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Camping at Fort Caswell, about 1910

CFM 1980.027.0001
Gift of Mary Amelia Willson

Description: This black-and-white photograph measures 3 1/8 x 4 1/8 inches.

History: This photograph was donated to the Museum in 1980 by Charlotte, N.C., resident Mary Amelia Willson (1917-1988). It originally belonged to her father, James Edmund Willson, Jr. (1889-1964). James Edmund Junior was born in Wilmington, to Grocer James Edmund (1854-1928) and Mary Galloway Willson (1870-1955). Mr. Willson, Jr. moved to Charlotte in the mid-1910s, and died there in the 1964.

At the time the photograph was taken, Mr. Willson, Jr., was a member of the Wilmington Light Infantry. The Wilmington Light Infantry went to Fort Caswell each August from 1909 to 1915 for the annual maneuvers of the Coast Artillery Corps. According to the local newspaper Dispatch, on August 4, 1910, “The Wilmington Light Infantry, under command of Captain Edwin A. Metts, will embark tomorrow, and will go to Fort Caswell, The Light Infantry will enter camp with the full number of 45 men as required by army regulations. In addition to the Wilmington Light Infantry, the other members of the State Coast Artillery Corps are the companies from Greensboro, Charlotte, New Bern and Salisbury. These companies will arrive tomorrow.” The company spent just under two weeks at Fort Caswell.

Fort Caswell was commissioned in 1825. The fort was named after Richard Caswell, first governor of the state of North Carolina. Fort Caswell changed hands a number of times during the Civil War. After the fall of Fort Fisher in January 1865, Fort Caswell was destroyed and abandoned for 30 years. Then, in April 1896, the United States government reconstructed Fort Caswell. It was in use during World War I, and World War II. After World War II, the fort was declared army surplus and in 1949, the North Carolina Baptist Assembly bought the Fort Caswell property. The assembly still uses the space for church activities.

814 Market Street • Wilmington, NC 28401 • Phone 910-798-4370 • Fax 910-798-4382