Sunday, June 10, 2012

25 Million Bricks

© Stuart Pearl 2012 - Click on Image for Slideshow

That's how many bricks it took to build Fort Pulaski on the coast of Georgia back in the early 1800's.

It's hard to grasp such a large number.  But it becomes more meaningful when you see the graceful shapes and curving designs created by all those bricks.
During our May visit to this part of the South we saw beautiful archways, deep alcoves, broad walls and vaulted ceilings as we strolled through this pre Civil War fort.

Located outside of Savannah, Fort Pulaski is one of 30 coastal fortifications built in the first quarter of the 19th Century.  It was designed to repel enemy canon attack from the sea and surrounding marshes. Its main goal was to protect the river approaches to Savannah since that port city was vital to the cotton and lumber trade.

As part of what was called the Third System Forts, Pulaski was far stronger than earlier designs.  Most of those built after 1816 still stand today. This particular fort took 18 years to build and cost $1,000,000 when it was started in 1829.
In April 1861 the Civil war reached the Savannah River in Georgia.The fort was supposed to protect the river mouth but quickly fell to Union bombardment.

Designed to withstand conventional attack from smooth-bore mortars it was considered invincible.  But the defenders did not count on the newly developed rifled canon.  Shells fired from those guns easily covered the distance with devastating accuracy.  The 7 ½' thick southeast wall was soon breeched and shells began entering the fort itself.  Surrender quickly followed.

Fort Pulaski is now part of the national parks system.
Several miles east of Fort Pulaski sits the Tybee Island Light Station.  The first lighthouse in the complex was built in 1736.  But due to storms, wind and sand erosion it was necessary to rebuild it several times since that time.

The lighthouse and its five support buildings are now surrounded by modern condos.  But for over 270 years its beacon helped sailors safely enter the Savannah River.