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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Savannah in Chatham County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Fort James Jackson

The Guardian of Savannah

— Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails —

 
 
Fort James Jackson Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, June 12, 2022
1. Fort James Jackson Marker
Inscription.  In 1776 a small earthwork called Mud Fort was built at this site, known as Salter's Island, on the east side of Savannah. Unhealthy conditions soon forced the abandonment of Mud Fort. In the early 1800s, United States President Thomas Jefferson authorized the construction of a series of fortifications to defend the American coastline. The Mud Fort location was chosen for construction of a new brick fort, to be named Fort James Jackson after a local Revolutionary War hero, later a U.S. Senator and Governor of Georgia. Work began in 1808 and within four years the waterfront brick battery, still visible today, was completed. Fort Jackson saw no action during the War of 1812 and construction continued between 1847 and 1861. By the beginning of the Civil War, Fort Jackson was a formidable stronghold.

On Saturday, January 26, 1861, Georgia militia troops commanded by Colonel Alexander R. Lawton seized Fort Jackson. Although the fort was never heavily engaged during the Civil War it became the headquarters for the Confederacy's Savannah River defenses. During the war, local units garrisoned the fort, including the Irish Jasper Greens, Republican
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Blues, 1st Georgia Regulars and 22nd Georgia Heavy Artillery Regiments. The Confederacy built a network of earthen structures around the fort and along the river. Some of this work was supervised by Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Numerous cannon were placed in these fortifications. Floating and submerged explosives, and other obstructions, were placed in the water to prevent Federal ships from continuing upstream toward the city. The Confederacy's “Savannah River Squadron,” composed of seven gunboats and four ironclad ships, added extra protection.

By December 1864, Union Major General William T. Sherman's army was approaching Savannah. Confederate troops evacuated the city on Tuesday, December 20th. Troops garrisoned at Fort Jackson burned the barracks, threw weapons and ammunition into the moat and river, spiked the guns and booby-trapped the powder magazine. They scuttled the ironclad “Georgia” in the Savannah River in front of the fort. The following morning, the Federal 28th Pennsylvania and 29th Ohio Infantry Regiments arrived at Fort Jackson. They found it abandoned and still burning. Members of the 29th Ohio climbed the fort's ramparts to raise the Stars & Stripes, which one soldier later recalled, “I had the honor of doing.” The last unit stationed at Fort Jackson during the war was the Federal 55th Massachusetts, an African-American infantry regiment.
Fort James Jackson Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, June 12, 2022
2. Fort James Jackson Marker
The fort's remains are in the background.
Its sister regiment, the renowned 54th Massachusetts, was immortalized in the 1989 Oscar-winning film “Glory.”

Captions
(Top row, left to right)
• James Jackson
• Fort James Jackson (Image courtesy of Starforts.com)
• “Interior of Fort Jackson” (Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper)
•The National Colors of the 28th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment This flag was one of two raised over Fort Jackson on December 21, 1864.
(Bottom row, left to right)
• Map of “Savannah, Ga. and Vicinity” in December 1864 (adapted from the Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies)
• Colonel Alexander R. Lawton (after becoming a Confederate Brigadier General)
• Officers of the 29th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment
• Confederate General Robert E. Lee
• Members of the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment
 
Erected by Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails. (Marker Number L-31.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Forts and CastlesWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Georgia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical date for this entry is January 26, 1861.
 
Location. 32° 4.874′ 
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N, 81° 2.204′ W. Marker is near Savannah, Georgia, in Chatham County. Marker can be reached from Fort Jackson Road, 0.8 miles north of Woodcock Street. Marker is in the parking lot at the end of Fort Jackson Road. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1 Fort Jackson Rd, Savannah GA 31404, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. CSS Georgia: The "Ladies' Gunboat" (a few steps from this marker); Construction of Fort Jackson (within shouting distance of this marker); Garrison of Fort Jackson (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Republican Blues (about 300 feet away); a different marker also named Fort James Jackson (about 300 feet away); The Napoleon 12-Pounder Field Gun Model 1857 (about 400 feet away); 1873 Shell Magazine (about 400 feet away); Colonials at Bonaventure (approx. 2½ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Savannah.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 18, 2022. It was originally submitted on June 18, 2022, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 346 times since then and 80 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 18, 2022, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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May. 24, 2024