cannon parts and casemate gin for raising cannons


This is a teacher-led activity to be done on site at the fort. Students will learn about the vital role played by simple machines to accomplish challenging tasks at Fort Pulaski. The moving and lifting of heavy cannons, the aiming and loading of the bulky weapons, and other “heavy lifting” was achieved with simple machines. The unsung heroes of Fort Pulaski were the lever, the pulley, the wheel, the screw and the inclined plane.


 At the end of the activity, students will be able to:
1) Name at least two simple machines that helped soldiers aim and fire Civil War cannons.
2) Name at least two simple machines that were used to move or lift Civil War cannons.
3) Explain why simple machines were important in Fort Pulaski.


To better defend the fort, Confederate troops in the fort were busy moving cannons to various locations around the fort. Cannon barrels in the fort typically weighed about 10,000 pounds. A variety of simple machines were used to move the cannons from point to point and to raise them to the top of the fort. The arduous task of moving and hoisting cannons was too time-consuming to be undertaken in the midst of battle. When in battle, loading and firing the heavy weapons also required a clever use of simple machines.


Print the lesson plan from the pdf file on the park website and bring it to the park with you.

When you arrive at the fort, go to the second drawbridge and stand outside the fort entrance. The activity starts outside the fort entrance.

Share the information from the lesson plan with your students at the entrance. When you finish at the entrance, go to the next stop. The lesson plan includes a fort map that shows the location of each stop.

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


Each stop of the tour includes a question for teachers to ask students. Correct answers and subsequent discussion will allow teachers to assess students' learning.


Mechanical advantage—the advantage gained in doing work (such as lifting a heavy weight) by using machines (such as a pulley or lever).
Barrel—the cannon’s long tube that fires the cannon ball.
Carriage—the wheels and wooden structure that support the barrel.