Imagine being in a large musty fort. The smell of cannon and musket smoke fills the air. You and hundreds of other soldiers are packed together in this large fort. You feel the impact of large cannon balls smashing into the walls.
People rush past you in all directions. You see hundreds of soldiers off in the distance and see their muskets and cannons being fired. When you begin to think of all that is lost, reinforcements come to the rescue. The fort has suffered major damage, but you and your comrades are alive, and the fort still stands.
This is what it was like at Fort Jackson during the war of 1812. Fort Jackson is located on the Savannah River. It was built in 1808 and used during the War of 1812. Its main purpose was to defend Savannah and the frontier from the French and the Spanish. In 1845 and 1860, it was remolded and made stronger. Then during the Civil War, it was once again used to defend Savannah. It was headquarters for the Confederate river defenses. It was pelted with relentless attacks, but the fort held strong. It was remodeled after the Civil War, but only for tourism. This is the oldest standing fort in Savannah.
Courtesy Best Read Guide
Savannah's position among many rivers and tidal creeks has historically offered both benefits and drawbacks. These waters enriched the city by providing easy export of cotton, rice, tobacco and other Southern commodities. Yet the waterways also have made the city unusually vulnerable to invading armies, as was proved during the Civil War.
The city fathers understood early on the need to protect Savannah, as did the Federal government. Thomas Jefferson, foreseeing the possibility of war with Great Britain in the early 19th century, ordered the construction of coastal fortifications to stave off any attempts to take America's ocean cities by force, because they were the country's lifelines to the world.
Fort Jackson, located three miles east of the old Savannah walls, was constructed between 1808 and 1812 where a Revolutionary War battery had stood. The fort was well-placed at a point in the river where enemy gunboats could not avoid its fire. Surrounded by marsh, the fort also could not be easily reached by hostile infantry. As much of the fighting of the War of 1812 took place in the northeast and in Canada, the fort saw little action during the conflict, perhaps because the British knew of its impregnability and concluded that it was better to take the fight elsewhere.
The fort was occupied when Union forces captured Savannah during the Civil War, at which time the retreating Confederates lobbed a few shots toward the fort. This, as historian Ron Freeman notes, was the only time that the fort received a hostile bombardment.
Fort Jackson holds a Memorial Day celebration every year, during which there is a presentation of the history of the fort, with men in period uniform, a bugle demonstration that includes the playing of taps in memory of the nation's military heroes, and cannon firings from an 1841 Mountain Howitzer, the largest such artillery piece in the country.
In addition, cannon demonstrations are also featured from early June through mid-August as well as an historical program detailing the typical life and experiences of a 19th-century soldier.
May also brings the annual Scottish Highland Games, which feature traditional Scottish music and food and exhibitions of the sports enjoyed by these redoubtable warriors. (We have the Scottish Black Watch troops to thank for ambushing the Spanish at Bloody Marsh and driving them back to Florida.)
The fort offers other special events during the year, such as the story of the 55th Massachusetts, an African-American regiment stationed at the fort toward the end of the Civil War, and December's Evacuation 1864 program, which describes the events leading to the fall of the Confederacy in Savannah. In September, Fort Jackson will host the Annual Crab Boil and Fish Fry, a fundraising festival that offers delicious Low Country food, music and presentations on the history of the fort.
Contact & Address
Phone: 912-232-3945 - Address: 1 Fort Jackson Rd., Savannah Georgia 31404