As followers of this website know, I’ve created a Google Maps version of the 1863 Raleigh Civil War fortifications. This map has allowed us to better pinpoint Civil War-era locations on the modern landscape. I’m referring to this Google Map as preliminary, since I think a more precise version is possible. Nevertheless, I think it’s accurate within 100 feet of most locations and thus very useful for exploration. For more details about the map, see this write-up: https://raleighswall.wordpress.com/2020/08/12/updated-google-map-of-raleigh-civil-war-fortifications/
The core primary source for this research project has been the 1863 map of the Raleigh Civil War entrenchments drawn by Henry T. Guion, C.S.A. Lt. Col., Artillery and Engineering, who also supervised the construction of the fortifications. These fortifications were built in a rough circle about eight miles in diameter, with 18 artillery emplacements, or redans. The following article will show you a full version of the Guion map: https://raleighswall.wordpress.com/2019/10/16/1863-map-of-the-approaches-to-raleigh-nc-and-civil-war-entrenchments-guion-map/
One thing I’ve noticed about the fortifications is that they seem to have been located in some cases to enclose key properties in the Raleigh area. One of those properties was a hilltop northwest of the downtown Raleigh street grid, where a cluster of buildings is marked as the home of John Devereux. This detail from the Guion man shows that hilltop:
To examine this image in more detail, click on this link: https://raleighswall.files.wordpress.com/2020/12/guionmap_nwquadrant_devereuxmarked.jpg
Obviously, this hill and other high points around Raleigh would afford defenders a better view of the approaches to the city that might be used by an invading force, but it is interesting that some of these also enclosed properties of prominent persons.
Many residents of Raleigh would be surprised to learn that this historic Devereux area was in the neighborhood known today as Glenwood-Brooklyn. The oval-shaped hilltop shown on the Guion map took in about 50 acres and angled across where Glenwood Avenue is today, from about Peace Street on the south to about Cleveland Street on the north. If you stand at the corner of Peace Street and West Street, where the new Publix market is, and look northwest, you’ll be looking up to the hilltop where John and Margaret (Mordecai) Devereux lived with their children.
Below is a rough takeoff of the Devereux hill from the old Guion map onto a modern street map. The thick outer oblong shows the hill drawn by Guion, including slopes. The inner oblong represents the hilltop, where the Devereux’s house was. From this, you can easily see the location of the hill between Fred Fletcher Park and Capital Boulevard. Between the Devereux hill and Capital Boulevard is lowland through which the Pigeon House Branch runs, and where the Devereux Meadow baseball park was built in the 1930s.
To see a higher-resolution image of this map, click the following link: https://raleighswall.files.wordpress.com/2020/12/devereuxhill_modernstreetmapgoogle_markupmerged2.jpg
Before the American Civil War, John Devereux was a planter in partnership with his father, Thomas; they controlled some 1,500 enslaved workers and a precarious agricultural business. For most of the war, John Devereux served as Chief Quartermaster for North Carolina State Troops, with a rank of Major. Devereux was known for his effective management of the NC quartermaster department, which was responsible for providing supplies for North Carolina troops, as well as for Confederate forces in general, in Virginia and Tennessee. The department also managed the state’s blockade-running operations in and out of the port at Wilmington, NC.
In the postwar years, financial hardships forced the Devereux family to sell off the hilltop and surrounding property, which was subdivided and sold off around the turn of the century (19th-to-20th). (See the NCpedia bio of John Devereux)
The following map detail from the Google Map of the Raleigh entrenchments shows the area of the Devereux hill, the Civil War fortifications, and other key features of the area, marked on a modern satellite map:
Click this link to examine this image at higher resolution: https://raleighswall.files.wordpress.com/2020/12/devereuxarea_fortificationsgooglemap_markup.jpg
I’ve done some exploring around the Devereux hill and have taken photos showing some of the slopes around it. This montage records some of those views:
To examine this montage at higher resolution, click this link: https://raleighswall.files.wordpress.com/2020/12/devereuxhillslopes_montageexpandedarrowsmerged2.jpg
The uppermost image in that montage is particularly interesting, as it shows the location of perhaps 400 feet of the stretch of Confederate entrenchments to the north of the Devereux hill. I estimate that the entrenchments ran through the backyards of the houses you can see up on the hill directly ahead:
You might have noticed that my marked-up satellite image shows a red oblong labeled as the Devereux carriage drive. In a future post, I will explain what that represents, and how it shows us the likely location of the Devereux mansion known as Wills Forest.
A. R. Bredenberg — 8 Dec. 2020
4 thoughts on “Raleigh’s Civil War Fortifications Protected the Home of Quartermaster John Devereux”
It is true that life and especially politics tends to follow a golden rule: Them with the gold make the rules. So I am not surprised that the breastwork lines were drawn the way they were. Just as interesting is the way the breastworks to the north defended the Mordecai property. There were strategic reasons beyond who whispered in whose ear, though. When the white Englishmen arrived in the land of plenty, they sited their seats on the best land and the best land generally has the best view and commands the most land to be defended. You’d do the same thing today. If you bought a piece of property of any size (not just a 1/4 acre lot), you’d site your house on the best spot. So now this leads to a discussion of legitimate ownership. Any tract you buy today will depend on the chain of title, and sooner or later, that chain goes back to some kind of taking by force. I’ll just leave that thought here; I own a piece of property with that kind of chain of title myself.
Interestingly enough, there were other ‘best reasons’ for choosing a site; the Mordecai house is sited where it is partly because of its proximity to a spring. The fact that the owner was not the one who had to carry the water from the spring did not reduce the convenience of the spring.
and I really like the research you have done. My grandparents lived on the corner of Devereux and Glnewood from 1919 until 1950; I have often wondered where the big house had been.
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Thanks for your comments here, Richard — great to hear from you. The positioning of the entrenchment lines has made me think politics were involved. To be fair, though, Col Guion was a military engineer, and he evidently did place the fortifications in advantageous locations.
As far as the location of the big house, I think I have pinned that down pretty closely, but I will discuss that in a future post.
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Good evening Mr Bredenberg- I am communicating on behalf of Raleigh Civil War Round Table. We have admired your investigations into Raleigh’s Civil War fortifications and are wondering if we could persuade you to share your work with our group. We have been meeting on Zoom during the pandemic and our next open spot is March 8 at 7:00 PM. Please respond so we might communicate further. Thank you. Ted KunstlingPast President, Raleigh CWRT
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Hello Ted — Thanks so much for getting in touch. Yes, I’d love to do this. I’ll get in touch by email.
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