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Fort Pulaski National Monument, Tybee Island

Categories: Historic Walking Areas, Historic Sites, Tourist Spots
Inspirock Rating:
4.7/5 based on 1,800+ reviews on the web
The location of the first rifled cannon test, Fort Pulaski National Monument was an important site in the American Civil War. The success of the cannon test rendered brick forts obsolete. The Union army asked Colonel Charles H. Olmstead, commander of the Confederate garrison, to surrender before using the cannon. They hoped he would accept and prevent needless loss of life. The colonel refused to surrender, and the Union army pummeled the fort in a siege that lasted only one day. This fort was mainly used as a prisoner-of-war camp because of its isolation on Cockspur Island surrounded by a moat. You'll find sleeping quarters and rooms where the colonel signed his surrender preserved inside the fort. See Fort Pulaski National Monument and all Tybee Island has to offer by arranging your trip with our Tybee Island itinerary planner.
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  • My kids loved touring the fort a lot bigger than we thought, very well maintained and very educational. We will return 
  • It may seem like a boring place to walk around, unless you ask a park ranger to tell you about it. You may get a personal tour, as we did. As you learn more, the more interesting this fort becomes. Th...  read more »
  • We visited this historic site and enjoyed the history behind its walls. The museum with all its information and the strolling through the grounds of the fort gave you a feeling of how the soldiers wou...  read more »
  • This is the type of government landmark that you go to and realize that our tax dollars are not at waste to keep these sites going. Very cool place for the kids and adults. Nice grounds, they even have times of the day where they fire cannons. They have some great remnants from when the fort was occupied and in use, definitely worth stopping by and checking this place out.
  • Very cool part of history. The Fort and the surrounding grounds are all in great shape and interesting to explore. Bring sunscreen because there is very little shade. My kids and I am loved exploring every nook and cranny of the Fort. They also particularly enjoyed the live canon firing.
  • Fort Pulaski was an unexpected gem on a recent trip to Tybee Island. I initially went expecting a quick visit to the John Wesley monument (I'm a bit of a United Methodist history nerd), but ended up spending several hours exploring the fort and surrounding grounds. As an added bonus, the $7 admission for adults is good for a week, so if you're on the island with family as I was go check it out and bring them back.
  • Very nice monument. Kids under 15 are free. There are a bunch of mosquitoes so wear OFF. The tail for lighthouse it's long and not very rewarding as you can't really get that close to the lighthouse since it's on the water. Trails can be confusing if you go on dike trail. There's water bottle refill station. Staff was very friendly. Lots of cute little crabs by the beach.
  • I am a writer and photographer for National Park Planner and I visited Fort Pulaski National Monument in March 2016. The park preserves the fort that protected the mouth of the Savannah River, deterring enemy ships from launching an assault on the city of Savannah. Constructed between 1829 and 1847, its place in history was sealed when it became the first victim of modern rifled artillery, which rendered masonry forts of its type obsolete. The fort was seized by the Georgia militia on January 3, 1861—at the time only two Federal soldiers occupied the fort—then turned it over to the Confederacy when Georgia seceded from the Union on the 19th. Confederate troops also occupied Tybee Island, but when the Union took control of Hilton Head Island in November, an island just seven miles to the north by water, the troops were removed to the safety of Fort Pulaski, leaving Tybee undefended. At one mile away, and with the range of heavy artillery only being a half mile, the Confederates saw no reason to maintain a presence on Tybee. The Union, however, had other plans and took control of the abandoned island a month later and immediately commenced the construction of eleven batteries that could hold thirty-six cannon, ten of which sported the new rifled technology. On April 10, 1862, after Confederate commander Colonel Charles Olmstead refused the Union’s demand to surrender earlier in the day—and why not, they were a mile away—Union forces used rifled cannon to bombard Fort Pulaski. These guns, with their interior barrels cut with spiral grooves, sent bullet-shaped shells spinning like footballs, increasing not only their accuracy, but also their range and velocity. The walls of the “indestructible fort” were breached in less than thirty hours. With gunpowder storage facilities now exposed to incoming shells, the Confederates surrendered the fort back to the Union and it remained under Union control for the remainder of the war. Visitors to the park are welcome to tour the grounds and the interior of the fort, either on a Ranger-guided tour or on their own. On Saturdays, park Rangers conduct historical weapons demonstrations, firing actual cannons and muskets. Be sure to first stop at the Visitor Center to see a film about the fort’s history and browse through the museum exhibits. What may come as a surprise at a historical park is the availability of outdoor activities including picnicking, hiking, biking, fishing, and even paddling. While Fort Pulaski, itself, is no larger than any other fort in the National Park system, the grounds of the park not only include the entire Cockspur Island, but also McQueens Island, the island across the South Channel of the Savannah River. Granted, much of this is marsh land that is inaccessible by foot, but there are plenty of rivers and creeks that you can canoe or kayak on and still be within the boundaries of Fort Pulaski National Monument. For complete information on visiting the park and dozens of quality photos, see the National Park Planner web site (npplan).
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