Fort Moultrie South Carolina
Historic Fort Moultrie, located on Sullivans Island, South Carolina, is one of the most iconic forts in the history of Charleston and the United States. Fort Moultrie, originally called Ft. Sullivan, played a crucial role in repelling the British from seizing Charleston, known as Charlestown at the time, at the start of the Revolutionary War. Its history as an operational fort ran well into the 20th century. The Fort is known a National Historical Park.
Fort Moultrie was initially constructed of Palmetto Tree logs because Palmettos were abundant on the Island. The soft nature of the logs allowed them to absorb the cannon balls fired from the British warships trying to enter Charleston harbor. The cannonballs did not explode like they would if they were striking stone or hardwood.
A Brief History
Though the fort was hastily constructed and incomplete at the time of the battle, the British Fleet eventually sailed away. Had the British been able to seize Charlestown at the opening of the Revolutionary War, the war’s outcome would probably have been much different. Charlestown, at the time, was one of the colonies’ largest, wealthiest, and most important cities. The loss of Charlestown would have been devastating for the Colonials.
The commander of the Fort during the battle was Colonel William Moultrie. So, the Fort is renamed in his honor for his heroic defense of Charlestown. Also, another hero of the fight was Sergeant William Jasper, who climbed the wall of the Fort to retrieve the flag that the British had shot down. The Fort Moultrie flag flew over the Fort for the rest of the battle. This act of courage under fire raised the morale of the troops as they continued to fight the British. One of the main streets on Sullivans Island is named Jasper’s in his honor.
The Seminole Indian chief, Osceola, who led the Indian resistance to their removal from Florida, was imprisoned here. However, his captivity here was only brief, as he passed away a few months later. Osceola’s grave is located outside the main entrance to the fort.
Although, there have several been several incarnations of the fort over the centuries. Most of these versions can still be toured when you visit Fort Moultrie. However, the original Palmetto log fort is no longer standing. A vacation on Sullivan’s Island would not be complete without visiting Ft. Moultrie.
Also located in Charleston Harbor is another fort that played a critical role in the history of the United States, Fort Sumter. The Federal Army garrison at Fort Moultrie left for Fort Sumter when South Carolina seceded from the Union. Shots fired from Fort Moultrie and Fort Johnson, located on James Island, started the Civil War.
Fort Sumter’s location was important for whichever side controlled it. Navy nor cargo ships from the Confederate or Union side could not safely enter the harbor while the opposing side held the fort. The Union and Confederate armies wanted to control this strategic location in Charleston Harbor. The battle for Fort Sumter lasted almost the entire Civil War.
Fort Sumter is open to visitors and is only accessible by boat. Boats to the fort leave from downtown Charleston and Patriots Point in Mt. Pleasant. Spend a half day enjoying a boat ride and visit. Sumter is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of the United States or The Civil War.