SEAC: Archeology of the Post Civil War Era
Following the Civil War, Union General Gillmore returned to Fort Pulaski to modernize it for protection against the rifled cannons he had once used to bring it down. Most of the changes occurred in the demilune outside the main fort, with planned changes for the main fort being abandoned. Investigations in the demilune, which was overgrown with vegetation until recently, could provide further insight into modern fortification theory and construction method. The fort ceased being a military installation in 1880, and the only inhabitants of the island were the lighthouse keepers and their families. Following the major hurricanes of 1881 and 1893, the lighthouse keeper's house was moved to an area on top of the terreplein of Fort Pulaski. The daily lives of those individuals who worked on these modifications could also be better understood through thorough archeological investigation. The terreplein was rebuilt during the 1930's restoration and reconstruction efforts by the Civilian Conservation Corps, so would yield little information about the two-story lighthouse keeper's house built upon it.
In the southern part of what is now Fort Pulaski National Monument there was more activity. This was due to the construction of the Savannah and Atlantic Railroad in 1887, which connected Savannah to the booming resort area of Tybee Island. The railroad passed through monument property, and extended east across Lazaretto Creek. The path of the railway was turned into a historic and scenic trail extending through McQueen's Island in 1991 (Click here for a Map showing the path of the trail across McQueen's Island - 40 KB). Investigations in and around this historic trail could yield further information on rail line construction methods, although the area may be so disturbed by modern activity that research possibilities may be somewhat limited.
The study of other sites such as Battery Horace Hambright, which was constructed in 1895, is also important in gaining a complete understanding of Fort Pulaski National Monument. The battery is a good example of defense emplacements built during the end of the 19th century. It sits in stark contrast to earlier batteries, such as those built by Union General Gillmore in his attack on Fort Pulaski. The concrete and steel construction added a new level of durability, especially against weapons that could shoot farther with more accuracy than ever before. Archeological work done around this battery could possibly yield more information about the lives of the military personnel that manned it.
While the potential for archeological research concerning post-Civil War occupations of the Fort Pulaski area are not as great as previous periods, there is still a significant amount of knowledge to be gained. Investigations at the cemetery relate to both Civil War and post-Civil War research questions. This is due to the fact that many of the remaining burials in the cemetery were added after the end of the civil war, and therefore they reflect both the post-war military and civilian occupation of Cockspur Island.
All known archeological sites that postdate the Civil War at Fort Pulaski National Monument are related to government agencies. As such, documentation regarding the location of sites and the dates that sites were occupied, is a matter of public record. Archeological investigations of the sites are appropriate, however, to determine land use changes and provide information regarding the human experience relating to the occupation of these sites. Proposed areas of interest should have historic and ethnographic studies completed prior to excavations to ensure maximum data recovery. In particular, the Hunter/Pulaski Crash Boat Dock Annex and U.S. Navy refuse area have the potential to yield significant archeological data to help interpret the lifeways of military personnel prior to and during World War II (Click for a map of the US Naval Base in 1945 - 71 KB). There is also a distinct possibility that the area was used prior to World War II by the US Quarantine Station (Click for a map of the Quarantine Station in 1939 - 44 KB). The potential to gain insight into the types of diseases treated at the US Quarantine Station, the medical procedures used during treatment, and the evolution of medical technology are worthy of consideration. Similarly, biocultural questions regarding health and disease may also be answered through archeological evidence obtained from the Navy refuse area.*
*Paragraph excerpted from Lou Groh's 2000 report, Fort Pulaski National Monument: Archeological Overview and Assessment, from "Chapter 7: Recommendations for Future Archeological Research", pages 96-97. Published by the Southeast Archeological Center of the National Park Service, Tallahassee, Florida.