What Civil War era fort that is the best preserved?

tcox009

Cadet
Joined
Apr 14, 2021
I'll switch to a different type of Fort. Ft Davis in Texas although abandoned from 1861 through 1867. Funny with all the drive to rename things today Ft Davis wasn't even renamed post civiil war. Another would be Ft Scott in Kansas
 

American87

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 27, 2016
Location
PENNSYLVANIA
+1 on all of the titles and book recommendations given in this thread, and especially the input of one of the authors.

For a general survey, see J. E. Kaufmann & H. W. Kaufmann (line drawings and illustrations by Tomasz Idzikowski), Fortress America: The Forts that Defended America, 1600 to the Present (Da Capo, 2004).

https://www.dacapopress.com/titles/j-e-kaufmann/fortress-america/9780306816345/

Thank you. That might include the fort at St. Augustine, which I believe is very interesting.
 

Irishtom29

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Location
Kent, Washington
I'll switch to a different type of Fort. Ft Davis in Texas although abandoned from 1861 through 1867. Funny with all the drive to rename things today Ft Davis wasn't even renamed post civiil war. Another would be Ft Scott in Kansas

Maybe Fort Davis was was renamed for the Hoosier Jefferson C Davis who commanded the 14th Corps in the Georgia and Carolinas campaigns.
 

jstarnes

Cadet
Joined
Feb 21, 2021
Fort Pickens and Fort Barrancus, Pensacola, Fl.

Both were built prior to 1861; however, both were used during CW. The road to Fort Pickens has to be open because there are several washouts due to hurricanes but it is worth the trip. Along the way, you can visit WWII disappearing guns. I visited in the fall of 2003 right before Ivan the Terrible hurricane blasted the coast and destroyed the road in 2004. Amazingly, the road remained closed until the day before my second visit in July, 2009. The sand dunes were still flattened but the road was open. There are several earthen forts still in pretty good shape. Fort DeRussy near Alexandria, La. is in good shape but not well maintained. Fort Pillow is another.
 

jrweaver

Corporal
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
Thank you. That might include the fort at St. Augustine, which I believe is very interesting.
The Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine was upgraded during the Third System, and renamed Fort Marion after the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion. The ditch to the seaward side was filled in, a wall was built where the counterscarp was, and cannon mounted facing the entrance to the harbor. A shot furnace was also constructed there, and it remains.
2-41 Marion ditch emplacements 2.jpg


11-5 Marion ditch emplacements 2.jpg

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Irishtom29

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Location
Kent, Washington
I just received from Amazon the greatly expanded second edition in hardcover of John Weaver's book on the Third System, A Legacy in Brick and Stone, and I'm all torqued up. A cursory scan shows it to be most excellent with a great deal more detail on the forts his first edition covered as well as expanded coverage of the forts along the Canadian border and pre Third System coastal forts. There are many new explanatory photos and diagrams and more attention is paid to outerworks.

When I've read the entire book I'll do a review, no doubt it will be five stars.
 

jrweaver

Corporal
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
I just received from Amazon the greatly expanded second edition in hardcover of John Weaver's book on the Third System, A Legacy in Brick and Stone, and I'm all torqued up. A cursory scan shows it to be most excellent with a great deal more detail on the forts his first edition covered as well as expanded coverage of the forts along the Canadian border and pre Third System coastal forts. There are many new explanatory photos and diagrams and more attention is paid to outerworks.

When I've read the entire book I'll do a review, no doubt it will be five stars.
Thank you for the kind words! It was certainly a labor of love on my part.
 

NFB22

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jun 21, 2012
Location
Louisville, KY
I just received from Amazon the greatly expanded second edition in hardcover of John Weaver's book on the Third System, A Legacy in Brick and Stone, and I'm all torqued up. A cursory scan shows it to be most excellent with a great deal more detail on the forts his first edition covered as well as expanded coverage of the forts along the Canadian border and pre Third System coastal forts. There are many new explanatory photos and diagrams and more attention is paid to outerworks.

When I've read the entire book I'll do a review, no doubt it will be five stars.
I sent @jrweaver a similar email when I received the second edition. Glad our guy is back to getting in good health and contributing once again. His knowledge in this area is unrivaled and also glad I could convince him to join us on CWT.
 

jrweaver

Corporal
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
I sent @jrweaver a similar email when I received the second edition. Glad our guy is back to getting in good health and contributing once again. His knowledge in this area is unrivaled and also glad I could convince him to join us on CWT.
As I'm sure you can tell, I really enjoy this site! Thanks for all the good thoughts - I'm recovering quite nicely and am gradually regaining my strength. I have quite a bit of fort travel scheduled for this fall, and I hope to be in full swing by then.
 

American87

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 27, 2016
Location
PENNSYLVANIA
The Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine was upgraded during the Third System, and renamed Fort Marion after the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion. The ditch to the seaward side was filled in, a wall was built where the counterscarp was, and cannon mounted facing the entrance to the harbor. A shot furnace was also constructed there, and it remains.
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Beautiful, thank you. That might be my favorite fort, for the age, the coquina, and the location. It is really something else being there. As a Northeasterner, I always appreciate the laid back, beachy atmosphere of the Southeast.
 

CSS Hunley

Cadet
Joined
Dec 21, 2016
Of the ones I've been to (all in the last decade) I would rank best to worst condition:

Fort Macon, NC
Fort Gaines, AL
Both very well-preserved and interpreted. Slight edge to Fort Macon because it's not altered by a later Endicott battery within the fort, although Gaines' is fairly small.

Fort Pulaski, GA
Could get the number one spot, depending on whether you think unrepaired damage from the 1862 bombardment is a benefit or a detraction.

Fort McAllister, GA
The best preserved and interpreted earthen fortification I've seen. I met a really nice reenactor last time I was here.

Fort Clinch, FL
Only small alterations. Before the pandemic they had weekend reenactors there monthly which adds a lot to the experience.

Fort Jackson, GA
Small and with a fairly minor role in the war, but in pretty good condition. The same historical society operates this fort that also operates the history museum and railroad museum in downtown Savannah so you can get an all-in-one pass.

Fort Moultrie, SC
Good condition and interpretation, but lots of alternations and additions from being used all the way through WW2.

Castillo de San Marcos (Fort Marion), FL
The NPS predominately interprets the fort's original and more significant role during Colonial Spanish Florida, but it was nominally still in use during the ACW.

Fort Barrancas, FL
The fort itself and the connected water battery converted from an older Spanish fort are in good shape, but it's small and not anything remarkable. The view has also been drastically altered by the construction of NAS Pensacola. However, you can spend a good day visiting Barrancas, Pensacola Lighthouse, and the Naval Aviation Museum all in very close proximity to each other.

Fort Sumter, SC
For all its historic significance, it's been heavily altered by the wartime destruction and postwar modifications. It's a level shorter than it was in 1861, 3 of the 5 walls are altered beyond recognition, and an Endicott battery dominates the site. It's a nice ferry ride across the harbor and still worth a visit for a history buff.

Fort Jefferson, FL
This one is a bit tricky to rate as it's an architectural marvel but also an architectural mistake. Not one of the ones in better condition, but it was never finished, the lower bricks are of inferior quality, the walls are filled with dredged coral, and the fort is simply too heavy for the island it's built on. It's a unique and fascinating experience. Worth the expensive day trip on the ferry from Key West.

Fort Fisher, NC
There's a good museum and one section of the massive earthwork, but of all the forts I've been to this one has the least to see.

Fort Pickens, FL
30 years ago Gulf Island National Seashore would have been great for coastal artillery buffs as you've got not only the main third-system fort, but a slew of later Endicott and post-Endicott fortifications too. As of a decade ago though the park was understaffed, underfunded, and not in very good condition. Lots of graffiti and most of the fortifications no longer open to the public. The main ACW fort is one of the more deteriorated I've seen. One of the bastions is gone due to a later magazine explosion. The view from the fort has also been substantially altered by Ivan and other hurricanes, there is an Endicott battery in the middle of it, and the mouth of Pensacola Bay has shifted substantially westward since the 1860s.

Fort Morgan, AL
One of my more recent visits and I was really surprised, especially in contrast to Fort Gaines across the bay (the ferry ride is worth it). It was not in very good condition and there was little interpretation. Endicott battery in the middle of it too.
Agreed on both Moultrie and Sumter. Moultrie has some interesting out of the way WW II bunkers.
 

jrweaver

Corporal
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
Beautiful, thank you. That might be my favorite fort, for the age, the coquina, and the location. It is really something else being there. As a Northeasterner, I always appreciate the laid back, beachy atmosphere of the Southeast.
It is a beautiful fort. The historic village makes a great supplement as well.
For a simple, square (with bastions) design, it has a real class about it. I also like the entry through the ravelin on the gorge of the fort.
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
The Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine was upgraded during the Third System, and renamed Fort Marion after the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion. The ditch to the seaward side was filled in, a wall was built where the counterscarp was, and cannon mounted facing the entrance to the harbor. A shot furnace was also constructed there, and it remains.
View attachment 404227

View attachment 404228
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I have been to Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine three times and enjoyed each visit. A word of caution do not attempt to visit every shop in the area unless you are wearing very conferrable shoes. However, there s is a nice used book store within walking distance that had some nice used Civil War books. So when it comes to shopping in St. Augustine you might have to pace yourself.
 

Irishtom29

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Location
Kent, Washington
It is a beautiful fort. The historic village makes a great supplement as well.
For a simple, square (with bastions) design, it has a real class about it. I also like the entry through the ravelin on the gorge of the fort.

I volunteered there for several years and often stationed myself on the ravelin, a spot from which all the features of an Italian trace artillery fort are visible and so a good spot to explain how the system worked. I took listeners back to the 15th Century and the response of the Italians to the improved artillery of the time, a response seen in the Castillo. I was often asked to explain why the ditch has no water.
 
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