Fort Howell was constructed in 1864 on Hilton Head Island to defend the nearby freedmen's village of Mitchelville from possible Confederate raids. Mitchelville was established in 1862 to provide a community where freedom seekers could live and self-govern under their new-found freedom under the protection of the Union Army. Mitchelville was the clearest example of the Port Royal Experiment, whereby, formerly enslaved people demonstrated their willingness to fight for freedom and their capacity to live independently.
By 1864, Union military units were being drawn from the Department of the south for operations further north. Military operations transitioned from offensive to defensive in the area. Three major new earthworks were constructed on Hilton Head, including Fort Howell, which was located to provide protection for Mitchelville. Fort Howell was constructed in part by the 32nd USCT Infantry unit. This unit, raised in Pennsylvania from volunteers coming from Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, was comprised mostly of free blacks, rather than formerly enlsaved men.
Fort Howell is nominated as a military site. It also compliments the commemoration of Mitchelville, a destination site for freedom seekers. Further, we aspire that this site will build upon the history of the origin and activities of Mitchelville residents- i.e. service in the US Navy which formed the largest armada to that time in the capture of Port Royal Island on which Mitchelville was built and the formation of the first US Colored Army Troops who were instrumental in the Union victory in the Civil War. Fort Howell is an ideal site to serve as a futute commemoration of the thousands of freedom seekers that served valiantly in the US military.
Visitor Information: Currently open to public.
Location: Fort Howell, Dillon Rd and Fish Haul Rd, Hilton Head Island, Beaufort, 29925
National Park Unit: No
Ownership: Hilton Head Island Land Trust
Location Type: Site
People/Organizations Associated with the site: Civil War,Contraband