Sampson’s Historical Highway Markers – Gun Factory

Submitted By Joel Rose

Gun Factory

Location: NC Highway 41 at Firetower Road west of Harrells

Marker Text: Revolutionary War arms factory operated in this vicinity by Richard Herring and John Devane until destroyed by the Tories.

* From the Office of Archives and History. (For more information, go to www.ncmarkers.com.)

Essay: During the Revolutionary War, Richard Herring and John Devane operated an arms manufactory in the upper part of New Hanover County near the Black River in what is now Sampson County. The exact site of the factory is not known, but some claim it was located within two miles of the bridge across the Black River at Clear Run.

Records from April 24, 1776, indicate that Herring and Devane, as well as James White, were empowered by the colonial government to establish a gun factory near Wilmington. They were given up to 1,000 pounds with which to construct their factory, procure tools and materials, and pay their mechanics. The public was to not have to pay more than five pounds for a gun or musket. Documentary records include the following description of the firearms to be produced: “Each firelock to be made of ¾ of an inch bore, and a good substance at the breach, the barrel to be 3 feet 8 inches in length, a good lock, the bayonet to be 18 inches in the blade, with a steel ramrod, the upper end of the upper loop to be trumpet mouthed.”

Before the Tories destroyed it, the gun factory produced one hundred muskets with bayonets, three rifles, and six smooth-bore guns. Other gun factories were located in the districts of New Bern, Edenton, Halifax, Hillsborough, and Salisbury.