USRS Cutter Mercury Historical Marker to be Dedicated on Ocracoke

On the 200th anniversary of the USRS Cutter Mercury escaping the invasion of Ocracoke, a historical marker will be dedicated in honor of the ship and her crew.

The marker will be unveiled Friday, July 12 at 11 a.m. on N.C. 12 in Ocracoke Village.

At 2 p.m., the public is invited to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras for a presentation by USCG historian Bill Thiesen on USRS cutter service along the North Carolina coast during the War of 1812. The Museum will also have a model of the Mercury on display as well as an exhibition on USRS cutters.

“The Mercury is extremely important,” says Museum director Joseph Schwarzer. “It was built on Ocracoke and on top of that, the Mercury was the only vessel to escape Cockburn’s raid during the War of 1812.”

On July 11, 1813, British Admiral Sir George Cockburn arrived off Ocracoke leading a Royal Navy squadron made up of nearly 2000 men. The residents of Ocracoke warned North Carolina officials of the Royal Navy’s presence and in the early morning hours of July 12, 1813, a customs office sent a trunk with money and bonds on board the Revenue Cutter Mercury with directions to sail as quickly as possible to New Bern to spread the alarm.

Under the command of Captain David Wallace, the Mercury left for New Bern, with British barges giving chase. After a chase of almost 10 miles, the British finally gave up and the cutter reached New Bern, firing alarm guns as it approached. Notifications were sent to Raleigh to warn the governor as well as the neighboring counties to call out the militia.

 “It is because of the Mercury that we avoided the invasion and destruction of New Bern,” says Schwarzer. “The fact that this cutter played such a pivotal role in the War of 1812 is extraordinary.”

Almost 1600 historical markers have been erected with the cooperation of the Department of Transportation over the past 77 years. The Mercury marker is the seventh in Hyde County and the third on Ocracoke. 

About the Museum

The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum is located at 59200 Museum Drive in Hatteras. Exhibits tell the stories of the USS Monitor, the Civil War, pirates, the U-85, lighthouses and the U.S. Life Saving Service, shipwrecks, heroic rescues, and mysteries of the deep. The Museum is part of the North Carolina Maritime Museum system,, which is also comprised of the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort and the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport. All three museums are part of the Division of State History Museums in the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources,

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