Charleston Harbor Site

KianGaf

First Sergeant
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May 29, 2019
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Dublin, Ireland
I was having a look a various sites in Charleston, SC on google maps and noticed this site. I was wondering does it have a civil war history. It has the look from the pic that it could have been a gun battery perhaps. Its not listed on the map as a site though.

Screenshot (8).png


Screenshot (9).png


Screenshot (10).png
 
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A. Roy

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Location
Raleigh, North Carolina
I was having a look a various sites in Charleston, SC on google maps and noticed this site. I was wondering does it have a civil war history. It has the look from the pic that it could have been a gun battery perhaps. Its not listed on the map as a site though.

Thanks for pointing to this. It's an interesting structure. I've been studying the Charleston defenses lately -- surprised how complex they were! This peninsula is generally in the area of Fort Johnson. However, it looks to me as if it is too far east for Johnson and might have actually been under water at the time of the Civil War. I might need a day or two to be surer of this, though.

Roy B.
 

A. Roy

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@KianGaf and @Rusk County Avengers -- I compared this structure with the 1891 US War Dept map of the Charleston defenses, and, as I thought, this location on the north of James Island seems to have been submerged at the time of the Civil War. I think the coastline around the harbor has changed considerably over the years -- for example, Morris Island has eroded quite a bit, threatening the sites of Batteries Wagner and Gregg.

Here's a Google sat map showing that structure close to the center of the triangle of Forts Johnson and Sumter and Battery Simkins:

Charleston_FtsJohnsonSumter.jpg


And here's a detail from the 1891 War Dept map, which indicates that that location was under water at the time of the war. (By the way, the War Dept map was not oriented north-to-south in the customary manner, so I rotated it to orient to the Google map.)

CharlestDetailJamesIsl_USWarDept1891.jpg


That square also seems like an unlikely shape for a fort, but I don't know everything about fortifications. I'm wondering whether there are some Charleston experts here at CivilWarTalk that might be able to chime in.

@NFB22 might have an opinion also, or know someone familiar with the area. He put together a nice thread on Fort Johnson a while back:

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/forgotten-forts-series-fort-johnson-sc.102188/#post-914372
Roy B.
 

NFB22

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Location
Louisville, KY
That square also seems like an unlikely shape for a fort, but I don't know everything about fortifications. I'm wondering whether there are some Charleston experts here at CivilWarTalk that might be able to chime in.

@NFB22 might have an opinion also, or know someone familiar with the area. He put together a nice thread on Fort Johnson a while back:

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/forgotten-forts-series-fort-johnson-sc.102188/#post-914372
Roy B.

Interesting area. I would almost certainly agree with above posts that the area was nothing more than a marsh during the 1860s.

Furthermore, while researching the fortifications around Charleston and the Confederate States Marine Corps...two subjects I'm very passionate about, there are multiple mentions of direct barge attacks mounted from Morris Island against Fort Johnson and surrounding batteries which seemed very direct and I believe the map provided shows a fairly accurate depiction of the shoreline during that time. I will have to research a bit more but to me it seems somewhat like a man made tidal pool or something along those lines.

morris-island-historic.jpg
 

Rusk County Avengers

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Location
Coffeeville, TX
Looking at maps I have I had already decided the area was underwater during the CW. But a theory has formed....

Could that possibly be an old 20th Century worksite with a big berm built around it? Back when they were working there to keep water out.
 

A. Roy

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Here is a map that was sketched in the late 1880s of the area after an earthquake struck the region in 1886 but still indicates where fortifications and naval units were stationed. Notice the area in question is still sketched as somewhat of a marshy/swampy area.

Thanks for posting this map. Yes, that's interesting that the area we're looking at is depicted as marshland rather than open water.

Roy B.
 

A. Roy

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Could that possibly be an old 20th Century worksite with a big berm built around it? Back when they were working there to keep water out.

I will have to research a bit more but to me it seems somewhat like a man made tidal pool or something along those lines.

These are both interesting ideas. Looks as if someone has made an effort to make that area usable for some purpose.

Roy B.
 

NFB22

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Location
Louisville, KY
Something else I noticed. If you go to the top corner nearest the water, you'll see a somewhat moat-like structure that has a channel dug to the water and then a pipe that appears to run under the elevated portion into the interior of the works.
 

A. Roy

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Raleigh, North Carolina
If you go to the top corner nearest the water, you'll see a somewhat moat-like structure that has a channel dug to the water and then a pipe that appears to run under the elevated portion into the interior of the works.

Are you talking about these structures? Could they be designed to drain the interior of the works somehow?

CharlestonPipe_Moat.png


Roy B.
 

NFB22

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Location
Louisville, KY
Are you talking about these structures? Could they be designed to drain the interior of the works somehow?

Roy B.

Here is a better view from Google Earth. I'm thinking about shooting an email to the Charleston Museum and see if they know what it would have been since clearly we've all but proven it has nothing to do with the ACW. The size of the structure alone almost looks as if Fort Sumter could fit inside it. If you look on the current view of Earth there also seems to be a path leading to it and tracks of some sort leading from the shoreline to it on the western side.
James Island.png
 
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A. Roy

Sergeant Major
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Location
Raleigh, North Carolina
Here is a better view from Google Earth. I'm thinking about shooting an email to the Charleston Museum and see if they know what it would have been since clearly we've all but proven it has nothing to do with the ACW. The size of the structure alone almost looks as if Fort Sumter could fit inside it. If you look on the current view of Earth there also seems to be a path leading to it and tracks of some sort leading from the shoreline to it on the western side.

Yes, I see what you mean -- this is much clearer. I took a look at some historical imagery in Google Earth, and that structure can be seen at least going back to 1989. It was farther away from the shore at that time.

Roy B.
 

NFB22

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jun 21, 2012
Location
Louisville, KY
Yes, I see what you mean -- this is much clearer. I took a look at some historical imagery in Google Earth, and that structure can be seen at least going back to 1989. It was farther away from the shore at that time.

Roy B.

I just went on https://www.historicaerials.com/ and the earliest it appears is 1983. The next one they have is from 1972 and it does not appear then.
 

A. Roy

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Raleigh, North Carolina
I just went on https://www.historicaerials.com/ and the earliest it appears is 1983. The next one they have is from 1972 and it does not appear then.

I didn't know about Historic Aerials -- a useful resource to know about. Yes, that structure must have appeared sometime in the 70s or early 80s. In the 1957 image, that whole marshy peninsula doesn't show up. I wonder whether this is land that can get submerged and reappear, depending on tides or sea levels.

Roy B.
 

KianGaf

First Sergeant
Joined
May 29, 2019
Location
Dublin, Ireland
@KianGaf and @Rusk County Avengers -- I compared this structure with the 1891 US War Dept map of the Charleston defenses, and, as I thought, this location on the north of James Island seems to have been submerged at the time of the Civil War. I think the coastline around the harbor has changed considerably over the years -- for example, Morris Island has eroded quite a bit, threatening the sites of Batteries Wagner and Gregg.

Here's a Google sat map showing that structure close to the center of the triangle of Forts Johnson and Sumter and Battery Simkins:

View attachment 367020

And here's a detail from the 1891 War Dept map, which indicates that that location was under water at the time of the war. (By the way, the War Dept map was not oriented north-to-south in the customary manner, so I rotated it to orient to the Google map.)

View attachment 367021

That square also seems like an unlikely shape for a fort, but I don't know everything about fortifications. I'm wondering whether there are some Charleston experts here at CivilWarTalk that might be able to chime in.

@NFB22 might have an opinion also, or know someone familiar with the area. He put together a nice thread on Fort Johnson a while back:

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/forgotten-forts-series-fort-johnson-sc.102188/#post-914372
Roy B.

Interesting period map, it was certainly a very heavily defended harbour. I'm sure every battery or fort or was placed in a very specific location to cover various fields of fire.
 
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