Above is a photograph of the Garrison House (remodeled) located on former Fort Johnston land in Southport, North Carolina. This house, together with six acres of former Fort Johnston land, was transferred by the National Park Service to Southport in 2006 for public use after the Fort was decommissioned in 2004. It is on the mainland, in the town of Southport, and located on the west bank of and near the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Fort Johnston was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Royal Governor Gabriel Johnston created a committee to plan for the fort to give protection from Spain who was at war with the British. In 1749 he announced that the Fort was complete, just in time to miss the whole conflict for which it was built.
When the Revolution broke out in 1775, Royal Governor Josiah Martin fled from Tryon Palace at New Bern to Fort Johnston, believing he could avoid kidnapping. His stay at Fort Johnston was short-lived when Cornelius Harnett as head of the Wilmington-New Hanover Committee of Safety gave the order that led Col. Robert Howe and 500 militiamen to destroy the Fort. Forewarned, Governor Martin fled from Fort Johnston to the British ship Cruzier as described in an article on this Web site entitled “Harnett Helps Disgrace Governor Martin.”
The Fort was later reconstructed by President George Washington and by the War of 1812 it was increased even more.
The Fort was surrendered by Confederate forces to Union forces on January 15, 1865. On February 21, 1881, the U. S. government ended Fort Johnston’s role as a seacoast defense. Since then it has been used by the U. S. Signal Corp, the National Weather Service, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U. S. Surveying Corps.