Category Archives: Cockspur Island GA

Fort Pulaski, 1847, Cockspur Island

Fort Pulaski National Monument Cockspur Island GA Savannah Area Evidence of Civil War Bombardment Parrot Rifles Moat Picture Image Photograph Copyright © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

President James Madison called for the construction of a fort on Cockspur Island as a reaction to the War of 1812. Though construction wouldn’t begin until 1829, the need to protect Savannah from foreign invasion was an ever-present concern.

Fort Pulaski National Monument Cockspur Island GA Savannah Area Antebellum Construction Third System Fortress Picture Image Photograph Copyright © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

Fort Pulaski National Monument Cockspur Island GA Savannah Area Antebellum Third System Fortress Civil War Seige Moat Picture Image Photograph Copyright © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

Designed by General Simon Bernard, Fort Pulaski was built by Captain J. F. K. Mansfield of the Army Corps of Engineers. Second Lieutenant Robert E. Lee was involved in the construction from 1829-31.

Fort Pulaski National Monument Cockspur Island GA Savannah Area Casemates Arches Parade Picture Image Photograph Copyright © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

One of numerous Third System fortifications, Pulaski would prove an important testing ground for military resistance to new weaponry in the Civil War. The “holes” or pock marks in the side of the structure are the result of rifled cannon fire during the Union siege in the Battle of Fort Pulaski (10-11 April 1862). Pulaski’s inability to withstand this sort of firepower made such coastal fortifications obsolete and changed military architecture forever.

Fort Pulaski National Monument Cockspur Island GA Savannah Area Antebellum Arches Third System Fortress Picture Image Photograph Copyright © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

The arched casemates surrounding the interior of the fort held large guns for defense.

Fort Pulaski National Monument Cockspur Island GA Savannah Area Antebellum Third System Fortress Civil War Seige Bunks Gun Port Embrasure Picture Image Photograph Copyright © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

The guns were aimed through ports like these, and before the introduction of the Parrott rifle were an imposing defense.

Fort Pulaski National Monument Cockspur Island GA Savannah Area Antebellum Third System of Coastal Fortifications Gun Port Picture Image Photograph Copyright © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

Several re-created barracks such as the one seen below can be found in the complex.

Fort Pulaski National Monument Cockspur Island GA Savannah Area Antebellum Third System Fortress Bunks Quarters Civil War Seige Picture Image Photograph Copyright © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

Fort Pulaski National Monument Cockspur Island GA Savannah Area Casemates Arches Picture Image Photograph Copyright © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

Fort Pulaski National Monument Cockspur Island GA Savannah Area Antebellum Arches Casemate Gun Cannon Third System Fortress Picture Image Photograph Copyright © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

National Register of Historic Places

http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/fort-pulaski

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John Wesley Memorial, 1950, Cockspur Island

Cockspur Island GA John Wesley Memorial Picture Image Photograph Copyright © Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013

This simple brick and marble column commemorates John Wesley’s landing in America on 6 February 1736. Cockspur Island was then known as Peeper Island. The founder of Methodism was sent to the fledgling Georgia colony by the trustees to be a missionary. A quote from Wesley’s journal is memorialized on the column: “Fri. 6,-About eight in the morning I first set my foot on American ground. It was a small uninhabited island,…over against Tybee, called by the English Peeper Island. Mr. Oglethorpe led us through the moorish land on the shore to a rising ground,…we chose an open place surrounded with myrtles, bays, and cedars, which sheltered us both from the sun and wind, and called our little flock together to prayers.”

The memorial was placed in 1950 by the Georgia Society of Colonial Dames and is easily reached from the parking lot at Fort Pulaski National Monument.

 

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Savannah River at Cockspur Island

Mouth of the Savannah River at Cockspur Island GA Palmettos Picture Image Photograph Copyright © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

Seen near where it meets the Atlantic Ocean, the Savannah River becomes more estuary than traditional river. Tides here can affect its levels by up to seven feet, and the current is quite swift. This vantage point can be accessed from the parking lot at Fort Pulaski National Monument, on the trail leading to Battery Hambright. It’s an easy walk and less than half a mile.

Mouth of the Savannah River at Cockspur Island GA Picture Image Photograph Copyright © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

 

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Cockspur Island Lighthouse, 1855

Cockspur Island Lighthouse Savannah River GA Chatham County Fort Pulaski National Monument Antebellum Landmark Picture Image Photograph Copyright © Brian Bown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

There was a brick daymark (daytime navigational aid without a light) on Cockspur Island by 1839. Its location at the busy entrance to the South Channel of the Savannah River just west of Tybee Island dictated its importance and by 1848, the prominent New York architect John Norris was contracted to design an illuminated tower. Norris was best known for designing the United States Customs House in Savannah, as well as the Mercer-Wilder House and the Green-Meldrim House, where General Sherman was headquartered while in Savannah. An 1854 hurricane destroyed this structure and it was rebuilt the next year. George Washington Martus served as one of the lighthouse keepers in the early 1880s but was transferred to the nearby Elba Island lighthouse in 1884. His sister Florence lived there with him and for over forty years was known for greeting all the ships entering and leaving Savannah with the wave of a handkerchief or lantern. She became a local legend and was known as “The Waving Girl”. A statue of Florence Martus is now a popular landmark on River Street The Cockspur Island lighthouse was discontinued in 1909. Stabilized between 1995-2000 and relit with a solar beacon in 2007, it remains in critical condition.

Cockspur Island Lighthouse Savannah River GA Chatham County Lighthouse-shaped Trail Sign Marker Picture Image Photograph Copyright © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

A nice 3/4 mile trail leads to the best viewing area for the lighthouse, but it’s a fairly strenuous walk over uneven terrain.

Cockspur Island Savannah River GA Palms Tidal Hammock Trail to Lighthouse Picture Image Photograph Copyright © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

Cockspur Island Savannah River GA Palms Tidal Hammock Trail to Lighthouse Atlantic Tidal Forest Picture Image Photograph Copyright © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

The lighthouse is open to the public but can only be accessed by boat at low tide.

Cockspur Island Lighthouse Savannah River GA Chatham County Fort Pulaski National Monument Antebellum Landmark Picture Image Photograph Copyright © Brian Bown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2013

http://www.nps.gov/fopu/historyculture/cockspur-light.htm

http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=324

National Register of Historic Places

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