On my final full day in Charleston, my brother and sister-in-law had to get back to work, so I was left to meander the city by myself. Which is what I usually do when I travel, anyway. As I was looking for things to do, I was reminded that Fort Sumter was right under my nose. I love taking a look at historical places, so off I went back down to the Port of Charleston.
Fort Sumter is essentially its own island, so you have to take a ferry boat. The one pictured above, Spirit of the Low Country, was my ride for the voyage. The view of Charleston’s skyline pictured below doesn’t really do justice to how it looks. But one will readily notice the city’s many church steeples that define the landscape.
On approach to Fort Sumter….
Once I got there, I decided to listen to about a 20 minute presentation from one of the park employees. He talked about the history of the fort and its role in the Civil War. You don’t have to stick around for it, but it certainly was informative.
Fort Sumter is not very big, and as you can imagine, it’s practically surrounded by cannons. Fort Sumter was about 90% complete at the outbreak of the Civil War, and its walls were much higher than what you can see now. The part of the fort pictured below was built later during the Spanish American War.
These next couple of pics were taken from the top of the black structure, looking inward to the courtyard area. The first direction is to my left, and the second is to my right.
This cannon is an 8-inch Parrott, also called a 200 Pounder. Invented by Robert Parker Parrott, it was brought to the fort in the 1870s. It has a maximum range of 8,000 yards (about 4.5 miles).
As the position of the flag indicates, it was a very blustery day, and there’s nothing out there to block the wind.
There is a small museum inside the structure, and I want to pass along a few things I found interesting. It may be difficult to make it out on the picture below, but this depicts America on her nest of eggs (the states). The Southern states are either rotten or hatching terrible creatures.
The flag above is the one that South Carolina soldiers flew above Fort Sumter after ousting federal soldiers from the facility. The flag below is the one that was flying while the federal government still controlled the fort.
After my Fort Sumter adventure, I paid a visit to the Charleston Museum. It’s America’s oldest museum, founded in 1773. This is a replica of the famous H.L. Hunley submarine. Confederate troops used it to sink the USS Housatonic in February 1864. It was the world’s first submarine to sink an enemy ship. However, the Hunley also disappeared. It was discovered in 1995, buried in sand and silt just outside of Charleston Harbor. It is now housed in another part of town, and tours are available to groups on weekends (alas, I was neither a group nor there on the weekend).
If you’re a museum type, I definitely recommend swinging through, if for no other reason than to tour through America’s first museum. While spending time in the area, George Gershwin wrote the opera Porgy and Bess on the piano below.
And that’ll do it for my Charleston adventure. If you haven’t been yet, I suggest you put it on your road trip itinerary. And if you live there, take some time out of your routine and see some of the rich culture that surrounds you every day. With family in the city, I have a great excuse to get back sooner rather than later.