This small quaint seaport has roots back to April 7, 1730 when Isaac and Jonathan Green Sr. purchased from Ebenezer Harker "a certain plantation and track of land containing by estimation 441 acres situate lying and being in ye Carterett in ye county of province of aforsaid being ye west side of ye mouth off White Oak River." By 1771 Theophilus Weeks started a town on his plantation, laying out a plat and selling lots. Formerly known as Bogue, Week's Point, The Wharf and New Town, the town was officially designated by the North Carolina General Assembly on May 6, 1783. Above photo (from North Carolina State Archives) courtesy Jack Dudley, as included in Swansboro - A Pictorial Tribute

The Civil War

Residents in nearby Beaufort watch gunfire at Fort Macon - April 25, 1862

The below information is from:
Commonwealth of Onslow - A History by Joseph Parsons Brown
Owen G. Dunn Company . New Bern, NC . 1960

The Civil War
The Invasion by Land

The war began in April, 1861. In March, 1862, a Federal expedition captured New Bern, and Fort Macon was taken in April of the same year.

From these points raiding parties were sent into the surrounding counties to gather supplies and do what damage they could.

To combat them, independent companies were organized. Later these companies, sometimes known as “Partisan Rangers,” “Dragoons,” etc., being merged into regiments.

Company F, of the 41st Regiment, raised in Burke County and commanded by Captain Perkins, met one of these raiding parties at Big North East Bridge, 6 miles below Jacksonville toward Swansboro, killing 1 captain and 5 privates, and routing the others.

About the beginning of 1863 a detachment of New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania troops raided Swansboro, but did little damage.

On January 21, 1863, General G. W. Smith reported Union cavalry and artillery about 3 miles from Jacksonville, and at the same time General Whiting estimated 1,000 Federal cavalry and 6 pieces of artillery at Jacksonville.

The next day they withdrew to the White Oak River. There they were joined by 3 Confederate deserters. In this raid they had captured 3 prisoners, 3 wagons and 6 mules.

The road from Richlands toward Comfort in Jones County was completely blocked by trees felled by the Confederates.

In January, General Whiting marched his Confederate troops through Onslow on their way to attack the Union barracks at Newport.

In March, 1864, an expedition under Colonel Jourdon of Vermont, headed by the United States gunboat “Britainica,” Lieutenant Muse commanding, was ordered to Swansboro for the purpose of capturing contraband goods. An all night attempt was made to land, but being prevented by a violent storm, another attempt was made on the following day, but the Confederate musketry fire was too strong, they being forced to return to their vessel.

On the same trip, one of the Union vessels entered Bear Inlet and burned a boat containing a cargo of salt and leather, and captured and carried off 43 negroes.

About a month later, April 30, 1864, Colonel Jourdon with his Vermont troops again attacked Swansboro, from Newport this time, with better success, capturing a Lieutenant, 11 privates, 2 Homeguards with their arms, and carrying off 2 citizens, destroying 3 or 4 boats and 225 barrels of fish, which were salted and ready for shipment to the Confederates at Kinston.

In July, 1864, Captain George T. Duffy of the Invalids Corps, was assigned to command the Port at White Sulphur Springs, Virginia, by the Adjutant General under orders from the Secretary of War at Richmond.

This is about the extent to which the enemy were actually on Onslow County soil.

H.E.Valentine drawing of Bell's Plantation on Hadnot's Creek at mouth of White Oak River 

Civil War Leadership  

Dr. Charles Duffy, Jr.

When Company B of the 24th was organized, Dr. Charles Duffy, Jr. became First Sergeant and within 10 months had become Surgeon of the regiment. He enlisted 6 May, 1861 and was appointed Assistant Surgeon 5 February, 1862. The last military record on file is dated December, 1863.

The first of the Duffys to come to Onslow was Dr. James Edward Stringer Duffy, who came to Swansboro from Kingstown, Ireland. Dr. James immediately began the practice of his profession throughout the area.

The story is told that the young and handsome physician, while attending a patient one day, was seated at the dining table busily engaged in rolling pills, as doctors did in those days. Being unaware of the doctor's presence, a certain young lady also came over to visit the sick. After some attention to her makeup, etc. she was introduced to the doctor. Immediately upon the leavetaking, the young lady is said to have told her hostess that she had “Seen her man in the well” only that day. As soon as she saw him she said to herself, “That's him. That's my man in the well.” Sure enough, the young lady, who was Miss Clarissa Noble Handcock, and young Dr. James Edward Stringer Duffy, were married April 10, 1828. They became the parents of Captain George T. Duffy.

Six years after the arrival of Dr. Duffy at Swansboro, a brother Charles, also a physician, arrived in Onslow. Doctor Charles purchased land near Catherine Lake and also practiced medicine there. The doctor married Miss Nancy Howse, probably a daughter of Buckner Howse and Rosamond Everett, who were married in 1800. They became parents of Surgeon Charles Duffy and Honorable Rodolph Duffy, Attorney at Law.

Three years following the coming of Doctor Charles, the father, also named Charles, arrived in America from Ireland, bringing his family, except the wife and mother, who died before leaving Ireland. (Her maiden name was Stringer.) The elder Charles made his home in New Bern. His children, besides James and Charles above, were Thomas and Walter, both physicians, Frank and Richard, both druggists, Samuel, Annie and one other daughter.

The Duffys have distinguished themselves in medicine, and have had a prominent place in public life since coming to Carolina.

Surgeon Duffy following the war also removed to New Bern, where he married Miss Sophia Moore of that city.

Captain George T. Duffy

Captain George T. Duffy was a son of Dr. James E. S. Duffy. Born March 22, 1837, and reared in Swansboro. Educated at the Swansboro Academy, he married Miss Agnes Moore of Swansboro.

Their children were: Walter, who lived in Virginia and married there; Charles, who sailed around Cape Horn to Oregon where he settled, married, lived and died; Susan, married Mr. Gus Pittman of Swansboro; George, Jr., married Miss Wolfington and made their home in New Bern.

For some years the future Captain, upon his graduation from the academy, taught school and merchandised in Swansboro, where he lived at the outbreak of the war.

His military record was furnished by Major General Edward F. Witsell, of the Adjutant General's Office in Washington, in a letter dated 26 February, 1948: “The records show that George T. Duffy, Captain, Company B, North Carolina Infantry, Confederate States Army, entered the service 6 May, 1861.”
Captain Duffy's Company of Onslow soldiers was included in the organization of the 14th Volunteers at Weldon, July 18, 1861. They were sent at once to reinforce General John B. Floyd in Western Virginia against General Rosecrans. Later the Volunteers were at Murphreesboro, becoming a part of the 24th North Carolina Regiment, returned to Virginia, where they took part in the battles at White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, Drewry's Bluff and others, in which General McClellan was driven back, allowing Lee to carry the war to the North.

The first night in Maryland, Captain Duffy with a detachment was sent to attack an enemy picket at Monocacy Bridge. There the Captain was severely wounded, and he and several of his men taken prisoners. Lieutenant William T. Ellis now became Captain of the Onslow Company.

In June, 1864, he is shown as “Put on the retired list,” only to be followed a month later by this notation, “Assigned to command the Port of White Sulphur Springs, Virginia, by the Adjutant General under orders from the Secretary of War at Richmond.” The record shows him paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina, May 1, 1865, with the remark “supernumerary officer and not assigned to duty.”
Returning to Swansboro at the end of the war, he remained a few years until he accepted the management of The Neuse and Trent Transportation Company, with office in New Bern, to which he removed with his family, remaining until his death.

Captain Edward W. Ward

Edward W. Ward, Captain, Company B, 41st State Troops, Confederate States Army, entered the service December 28, 1861, at Jacksonville, also shown as Swansboro, North Carolina, age 24 years. He tendered his resignation October 26, 1863, on account of physical disability, which was accepted to date November 30, 1863.

To Captain Ward goes the credit for the organization of Company B, to which he was named Captain at the organization. It numbered 130 men.

After the capture of New Bern Company B's duty was to patrol the roads and streams of Eastern North Carolina as a guard against further intrusion by the Federals. They ranged as far north as New Bern and Washington, North Carolina.

After Captain ward had been succeeded by Captain Southerland, the company took part in the campaign around Richmond. After the capture of Captain Southerland at Hanover Court House, it does not appear what became of Company B. Perhaps they were scattered among the other companies where they fought on till the close of the war.

In the census of 1860 “E. Ward” was a practicing physician, post office Piney Green. After the war he resided at his plantation “Cedar Point” near the mouth of New River. In 1880, although still practicing medicine, he was also well known as a farmer and merchant.