Savannah Military History
From its beginning, Savannah has been fortified to protect its residents and strategic port. In the early years, Savannah was walled against the Spanish. Later, artillery fortifications protected the city from British and Union troops during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and even Pirates. The forts stand today as un-garrisoned but fascinating reminders of our military history and as striking memorials to our country’s struggles to remain free.
Battle Field Park
The Siege of Savannah began at dawn on October 9, 1779, 7,000 men from three continents engaged in mortal combat for the possession of the village of Savannah. The main area for this conflict was the slope in front of the spring hill redoubt on the Westside of town. More than 700 men spilled their blood on this ground in the battle lasting less than one hour. Battlefield Park was first envisioned in the 1960s as a community resource. Since then the concept has undergone many changes and redirection in scale. The site will open to the public in 2006.
Fort Pulaski National Monument
Location: U.S. Highway 80
Fort Pulaski National Monument webpage
Now a National Monument operated by the National Park Service, Fort Pulaski stands 15 miles east of Savannah just off U.S. Highway 80 on the way to Tybee Island. Designed by Napoleon’s military engineer and built between 1829 and 1847, it was the “piece de resistance” in brick and masonry forts. Future Confederate General Robert E. Lee was assigned to the fort as an engineer upon his graduation from West Point. When the Confederates seized Fort Pulaski in 1861, they thought the fort would be an impregnable blockade of the Savannah River. However, the use of new rifled cannons forced their surrender in just 30 hours of bombardment, bringing the days of masonry forts to an end. Call for hours of operation.
Location: Fort Screven Road
Located on Tybee Island, Fort Screven was one of the last coastal artillery batteries built along the East Coast. It was erected in 1875 and was manned during the Spanish-American War and both World Wars. Tybee Museum, located in one of the bastion vaults of the un-restored fort, displays relics and artifacts from colonial and pre-colonial days. Hours of operation are Monday, Wednesday and Sunday, 9 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.
Located: East Broad and Bay Street
Originally named Fort Savannah, it was popular dueling ground in Savannah. Constructed during the Revolutionary War, the fort was manned to defend the colony of Georgia against an attack by the British in 1778. The Fort Wayne site was purchased by the Savannah Gas Company in 1850 and the retaining wall was added when Bay Street was extended by the city. Only the outer walls remain today.
Old Fort Jackson
Location: 1 Fort Jackson Road
Three miles from downtown Savannah, Fort Jackson is the oldest remaining brickwork fort. Constructed between 1809 and 1842, the fort first saw service in the War of 1812 and then again during the Civil War. It is situated on the south bank of the Savannah River, occupying a site fortified since colonial days. Fort Jackson guards Five Fathom Hole, the 18th century deep-water port in the Savannah River. The fort has numerous displays and artifacts depicting the history of Savannah and Coastal Georgia. Seasonal demonstrations and exhibits are scheduled for the second weekend of each month. Hours of Operation are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily.
Mighty Eighth Air Force Heritage Museum
Location: 147 Bourne Avenue
This $13 million museum honors the courage, character and patriotism embodied by the men and women of the Eighth Air Force from World War II to the present. The 95,000 square-foot museum is situated on a 13-acre tract at the intersection of Interstate 95 and U.S. Highway 80 in the Westside of Savannah. This landmark includes a museum, library, static aircrafts, displays, archives, research center, bookstore, gift shop and snack bar.
Located: Bay and Drayton Street
These two bronze cannons where affectionately named “George and Martha,” after the Washingtons. These guns were taken at the battle of Yorktown and presented to the Chatham Artillery as a dramatic “bread and butter” piece offering by General George Washington when he visited Savannah in May of 1791.
Located: River Street and East Broad Street Ramp
The City of Savannah and Chatham County Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated on June 29, 1991. The design and layout of the memorial is in the shape of Vietnam and is a salute to fallen comrades featuring a rifle, helmet and combat boots. Names of military members from this area who died in the Vietnam War are engraved in marble as a reminder of Savannah’s lost. The memorial is located in Emmett Park.