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    Southeast Archeological Center

    Cultural Resources National Park Service

SEAC: Future Research at Fort Pulaski


Future archeological research at Fort Pulaski National Monument will more than likely occur in conjunction with Archeological Resources Protection Act issues. Any Cover from Lou Groh's 2000 Archeological Overview and Assessment of Fort Pulaski National Monument.improvements or additions must be reviewed to ensure that no cultural resources are impacted before in-depth investigations can occur. Other research may include the shovel-testing of the entire monument in order to determine the locations and distributions of prehistoric sites, pre-Fort Pulaski historic sites, Fort Pulaski construction sites and Civil War related sites, and post-Civil War sites. A more complete picture of the occupation of Cockspur Island and the surrounding area can be painted with a better understanding of the number and location of each of these site types. Lou Groh of the Southeast Archeological Center is one archeologist who has done a great deal of work at Fort Pulaski. She provides an outline of future research needs in Chapter 7 of her 2000 report entitled, Fort Pulaski National Monument: Archeological Overview and Assessment. These are outlined below with further emphasis provided as necessary.

headerBefore Fort Pulaskiheader

Archeological surveys conducted for the purpose of finding prehistoric sites should be done by both water and air to identify Archaic shell middens. If any possible sites are identified, they should then be mapped and tested in order to determine their extent and place in time. The marshy areas around Cockspur Island and McQueens Island should also be investigated, especially since wet environments tend to preserve archeological remains better than the dry acidic soils of the islands. Dry areas should also be tested, keeping in mind that prehistoric sites may be located underneath historic sites.

Historic sites such as Fort George, Fort Greene, and the Lyford Pilot House are best located through archeological testing, although the utilization of satellite imaging and/or aerial photography may also provide a useful means of identifying site boundaries. In addition, the use of remote sensing technology such as Ground Penetrating Radar may provide a relatively inexpensive means of locating the sites of these various structures. The search for these particular sites should be focused on the 20 acres located in the southeastern area of Cockspur Island. Other pre-Fort Pulaski sites might also be identified during the testing used to locate prehistoric sites at the park.

headerFort Construction and the Civil Warheader

Most of the information related to the archeology of Fort Pulaski National Monument concerns the period of the construction of Fort Pulaski and Fort Pulaski's role in the Civil War. More evidence of both of these occupations would be exposed during the same park wide archeological testing proposed in the above section. Further in-depth investigations should focus on identifying the boundaries of related sites, construction methods and materials, structure function, and how these structures are related to one another. "The resulting data recovered would also aid in evaluating the national, state, and local significance of archeological resources associated with the Civil War era at Fort Pulaski National Monument" (page 97 of Groh's 2000 report).

One of the remaining circular brick structures.More specifically, the area of the monument that holds the greatest potential for future research is the construction village. This area was occupied continuously for almost 20 years, and was home to a diverse contingent of laborers, both free and enslaved. The significance of the construction village, or workmen's village, was recognized in 1972 when a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places was accepted (For more information on the criteria used for determining significance, see the next section). The listing is subdivided into two areas, with one referring to the workmen's village (HS-02B) and the other referring to the associated cisterns (HS-02A) (Click here for an 1831 Map of the Workmen's Village). One of the remaining circular structures.There were 23 buildings associated with the workmen's village, including various types of housing for the workers, a bakehouse, multiple kitchens, a stable, and a blacksmith shop (Click here for an 1842 Sketch of the Laborers Quarters Layout). The only remains of these 23 buildings still visible are the 7 circular brick structures and 2 brick rubble areas (also referred to as square brickworks). As was stated in the Archeology Related to the Construction section, the only work that has occurred in the workmen's village was a few shovel tests placed around these brickworks.

Another means by which the various foundations of the construction village could be identified is through the use of Ground Penetrating Radar (Click here for More Information on Ground Penetrating Radar). This may hold the key to identifying many of these structural remains without going through the expensive process of excavating the entire site. Basically, this method would provide a non-intrusive method of locating and mapping these remaining structures and disturbances. Its usefulness, however, depends on its ability to identify changes in soil composition and the presence of structural remains in soils that may not be very conducive to remote sensing studies. As evidenced by the 1994 remote sensing investigations that occurred in the area of the graveyard, the soils of Cockspur Island make non-intrusive subsurface investigations difficult to say the least. This will be especially true in the northern section of the construction village area that is buried under 6 feet of dredge spoil from the Savannah River and is overgrown by a tangled mass of trees and other vegetation. The investigation of the construction village will be a difficult undertaking no matter what methods are employed.

The visitor's parking lot at Fort Pulaski.One section of the workmen's village that has yet to be located is that of the workmen's cemetery. While this area could possibly provide a great deal of information related to the lives and deaths of the workers, the location and investigation of it has proven to be a difficult matter. It was speculated that the cemetery could be in the same location as the Fort Pulaski cemetery, but based on archeological investigations there, this hypothesis was discounted. More likely is the possibility that the location of the workmen's cemetery is north of the Pulaski cemetery at the location of the visitor's parking lot. It is possible that the construction of this parking lot either destroyed or covered the remains of those who died while building the fort. If the cemetery was not destroyed, it will stay well protected until future research is conducted there. It is also possible that the workmen's cemetery is located in an entirely different area of Cockspur Island altogether.

The importance in learning more from the construction village lies in its ability to yield vast amounts of information about the nature of labor during the first half of the 19th century. The years from 1829 to 1847 were a time of relative stability in the southeast United States, and were still heavily entrenched in the status quo of the day evidenced by an immense dependence on slave labor. This dynamic between free European-American and enslaved African-American laborers is one issue that has not been well-documented in archival and historical studies. Archeology can provide a means of eliciting a less-biased perspective on this period in American history. Through the study of the dwellings in which the various groups lived, the orientation of these dwellings, and the nature of the workmen's cemetery, a great deal more information will be made available both for a professional and public audience.

headerArcheology of the Post Civil War Eraheader

Future investigations of the sites that postdate the Civil War should focus on changes in land use over time and the lives of those who occupied the area. Work should be conducted in the Hunter/Pulaski Crash Boat Dock Annex, the U.S. Navy refuse area, and the area of the US Quarantine Station. The first two have the potential of better illustrating the lives of the soldiers stationed on Cockspur Island before and during World War II. Archeology in the area of the US Quarantine Station could yield a better understanding of treatment of disease during the early 20th century, with a specific focus on types of diseases treated, the procedures used to treat them, and the evolution of medical technology.

The refuse area was used by the Army Air Corps until 1936 and by the naval contingent stationed there from 1941-1946. There is the possibility that it was also used by both the Civilian Conservation Corp and by the U.S. Quarantine Station. This dump site would therefore provide investigators with a great deal of information concerning these periods of Cockspur Island's history.

Another important fact to note is that sites 50 years or older (at the time of this writing, dating to 1951 and earlier) such as those related to World War II occupations, are eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places (Click here to learn more about the National Register of Historic Places). The evaluation of a site's eligibility for the National Register is directly related to that site's significance in the history of a particular region. A district, site, building, structure, or object must meet one of the four criteria below to be eligible for the National Register. They must "possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association and

  1. that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or
  2. that are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or
  3. that embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
  4. that have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history." (National Register of Historic Places: 60.4 )

These criteria, despite their vagueness, provide the backbone for the nomination of sites to the National Register. Some of the buildings from both the West End Naval Complex and the U.S. Quarantine Station were not destroyed by their respective governing agencies, and therefore remain eligible for nomination (Click here for a 1945 Map Showing Retained Buildings and Removed Buildings - 71 KB). Using the concepts of site significance and site integrity, evaluations of other areas such as Hunter/Pulaski Crash Boat Dock Annex, the U.S. Navy refuse area, and the area of the U.S. Quarantine Station may provide Fort Pulaski National Monument with more listings on the National Register of Historic Places making them eligible for further protection under Federal law.

headerCreation of a New National Monumentheader

Archeological investigations concerning the creation of Fort Pulaski as a national monument should focus primarily on the effects the Civilian Conservation Corps had on the area. By better understanding where they made repairs and improvements, archeologists will have a better idea of how the areas in which they are working may have been affected. In addition, other disturbances such as the building of a walkway around the cemetery and the removal of the Morgan monument, should be noted and mapped so that their extent and location is known to future investigators. All recent archeological investigations were mapped, recorded, and backfilled with soils containing no artifacts so as not to confuse the archeological record. Any future researchers should be able to find the exact areas that were excavated, and know the results of those excavations.


The above sections summarize the future of archeology at Fort Pulaski National Monument as we enter the 21st century. Only with focused research goals and a compelling desire to understand the past can we truly unlock the potential of this unique monument entrusted to the National Park Service.

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