On April 11, 1862 Union troops struck with fury. 30 hours and 1,142 shells later the “indestructible” Fort Pulaski surrendered. The damage was so deep it will take 1,000 Union troops 6 weeks to repair it.
Facts and Trivia
• In 1837 with its 8 foot thick brick walls the fort was considered invincible. No cannon could inflict significant damage from more than a mile away (the closest spot where you could fire at it). New technology proved them wrong.
• The battle at Fort Pulaski marked a new warfare milestone: the end of masonry style fortifications.
• Germans volunteers of the 46 N.Y, Regiment manned the parrot riffles shooting from the batteries along Tybee and McQueens islands. Following the war the guns were taken to Cockspur Island. In mid-1960s the guns were recovered and brought to Fort Pulaski.
• The Demilune was added in 1872 to protect the fort entrance. During the Civil War the area was flat covered with gun platforms, a mess room, storage area and a guard house.
• When the Confederates seized Fort Pulaski from the US forces (in anticipation of Civil War hostilities) only 2 persons where guarding it.
Learn more about the Fort Pulaski history like the Immortal 600, the Waving Girl, and John Wesley (Founder of Methodist Church) and the awesome kids activities you can enjoy there.
Critical steps to fire the Confederates cannons
There were 5 to 9 men on the cannon fire crew, one of the earliest examples of team-work. Each person performed a specific task yet all men were cross-trained on all operations. If needed just 2 persons can safely fire the cannon.
1. Sponge the barrel and clean any leftovers (this was most important safety procedure)
2. Cover the air hole with the thumb to prevent air going inside the barrel – stumping
3. Put the projectile inside the barrel. The old cannon used by Confederates had a ball-like shell that didn’t fit tightly inside the barrel. It wiggled when it came out thus being less accurate and damaging.
4. Point the gun (during those time you didn’t “aim” another hint about the target firing guessing game) then put your arms up to signal the gun is pointed.
5. Insert the friction primer (piece of wire) to seal in the gunpowder. The primer and the projectile were poor quality and main culprit for the lame results defending the fort.
6. Fire! It was very loud. There were no ear plugs and most of the crewmen couldn’t cover their ears….you can image over time most of them were deaf.
Firing the new cannons (Parrot Riffles) required identical steps. It took a little longer because the cannon and all instruments were much bigger and heavier. The new aerodynamic projectile was longer and fitted perfectly inside the barrel. The shots were extremely powerful and very accurate even from over a mile away.
Fort Pulaski Admission and Cannon Firing Schedule
There is only $3 fee to get inside the park (children under 15 get in for free). The firing demos are held in the weekend as following:
• Sunday: noon, 1:30 and 3:30 PM
• Saturday: 11, noon, 2 and 3:30 PM
Bring your family to Fort Pulaski for an inspirational family experience!
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