eyeing the dead…a trip to Fort Pulaski

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One of the things I look for and like on my travels and road trips is history, historical places, towns with a rich heritage and things of that nature.  With so much focus on the future the past is more and more forgotten Near Tybee Island Georgia between the island and Savannah over a long bridge lies Fort Pulaski. This fort is from the American civil war but its history in the area goes back farther than that. This fort is not just rich with history but is also architectural wonder.

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After you park your car, you walk down a path.  You pass by a grave and a memorial honoring the immortal 600 hundred within the view of the forts walls. Then in front of you lies a giant moat, like a moat from medieval times surrounding a castle. This moat like many small bodies of water in south has several alligators in it. The only way over it is across a small wooden bridge that at one point rose up and down. Once across you find yourself surrounded by massive mounds of earth covered in grass. Beneath these mounds are passage ways which go underground to each mound and occasionally stairs take you up to path way which leads you to yet another set of tunnels. These mounds all lay in front of the main fort and when the confederates held the Fort Pulaski, these mounds did not exist. At that point, it was flat and placed there were cannons, tents and ammunition and was the forts first line of defense. After the fort was taken by the Union army the mounds were put in and underneath large cement vaults housed ammunition and arms and possibly other things.  The fort remained the North’s southernmost fort until the end of the war.

The particular day I was there the fort was slow for a bit and I found myself wandering these tunnels alone which were sparsely lit and some rooms not lit all. You could feel the history surround you, the sounds of cannons and muskets ringing in the distance. As I walked thru, I noticed the floor and walls had shells in them, it was something I had never seen before and I was curious about it. It was an architectural oddity that I would see again at the southern end of Georgia in another very old town I drove through which is off the beaten path. I will admit these tunnels were confusing and I found myself lost in them for a bit. Ending up in a pitch-black room 30 feet deep was somewhat unnerving to me.

outer wall of Fort Pulaski. pic came form google
outer wall of Fort Pulaski. pic came form google

Eventually I made it out and came to another bridge, which led in to the main fort. I was amazed at the high walls and shape of the fort which you will see in the pictures. The fort was very minimalist I thought and in the center sat a large courtyard covered in grass now. As I walked, I was able to look at the commanding officers quarters, lesser officer quarters and the barracks for the enlisted men. Seeing how they lived and what they had to protect was interesting. On the tops of the fort sat large cannons that were the size of a pickup truck or large car. When I walked on the ramparts and looked out over the swampy and wet lands that surrounded the fort I could not imagine what it was like as the might of the northern army was coming down on  the  men defending Pulaski. I imagined musket balls whizzing by my head and heated cannon balls flying over my head and exploding…I don’t know that I could have handled it.

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Fort Pulaski has the unique quality of being one of the few forts from the civil war, which served both the north and the south. It was a rarity and something I never realized. Even though I was not following a tour and going on my own as usual I did over hear the national park guides talking and these men and women have an immense knowledge of this fort, the area and the time period. Next time I go a tour is something I will do.

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Walking around the bottom level of the fort which at one point held even more cannons than the top some of which are still there I was amazed at just how well the armed the fort was. The tracks were still in the wood floors, which allowed the solders to move the cannons from side to side.  The fact the fort was ever taken was something that felt impossible as I walked around and looked at it. It was a fortress by every sense of the word. The walls were 7 ½ feet thick and made of brick and stone and around 50 feet high.

Eventually I came to the portion of the wall, which was breached by the northern cannons of superior tech and ultimately leading to the forts southern commander Col. Olmstead to give up the fort. Dozens of men…boys died in this section and you could almost hear the screams, cried and footsteps of the soldiers, who lived, worked and died here. I learned that the siege by the north was one of the most costly of the entire war in men and money for the union and process they never repeated. It was  moment in military history when technology overcame fort designs. Walking around I learned that Col. Olmstead regretted for the rest of his days at giving up the fort.

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From a tourist standpoint, this was a very great deal and very cheap, it only cost 5 bucks to get in and the pass was good for a week so you could come back anytime within that week. This was something I found also at Magnolia Gardens in South Carolina near Charleston. It is something I never seen before on my travels. It must be part of that whole southern hospitality thing which I did find a lot of. On my visit a few things cut my time short one being a very very….VERY large group of elementary school and high school students. I think it was great they were there learning and it was funny to watch them (the little kids) run around and discover things. However, the high school kids were annoying and rude. The gift shop was immense and gave equal time to both north and south and offered some really cool options such as map reprints and some more expensive artifacts. I am kicking myself for not getting a few things….perhaps on my trip back up.

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I found myself being rushed and I do not like that. Also my cell phone died and I didn’t have my backup battery unit on me so I wasn’t able to take nearly the amount of pictures as I would have liked and that just irritated the shit out of me. It died just after getting inside the fort walls. On a side note, I arrived with a full battery. However, I noticed my battery draining unusually fast while I was in parts of the fort and especially under the mounds out in front where I had an eerie feeling a time or two…so I will let you ponder that since I still am. I was only at the fort for about an hour so my full battery should have been plenty. My trip time frame also required me to get on the road and keep heading south so I had to leave. I think had the kids not been there though I would have been more inclined to walk back to my car and get the backup power supply for my phone an go back in.

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There is so much that I feel like I should say in this blog about this amazing for but I don’t know enough about to do it justice so I will provide links to the National Park Service website for the fort and you can check it out there. I know I will leave many things out. That saying, I really think this fort as well as the area is worth visiting if you are in the Savannah area. Here the link. http://www.nps.gov/fopu/index.htm

fort p
pic came from google

Here is a link to video I took and I just watched it before posting….i have no idea why the video slows down once i go underground and didn’t notice it while I was filming it. Once I am above ground it goes back to normal. Oh and sorry about it being sideways I don’t know how to fix that and am new to this whole Vlog thing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6He9LOua0wU&feature=youtu.be

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7 thoughts on “eyeing the dead…a trip to Fort Pulaski

  1. I really enjoyed the tour of the fort. I didn’t realize that it had fallen in the hands of the Yankees That means that they were using our weapons against us. I can understand the commander of the fort having a hard time justifying the surrendering of the fort. Hindsight.

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