The Battle of Forks Road, February 20-21, 1865, was fought for the possession of Wilmington, NC. During the battle, the Union army and the United States Colored Troops (USCT), led by Brigadier General Charles J. Paine, successfully defeated the Confederate army under the command of Major General Robert F. Hoke. Wilmington was, at that time, the Confederacy’s last major seaport and the Union won control of the city, the city’s railroads, the seaport, and the Cape Fear River.

Over 1600 USCT fought in the Battle of Forks Road, including the 1st, 5th, 10th, 27th, and 37th USCT. Their numbers included at least three Medal of Honor recipients: Powhatan Beaty, Milton M. Holland, and Robert Pinn. Beaty and Hollard both escaped slavery and joined the USCT in 1863. Pinn was born a free black in Ohio.

Many of the USCT regiments who fought at Forks Road escaped slavery with their families and joined the army in Union-occupied New Bern, NC, just up the coast from Wilmington. They joined the USCT with their own vision and their own desire to fight for freedom. Following the war many of these soldiers settled in the Wilmington area.

The Horne Family

A compelling story in the history of this site, is the story of Confederate soldier Corporal Hosea Lewis Horne of the Wilmington Horse Artillery and his brother, Corporal Jacob H. Horne, a Union soldier and a guide with General Terry’s Provisional Corps. These young men literally fought “brother against brother” at the Battle of Forks Road. Both young men paid visit to their mother, Catherine Lanier Horne in the days before the battle.