Thursday, January 19, 2012

Formidable Fortifications

Soaking in the history that Savannah and the surrounding area had to offer, The Colonel and I visited two forts during our early 25th anniversary trip (August 11-16, 2011).

The first fort we visited, Fort King George, was the oldest of the two. From its construction in 1721 until it was abandoned in 1732, Fort King George was the southernmost outpost of the British Empire in North America. It was named for King George I of Britain. The garrison stationed there faced tremendous hardships from disease, malnutrition, heat, biting insects (still present when The Colonel and I visited) and threats by the Spanish and Indians. The garrison eventually withdrew back to South Carolina in 1727, but two lookouts stayed behind to keep watch and warn of any invaders crossing the Altamaha River nearby. The fort was finally abandoned in 1732.

In 1736, Highland Scots recruited by General James Oglethorpe (remember him from an earlier post?) occupied the fort site. They built temporary thatched huts that served as housing. Later Oglethorpe moved the settlement a short distance upriver to a higher bluff and had a new fort built, Fort Darien.

After our visit to Fort King George, we visited Fort Pulaski located on Cockspur Island.

Fort Pulaski's construction began in 1829. It took $1 million, 25 million bricks and 18 years of toil to finish. It was named for Count Casimir Pulaski, the Polish hero of the American Revolution who lost his life in the unsuccessful siege of Savannah in 1779.

In April of 1861, Union troops located on Tybee Island, bombarded Confederate held Fort Pulaski on Cockspur Island with around 5,275 shells. Shells from both Union and Confederate troops passed over the little Cockspur Lighthouse, with never a one hitting it (thank goodness or I would not have been able to get some of those great pictures of the little Cockspur lighthouse).

The Confederate Army surrendered to the Union Army 30 hours after the bombardment began.

The fort was used by the Union Army as a prison from October 1864 to March 1865. The prisoners endured scurvy, starvation and dysentery. One year after becoming prisoners, 537 men were transferred to Fort Delaware. The remaining 13 prisoners would die at Fort Pulaski, their bodies dehydrated and emaciated. There are some people who claim that the prison area of the fort is still haunted by those Confederate prisoners.

It was very interesting to visit both of the forts and to see how fortifications had changed in the years between 1721 and 1829.

No comments:

Post a Comment