Fort Screven Historic District - Tybee Island, Georgia
Fort Screven Historic District - Tybee Island, Georgia
Fort Screven
The concrete and steel of Battery Garland frames an
artillery piece and historical marker at Fort Screven
on beautiful Tybee Island, Georgia.
Fort Screven
Battery Garland, one of the
artillery installations of Fort
Screven, now houses the
Tybee Island Museum.
Battery Brumby
Work on the battery began in
1897 and when completed in
1898, it mounted four 8"
disappearing rifles. The guns
remained in place until 1917.
Fort Screven Historic District - Tybee Island, Georgia
Georgia's Last Coastal Fort
Copyright 2013 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Updated: February March 10, 2013
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Coastal Forts of the South
Battery Backus
Begun in 1898, the battery
mounted three guns. It was
armed with two 4.72" and one
6" Armstrongs until they were
scrapped in 1919.
Beach Face of a Battery
This is the ocean front of
Battery Brumby, one of the six
concrete and steel batteries
built on the northern end of
Tybee Island as part of Fort
Fort Screven was a large coastal defense
post on the northern end of Tybee Island,

Named for Brig. Gen. James Screven, a hero
of the American Revolution, it was the last
coastal fort built in Georgia. Many significant
structures of Fort Screven can be seen today,
including Battery Garland, which now houses
the Tybee Island Museum.

General James Oglethorpe, the founder of
Georgia, first recognized the military value of
the north end of Tybee Island when he
established Savannah in 1733.  He ordered
the establishment of a "daymark" and sentry
post there, beginning a chain of military
defenses that would guard the mouth of the
Savannah River until the end of World War II.

The name Fort Screven dates from 1786
when the Georgia Legislature authorized the
building of a fort on Tybee Island. The name
honored Brigadier General James Screven,
an officer of the American Revolution, who
was killed in battle 1.5 miles south of Midway
Meeting House, Georgia, on November 22,

The fort authorized by the legislature never
was built, but the United States did built a
Martello tower (a small round fort) on Tybee
in around 1815. The fort was built of tabby (a
concrete made of shell, sand, lime and
water) and was still standing at the time of
the War Between the States, although it had
fallen into disrepair.

Both Confederate and Union troops occupied
the later site of Fort Screven between 1861
and 1865. Heavy firing from earthwork gun
batteries on the north end of Tybee Island
Fort Pulaski in 1862, signalling the
end of masonry coastal fortifications.

Plans for a permanent fort on the north end of
Tybee Island date from 1872, when the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers drew up plans for
an installation. Land acquisition followed in
1875, but progress on actually establishing
the fort was slow.

During the administration of President Grover
Cleveland, however, Secretary of War William
C. Endicott submitted a report on the state of
America's coastal defenses. Endicott's ideas
provided the basis for what became known
as the Endicott System, a string of coastal
defenses that were built to protect most of
America's important port cities.

The Endicott System called for multiple
batteries spaced at irregular intervals at the
entrances to important harbors. Armed with
the latest heavy artillery and built of concrete
and steel, these installations employed sand
and natural beach plants to make them
almost invisible from the sea.

With the threat of war with Spain looming, the
nation began a major program of defense-
related construction. What locals called Fort
Tybee became part of this effort, with work
beginning in 1896.

The military first called the facility Camp
Graham, but the name soon was changed to
Fort Screven. The George Legislature's
dream of an important fort on Tybee Island
finally was realized 100 years after the site
was named.

Fort Screven was an important military post
of the Spanish American War (1898). Most of
its batteries were not completed in time for
that war, but the Spanish never threatened an
attack on Savannah and the fort never came
under fire.
Fort Screven had seven batteries, six on
Tybee Island and a seventh,
Hambright, near Fort Pulaski. Battery Garland
now houses the Tybee Island Museum and
is open to the public, as is Battery Hambright.
The others can be seen from the street and
beach, but are not publicly accessible.

The first of the fortifications to be finished,
Battery Brumby, can be seen from the
grounds of the Tybee Island Lighthouse and
was the only one of the batteries ready for
action during the Spanish American War. It
mounted four 8-inch guns on disappearing
carriages that could fire a 200 pound shell
over 8 miles.

Battery Garland, which now houses the
museum, was finished in 1899 and mounted
four 12-inch rifles.

The Fort Screven Historic District also
includes a number of buildings that once
housed the quarters and other facilities of the
post. They dot the landscape of the north end
of Tybee Island. The streets are lined with
oak trees and other plantings dating from the
days of Fort Screven. The crepe myrtles were
planted by Lieutenant Colonel (later General)
George C. Marshall. The post was declared
surplus after World War II.

To visit Battery Garland, take Highway 80
east from Savannah to Tybee Island, turn left
at the first light onto Campbell Avenue.
Follow Campbell the dead end and turn left
on Van Horne then take the first right onto
Meddin. The street address is 30 Meddin
Drive, Tybee Island, Georgia.

The museum is open daily (except
Tuesdays) from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The last
tickets are sold at 4:30 p.m. and can be
purchased at the
Tybee Island Lighthouse
across the street from Battery Garland.

The cost is $9 for adults, $7 for Seniors
(62+), Military with ID and Children (6017).
Members of the U.S. Coast Guard and Kids 5
and under are admitted free.

Please click here for more information.