Fort Moultrie

 

By: Staff Editor, Charleston Harbor Tours
October 08, 2007

Today Fort Moultrie is composed of a series of forts on Sullivan's Island that were originally built to protect the city of Charleston. One of the forts, built entirely from palmetto logs, was the inspiration for the nickname of South Carolina, the Palmetto State.

With a rich history beginning over two centuries ago, Fort Moultrie was first attacked in 1776 by a British fleet during the Revolutionary War.

Still unfinished, the fort miraculously managed to hold off the British, who retreated after 9 hours of fighting. The palmetto log structure absorbed the shot, and cannon balls were even said to bounce off the walls of the fort. This battle saved Charleston from British invasion, and the fort was immediately named after the commander during the battle, William Moultrie.

To this day, residents of the state celebrate Carolina Day to commemorate this victory. A brick fort was built in 1809 to replace the decaying original fort, as part of the efforts to strengthen fortification of important American harbors.

During the American Civil War, the fort was again attacked by Union forces.

Although it suffered major damages, the Confederate troops within the fort managed to hold off the Union attacks in a significant victory for the Confederacy.

Modernized in the 1870s with rifled cannons and concrete bunkers, Fort Moultrie became part of a larger military complex. It is now part of the National Park Service, representing the changes in American coastal defenses over time. Designated the Fort Moultrie National Monument, it regularly attracts visitors from around the world who come to explore the history of American defense.

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