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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Cassidey's Shipyard

by Bennett L. Steelman, 2006

Cassidey's Shipyard was the smaller of two Confederate shipyards in Wilmington during the Civil War and the construction site of the ironclad CSS Raleigh. The yard was founded when James Cassidey (1792-1866), a ship's carpenter, bought a waterfront lot at the foot of Church Street on the east bank of the Cape Fear River. By the late 1830s he was operating a yard on the site, and by 1846 he was advertising a marine railway. By 1850 the yard was repairing and copper-bottoming sailing ships on the West Indies trade.

Work on the Raleigh, a four-gun steam sloop sometimes classified as a ram, began in mid-1862, about the same time it began on the CSS North Carolina at Beery's Shipyard across the river. However, the Raleigh's construction was frequently stalled. Crews fled the yellow fever epidemics of 1862 and 1863, and workers went on strike when pay was delayed by the Confederate Navy Department. Finally, by 30 Apr. 1863 the Raleigh was in commission.

After the war, Cassidey's Shipyard merged with Benjamin W. Beery's adjoining works at the foot of Nun Street and was renamed Cassidey & Beery. In 1881 S. W. Skinner took over the facility, and by 1911 the Cape Fear Machine Works had moved onto the site.

James Cassidey's listing in Kelley's Wilmington Directory, 1860. Image from of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


William N. Still Jr., Iron Afloat: The Story of the Confederate Armorclads (1985).

Tony P. Wrenn, Wilmington, North Carolina: An Architectural and Historical Portrait (1984).

Additional Resources:

"Cassidey Shipyard." North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program.

Fonvielle, Jr., Chris E. The Wilmington Campaign: Last Departing Rays of Hope. Mechanicsburg, Penn.: Stackpole Books. 2001 p. 15.

Jackson, III, Claude V. "James L. Cassidey & Sons Shipyard (ca 1830 - 1855); Cassidey Brothers & Ross Shipyard (ca 1868 - 1879); Cassidey Brothers Shipyard (1855 - 1880)" Maritime history and survey of the Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear rivers, Wilmington Harbor, North Carolina. Volue 1: Maritime history. Kure Beach, N.C.: North Carolina Office of Archives and History, Dept. of Cultural Resources: 1996. p.213-216.,397966

Image Credits:

Tuther, T., Jr., compiler. Kelley's Wilmington directory to which is added a business directory for 1860-61. Wilmington, N.C.: Geo. H. Kelley. 1860. p. 27.

Origin - location: