Old Fort Jackson
County:Chatham
City:Savannah
Type:Fort
Sally port, Fort Jackson, Savannah, Georgia
Entrance to Fort Jackson
Climb the ramparts of Fort Jackson and it is easy to see why this site was chosen to build a brick fort to protect Savannah on this spot. The year was 1808 and our relationship with Britain had worsened considerably over the past few years. Authorized by President Thomas Jefferson, Fort Jackson was built in Thunderbolt (now a section of Savannah) to protect the city from naval attack.

Named for James Jackson, the fort is the oldest standing fort in Georgia. It was not the first fort to occupy the site, however. In 1776 Savannah residents built an earthen fort, which was destroyed by the construction of Fort Jackson.

Enlisted men's barracks, Fort Jackson, Savannah, Georgia
Enlisted men's barracks,
Fort Jackson
The fort was manned almost continuously during the first months of the War of 1812, when British privateers were setting fire to American sloops and schooners just off the coast of Georgia, and again near the end of the war when a British fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane was reportedly in the area (Georgia and the War of 1812).

Residents of Savannah turned to old Fort Jackson for protection from the Union Navy during the War Between the States (Civil War). In addition to Fort Jackson, there were ironclads, (the Georgia and the Savannah), and a line of obstrutions. The Navy never made it inland from Fort Pulaski. General Sherman did, though, after completing his March to the Sea.

Ramparts cannon takes aim at a modern day ship
Cannon on ramparts,
Old Fort Jackson
On December 17, 1864, General William T. Sherman demanded the surrender of "the surrender of the city of Savannah and its dependent forts." The surrender demand was received by General William Hardee, who commanded the Confederate forces in Savannah. Rather than fight (Hardee was overwhelmingly outnumbered), the Confederates pulled back from the city. On December 20, 1864, Sherman captured the the city of Savannah and Fort Jackson.

During the next 40 years the fort saw limited use, eventually being de-commissioned in 1905. Today the fort is owned and run by the Coastal Heritage Society.

Visiting Old Fort Jackson

Plan on spending at least 1 hour when you visit the fort. As you leave the Tybee Depot the site of the C. S. S Georgia is directly in front, near a cannon embankment. From here continue to the sentry box in front of the "sally port," the techical designation for the entrance to a fort. The open land in front of the fort was once a rice field.

Casements house the Coastal Heritage Society museum
Casements of the fort,
Old Fort Jackson
After entering through the sally port there is a brief film describing the history of the fort. A highlight of the visit is the Coastal Heritage Society exhibits that explain the fort's relationship with the city of Savannah, weapons used at the fort, and the fort itself. These displays are locate in the casemates (technically a protected chamber within the fort) beneath the ramparts .

Then comes the tour of the ramparts itself. In addition to the cannon, there is a beautiful view of the Savannah River and the coastal plain. Leaving the rampart be sure to visit the privy in the southeast corner of the fort. Once a day the tidal nature of the river would "flush" it out.


Location: On the Savannah River in Thunderbolt
Directions: Take I-16 East to Montgomery St. (Exit 167B, Savannah / Civic Center / Downtown - Last exit). In .8 miles turn right on Liberty St. Turn left on Randolph, then make an almost immediate right on E. President St. This becomes the President St. Extention. In 1.9 miles, turn left on Woodcock Road, for .3 miles. Turn right on Old Fort Jackson Road and continue for .2 miles. Enter through the "Tybee Depot".
Additional information:
Address:
1 Fort Jackson Road
Savannah, GA 31404
Phone:
912-232-3945
Web site:
Additional information on Georgia Forts

Date added: January 9, 2004
Last update: March 12, 2004

Other Attractions in Savannah
Fort Pulaski
Historic Squares of Savannah
Bonaventure Cemetery
Wormsloe Plantation
Cockspur Lighthouse
Tybee Depot

Fort Listing
Fort Hawkins
Fort Yargo State Park
Fort Pulaski
Eagle Tavern
Fort McAllister State Park
Wormsloe Plantation
Fort Frederica


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