The Fort itself has several geographic locations including old Fort Moultrie, the Fort Moultrie Military Reservation, the off post coastal batteries and the former Marshall Military Reservation on the other end of the Island. Fort Sumter itself is on an island in the middle of Charleston Harbor, reachable by ferry from two locations. Both of these Forts are must see places if you are in the Charleston area.
Old Fort Moultrie is in great condition for a Second System brick fort. The fort you see today was constructed around 1809 over the remains of even earlier fortifications. That is only part of the story, because Old Fort Moultrie was in use over the War of 1812, the Seminole Indian Wars, the U.S. Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II and all of those era’s are on display. It is hard to understand how they managed to pack so much history within the walls of the old fort so effectively.
For example, there are two Endicott Period batteries complete with mounted coastal artillery pieces that cover the 1898-1946 time frame including a complete Harbor Entrance Command Post that looks as it did in 1945. There is an 1870′s transitional gun battery, a U.S. Civil War Battery and a pre-U.S. Civil War battery. At least three period magazines are on display.
There is just enough of the old Second System brick fort left so that you know exactly what it looked like and how it worked. There is an excellent visitor center just across the street from the old fort with a great view from the second story observation platform. Don’t miss Osceola’s grave just outside the sally port.
The remainder of the on-post military reservation contains many other historic and significant structures that are not nearly as well kept or interpreted as the old fort. Many of the old post buildings have been repurposed as private homes but some of buildings are just deteriorating, like the old movie theater. It would be great if the old buildings were identified and interpreted. There is a great collection of cannons on the ground along the edge of the parking lot but the Endicott Period gun batteries ( Battery Jasper and Battery Logan) are neglected (especially Logan). I could not locate the World War II Battery AMTB-2 and Battery 230 is still in use.
As you go off post through the old post entrance, things don’t improve. Endicott Period gun Battery Gadsden has been repurposed as the as the Edgar Allen Poe Branch of the Charleston County Library, it’s in the best shape of the off post batteries but is suffering a bit of an identity crisis (gun battery or library). Battery Thompson across the street is neglected and mortar Battery Capron and Battery Butler have been covered over and are just a big mound of dirt.
The old Marshall Military Reservation at the other end of the island was sub-post of Fort Moultrie and is now hardly identifiable. Civilian living quarters have been built into the massive casemates of Battery 520 and the four Panama mounts of Battery B are breaking up in the surf. It is really difficult to tell where the reservation was and there are no markers that I could find to explain it’s historic past.
Our visit was most enjoyable, even though it was not a great day for pictures. There is so much to see that it takes a full day to do it all and a second day if you want to try to locate the historic post buildings that remain in the community.
This post was written by JohnStanton on April 11, 2010