St. Marks, Florida - Historic Sites & Points of Interest
St. Marks, Florida - Historic Sites & Points of Interest
Land Face of Fort Jackson
The historic brick fort was surrounded by a moat and
was a state of the art defensive work at the time it
was completed. By the time of the Civil War,
however, Fort Jackson was outdated but still used.
Fort Jackson
Massive cannon still aim out
over the Savannah River from
the ramparts of Fort Jackson,
reminders of the Civil War.
Confederate Headquarters
Fort Jackson served as the
headquarters for Confederate
defenses of the Savannah
River during the Civil War.
Old Fort Jackson - Savannah, Georgia
Georgia's Oldest Brick Fort
Copyright 2013 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Updated: November 14, 2013
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Inside Fort Jackson
Visitors can explore the
interior rooms and chambers
of the historic fort to learn
more about 19th century life.
Guns on the Savannah
The semi-circular river face of
Fort Jackson was designed to
allow its cannon to sweep the
Savannah River.
Fort Jackson, the oldest standing brick fort in
Georgia, stands on the eastern edge of the
historic city of

Built in 1808 to protect Savannah from
foreign attack, the fort survived the War of
1812 and the Civil War and is now a popular
historic site. It stands on the banks of the
Savannah River, which it was designed to

Named for James Jackson, a hero of the
American Revolution, Old Fort Jackson was
begun in 1808 and completed just as the
War of 1812 erupted between the United
States and Great Britain. An earthwork battery
had stood at the site during the American

Savannah was completely unprotected when
work began on Fort Jackson. Fort Green,
which stood on Coxspur Island near today's
Fort Pulaski, had been destroyed by storm in
1804. The older Fort Wayne, which stood
atop the bluff at the Trustees Garden in
downtown Savannah, had deteriorated long

Captain William McRee of the Corps of
Engineers was sent to Savannah in 1808 to
supervise construction of the new fort. Only
20 years old at the time, he was a highly
regarded graduate of the U.S. Military
Academy at West Point.
Fort McRee in
Florida, another antebellum fort, was named
in his honor.

As originally designed, the fort consisted only
of the semi-circular battery that faces the
Savannah River. Cannon mounted here
could control a long stretch of the channel.

Originally built of earth, faced with brick and
topped with a gun platform of wood, the
battery in its day was one of the strongest
fortifications in the United States.  By March
1812, McRee was able to report that the
battery was in good condition and ready for
the mounting of its cannon.

When the War of 1812 was declared with
Great Britain on June 18, 1812, Captain
McRee reported that 8 guns were mounted at
Fort Jackson. He had no soldiers with which
to man them, but Georgia militia troops
responded in the interim and in July men
from the newly formed 8th U.S. Infantry
garrisoned the post.

The United States anticipated an attack on
Savannah and additional steps were taken to
prepare the fort for action. A palisade was
built to enclose the rear of Fort Jackson, a rail
was added to the top of the cannon platform
and a hot shot furnace was added where
solid cannonballs could be heated red hot so
they would set attacking ships afire.

The War of 1812 ended in 1815 with the city
of Savannah still safe and secure. Fort
Jackson was never attacked by the British,
although they did land along the coastal
islands down the Georgia coast.

The fort deteriorated after the War of 1812,
but in 1855 money was appropriated to
return it to proper condition. Rear brick walls,
a moat, drawbridges and brick barracks were
added. T

The work ended in around 1859 and until
Fort Jackson was seized by state troops in
1861, it was held by a single caretaker.
When Georgia seceded in 1861 and joined
the Confederate States of America, Fort
Jackson once again became an important
military post. Along with the newer and
stronger Fort Pulaski downstream, it served
in conjunction with a vast system of earthen
batteries and forts to defend Savannah.

After Fort Pulaski fell to Union troops in 1862,
Fort Jackson and adjacent earthwork
batteries assumed a vital role in protecting
Savannah. General Robert E. Lee, then
commanding coastal defenses, ordered the
fort strengthened with dirt traverses to
contain shrapnel from exploding shells.

When the fort was finally taken, however, the
attack came from land instead of water.
Having completed his infamous March to the
Sea, General William Tecumseh Sherman
captured Fort McAllister south of Savannah
and then laid siege to the city itself.

The Confederate troops of General William J.
Hardee evacuated Savannah and Fort
Jackson on the night of December 20, 1864,
retreating across the river into South
Carolina. Union troops from the 29th Ohio
and 28th Pennsylvania Infantries occupied
Fort Jackson the next day.

When they saw the U.S. flag flying above the
ramparts, the Confederates fired a few
parting shots at the fort from the ironclad
CSS Savannah. Union troops occupied Fort
Jackson until the end of the War Between the
States (Civil War), but its days as an
important military post were over.

Now a beautifully restored historic site that is
operated by the Coastal Heritage Society,
Fort Jackson is open to the public from 9
a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. It is
located at 1 Fort Jackson Road in Savannah,

Please click here to read an excellent history
of Fort Jackson.

To learn more about the historic site, please
Gates of Fort Jackson
The bridge into the fort is a
passage through time that
allows visitors to step back
into a perfectly preserved 19th
century fortress.
Section of CSS Georgia raised off Old Fort Jackson