Tour of Fort McAllister
A visit to Fort McAllister State Historic
Park may include a number of different elements. These include,
in addition to special programs, a tour of the Civil War fortification,
a tour of the Museum located within the new Visitor's Center, a
tour of the outdoor display of larger recovered artifacts of the
C.S.S. Nashville to augment the exhibit within the museum, and a
tour of the lower story of reconstructed overseer's home as used
as Confederate Headquarters during occupation of the site. Finally,
the site has a well developed and signed Nature Trail through the
Redbird Creek area.
Visitors may also use the campground, RV sites, playground, and
picnic area, as well as group shelter. Canoes/kayak trips are regularly
scheduled. Bicycles and a public boat ramp round out the sites many
A deep ditch (or dry moat) surrounding the fort never
held water; it held sharpened palisades like those you see today
as obstacles to land attacks.
The parade ground was a center of activity for soldiers
when the fort was idle, but during attacks the open area could be
a dangerous place. An eyewitness wrote, "For five hours the
fort was subjected to a continued and heavy bombardment [not only]
from the ironclads but also from the gunboats and mortar boats,
which at a distance beyond the reach of our guns, with their rifled
cannon, threw projectile after projectile within the very parade
of the fort." Proceed to the left of the next marker.
This 32-pounder hot shot gun earned its name by
aiming heated cannon balls at wooden ships to set them on fire.
The gun is a smoothboore and is typical of the 32-ponders which
were originally emplaced in the fort. Proceed down the steps into
the parade area.
Solid iron cannon balls were heated red hot for
use in the hot shot gun. Gunners entered the furnace through the
tunnel in the rear where projectiles were loaded, heated, and
carried to the gun. Proceed to the center bombproof.
The large bombproof was used as a hospital and supply
area as well as a refuge during naval bombardments. During the
March 3, 1863 assault, a group of Confederate officers and men
were assembled in the hallway and around the outside entrance
when a 15-inch shell struck the top of the bombproof, rolled down
to the door sill and exploded. All the soldiers were burned by
the explosion's flash, but no one was seriously injured. Enter
the bombproof and look around. After exiting, turn right and walk
up the steps onto the parapet.
The left angle gun position was one of the original
four which made up the battery that became Fort McAllister. During
the naval bombardment of February 1, 1863 a 15-inch shell from
the Union Montauk passed completely through the parapet at this
point. After Sherman's forces captured the fort in December 1864,
a signal station was established on this site to communicate with
the navel vessels in the river.
During the naval assaults on the fort, the Federal
ironclads took up positions at the same point against the opposite
side of the river. These positions provided the best angle for
shelling the fort. The Confederates quickly grasped the situation,
and volunteer sharpshooters landed in the marsh opposite the fort.
From this point they braved the fire to harass the ironclads by
firing at the open gun ports. One naval officer was wounded when
he stepped on deck to observe the effects the ironclad's guns
were having on the fort. The ironclad raked the marsh with grapeshot
and cannister in response, but no casualties were sustained by
the sharpshooters. Proceed to the right to the next marker.
This gun emplacement was one of four positions comprising
the original battery. During the February1, 1863 attack, the ironclad
Montauk was directed principally at this gun. The continuous fire
on this point knocked down the wall leaving the gun and its crew
completely exposed. Major Anderson wrote, "The detachment
did not leave the gun...but fought to the close of the action,
refusing to be relieved." During the March 3, 1863 attack,
the Federal ironclads' fire was again directed at this gun. An
11-inch shell struck the gun carriage and exploded in the gun
chamber among eight or ten men without injuring anyone. A shell
fragment the size of a man's head passed between two men only
20 inches apart. The gun carriage was completely shattered. That
night Federal mortar boats kept up an intermittent fire in an
attempt to prevent repairs, but a volunteer detachment of sharpshooters
worked throughout the night to repair the fort's damage. Continue
around to the right to the Columbiad position. After examining
the gun, return up the stairs and continue along the front face
of the fort to the next marker.
This position was one of two positions added to
the fort after January 27, 1863 to reinforce the smaller battery.
An eight-inch Columbiad mounted here was disabled during the naval
assault on March 3, 1863 when one of its traverse wheels, used
to move and aim the gun, was shattered by a shell fragment. Private
Carroll Hanson of the Emmett Rifles dodged falling shot and shell
to get to the rear of the fort to retrieve a spare wheel. He rolled
the heavy wheel the entire distance, passing safely back through
the falling shells. The gun was quickly repaired and once again
took part in the action. Proceed down the steps to marker #10
to the left.
This is a reconstruction of the service magazine
which held shells, powder, fuses and implements for the 32-pounder
rifled gun. Proceed to the left to marker #11.
This gun position, together with the eight-inch
Colmbiad position adjoining it, compised the two positions which
were added to the battery in late January 1863. A 32-pounder rifled
gun, the only one ever mounted in the fort, was emplaced here.
The rifled gun and Major Gallie's gun were the cannons carrying
the burden of the fort's long range defense. Continue to the right
past the rear of the center bombproof to the sally port and marker
After the Union naval assalult on March 3, 1863,
the fort's rear defenses were strengthened and light field guns
brought in to defend against land attacks. The sally port allowed
easy access for supply wagons and heavy guns to the interior of
the fort. During Sherman's December 13, 1864 assault, the sally
port was probably filled in, blocked by palisades and a cannon
emplaced here. Walk out through the moat and turn right to return
to the museum or turn left for the extended tour. Follow the boardwalk
to the mortar battery and marker #13.
This earthen wall provided shelter during the naval
bompardments allowing soldiers to move between the fort and the
mortar battery safely while under fire. After the March 3, 1863
naval assault, Union mortar schooners kept up an intermittent
fire on the fort during the night to hinder any repair operation.
The only shell to strike the fort duting this time hit the top
of this wall, caused a crater measuring four feet in diameter
and two feet deep. Proceed on to the morar battary.
Confederate Captain Robert Martin commanded the
10-inch mortar emplaced here. During the February 1, 1863 naval
attack, the mortar responded to the Federal fire for an hour and
a half before the wooden platform supporting the piece collapsed
under the weight of continuous firing. Captain Martin continued
to use the mortar by firing from the chamber's ground floor. He
wrote, "My men were frequently covered with sand, and fragments
of shell frequently fell arround us." During the March 3,
1863 naval attack, the mortar fired some shells filled with sand
in an attempt to penetrate the ironclads' decks, but most of the
shells hitting the vessels burst open on the deck, scattering
During the final attack by Sherman's troops on December
13, 1864, soldiers of the 47th Ohio Infantry advanced along the
river shore areas, bypassing the palisades which ended at the
high-water mark, and scaled the fort's river face. The first U.S.
flag planted on the parapets was emplaced at this point on the
river wall. During furious fighting in this position, Union troops
were driven back but other Federals penetrated the southwest angle
and gained entrance to the fort.