Hammocks Beach State Park is made up of three areas: the 30-acre Mainland, 980-acre unspoiled Bear Island with its wind-swept dunes and 211-acre thick maritime forested Huggins Island—all at the mouth of the White Oak River in Bogue Inlet. Huggins Island played an important role in the history of Swansboro and the state of North Carolina.
In 1861 Confederate authorities found it necessary to construct a number of earthwork fortifications which included one on the White Oak River—to secure against Union attempts to advance inland from the coast. The battery on Huggins Island was completed early December of that year.
In the construction, almost all of the physical labor was performed by Negro laborers—some free Negroes and the rest slaves.
The bombproof was an underground chamber—a shell-proof magazine with timbers and soil above. A barracks building added accommodation for the garrison.—probably a simple log building. It is believed that only six 32-pound armaments were installed, later removed to New Bern to consolidate efforts against Burnside’s advance.
|Brigadier General Stevenson|
On August 17, 1862, three months after the siege of Fort Macon, Brigadier General Thomas Stevenson and his forces took possession of Swansboro and destroyed salt works in the area. Before heading back to Beaufort on August 19th, there was a half-hearted attempt to destroy the abandoned Huggins Island Battery—evidenced only by possible explosion of the magazine bombproof.
Though insignificant in the scope of the Civil War—built and occupied for only three months—the site holds greater importance today as the only unspoiled example of Confederate earthwork fortification surviving on the North Carolina coast.
Above is a synopsis from: Huggins Island Battery by Paul Branch, Fort Macon State Park Historian
When the state of North Carolina purchased Huggins Island for incorporation into Hammock Beach State Park, the purpose was to "to protect the island's maritime forest habitat from development pressures in the area" and to protect its coastal waters. It is noteworthy due to its relatively undisturbed maritime forest--currently a nature preserve.
Huggins Island, a significant natural heritage area, was incorporated into Hammock Beach State Park in 1999. The island has a long history of human activity, exemplified by shell middens, a Civil War earthen fortification and farm clearings. An inventory of the flora from 2001-2005 found 192 species of vascular plants in 148 genera and 75 families. Thirteen species were new county records, and five species were significantly rare in North Carolina. Thirteen species of exotics occurred, ten of which are invasive in the southeast. Eleven major plant communities were recognized, including previously recognized, globally rare, maritime swamp forest. The largest community was maritime evergreen forest, and the most species rich was shell midden community. Few signs of human habitation and farming were visible, but most of the upland had storm damage, likely resulting from a series of hurricanes from the mid-1990s.
SOURCE: The Vascular Flora of Huggins Island, Onslow County, North Carolina
Lisa Kelly, Dept. of Biology, UNC at Pembroke, Pembroke, NC