Fort Johnson


By: Staff Editor, Charleston Harbor Tours
October 10, 2007

Fort Johnson was erected in the year 1704 under the command of English Governor Nathaniel Johnson. The colony was dramatically affected by the growing tensions between the British and the Spanish, and Gov. Johnson wanted to ensure protection of the Charles Town harbor.

During the Stamp Act crisis, residents of the colony were angry about the implementation of the offensive stamp rule, and Governor William Bull sent all the stamps to Fort Johnson to be protected. The stamps remained there until Parliament revoked the Stamp Act and the populace was appeased.

Although Fort Johnson did not play a significant role in the Revolutionary War, activity at the Fort did have an impact on the development of the South Carolina state flag. The colonial troops were given a flag designed by Governor Moultrie to take with them to battle. Moultrie chose the dark blue color of his troops' uniforms for the background of the flag, and placed the crescent moon of his troops' hats as the center object on the flag. The victory of the colonial troops led to the creation of the flag of the state of South Carolina, and the palmetto was added in honor of the famous resistance at Fort Moultrie across the harbor.

Fort Johnson is best remembered for hosting the first mortar shell shot fired upon Fort Sumter during the Civil War. In 1864 the fort began to be evacuated, and eventually fell into ruin. Finally, in 1954, the College of Charleston acquired the 40 acre property the fort had once stood upon, and it gradually became an integral part of the college campus. The fort's land was given to the Marine Resources Division of the college, and now hosts a graduate program in Marine Biology.


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