Blended photo showing modern fort and old battle damage.


This is a teacher-led activity to be done on site at the fort. The teacher will lead a walk around the outside of the fort to show students dramatic battle damage from the Civil War battle, including projectiles that are still lodged in the brick walls. It also highlights the salt marsh ecology on Cockspur Island, and shows how human influence has repeatedly changed the island’s environment over time.


At the end of this activity, students will be able to:
1) Describe the damage to the fort during the 1862 battle.
2) Explain why the National Park Service has not repaired that damage.
3) Explain why trees did not grow on cockspur Island in its natural state.
4) Name at least two actions taken by humans that have altered the environment on Cockspur Island.


Due to its strategic location at the mouth of the Savannah River, Cockspur Island has served as a military post since the 18th century. Humans have continually modified the island's natural ecology to serve the needs of society. In its natural state, the island is a salt marsh, with high tides covering the island twice daily. Only a few, very specialized plants (excluding trees) can grow in that harsh environment. Much of the island was in that natural state during the Civil War era, when Fort Pulaski was an active military post. In the years since then, the military gave up the fort and the nearby Savannah River was repeatedly dredged for ever larger cargo ships. For many years, the river mud from dredging was dumped on the island, eventually raising parts of the island above high-tide line and permitting additional vegetation, including trees, to flourish on the island.


Print the lesson plan from the pdf file on the park website.

Bring your students to the drawbridge outside the fort. The walking tour begins here.

You will be walking counter clockwise around the outside of the fort. The lesson plan includes a map, showing you where to make stops on the tour.

Share the information from the lesson plan with your students at each stop.

Use material you have covered in class to enhance the lesson, and take advantage of teachable moments to incorporate your own material into the lesson.

The walk functions as a loop, so you should finish a the same location where you start.


A dialog between teacher and students at each stop should enable the teacher to assess the students' learning in this lesson.


Preservation--the process of protecting something valuable so that it is not damaged or destroyed.
Salt marsh--a flat area of land, frequently covered by salt water, where only a few, specialized types of plants can grow.
Dike--an embankment of earth used to protect an area from flooding.