Situated on Cockspur Island guarding the entrance to the Savannah River, Fort Pulaski was completed in 1847 after a long 18 year construction. The service life was not long though. Despite walls up to 11 feet thick, the new rifled artillery the Union Army set up on Tybee Island were able to inflict serious damage from over 4 miles away. The Confederate forces surrendered the next day and the port of Savannah was isolated for the rest of the Civil War. Fort Pulaski saw limited use thereafter as both a prison and coastal defenses. In 1924 it became a National Monument.
Visiting Fort Pulaski
A short drive from Savannah, Fort Pulaski is a popular side trip for American history buffs and casual tourists alike. The fort is accessed by a causeway from US 80 just a few miles before Tybee Island. The park is open 9-5 daily except for a few holidays. A National Park pass or daily fee is required for entry. There is a small museum on site with bathrooms, but no food service and very limited vending. Pack some snacks and drinks for your visit.
Touring the Fort
Fort Pulaski is a large fort and avid Civil War history fans could easily spend most of the day there. Allow around 2-3 hours depending on how much detail your interest level holds. One hour guided tours are offered and cannon firings are held multiple times daily. The tour covers the history of the fort as well as details about construction and weapons technology. The Civil War marked a major shift in artillery technology and future fort design and the unrepaired section of Fort Pulaski from the 1862 bombardment visually showcase this point in time.
Navigating the fort is easy due to its large and open design. Start with a walk around the outside flank to see the damage from the Union shells and some examples of the cannons used. From there, head through the main entrance for a tour or survey the fort on your own. There are signs describing the fort and events throughout and several displays on hand. The center of the fort is completely open, so walk the perimeter to see everything. The upper level is open, but be extremely careful being that there are no railings and it’s a long way down to the brick walkway. From up top there is a great view of Tybee Island and the earthworks and moat surrounding the fort. One other note of caution: the fort is surrounded by swampy areas and close to the river. Be on the lookout for alligators and poisonous snakes that inhabit these areas.
For more information on tours, hours, directions, and park fees visit the National Park Service website for Fort Pulaski.
Below is a video montage of several pictures and video I took while touring Fort Pulaski. Be sure to bookmark the website and follow on social media for more articles on this year’s Southeast tour and many more travel adventures!