SEAC: The Search for Battery Halleck
The archaeological testing conducted in July and September 1990 did not yield conclusive evidence-in the form of diagnostic artifacts of the period-for Civil War activity on Spanish Hammock. In spite of this, I believe sufficient evidence was obtained to support the conclusion that this area is indeed the location of Battery Halleck. Appreciable earth movement occurred on the hammock at some time well before the mid-twentieth century. The resulting features are identical in almost all respects to those produced by the construction of Civil War period mortar batteries. The four depressions and associated earthworks found on the hammock from east to west are thus interpreted as representing the right or east mortar, the central powder magazine and its associated antechamber, and the left or west mortar of Battery Halleck (Figure 19 61.4KB). Additional evidence in support of this conclusion is provided by the presence of appreciable iron concretions in the fill of the three depressions examined, and by the unequivocal evidence from the presumed antechamber that at least some of these concretions derive from the weathering of iron artifacts (i.e., iron plating or other possible material).
Why were no diagnostic Civil War period artifacts found? First, only a small area was excavated, and almost all of the test units that were opened were placed in areas that would have been covered by thick wooden planking, precluding the deposition of many artifacts under them. These wooden platforms would, upon removal, have themselves left little archaeological trace. Second, given the brief period over which Battery Halleck was constructed and used, few Civil War period artifacts would be expected. Third, given the likelihood that the area has been previously subject to looting by metal detector owners and to extensive visitation by local residents (i.e., hunters and children), it is probable that any obvious surface artifacts have long since been removed. In retrospect, archaeologists may have more success in locating Civil War period artifacts from units placed around the margins of the depressions or in the marsh immediately behind them.
What was missed besides artifacts? Historic accounts clearly indicate the presence of one type of feature that was not located during the 1990 testing program-the bomb shelter or splinter proof. The importance of these structures, which are described by T.B Brooks in Appendix 1, was indicated by the forceful testimony of the Union commander:
To the splinter-proof shelters constructed for the seven advanced batteries [this implies one was present in the vicinity of Battery Halleck] I attribute our almost entire exemption from loss of life. We had 1 man killed by a shell from one of the mortar batteries outside the fort, which was the only casualty. (Gillmore in OR 1882:165)While no evidence for splinter proofs was found in 1990, one possible area where they might be found was indicated by the detailed mapping activity that occurred. Built-up and disturbed ground continues almost to the eastern end of the hammock, well past the location of the right mortar battery. I suggest that archaeological evidence for splinter proofs is likely to be found in this area.
Where do we go from here? There are two objectives that should be actively pursued by the NPS:
First, as the only known surviving Union gun emplacement from the siege and reduction of Fort Pulaski, Battery Halleck has extreme historical importance. Its preservation and incorporation into Fort Pulaski National Monument must be an overriding priority.To properly restore and interpret the battery, a thorough program of archaeological investigation over the hammock area should be conducted. This archaeological work should include the complete excavation of all four of the depressions and their immediate surroundings; excavations in the marsh behind each depression (where well-preserved remains are likely to be found in the waterlogged soils); test trenches through several of the parapets; and excavations directed to locating and defining the splinter proofs.