(Ken) April 11, 2013. Fort Pulaski, one of the original 13 fortifications ordered built by President Madison after the War of 1812 to protect the shipping ports of the United States. Noted as the recipient of the bombardment that changes U.S. artillery forever!
Fort Pulaski’s construction as a ‘Super’ Fort began in 1829 and was completed in 1837. To look at it from the outside, you would wonder what took so long? But read about the facts and it begins to make sense.
The entire fort is supported on a brick and wooden pylon foundation driven some 45 feet into sand and mud. Add on top approximately 250 million bricks making walls anywhere from 7 feet to 11 feet thick and soil and sea shells removed from the moat (yes, moat) to level the inner courtyard and you see why it took 8 years to complete!
Once complete, the fort was manned by no more than 50 men on a regular basis. Therefore, when the southern states seceded from the union, it only took the entire Georgia Militia about 3 hours to overrun the fort in January 1861.
However, the South’s reign over Fort Pulaski was short-lived. The Union began by blockading all sea ports to limit supplies in and out of the south. In doing so, they also sent a large number of Army forces to reacquire the sea port fortifications. On April 9, 1862 the Union began its assault on Fort Pulaski.
Though cannons with rifling had been around for quite some time, they had never been used in battle. With a longer range and utilizing heavier shells, the cannons were accurate from over a mile away. Across the mouth of the southern branch of the Savannah River were the shores of Tybee Island, just out of reach out of reach the cannons at Fort Pulaski.
In a mere 30 hours of almost constant shelling, the Union forces breached the impenetrable walls of Fort Pulaski and the white flag was raised. Two history making events were proven that day; the fortresses were no longer impenetrable, and the use of rifling cannons proved successful.
The Union Army occupied the fort for the remainder of the war. Their first task – rebuild the walls! Fort Pulaski remained an active fort until 1924 when the US Government deemed it no longer useful to the military and they abandoned it!
Our visit to the fort, ironically was on the 151st anniversary of the breaching of the walls. Though there wasn’t any fanfare, it was noted by all of the Rangers and Volunteers maintaining the fort.
It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm with a nice breeze coming in off of the water. So, if you are in the area and decide a visit; don’t forget your sun screen. Being Yankees from the blustery north, (as April is), the thought barely crossed our minds and we paid the price.
Speaking of water, there is also a nice trail that winds its way through a Georgia ‘jungle’ as we called it to the old Cockspur Island Lighthouse. The lighthouse is no longer in service as all of the commercial traffic uses the northern mouth of the Savannah River and modern technology negates the use of the lighthouse, it was still a nice hike out to the water’s edge to see it.
So, until next time, enjoy the photos and……………..cheers.