Fort Welles

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Fort Welles (1861-1865, 1897-1902) - A U.S. Civil War Coastal Fort first established as Fort Walker (2) in 1861 by Confederate forces on Hilton Head, Beaufort County, South Carolina. Renamed by Union forces as Fort Welles in G.O. 29, Headquarters, Expeditionary Corps, Hilton Head, South Carolina, 15 Nov 1861. Named after then U.S. Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles. Abandoned in 1865.

Fort Welles Captured Cannon 1862
Captured Fort Walker from the Back, November 1861

U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)

Part of the Harbor Defense of Port Royal Sound.

Port Royal Union Attack 3-7 Nov 1861

Initially built in 1861 as Fort Walker (2), a Confederate earthworks fortification on the strategic entrance to Port Royal Sound in South Carolina. Fort Walker and Fort Beauregard (3) on the other side of the entrance to the sound were attacked and overwhelmed by a large Union fleet of fifty ships in November 1861. Fort Walker was subdued by heavy bombardment from the fleet followed by the landing of 13,000 Union troops who surrounded and laid siege to the fort. Union forces occupied the fort for the remainder of the war and significantly expanded it into an system of earthworks almost two miles long.


Endicott Period (1890-1910)

In 1897 Congress appropriated monies for the purchase of additional experimental compressed air Dynamite guns for emplacement at four coastal fortifications. Hilton Head was chosen to have a single gun emplaced and a concrete battery was built near the location of old Fort Welles. Battery Dynamite (2) was tested and inspected during 1901-1902 but was deactivated and scrapped when the experimental program was discontinued.

Current Status

Part of Hilton Head, Beaufort County, South Carolina.


USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry:

  • Name: Fort Walker Type: Historical Class: Military ID: 1237202
  • Location: Beaufort County, South Carolina, US, FIPS Code: 45 013
  • Latitude: 32.2352778, Longitude: -80.6777778, Elevation: 16 Map: Hilton Head
  • As Of: 01-Jan-1994
Source: U.S. Board on Geographic Names

Location: Hilton Head, Beaufort County, South Carolina. Map point is the Fort Walker marker location.

Maps & Images

Lat: 32.23275 Long: -80.67715

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