Tag Archives: fort

Fort Moultrie National Monument, Charleston

fort moultrie signFort Moultrie was first built in 1776 (at that time called Fort Sullivan) to prevent British naval incursions into Charleston Harbour. It was built of palmetto log walls that readily absorbed the shots and shells fired when 9 Royal Navy warships attacked on June 28, 1776. Colonel William Moultrie and his 400 men fought a day long battle that ended with the heavily damaged British ships being driven from the area. This decisive American victory galvanized the Patriot’s cause for independence, and resulted in the fort now being called Fort Moultrie.

The first fort was beaten up and washed away by storm waves so a 2nd fort was built in 1798 of earth and timber. It unfortunately faces the same demise due to coastal storms. The third and present fort was constructed of brick in 1809. Originally fitted with 40 guns, the fort garrison consisted of 500 men.

On December 26, 1860, six days after South Carolina left the Union, Fort Moultrie’s small Federal garrison abandoned the fort, moving to the unfinished but more defendable Fort Sumter. State militia troops occupied Fort Moultrie the next day. Confederate Fort Moultrie participated in the April 12, 1861 firing on Fort Sumter that began the American Civil War. Heavily damaged by Federal bombardments that commenced in 1863, Fort Moultrie remained in Confederate hands until February 1865.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Fort Moultrie underwent numerous changes as improving military and engineering technologies added to the complexities of coastal defence.

New threats of submarine and aerial attacks ultimately rendered static seacoast defences obsolete. On August 15, 1947 the army lowered Fort Moultrie’s flag for the last time, ending 71 years of service.

This was the last of our Charleston Forts and Hunter proudly got another Junior Ranger Badge along with his Civil War Historian patch!

 

Fort Sumter National Monument (Charleston Harbour)

fort sumter signWe have been working our way up to Fort Sumter National Monument as it is the starting point of the American Civil War between the Union and Confederate. We were all quite excited to spend some time here. Fort Sumter is on a small island in the middle of the Charleston harbour and is only accessible by boat, which leaves from either the Fort Sumter visitor centre or from Patriots Point, which was where we caught the boat.

Fort Sumter has a long and varied past. It was built as part of the coastal defence program that was initiated in the mid-1800’s to protect the United States from potential conflicts with the British, French & Spanish. Charleston was a high priority location due to the deepwater port and economic trade so there were actually 4 defence sites built in the harbour; Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie, Fort Johnson and Castle Pinckney.

On December 20, 1860 South Carolina voted to secede from the United States of America (click on the link for all the reasons why, they are fascinating). After that vote, the South Carolina Governor (confederates) decided to take all of the National fortifications, including the 4 sites in Charleston Harbour. At this time, the only fort that was actually “in service” Federally was Fort Moultrie, under the leadership of Major Anderson. Following the succession vote, he chose to move his men, under cover of darkness, out to Fort Sumter as he felt it was more defendable. At the time, the last stage of armament for Fort Sumter was not yet completed so, although there were very tall walls and a surrounding of water, there were no mounted cannons.

For the next 2 months, the Confederates demanded that the Union leave Fort Sumter and the Union refused. During that time, the garrison was busy trying to complete the armament of the Fort. When the Confederates finally attacked, only half of the cannons had been mounted and the Major Anderson surrender after 34 hours of battle. The Confederate Army was able to hold Fort Sumter for 4 years before it was taken back by the Union as part of Sherman’s March to the Sea.

Although a bit rushed, as you are only able to stay on Fort Sumter for 1 hour, we completed another Junior Ranger badge and the 2nd of our 3 forts towards our Civil War Historian badge.

Fort Jackson – the little fort that could…

fort jackson visitors centreFort Jackson is a restored 19th century fort on the banks of the Savannah River. It is a National Historic Monument and the oldest standing brick fort in Georgia.

In 1808 Fort Jackson was started as a brick fortification, built upon an old earthen battery from the Revolutionary War, as part of Thomas Jefferson’s national defence fortification system. Fort Jackson saw fairly immediate use during the War of 1812 against the British. During the 1840’s & 50’s additional construction occurred with the addition of a moat, drawbridge, barracks, privies a rear wall and another powder magazine.

The intent of Fort Jackson was to protect the City of Savannah that was just upriver. During the Civil War, it was a Confederate fort that successfully held back numerous Union attacks. Even well after Fort Pulaski down stream had been taken. It was turned over to the Union troops when General Sherman took Savannah on his famous “March to the Sea”.

Having spent the morning at Fort Pulaski, it was interesting to see the difference in size, structure and approach to construction during different time periods. We were lucky to be the only ones in the fort when we visited (bad weather scared off most people) so we got a personalized musket firing demonstration. You can never see enough of these!

fort jackson soldier with musketThrough all of our reading and fort adventures, Hunter had really become quite knowledgeable about the who/what/where/when of American Revolutionary & Civil Wars. He can recite all of the steps and tools used to fire both muskets and cannons and has his eye out for civil war costumes that he can pick up for halloween next year.

fort jackson hunter confederate hat

Fort Pulaski, Tybee Island Georgia

fort pulaski cannon studyingFort Pulaski is a Civil War fort that is now a National Monument run by the National Parks Service. It was commissioned by President James Madison as part of the coastal fortification system shortly after the War of 1812. Construction started in 1829 and they were still working on the armament in 1860. As it turned out, before United States troops could occupy the fort, they had to conquer it.

fort pulaski lee hunter

On January 3, 1861, 2 weeks after South Carolina seceded from the Union, and one week after Federal troops occupied Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbour, Georgia Governor Joseph Brown ordered state militia to seize Fort Pulaski for the Confederate States of America.

When it was constructed, people felt that it was “un-takeable” as it had 7.5 foot walls and was located over 1,000 yards away from the closest firm ground. This was based on the usage of smooth bore heavy artillery. When the Union came to attack in February 1862, they spent 2 months hauling heavy artillery across the sand and marsh of Tybee Island at night. They brought with them 5 experimental rifled cannons and it was these cannons that successfully penetrated the fort walls and resulted in the Confederates surrender after only 30 hours. The union then took over the fort, repaired the breached wall (notice the red bricks) and used it as a base to attack Savannah and a prison for Confederate soldiers.

The entire fort area is incredibly well maintained. It felt like we were in England looking at old forts and castles there, with the green grass, large moats and solid fort walls.

fort pulaski musket firing

They had a great interpretive program and junior ranger program. We all learn so much from these and Hunter is so proud of the badges that he gets. Because we are doing this as part of our school curriculum, Hunter has to complete all pages of each book vs the minimum to get the badge. We learned all about firing a musket and about the transition from smooth bore to rifled artillery.

fort pulaski rifle cannon

Fort Frederica, Georgia

fort frederica visitor centreFort Frederica is a National Monument run by the National Parks Service. It is more of a ruins than an actual fort these days and highlights the 1700’s when Georgia was settled by the British, through to 1742 when the British and Spanish clashed as part of Spain’s attempt to expand north from Florida. The British were successful in defending their land and the fort was disbanded shortly after then 1742 battle.

Walking through this fort was a big change from the Castillo de San Marcos that we saw the day before. The grounds were beautiful but it left a lot up to your imagination.

The visitors centre had some great artifacts of that time period. The best was a 1700’s drinking game that is the precursor to pinball. Games were how pubs differentiated themselves from each other to gain customers.

fort frederica drinking game

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine Florida

hunter castillo soldiersThe Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the United States. It was built by Spain in 1672 and finished in 1699. It was built after the previous 9 wooden forts had been burnt down since St. Augustine’s establishment in 1565.  It is now a National Monument managed by the National Park Service.

hunter castillo overview

It was our first fort as part of our current American History school work and it was a hit! Even though the wind was blowing and the temps were quite cold, we stayed a good 2 hours wandering through every room, watching the videos, reading the signs and completing our Junior Ranger Badge.

lee hunter castillo entranceHunter was quite enthralled with all of the people in period costume and has added this to his very long list of possible jobs for when he grows up.

The highlight of this stop was the live cannon firing. We learned all about the steps that are taken, the drills that the soldiers do and then got to watch them fire the cannon. It was all very formal and hard to envision in the heat of battle

Another great National Parks Junior Ranger program completed and another badge earned with pride.

castillo junior ranger