Hold the Fort, for We Are Coming
This is my final post on our Christmas vacation. I want to start by noting that the Short Ones and I are history buffs, with a particular interest in historic forts, battlefields, etc. Judy, on the other hand, has limited enthusiasm for such things. Sadly for her, she is outnumbered on this point. (Perhaps the addition of daughters-in-law will even up the sides some day.)
On this trip, she did stand her ground in insisting that we could visit ONLY ONE fort or related Civil War site. That is how we found ourselves at Fort Pulaski near Savannah. The fort was built to defend the city from the British after the War of 1812. Taken by the Union Army early in the Civil War, it was used to implement the Northern blockade of the Confederacy. It’s also where the first photograph of a baseball game (played by Union soldiers) was taken.
We could have gone to Fort Sumter, but that requires a ferry trip and a good deal more time than we wanted to spend. Fort Pulaski, on the other hand, is a 15 minute drive east of Savannah. You can climb to the battlements and walk round, taking in the view of the river and surrounding country. I recommend it for people who are interested in such things.
Fort Pulaski was a side trip on the day we spent in Savannah, about a two-hour drive south of Edisto Island. Like Charleston, Savannah is one of the earliest Colonial cities. It has a sizable historic district that is excellent for walking and wandering. While Charleston has an aristocratic ambiance, Savannah seems more bohemian, funkier. This is probably due to the substantial presence of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
Historic Savannah is one of the earliest examples of urban planning, with grids of residential blocks laid out around a series of squares. The squares serve as common green spaces.
It also includes the lovely Forsyth park, part of which is an arboretum.
Like Charleston, Savannah seems to have many beautiful private gardens, which on an ordinary day you can get glimpses of by looking over or through the fences. Just try not to be too obvious about it.
Another side trip we took was to Boone Plantation, one of the country’s oldest. Located outside of Charleston, it has yet another breathtaking allee of live oaks dripping with Spanish moss.
There is a plantation house which was actually built in the 1930s, though using elements from the historic buildings. Indigo and cotton were the original cash crops. By the beginning of the last century, however, the plantation served primarily as a home for various very wealth people. While some farming continues, it no longer is a source of significant income for the owners.
Boone Plantation also has historic gardens. When we were there, poppies, pansies, camellias, and some roses were blooming. At one time, the plantation was famous for Noisette roses, though I’m not sure exactly what those are.
One thing that makes Boone plantation stand out is its focus on the slaves who were the foundation of the antebellum Southern economy. There are nine brick slave cabins, made with the original 18th Century bricks, that still stand. These were the homes of higher status slaves, house servants and skilled workers. Most slaves lived in much cruder wooden buildings that disappeared long ago.
The cabins are used now to house exhibits on slavery and African-American history. There are also talks given on the history of slavery, as well as the African heritage of the Low Country.
So that was our trip. On December 31st we headed back to the frigid North. Judy rejected my suggestion that we look into getting jobs as Civil War re-enactors at Fort Pulaski.