Old Fort Jackson - Cannon
Savannah, GA - Fort James Jackson is a masonry fort located on the Savannah River just east of the city of Savannah, Georgia. The fort, originally nothing more than a masonry battery facing the river, was built in order to prevent enemy forces from approaching the city by way of the river. Construction of the fort began in 1808 under the supervision of Captain William McRee of the United States Army and later Captain Prentice Willard. The site of the fort was on top of an early earthen battery that dated back to the Revolutionary War. Plans for this original fort called for a semi-circular type battery with 3 faces that would mount 6 guns in the direction of the Savannah River. The majority of the construction of the fort was finished by 1812 in time for the War of 1812. The fort was named for former Georgia governor James Jackson who had commanded forces in Georgia during the American Revolution.
In the years following the War of 1812 Fort Jackson became a secondary post to the newly constructed Fort Pulaski at the mouth of the Savannah River. However, the post was still considered vital for the defense of Savannah and from 1845 to 1861 benefited from updates. During this time the fort was enlarged and the back part was added to make it a true fort. New barracks, hot shot furnaces, and a moat were added along with various other features.
In January of 1861 the fort was seized by state troops without a fight. These state troops would garrison the fort through the early part of the American Civil War under the command of Captain J.W. Anderson. Following the surrender of Fort Pulaski in 1862 the fort would become one of the last lines of defense for Savannah along with other impromptu river batteries. With Sherman's forces approaching in December of 1864 the Confederate garrison realized it could not hold the fort and began burning its buildings and stores while spiking the guns. On December 20th the garrison abandoned the fort and on morning of the 21st Union troops occupied Fort Jackson raising their flag over its walls. The same morning the CSS Savannah briefly fired on the fort but quickly retired from the action. This would end Fort Jackson's Civil War service.
The fort was turned over to the state in the late 1950s. The fort was added to the National Register of Historic places in 1970 and the Coastal Heritage Society soon took interest in the fort and in 1976 it opened to the public. Today the site is still open daily to the public and in 2000 it became a National Historic Landmark.
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