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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 offerings.

 

Staff offers, on a regular basis, guided tours of the Fort itself. This tour includes the earthworks, surrounding palisades, gun emplacements, powder magazines and bombproofs. This tour offers an excellent view of the fortifications geographical placement with the Great Ogeechee, Seven-Mile Bend, Ossabaw Sound and surrounding swampy areas. A self-guided tour allows visitors open access as well.

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 #12.

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 sand.

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.

 
 

 



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