Continued from the previous page.
The interpretive signs within the fort are very interesting and Jim had fun looking at
all the cannons and other armament as we continued around the
A flank howitzer
View northwest through an opening for a cannon
Large sling carts were used to move cumbersome cannon barrels and other
During the winter of 1864 parts of four of the fort's walls AKA
"casemates" were used as a military prison for captive Confederate
officers, who were reportedly held under miserable conditions.
This area of the fort has been restored to show what it looked like:
Continuing around the southeast side of the fort we came to the area
that was seriously breached by the Union artillery in 1862.
This is one of the sections that was repaired after Union troops began
occupying the fort:
This area on the southwest side of the fort shows an un-restored bastion
that burned in 1865. It was left as is to show various construction
The cannons mounted on the upper level (called the terreplein) were so
heavy that these thick brick arches and counter-arches were built to
support them. Pillars were also driven 70 feet into the mud of Cockspur
Island to carry the weight of the bricks, sod, people, and artillery.
Midway through our self-tour of the lower level of the fort we headed
across the parade (grassy area) to attend
an interesting musket demonstration by one of the park rangers:
The park ranger was dressed in period clothing. He talked about the
uniforms the men wore and showed us how the muskets were prepped,
loaded, fired, and re-loaded:
The park offers fort tours, demonstrations of military maneuvers, and
presentations of Civil War-era garrison life.
TERREPLEIN -- AND A CAUTIONARY TALE
Here's another new
word to add to your vocabulary.
When we were done with our circuit of the ground level of the fort we
climbed some narrow, winding stone stairs to the top of the walls, which are covered in
grass and have room for numerous cannon mounts. This is called the terreplein.
Visitors can walk the whole
five-sided terreplein around the fort. We stayed mostly near the
southwest corner, where I took the photos in this section:
Empty cannon emplacements to the right and an outer
wall about five feet high;
note the very low brick wall above the parade grounds
to the left.
The panoramic views are great from this elevated position but the outer
walls are high enough that I had to climb up on various platforms to see
over the wall and/or take pictures.
Soon after reaching the terreplein I climbed up on a wooden platform holding a
I was so interested in seeing what was beyond the outer wall on the left -- the moat and
large earthen mounds that held munitions after the war -- that I
stepped off the side of the wooden platform and fell about three feet to the grass below!
Thank goodness I missed some nearby concrete and bricks and didn't hit
my head or face.
Also thank goodness I didn't accidentally stumble over
the inner edge to the lower area of the fort -- it's a long
way down. In some places there is a short inner wall about 18" high.
part of the walls, however, there is barely a masonry lip between the
grass and a freefall down to the parade. You can see what I mean two
photos above. Keep your wits about you up there.
View from the terreplein of a container ship on the
Savannah River; you can see why
three different forts were situated here in the
18th and 19th centuries.
All I damaged in my fall off the wooden cannon platform was an arm and leg. After that it was hard to
lift my right arm high enough to take photos
but I was able to continue touring part of the fort before we left.
Before returning to
the parking area we followed the paved path to this old cemetery on the
northwest side of the demilune:
A few fallen officers are buried here and there is a
monument to the Immortal Six Hundred. Jim is a Civil War buff so he'd
heard of the Immortal Six Hundred but this part of our country's history
was new to me.
I mentioned earlier that Confederate officers were imprisoned at the
fort at one point during the Civil War. You can read more about the
harsh conditions they suffered and the reason they were there in the
first place on the official park
website or a more graphic version on
View toward the demilune mounds from the cemetery
Other than my fall, we enjoyed our tour.
We didn't take the dogs with us this time, although leashed pets are
allowed on the grounds and inside the fort.
There are about 25 miles of
trails on Cockspur and McQueens Islands that hikers and cyclists --
and dogs -- can enjoy. We planned to go back to check some of
them out during this trip but didn't. Next time.
COCKSPUR ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE
In 1848 a lighthouse was built near the fort to mark the entrance to the
south channel of the Savannah River. It was destroyed by a hurricane in
1854 and rebuilt in 1855 -- the lighthouse that can currently be seen
from the fort:
During the Civil War the light was turned off so Fort Pulaski wasn't so
obvious to the enemy. Although the fort was badly damaged during the
1862 bombardment by the Union forces, the lighthouse survived the 30-hour
siege and several more hurricanes.
After the north channel of the river became the main entry for ships,
the lighthouse was deactivated in 1909 and later transferred to the
National Park Service.
There is a half-mile trail to the lighthouse from the fort. From the
channel visitors can get a much better look at Tybee Island across the
channel. If you drive over to Tybee on US 80 you can also see exhibits at Battery
Park, where the Union troops launched their new cannons.
Next entry: We left Savannah on January 25 and drove
farther south to the Mayport Naval Station on the Atlantic coast
east of Jacksonville, Florida. The next entries will be from there.
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2013 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil