that were actually here that still exist are the two mortars on the parade ground."
Built in 1826, Fort Macon was used in the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and later in World War II. The state acquired the fort in 1924, and it became North Carolina’s second state park. At the time the fort was overgrown after years of abandonment, Branch said.
"It was a tangle of total, veritable jungle of green," he said. "The entire parade ground was choked with full grown trees, briars, brush almost neck high in places. The walls had vines and ivy. Everything was entwined around the stair railings.
"In the rooms, the plaster and woodwork was collapsing and decaying. Lord knows how many snakes and critters were running around in here."
Branch has written two books about the fort, "The Siege of Fort Macon," a paperback, and "Fort Macon: A History," about the entire history of the fort through modern times.
The Civilian Conservation Corps restored the fort during the 1930s, with anywhere from 125 to 250 men working during different periods for a year and a half. Fort Macon had its official opening as a functioning state park on May 1, 1936.
Today, it is one of the most visited of all state parks with more than a million visitors each year.
Fort Macon State Park is located at the end of East Fort Macon Road (N.C. 58) in Atlantic Beach. For more information, call 726-3775, go online to the park website at http://ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/foma/main.php or email firstname.lastname@example.org.