2013  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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   TOUR OF FORT PULASKI, p. 2

THURSDAY, JANUARY 24

 
 
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 ground floor: 

 


A flank howitzer


View northwest through an opening for a cannon

Large sling carts were used to move cumbersome cannon barrels and other heavy equipment:

 

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 details:

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.

MUSKET DEMONSTRATION

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.

THE 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 cannon:

 

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.

Along 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 Wikipedia.


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 entryWe 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.

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2013 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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