Soul searching travel into Fort Moultrie mysteries and Sullivan’s Island sorrows

Would I know where to kneel and dig?
Who first covered the fort’s walls with molasses and lime?
What treasures still lie beneath my feet?
– from “Molasses” by Ed Madden

A trip to Fort Moultrie and Sullivan’s Island is filled with emotions, mysteries and soul searching questions. The fort is most famous for the Patriots bravery and ingenuity during the Revolutionary War that lead to a historic victory, the state flag and its marquee Palmetto symbol.

But there is more behind the old stucco fortifications. If only the walls could talk…

Inside Fort Moultrie

Inside Fort Moultrie

There are closed tunnels, locked gates and hidden passages that lead nowhere. Who built them and why?

What about the unusual colors “the color of onion and okra”, “the chalk wash”. Apparently the interior brick walls and buildings were painted yellow to protect the soft brick from the elements. The sulfur on the inside walls comes from molasses, used to thicken the mix of water and lime!

The Middle Passage and the houses of pain and sorrow
The pest houses are gone now, but the fact remains: 40% of all Africans brought to North America from 1700 to 1775 first arrived on Sullivan’s Island.

Few historical monuments and markers pay (and are planned to pay) tribute to the millions of enslaved Africans:

Bench by the Road 2008 Ceremony - Photo by Tony Morrison Society

Bench by the Road Ceremony - Photo by Tony Morrison Society http://www.tonimorrisonsociety.org

Bench by The Road – a 6-foot-long structure with a small bronze plaque mounted on its back. The bench was revealed last summer during the Fifth Biennial on Sullivan’s Island in a ceremony lead by Toni Morrison, the 1st African American Nobel Prize for Literature winner and main catalyst of the project.

• A marker erected in 1999 that says tens of thousands of African captives arrived on Sullivan’s Island’s shores between 1700 and 1775.

• Future planned exhibit “Passages” connects the West Coast of Africa with Lowcountry Gullah-Geechee culture.

• Future commemorative markers of the four Pest Houses where slaves were quarantined and kept in abominable conditions. The houses were demolished at the end of the 18th century so residents could better enjoy their island.

Fort Moultrie Park Entrance

Fort Moultrie Park Entrance

Admission to Fort Moultrie is FREE. The fort is open 9AM – 5PM year around except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Check out these awesome photos that several visitors posted on Flickr.

More area attractions

Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor where the Civil War started. Free admission, must pay for ferry to get there

• USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier in Mount Pleasant. “The Fighting Lady” is home to dozens incredible war jets, a submarine, a flight simulator and more.

• Charles Towne Landing, the birthplace of Charleston and South Carolina, is an incredible park featuring a historic trail, Horry plantation ruins and the Animal Forest Zoo.

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8 Responses

  1. I was raised at 1744 I`on Ave., Sullivans Island. I left Charleston in 1984. Just looking for pictures on the progress the island has made since then. I have been back but mostly at Christmas time, the weather has been a big factor in not being able to walk the beach where I grew up. Enjoyed reading and viewing your websight. Thank you, Lise S. Tharp

    • Hi Lisa

      You’re welcome and thanks for stopping by. Isle of Palms island has also grown significantly. I loved their new park.

      Elena

  2. […] On my return visit to Fort Moultrie I spent more time soaking in the remarkable stories behind the lime colored stucco walls. From the heroic Revolutionary War battle to the African trade slave tragedy and the World War II […]

  3. I would like to ask two questions for a paper I am writing for a college class.
    1. How does the Gullah language compare to Ebonics?
    2. When the Gullah history is celebrated, is there any mention that it was a survival language of slaves, or does the celebration focus on the people themselves?
    Thank you.

  4. […] my return visit to Fort Moultrie I spent more time soaking in the remarkable stories behind the lime colored stucco walls. From the heroic Revolutionary War battle to the African trade slave tragedy and the World War II […]

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