Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites


 

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General History
Civil War Period
Timeline for Fort McAllister
Terms & Their Definitions
Terms Relative to Fort McAllister
The American Civil War & Fort McAllister Quiz
Museum Scavenger Hunt
Museum Sequence (Teacher's Guide)
A Soldier's Life During The Civil War
Historical Maps Activity
Maps of Savannah & Vacinity
Mathematics
Using Primary Sources in Historical Inquiry


GENERAL HISTORY OF THE SITE

This site occupies a point of land extending into Ossabaw Sound. Along its northernmost side the Great Ogeechee River empties into the Atlantic opposite Ossabaw Island, a barrier island. The point’s southern side is edged with marsh and salt creeks. This area, then, offers ready access to river, marsh and sea from the mainland.

Historical records and archaeological evidence suggest that the first Native Americans, the Guale Indians, inhabited this site as early as 3000 B.C. Their presence continued and was recorded at the time of first European contact in the late 1500’s and early 1600’s as the Spanish set up missions along the Georgia coast. European contact greatly reduced their presence in the area for many reasons and all evidence indicates the Guale Indian population was completely gone by the mid-1740’s. Records reveal the Muskogee Creek Indians began to inhabit the area at this time, coinciding with the arrival of the English settlers.

The Native American inhabitants were not likely permanent residents of the site for any long period of time. Their culture tended to be nomadic as they practiced hunter-gatherer form of economic life. At some time they would occupy a site for a number of years; more often, however, they visit a site during the year to coincide with a hunting or fishing season or the ripening of some plant or fruit.

A number of archeological explorations on the site have reveled sporadic occupation, the location of possible villages and burials. Pottery shreds and projectile points indicate the time and intensity of occupation. Further evidence is needed however, to complete the prehistoric record of habitation at the site.

The greatest interest of the English colonies in the site occurred with the establishment and settling of the colony of Georgia in 1734. Initially the land was granted to I. Baker and Paul Jenys from South Carolina. Visited by naturalist William Bartram in 1750, the area was known as Jennis Point.

Passed by deed to the Governor of Georgia, Henry Ellis, the land was acquired by Thomas Stone just before the American Revolution and called “Genesis” Point. It was owned by various planters who cultivated rice and later cotton, as well as other agricultural activities at the site throughout the early period of American history. Finally, in 1850, Genesis Point was bequeathed to Joseph L. McAllister from his father.

 


CIVIL WAR PERIOD

At the outbreak of the Civil War, McAllister founded the Hardwicke Mounted Rifles, which later served in Virginia. He also agreed to allow the construction of a Confederate with earthwork fortification for four guns on his land. This structure was to guard the southern flank of the Savannah defenses as well as the entrance to the Ogeechee River. An important railroad trestle of the Atlantic and Gulf railroad, as well as rich cotton and rice plantations, lay upstream.

The initial structure, built with slave labor, was augmented by the construction of officers’ quarters and barracks. The capture of Hilton Head, S.C. by the Union in 1861, and a visit by Robert E. Lee to the site to review its defenses, brought additional strengthening to the fort. The occupation of Tybee Island and the blockade of the Savannah port were followed by the fall of Fort Pulaski in 1862. Now called Fort McAllister, its defenders added obstructions to the river.

At nearly the same time the blockade-runner, Thomas L. Wragg, formerly called the C.S.S.Nashville, slipped into the Ogeechee River. This steamship had outrun the Union vessels blockade at the port of Charleston and had became trapped upstream on the Ogeechee River as the Union blockade then closed in around Genesis Point.

Throughout the remainder of 1862, Union vessels attempted to reach the ship. To do so, however, meant they must pass the guns at Fort McAllister. Despite four attempts and heavy shelling, the Union Navy was unable to silence McAllister’s guns. At the end of the year 1862, the Confederate ship Thomas L. Wragg, the railroad line and the plantations on the Ogeechee River were still protected from a Union attack by Fort McAllister. The damage to the Fort from naval shells was quickly and easily repaired.

In early 1863, the Union blockade was strengthened the addition of ironclads, heavily armored vessels, that the Union felt could destroy the fortifications and reach the Thomas L. Wragg. The U.S.S. Montauk attempted and failed to capture the fort on January 27 and February 1, 1863. After being converted to a privateer and renamed the Rattlesnake, the ship attempted to run the blockade on February 27. The attempt failed and while retreating upstream the ship ran aground rounding Seven-Mile Bend just upriver from the fort.

The next morning, the U.S.S. Montauk returned, anchored just downstream and began the battle. Her shelling of the grounded Rattlesnake finally resulted in the ship catching fire and sinking. Despite Fort McAllister’s repeated shelling of the Montauk and the Union gunboat’s steady bombardment of the fort, Fort McAllister’s batteries remained intact. Nor did the Montauk suffer any significant damage from the fighting. However when removing from battle the ship struck a mine and was severely damaged. On March 3, 1863, three additional Union ironclads joined the attack on Fort McAllister. Unable to silence Fort McAllister’s guns after hours of bombardment, the Union ships withdrew.

Fort McAllister continued to guard the Ogeechee River until late 1864 when General Sherman’s army of 60,000 troops began to close in on Savannah. Controlling the Ogeechee River for supplies was critical to General Sherman’s plan so he dispatched a union division to cross Bryan’s Neck and attack Fort McAllister from the rear by land. Fort McAllister was never constructed to withstand a land attack and the fort fell after only fifteen minutes of intense battle in the late afternoon of December 13, 1864. Sherman’s March to the Sea ended and the Ogeechee River now lay open. Within a week, the City of Savannah was the Union’s and presented to President Lincoln as a Christmas present from General Sherman.

Nature reclaimed the land at Genesis Point following the Civil War and the remains of Fort McAllister were forgotten. In the 1930’s, automobile manufacturer Henry Ford purchased the land and began restoration of the Civil War earthwork fortification. Before completing the restoration, the land was passed to the International Paper Company, which then deeded it to the State of Georgia. The site opened to the public in 1963, 100 years after the great bombardment by the Union ironclads.

 


TIMELINE FOR FORT McALLISTER

3,000 BC

Native American Inhabitation (Guale Indians)

14th & 15th Centuries

Spanish and French contact with the area

1733

Settlement of Georgia; Land to South Carolina planters

1774

Continued cultivation; called Genesis Point

1861

Owned by Joseph McAllister; building of Genesis Point Battery by Confederates

1862

1862 Fort McAllister withstands repeated attacks by U.S. Navy; Thomas L. Wragg protected by Fort McAllister. Also guards southern flank of Savannah, land access and railroad bridge over the Ogeechee River and up river plantations from Union attacks.

1863

1863 Arrival and attack by Union ironclad, USS Montauk fails to capture the fort, but does sink the Rattlesnake, formerly the Thomas L. Wragg. Attack against fort by additional union ironclads fail as well.

1864

Attack on Fort McAllister by the Union Army from land succeeds. Fort McAllister surrenders to Sherman’s forces ending his March to the Sea.

1865

McAllister magazines and bomb proofs burned and abandoned

1925

Genesis Point purchased by automobile manufacturer, Henry Ford

1937

Fort restoration begins

1952

Site of fort sold to International Paper Company

1958

Site donated to the State of Georgia

1964

Fort McAllister Park Historic Site opened to the public

1970

Richmond Hill State Park opened next to site

1980

Fort McAllister Historic Park created from combination of park and historic site

 



TERMS & THEIR DEFINITIONS
Anaconda Plan

The Anaconda Plan was drawn up by General Winfield Scott to end the American Civil War in favor of the North. The plan was adopted in 1862, involving two main parts.

  1. Blockade the coast of the South to prevent the export of cotton, tobacco, and other cash crops from the South and to keep them from importing much-needed war supplies.
  2. Divide the South by controlling the Mississippi River to cut off the southeastern states from the western. Scott considered this an "envelopment" rather than an "invasion", although it would require armies and fleets of river gunboats to accomplish it.
Consumers
One who acquires goods or services, a buyer
Culture
The totality of social transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought that are characteristic of a community or population of people
Currency
Any form of money in actual use as a medium of exchange
Free Trade
Trade arrangement where tariffs or other barriers to the free flow of goods and services are eliminated
Geographic Regions
The topography of a specific area of land
Goods
Commodities or wares; things people need and these are generally bought or sold
Landforms
A feature of the earth’s surface, such as hills, plateaus, mountains, valleys, etc.
Market Economy
A country in which most economic decisions are left up to individual consumers and firms interacting through markets
Productive Resources
The categories of the types of resources used to make or produce the things people buy, sell and use; natural, human, capital goods and entrepreneurial.
Producers
A person or organization that grows or manufactures goods or services for sale
Reconstruction
The period (1865-77) during which the states of the Southern Confederacy were controlled by the Federal Government before being readmitted to the United States.
Services
Work done for others as an occupation or business
Sherman’s March to the Sea
The name commonly given to a military campaign conducted in late 1864 by Major General William T. Sherman of the Union Army during the American Civil War. The campaign began with General Sherman's troops leaving the captured city of Atlanta, Georgia on November 15, 1864, and ended with the capture of Fort McAllister on December 13 and then the port of Savannah on December 22, 1864.
State’s Rights
The political position that supports a strict interpretation of the Constitution that limits the Federal government’s powers and gives the individual state their own autonomy to the greatest possible degree
Taxes
A financial contribution required of individuals, groups or businesses within the domain of the government to pay for the cost of running that government.
Topographical Features

The physical features specific to a place or region

 


TERMS RELATIVE TO FORT McALLISTER
Artillery
Large guns such as cannon that fires solid balls or explosive shells.
Battery
A group of one or more artillery pieces placed together.
Blockade
Ships placed to prevent entrance and exit from a harbor.
Bombproof
A structure built to resist destruction by artillery shells and bombs.
Earthworks
Mounds of dirt or earth behind which soldiers fire cannons; earthen walls. Also referred to as traverses.
Hot Shot
Artillery shell heated before firing at wooden ships to set them ablaze.
Ironclad
Ships with iron plates designed to protect them from artillery fire.
Land Torpedoes
Buried explosives designed to explode when stepped upon; land mines.
Mortar
Cannon which fires shells at low speed, short range and high elevation. Loaded from the front or the muzzle.
Palisades
Fence of sharpened logs placed side-by-side to form a defense.
Parade
Flat, open area within the fort where troops assemble.
Privateer
Privately owned ship working for one side and its own profit.
Rifled Cannon
A cannon with spiral grooves on the inside or bore of the barrel. It’s cone-shaped projectile rotates to give greater accuracy and distance.
Sally Port
Large, main entrance to the fort, usually in the rear away from the enemy.
Sharpshooter
Expert marksman. Someone who is very accurate hitting difficult targets.
Smoothbore Cannon

One with the inside or bore that is very smooth. Fires a round explosive or solid projectile.

 


THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR & FORT McALLISTER QUIZ

Students can find the answers to these questions in their text, through discussion or by visiting the site. They could be completed as a group activity. Or perhaps students can divide the questions between multiple groups and share the information in an oral activity for review.

    1. How did geography influence the use of land at “Genesis Point” over time, before and during the Civil War?
    2. Why was cotton so important to the economy of the Confederate states during the war?
    3. Do you think the issues defining state’s rights would be the same or different for the South and the North? What do you think would be different? What do you think would be the same?
    4. What is an example of a product a consumer in England would buy during the Civil War?
    5. What is the most likely type of job you think you could find in Savannah during the war if ….
      … your family was wealthy and you went to school all the way through college?
      … your family were successful farmers and you knew how to read and write but you only finished school to the 6th grade?
      … you were a woman?
      … you had no formal education but knew how to blacksmith?
    6. Construct a simple timeline of the fort incorporating major events of the war in the overall framework of the war with the events at Fort McAllister?
    7. What part of the Anaconda Plan for victory did Fort McAllister involve?
    8. What technological improvement did Fort McAllister’s construction demonstrate in fort construction? Why?
    9. What was the importance of Hilton Head Island, Port Royal and Savannah to the Civil War?
    10. Explain how the battle to control the Ogeechee River demonstrates the significance of the blockade strategy?
    11. What technological advance in ship construction was demonstrated at Fort McAllister? With what result?
    12. How might a Union seaman have described the sinking of the Rattlesnake differently?Confederate solider at Fort McAllister? Seaman aboard the vessel?
    13. What was the result of the surrender of Fort McAllister to the Civil War?
    14. Describe garrison life of a Civil War solider based on the conditions at Fort McAllister.
    15. Explain your feelings about building batteries at Genesis Point if you had been a slave of a local landowner.
    16. In your own words, justify the placement of “torpedoes” by the Confederate soldiers to a Unionsolider after the battle.
    17. How might the events surrounding the war in 1864 have differed if Fort McAllister had been surrounded by water?

 


MUSEUM SCAVENGER HUNT

Visit the museum in teams of three or four to search for the answers to these questions!

    1. What was the name of the first known inhabitants (Native Americans) in the area?
    2. When did the English and Spanish colonists battle for the Coastal Plains?
    3. What was the first fort built in the area?
    4. What are two kinds of muskets used during the Colonial period?
    5. What were the three names by which the Confederate ship sunk in the Ogeechee is known?
    6. Who commanded Fort McAllister during its fierce 1863 naval battle?
    7. Name the ironclad that sank the Confederate privateer up-river from the fort
    8. Who was the only solider to die in a bombardment of Fort McAllister?
    9. Whose Army captured Fort McAllister in 1864?
    10. Name three kinds of cannons used at Fort McAllister.
    11. Of the uniforms and accoutrements in the museum, which was actually worn by a man who fought at Fort McAllister?
    12. Whose photos are the only ones known to exist of Sherman’s men at Fort McAllister in 1864?
    13. What date was the Nashville sunk?
    14. How many casualties did the Confederates suffer during the last assault?
    15. What protection did the Montauk have that the Nashville lacked?
    16. Which shoots farther, a smooth-bore or rifled cannon?
    17. What is the source of the iron artifacts located outside the museum?
    18. Where was Sherman’s army marching when he ordered the assault on Fort McAllister?
    19. What was the purpose of torpedoes in the battle for Fort McAllister?

     


MUSEUM SEQUENCE (Teachers’ Guide)

    1. The First Inhabitants: The Guale Indians -Information on the original inhabitants, display houses artifacts with pottery shreds and tools and overview of arrival and settlement of area by Europeans
    2. Georgia: From Colony to Independence -Timeline and facts from 1731-1783. Revolutionary era artifacts
    3. Display of Flags features American Flag, First National, Battle flag and Georgia Regimental Flag
    4. The Fledgling State 1814- 1839 -
    5. The Civil War Strikes: The Development of Fort McAllister 1860 – 1862 - Model of Fort McAllister, Overview of the growth of Bryan Neck (present day Richmond Hill) and growth of local plantations, detailed timeline of the evolution and building of Fort McAllister. Tools for loading the hot shot cannon, information on smooth-bore vs. rifled-bore cannons and projectiles and excavated tools used for building the fort and firing cannons.
    6. The Civil War 1861- 1865 - Interactive display of major Civil War battles (2 screens)
    7. 1863- Display contains facts about the naval efforts of the Union and remains of projectiles fired on Fort McAllister
    8. C.S.S. Nashville - Features the sinking of the Nashville and display features artifacts retrieved from the wrecked ship.
    9. Model of Federal sailor
    10. Diorama of the sinking of the Nashville by the Montauk
    11. Model of garrison life of enlisted solider at Fort McAllister. Artifacts are everyday items retrieved on site and include utensils, plates, buttons, tins, etc. Model of solider is a Federal enlisted private, representing the capture of the Fort.
    12. Pictures of Major John Gallie, Lt. Anderson, reproduction of correspondence of Union solider and pictures of several enlisted soldiers who fought at the Battle of Fort McAllister. Reproduction of torpedo used in the naval attacks.
    13. Flag from the C.S.S. Alabama, appears to be from one of the cutters
    14. Model of Confederate infantry solider
    15. Display of actual dress uniform of Lt. Reid, who was a member of the Chatham artillery
    16. Display of Sherman’s March to the Sea with quotes and excerpts form Sherman’s correspondence.
    17. Timeline displays and facts about major conflicts in Georgia March from the Sea. Artifacts recovered are personal items, axe heads, the remains of several revolvers and parts from a rifle.
    18. Oil portrait of Lt. General William Hardee
    19. December 13, 1864 - Images of the Aftermath- pictures of Samuel Cooley
    20. Fort McAllister Reborn – facts and pictures of restoration by Henry Ford
    21. Flag of Fort McAllister, captured on December 13, 1864 by the Illinois Volunteers

     


A SOLIDER’S LIFE DURING THE CIVIL WAR

Download coloring sheet:
Color and label the gear and clothing commonly found on a Civil War solider, use the information gathered from the demonstration, the museum and other reading materials.

 


HISTORICAL MAPS ACTIVITY

Teachers may wish to use these maps for a number of different activities. Students might identify land features, specific features of the fort or develop other activities. Students might also use the map to explain important information they learn at the site.

One activity that can involve all students in cooperative learning might be developed by dividing the class into four groups, or (two sets of four groups). Each group would use the map to explain a major element of the history of the site to the remainder of the class. Assignments for each group could include the following:

 

GROUP I
Use the map to explain the construction of Fort McAllister for the defense of the Ogeechee River
GROUP II
Use the map to explain the naval attack upon Fort McAllister in January 1863.
GROUP III
Use the map to tell about the sinking of the Nashville by the Montauk
GROUP III
Use the map to explain how Union Troops captured Fort McAllister.
OR

Ask the students to compare this map and the ones following:

What is the difference in purpose?
What is the difference in scale?
What is the difference in detail?
What is the difference in the source for each map?
Which is the more accurate map? How do you know?

 

 



MAP OF SAVANNAH AND VICINITY
used in General Sherman’s Field Operations, 1864.
Locate the items listed below on this map.

 

 

1. Savannah
2. Ogeechee River
3. Fort McAllister
4. Wreck of the Nashville

5. Atlantic and Gulf Railroad trestle
6. Ossabaw Sound
7. Dr. Cheves Rice Mill
8. McAllister Mill

 


MATHEMATICS

Students may wish to do the following exercise in groups or individually. Distances can be stepped off or measured with a survey wheel. The measurements may then be converted to a sketch in scale, or for more precision, onto graph paper.

    1. Fort McAllister is laid out as an earthwork fortification of irregular shape. Using the maps step off the distances of features FROM INSIDE the EARTHWORKS. Transfer those measurements to a convenient scale and redraw the map accurately.

      Include the following features on your map:
      Footbridge
      Gun emplacements
      Hot Shot Furnace
      Powder Magazine
      Palisades
      Dry Moat
      Mortar Battery
      Sally Port

    2. Sketch a triangular model of the trajectory of a projectile fired form a smooth bore versus a rifled bore cannon. Be sure the model demonstrates the difference in distance and trajectory that would be typical of each.

      Information can be found in the museum for this exercise. For more precise mathematical calculations, outside sources on black powder weapons or civil war cannons may be used

    3. Cannon balls are called 12-pounders, 24-pounders and 32-pounders. This refers to the weight of the projectile. If one gallon of water weighs 8 lbs, then fill up the correct number of one-gallon jugs you need with water to simulate the weight of a 24 lb shell and a 32 lb shell. Pick these up to see how much cannonballs would have weighed to the soldiers when they picked them up to move them or load them into the cannons.

    4. The log forms used to make the earth batteries were 20 feet high and 17 feet wide. How many cubic meters of dirt would it take to fill one form?

    5. There are craters left by the naval bombardments beyond the eastern traverses of the fort on the floor of the woods. Choose one crater and using a surveying wheel or stepping it off calculate the following:

      a. How many feet is it from the crater to the fort?
      b. How many craters can you find within 50 feet of where you are standing?

      This activity requires the assistance of a staff member.

Download work sheet.

 


USING PRIMARY SOURCES IN HISTORICAL INQUIRY

Teachers are encouraged to make use of the many available primary sources at Fort McAllister. They include a number of letters, newspaper articles and military orders. Also a variety of visuals that are primary sources such as sketches, photographs and paintings are displayed for the museum. Some examples of literature are reproduced below. Questions that follow may be used for class discussion, as an extra assignment or as part of a larger activity.

 

Exercise I.

Read the following documents and answer the questions below:

    1. Identify the source as to its time and place
    2. How does the source establish a “frame of reference” for the document?
    3. What bias do you anticipate, given this “frame of reference”?
    4. What other sources might provide additional information to either substantiate the truth of the document or challenge it?
    5. How does the document provide an additional perspective to your understanding of the historical setting?

 

Exercise II.

After reading the examples of literature below, write a story to share with your lassmates.
Some ideas of perspectives to choose from are:

    1. A newspaper reporter
    2. An enlisted solider from the North or the South
    3. The child or young person from the South
    4. An author writing a non-fiction account of the war

 


Head Qtrs. Sub District Chatham
Savannah, Nov 20th 1864


General Orders
No 5

On account of the great irregularity and frequent delays which occur in transmitting Dispatches
through the Signal Corps to the various points in this command and which can to a great extent be attributed to want of proper vigilance on the part of men in charge of those Posts, the following instructions are laid down and will be strictly obeyed.

During the day men on duty will be required to remain constantly at their posts and will not leave on any temporary pretext unless their places are supplied during their temporary absences by other men of the same corps. At the men on duty will required to sleep in the office or in case where this is not practicable at the same place within convenient call. The commanding officers at Posts at which telegraph offices are established will cause a sentinel to be posted at might whose duty it shall be to wake the operator upon any movement of the instrument that he may {be} in readiness to receive messages sent through him. The same rules will be adopted at Signal Stations. Commanding officers will see that this order is strictly carried out and report any and all officers and men who fail to obey.


By Command Of
Brig Genl. John K. Jackson
Mallory P. King
A.A.G


Maj. G. W. Anderson
Comdg &c.

“Hearing from what I considered good military authority that Sherman would certainly strike the coast at Savannah, and not at Beaufort as I had previously supposed, and that being short of provisions he would probably ravage the whole coast of Georgia, I started this morning [Dec. 9th, 1864] if possible to reach Savannah before him, intending thence to go out to Liberty County for the purpose of bringing at Sallie and perhaps my sister and her daughters from this threatened region, for I greatly feared the effects on her mind-not to mention other possible dangers-which might result from the presence of the plundering Yankee soldiery.”

Dec. 11th, Sunday
“From refugees we learned the Ogeechee bridge is certainly burned. Also that a train containing among other respectable citizens R.R. Cuyler, President of the Road, was captured on the Gulf Road, and, saddest of all, that Fort McAllister had fallen, having been taken in the rear by a portion of the Yankee army which crossed the Ogeechee river above King’s bridge.

Dec. 25th, Christmas, Sunday (1864)
“Christmas opened bright and beautiful, but a very anxious day for me. How long will the Yankees remain in Liberty? Will they leave it at all? How can I get my friends out? How long shall I be absent from my home? I shall not hear at all from during my absence, for I told my wife not to write as I could not tell her where I should be at any time, and I left my dear little child Carrie just convalescing from a dangerous illness. My official duties in the meantime are neglected. Under all this anxiety and impatience I must remain inactive. This is the hardest of all.”

Dec 26th – 31st
“The squad with flag of truce came in on the evening of Saturday the 31st and stated that they had crossed the Altamaha at Barrington Ferry thence had proceeded to Jonesville, Riceboro, Dorchester, Medway and thence down the Savannah road nearly to the Ogeechee River. Thence back to Hinesville and Walthourville to Doctortown, but had seen no Yankees. The enemy, they heard, were at the Ogeechee now, repairing the bridge and causeway.”

Excerpts from ‘Ware Sherman: A Journal of Three Months’ Personal Experience in the Last Days of the Confederacy by Joseph LeConte, 1864


“[To A.C.O.] This is the first opportunity to send a letter north and I will at once. Fort McAllister was carried by assault at five o’clock in the afternoon yesterday and this opened the Ogeechee River to the ocean and the fleet.

Generals Sherman and Howard have now gone down to the blockading fleet. Our last rations were eaten today and I presume the army cannot be supplied inside of two days.

Savannah is completely invested on this side of the Savannah River and I presume will be carried by assault. We have no word yet form the north, or any where else outside our own lines.”

Excerpt from The Fiery Trail: A Union Officer’s Account of Sherman’s Last Campaigns, The Journal and Letters of Thomas Ward Osborn, edited by Richard Harwell and Philip N. Racine, 2003

Download work sheet.

 




 
 
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