Historic Charleston Harbor was once home to four forts built in a ring at the harbor's entrance to protect this important port city and others along the Atlantic coastline. Fort Moultrie was the first of these to be built and one of 75 landmarks you will discover on your tour of Charleston Harbor aboard the 80 ft Carolina Belle.
Ft. Moultrie was not yet completed when it first saw combat. Nine warships attacked the unfinished fort on June 28, 1776. After a nine hour battle, the ships retreated and Fort Moultrie was still standing. Charleston was able to avoid British occupation and the unfinished Fort was named to honor Colonel William Moultrie, commander at the fort during the attack.
By 1791, the fort was hardly recognizable as such due to neglect during the years after the Revolution, but in 1793 the war between France and England inspired a second Fort Moultrie to be built, part of a string of 20 forts that built along the Atlantic coast. This second fort was completed in 1798 but again was found in disrepair after being destroyed by a hurricane in 1804.
A third Fort Moultrie was built in 1809. In contrast with the first fort built of palmetto logs, this time the fort was made of brick. Perhaps the builders hoped this would be the last Fort Moultrie to be built. Indeed, it was the last structure of its kind to be built on the fort.
In 1837 the famous Seminole Indian warrior, Osceola, along with other Seminole pioneers, were held at Ft Moultrie. Osceola was buried at the fort when he died early the next year.
During the Civil War, Fort Moultrie was bombarded, along with the other forts guarding Charleston Harbor. Fort Moultrie was eventually abandoned by the confederate army in 1865 when they evacuated Charleston. Fort Moultrie was modernized after the Civil War and into the 20th century until it was finally retired on August 15, 1947. Today, Fort Moultrie and Sullivan’s Island is the one place you can go to explore all 171 years of America's sea defense.
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