General William Moultrie
Fort Moultrie was named for
General William Moultrie, the
heroic officer who defended a
palmetto log fort there in 1776.
Fort Moultrie - Sullivan's Island, South Carolina - Fort Moultrie, South Carolina - Fort Moultrie, South Carolina
Fort Moultrie
Historic Fort Moultrie stands near Charleston and
occupies an honored place in American history.
Defender of Charleston Harbor
On June 28, 1776, as British warships
moved to conquer the South Carolina city of
Charleston, Colonel William Moultrie and a
force of Patriot soldiers stood behind
unfinished palmetto log walls and prepared
to defend the city.

Moultrie had been warned by General
Charles Lee that the British guns would
knock his fort down around his years, but the
fiery officer replied that he would fight from
the rubble.

For nine hours Moultrie withstood the fire of
nine British warships, returning fire with
cannon shots that swept the decks of the
enemy vessels. The palmetto logs of
Moultrie's fort did not shatter from the impact
of British cannon balls, but instead the soft
logs absorbed the iron balls much as a
sponge absorbs water.

The flag of the fort was shot down at one
point, but Sergeant William Jasper braved a
storm of shot and shell to retrieve it and
return the colors to their place over the works.

In the end, Moultrie and his men prevailed.
The badly battered fleet withdrew and the fort
on Sullivan's Island became a landmark of
the American Revolution. Named Fort
Moultrie in honor of the brave colonel who
had defended it in 1776, it is a place of honor
for South Carolinians. Moultrie's blue flag
with a white crescent in the corner - with the
addition of a palmetto tree - was adopted as
South Carolina's official state flag.

The original fort was replaced by a newer
work in 1798, but that Fort Moultrie was
destroyed by a hurricane in 1804. Work on
the present structure was completed in 1809.

Held by the U.S. Army for the next fifty years,
Fort Moultrie served as a prison for the great
Seminole chief Osceola. He died there and
is buried just outside the gate.

Other prominent 19th century individuals who
spent time as soldiers at Fort Moultrie
included General William Tecumseh
Sherman and the noted writer, Edgar Allen

Evacuated by U.S. troops on December 26,
1860, Fort Moultrie was quickly occupied by
Southern forces. Confederate gunners here
fired on
Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, and
the fort was one of the few points around the
harbor that received return fire from Sumter.
Confederate engineers covered the old brick
walls with massive embankments of sand.
This proved to be a good tactic when Fort
Moultrie, along with nearby
Fort Sumter, was
bombarded for 20 straight months by Union
forces. Unlike
Fort Sumter, which was
wrecked by the bombardment, Fort Moultrie
remains in excellent condition today.

The fort remained an important U.S. military
post until the end of World War II and was
modernized with each new generation. Today
it preserves an array of fortifications ranging
from the original brick walls of the 1809 fort to
concrete batteries and observation posts
used through World War II.

Today Fort Moultrie is the only unit in the
National Park system where the entire 190
year history of the U.S. military's coastal
defense efforts can be explored. It is part of
Fort Sumter National Monument and is
located on Sullivan's Island near Charleston,
South Carolina.

Please click here to visit the official National
Park Service website for directions and hours.
Ramparts of Fort Moultrie
These massive Rodman
guns date from after the Civil
War, but Fort Moultrie played a
vital role in the Confederate
defense of Charleston, South
Charleston Harbor
British warships positioned in
the harbor bombarded a log
fort on this site during the
American Revolution.
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Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Update: July 3, 2012
Civil War Forts in the South