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.)

Fort Pulaski
Outer moat and walls of Fort Pulaski.

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.

Fort Pulaski
Inside Fort Pulaski

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).

Savannah squares
One of the squares around which historic Savannah is built.
Angel's BBQ
Angel’s BBQ, located in a Savannah alley. Highly recommended.

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.

Forsyth Park Savannah
Forsyth Park in Savannah

It also includes the lovely Forsyth park, part of which is an arboretum.

Forsyth Park fountain
Forsyth Park fountain

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.

Savannah garden
Savannah garden

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.

Live oaks Spanish moss
More Spanish Moss than you can shake a stick at.

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 house
Boone Plantation house

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.

Boone Hall garden
Boone Plantation gardens

Boone Hall gardens

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.

Boone Hall slave cabins
Slave cabins

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.

29 Comments on “Hold the Fort, for We Are Coming

  1. Ohhh..Sounds like my kind of trip. I’m a total history lover. In fact my B.A. from UCLA was in Near Eastern History.. then I changed focus drastically and ended up as a psychologist … Now I’m a historian, turned psycho, turned garden blogger 🙂 Love the picture of the Spanish Moss!

  2. My daughter attended SCAD, so I have been to Savannah many a time. The best time to go is the weekend AFTER St. Patrick’s day, when the azaleas are in bloom. When we drive down, we like to stop the night in Asheville, NC, another lovely city with the nicest people I have ever casually bumped up against.

    • I’ve heard wonderful things about SCAD, must have been a great experience for your daughter. How lucky to have such a good reason to go down to Savannah!

  3. I am a history buff too and as a child our vacations centered around visiting forts…so I am bookmarking this post so I have a great guide when I finally get to Charleston…loved it!!

  4. I’m enjoying your tour posts. Savannah has been on my list to see for a long time. I wouldn’t think to go out to visit the fort, so this was a treat to see!

  5. Sounds like a wonderful trip! You hit lots of the spots I’ve always wanted to visit. Thanks for the photos and the travelogue!

  6. I’ve never been to the Southeast but your pictures make a trip there look appealing! Plantations, Spanish Moss, and those common green spaces sound gorgeous and the forts;interesting! Thanks for taking us along. Did you have to pay the airline extra for that huge trunk inside of which I was squeezed? Hope that these warm memories will help you get through the next few months of Chicago winter!

  7. Poor Judy! Although it looks like you spent sufficient time checking out the gardens, too, which surely she enjoyed? I would be in heaven in Forsyth Park! Savannah and Charleston are definitely on my bucket list, for various reasons. Your posts have encouraged me even more.

  8. Goodness! Never knew there was a “Fort Pulaski” … going to school in rural Pulaski, WI – I should have known! Gorgeous photos, Jason. Looks like you had a wonderful trip.

    • Well, here is some historical trivia for you. Casimir Pulaski died during the Revolutionary War after the battle to wrest control of Savannah from the British. Here in Chicago, the second largest Polish city in the world, we are very big on Casimir Pulaski.

  9. What a wonderful trip! You certainly selected a beautiful spot to spend your vacation. It has been a while since I have been to Savannah, and you remind me here how beautiful it is. Enjoy!

  10. After spending more then half the day wandering around the deserted navel base in Victoria, I can sympathize with her. But lovely shots of everything, you even made the historic fort exciting.

    Jen

  11. You had a wonderful trip filled with beautiful places you traveled. Lovely images and so well done, like you would see in a travel book. It is another world there. I have never seen a place where there were slaves housed. All this is so foreign to me.

  12. I love Savannah! My husband and I and our kids (very young at the time) were revolutionary war reenactors for the British side for a while and had a blast. It was a fun family activity with a different perspective. The day I went to Ft Sumter it was hotter than Hades. Gotta love AC when you live in the south!

  13. Your trip looks very interesting even if i am not so fond of history, every first visit to a place is exciting for me. Thanks for the tour. I havent even seen slave houses even in photos, maybe they are not often mentioned if ever they existed in a place. Your jokes seem to be always at the beginning and last, and I am looking for the punch line! I am curious how Judy responded to you about being reenactors of slavery!

  14. This looks like it was just a fantastic trip for everyone. A little bit of everything for you all to enjoy. I am particularly enamored of all that spanish moss. Gives everything a bit of an otherworldly feeling.

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