Fort Moultrie: Carrying on after our first day of vacationing in the Charleston, South Carolina area took us to start day two at Fort Moultrie. I was really impressed at the museum that is situated across the street from the fort itself.
Firstly, it was a cool, dark oasis from the toasty trek that awaited us across the street at Moultrie. The staff were wonderful and welcoming to all who ducked into the building. The displays and information available strolling through the museum were really well done and engaging to all.
Most of what I saw while touring the museum gave a sense of wonder at how anyone stationed here back in the day functioned in the heat. You get an impression that it was sandy, hot and spartan. When you begin to contemplate having to manage huge cannon and ammunition in those conditions, it boggles the mind.
While in this place of imagination, I came upon this poster encouraging women to enlist in the Women’s Army Corps. While it seemed out of place being one of the few colorful pieces in contrast to everything else, it gave a nod to women playing a role in the non-combat roles available then.
Venturing outside to the actual fort, armed to the hilt with my wide-brimmed straw hat and 70 (yes, 70) SPF sunscreen, our first surprise awaited us. Evidently, Native Americans taken prisoner in the area then were relocated and imprisoned at Fort Moultrie. This included Osceola and on his passing, he was buried here.
We likely could have spent much more time here, but as it was respectably hot and the sun was beating down, we made tracks from one site to another. This made investigating the many hallways and ammunition storage rooms a respite.
Walking around the perimeter of the Fort is actually a nice stroll. It’s a comfortable distance and there is access to the shore you can head over to and the breezes coming in off the water were definitely appreciated.
There are interior structures and I was quite surprised with how cool the lowest level hallways and storage rooms were.
I found a small flower growing alone out of the exterior brick wall – an interesting little find among the cannon lined up and pointing out to sea.
Can you even imagine having to put hands on and manipulate cannon as huge as these in the heat of the day here? No doubt they had a heck of a kick when fired.
The views looking out into Charleston Harbor were really beautiful. I could almost imagine how many young soldiers stood in this very spot admiring the sea over the years as well. (Fort Sumter isn’t in the shot, but is just to the right of this view).
The Hunley Project – A perfect indoor activity for the hot weekend was a tour to see the restoration of the Hunley submarine.
On entering the large facility that houses the restoration work and guided tours, we found a plethora of intriguing stories of the Hunley itself and the crews assigned to it. The staff who work and volunteer there were obviously passionate about this history and made our experience all the more engaging.
We could have easily spent hours here; its money well spent to visit and help support the ongoing work.
Our tour guide mentioned that when it was first located, the Hunley carried over 10+ tons of extra weight due to concretion that had occurred to its frame over time while it laid on the ocean floor. It was relocated to a special tank that was filled with a special solution for years (and is still happening) to pull the salt out of it little bit by bit.
It’s amazing to consider that this huge tank (over 70,000 gallons) is filled and drained regularly to help release the salt out of the hull…for years. When the tank is empty, works are able to continue restoration.
Some of the models were really impressive, showing what the Hunley would have looked like fully whole. Since everything on the submarine was hand-powered or manually operated, the explosive weapon was mounted on a lance on the front of hull that the crew could aim roughly and ram into a target.
Seeing a visual representation of just how tight the quarters were for the crew to work in was fascinating. Seven men crammed themselves into a hull so small that even sitting upright was impossible. They sat in a row as shown in the model above and operated a hand crank that powered the submarine.
A collage of photos depicting some of the restoration work before and afters.
This map showed the mystery of the Hunley in as far as it’s intended mission to attack the USS Housatonic. It sank the Housatonic and then no one knows what happened to it. There are several hypothetical scenarios, but no clear evidence why it sank and why it ended up much farther out towards sea than where it was thought to have gone down.
One of the final stories we learned on exiting the tour was Lt. George Dixon’s gold coin. The odds of a story like this one are amazing.
The Hunley project facility was one of the best things we did. The mystery of what really happened to this ill-fated submarine will likely never be solved.
What would be a visit to Charleston, without stopping by the USS Yorktown? We elected to come back here after taking off from the same point to ferry over to Ft. Sumter the day before. Having put in a solid day of touring around already, our visit here was admittedly short in comparison, but we already had an idea of what we wanted to see and where it was.
This was my husband’s field of expertise. Being a bit tuckered at this point in the day and the heat, I might have unabashedly found an oasis in the shade standing under the wing of one of the aircraft.
The story of Scrappy the dog was the most endearing short story to happen upon while walking among the aircraft, displays and photographs. It’s possible this may have been yours truly’s favorite part of the visit here 😉
Next up, our final day 3 of our trip…