Casimir Pulaski saved George Washington’s life during the Battle of Brandywine. The Americans were losing this battle against the British when Pulaski, an experienced cavalry officer, discovered the British were attempting to cut off retreat and capture Washington’s entire army and command. Pulaski took 30 of Washington’s personal guard on a reconnaissance mission, and they found an escape route. Washington used this avenue to lead his soldiers in an organized retreat, so they could live to fight another day. Just imagine how different American history would be, if George Washington would have been killed or captured in this battle. Without his military leadership America might have lost the Revolutionary War. Or if Americans won anyway, a different first president might have established the executive branch as a kind of dictatorship.
Pulaski was appointed general in charge of the American cavalry following his heroic valor during the Battle of Brandywine. There were only a few hundred men in the American cavalry then. He participated in many battles before he was killed by cannon fire during a cavalry charge on British-held Savannah, Georgia.
The U.S. began building coastal fortifications after the War of 1812 because during this debacle the British had captured American ports with impunity. Construction of a coastal fort in Savannah began in 1829 and it was completed in 1842. The fort was named in honor of Casimir Pulaski. However, there was little danger of a foreign invasion after the fort was built, and it was manned by just 2 men at a time. Confederate traitors seized the fort at the beginning of the Civil War. In 1862 Union naval forces bombarded the fort, forcing its surrender in less than 2 days. Ironically, the only battle that took place at Fort Pulaski demonstrated coastal fortifications were obsolete against naval ships with newly developed, accurate, rifled artillery. Union forces held the fort, bottling up the port of Savannah for the duration of the war–a critical strategic advantage for the north.
The U.S. named a coastal fort in Savannah, Georgia after Casimir Pulaski.
The fort is surrounded by a saltwater moat.
A Civil War battle, the only battle that took place at this fort, proved that coastal defenses were obsolete. Union naval forces made the fort surrender after 30 hours of bombardment. Incidentally, there are no guardrails on the inside here.
The jailhouse at the fort held Confederate prisoners during the war and political prisoners after.
My wife and I visited Fort Pulaski last week on our 23rd wedding anniversary. There is some interesting nature at Fort Pulaski National Monument. The endangered diamond backed terrapin finds refuge here, but they live in the surrounding salt marsh, and I didn’t see any. I did see big flocks of robins and chimney swifts. They stop and roost here on their way north during spring and probably fall migration. On a nature trail I saw rufus-sided towhees, Carolina wrens, and sparrows, and there were black vultures, turkey vultures, common crows, and ring-billed gulls flying over the fort. I think I saw an osprey landing on a light post, and fish crows perched on telephone wire while I was driving on Island Expressway, the road that leads to the fort. Fish crows are smaller than common crows, but small individuals of the latter may overlap in size. Fish crows have a distinct call. I didn’t have an opportunity to hear them and make a definitive identification. Raccoons crap on the sidewalks here. They are feeding upon palmetto berries this time of year.
There is a lot of raccoon scat on the sidewalks at Fort Pulaski. They are eating palmetto berries. The park service should introduce Burmese pythons to reduce the raccoon population here.
Last fall’s Hurricane Matthew, a Category 5, left a big impact on the local forest. Many trees were uprooted, and crews were still cleaning up the mess. A storm surge killed several acres of live oaks and red cedar, though some Carolina palmetto survived. The salt water that flooded and killed the trees is still standing in some places. The storm surge created a kind of ghost forest, and it will be interesting to see what it looks like in 10 years.
Saltwater storm surge from Hurricane Matthew created a kind of ghost forest with acres of standing dead trees. Note the standing salt water over 4 months after the storm.
Hurricane Matthew uprooted many trees here. Tiger mosquitoes attacked me while I was on this trail, and it is just February.
Although this fig tree located inside the confines of the fort looks sickly white from storm surge, it survived the hurricane. I saw green buds.