Fort Moultrie

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Fort Moultrie (1776-1947) - Fort Moultrie is the name of a series of forts on Sullivan's Island, Charleston County, South Carolina, built to protect the city of Charleston, South Carolina. The first fort, built of palmetto logs, inspired the flag and motto (Palmetto State) of South Carolina. Named after William Moultrie. Closed 15 Aug 1947.

Fort Moultrie
Fort Moultrie World War II Harbor Entrance Control Post
Fort Moultrie Panorama

Revolutionary War (1775-1783)

The fort was unfinished and unnamed when when Adm. Sir Peter Parker and nine British warships attacked it on 28 Jun 1776, near the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. Legend has it that the soft palmetto logs did not crack under bombardment but rather absorbed the shot; in any case, Charleston was saved from capture, and the fort was named for the commander in the battle, William Moultrie.

First System (1794-1808)

Osceola's Tomb near the Sallyport of Old Fort Moultrie

As tensions hightened after Great Britain and France declared war in 1793, the United States embarked on a systematic fortification of important harbors. A new Fort Moultrie, one of 20 new First System forts along the Atlantic coast, was completed over the decayed original fort in 1798. Destroyed by a hurricane in 1804, it was replaced by a Second System brick fort by 1809.

During the Second Seminole War, Osceola, a Seminole chief, and 200 Seminoles were imprisoned in the fort; Osceola's tomb is to the right of the sallyport entrance to Old Fort Moultrie.

U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)

U.S. Civil War Battery

Between 1809 and 1860 Fort Moultrie changed little; the parapet was altered and the armament modernized, but newly created Fort Sumter became the main component of Charleston's defense. Of the four forts around Charleston harbor, Fort Moultrie, Fort Sumter, Fort Johnson (1), and Castle Pinckney, it was Moultrie's defenders who chose to fight against the Confederacy; they retreated to the stronger Fort Sumter when in December 1860 South Carolina seceded from the Union. Three and a half months later, Confederate troops shelled Fort Sumter into submission and the U.S. Civil War began. In April 1863, Federal ironclads and shore batteries began a 20-month bombardment of Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie; the Confederates held the forts and the harbor until February 1865, when the army evacuated the city. By then, Fort Sumter was a pile of rubble, and Fort Moultrie had been pounded below a sand hill, which subsequently protected it against Federal bombardment.

Post U.S. Civil War

1870s Upgraded Battery

Fort Moultrie was modernized in the 1870s, with huge rifled cannon and deep concrete bunkers; further modernization in the 1880s turned all of Sullivans Island into a military complex, of which the old fort was just a part. Fort Moultrie was upgraded during the Endicott Period and again during World War II.

Endicott Period (1890-1910)

Nine named concrete Endicott Period coastal gun batteries were built in and around the Fort Moultrie Reservation between 1897 and 1906. Only three of these were built into the structure of the old fort, Battery Bingham, Battery McCorkle and Battery Lord. Battery Jasper and Battery Logan were built on the main fort reservation facing south toward the harbor entrance. Battery Thompson and Battery Gadsden continued the line of batteries further east but off the main reservation, among the many vacation cottages on Sullivan Island. Also off the main reservation was the massive Battery Capron with sixteen 12" mortars covering the harbor and the entrance with all round fire. This battery was later administratively split into two batteries and the second half named Battery Butler. By the end of 1906 all of the Endicott Period batteries had been accepted for service and named.

Starting in 1902 a building program built out the post infrastructure to support the large numbers of officers and enlisted troops required to man the batteries. An impressive officer's row with eleven sets of quarters and an NCO row with 10 sets of quarters dominated the eastern end of the main reservation. In the central part of the post a massive 289 man double barracks and two 161/121 man barracks provided housing for the single enlisted troops. On the north side of the western end of the reservation was another set of NCO quarters, a set of quarters for married enlisted troops and a sixty bed hospital.

Fort Moultrie World War II Batteries (edit list)
Battery
Click on Battery links below
No. Caliber Type Mount Service Years Notes
Battery Capron 8 12" Mortar 1897-1898-1898-1942 All mortars scrapped
& replaced in 1920
Battery Butler 8 12" Mortar 1897-1898-1898-1942 All mortars scrapped
& replaced in 1920
Battery Jasper 4 10" Disappearing Carriage 1897-1898-1898-1942 2 Guns removed in 1918
replaced in 1919
Battery Thompson 2 10" Disappearing Carriage 1903-1906-1906-1945
Battery Gadsden 4 6" Disappearing Carriage 1904-1906-1906-1917
Battery Logan 1
1
6"
6"
Disappearing Carriage
Armstrong Pedestal
1898-1899-1899-1944
1898-1899-1899-1904

Gun removed 1904
Battery Bingham 2 4.7" Armstrong Pedestal 1898-1899-1899-1919 1 gun replaced 1980
Battery McCorkle 2 3" Masking Pedestal Mount 1900-1901-1901-1920 1 gun replaced 1980
Battery Lord 2 3" Pedestal Mount 1903-1903-1903-1946 Destroyed
Source: CDSG


World War I (1917-1918)

During World War I there was a large scale program to dismount and ship large caliber gun tubes to the conflict in Europe on mobile mounts. After the war some of the gun tubes were replaced but many were not. Following after the war, a great depression caused huge cuts in the military and many coastal gun batteries were abandoned because they could not be maintained. Battery Jasper had two of its guns removed and replaced. Battery Gadsden lost all of its guns and they were not replaced. Battery Butler and Battery Capron scrapped all sixteen of their 12" mortars but replaced them with eight newer models. Battery Bingham and Battery McCorkle lost all their guns in 1919-1920 and they were not replaced. By the end of 1920 only six of the nine Endicott Period batteries remained armed.

The war also saw a large temporary building program to house not only the coastal artillery troops but troops being mobilized for the war.

World War II (1941-1945)

By the beginning of World War II it was clear that many of the larger guns at Fort Moultrie were obsolete and they were quickly scrapped when the first large, quota driven, scrap drive happened in late 1942. The eight 12" mortars of Battery Butler and Battery Capron and the four 10" guns of Battery Jasper were the first to go. Newer batteries were constructed that were a better match for modern ships, Battery 520 with two large casemated 16" guns and Battery 230 with two rapid fire 6" guns. Both of these batteries were completed before the end of the war but Battery 230 was never armed.

In 1944 a Harbor Entrance Control Post (HECP) was built into the left flank of the old fort and it remains there today, restored to its World War II look.

The U.S. Army closed Fort Moultrie on 15 Aug 1947.

Fort Moultrie World War II Batteries (edit list)
Battery
Click on Battery links below
No. Caliber Type Mount Service Years Notes
Battery 520 2 12" LR Casemate Barbette Carriage 1944-1947 Navy Guns, 1940 Program
Guns from Battery Kimble, Fort Travis (2)
Battery 125 2 16" LR Casemate Barbette Carriage Not Built Navy Guns, 1940 Program
Located on James Island
Battery 230 2 6" LR Shielded Barbette 1942-1944 Battery built, not Armed
Battery AMTB 2A - Sullivans Island 2
2
90mm
90mm
Fixed Pedestal
Mobile
1943-1946
1943-1946
On Battery Jasper
Source: CDSG
Fort Moultrie Plan 1945
Fort Moultrie Plan Main Post Detail 1945


Current Status

Fort Moultrie is part of Fort Sumter National Monument. Many period guns and mounts emplaced and on display. Must see!


Location: 1214 Middle Street, Sullivan's Island, Charleston County, SC 29482

Maps & Images

Lat: 32.759382 Long: -79.857666

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Visited: 23 Jan 2010

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