Heritage of Tybee Island GA: Sesquicentennial of America’s Civil War (2011-2015)

Beyond the frolicking lifestyle of modern-day Tybee Island are meaningful stories and historical places from The American Civil War (1861–1865). One needs to walk only two minutes from historic Lighthouse Inn’s front porch to catch sight of more of Tybee Island’s heritage, and pinpoint the front-page places important to the Sesquicentennial of Civil War (2011-2015) — the 150th Anniversary of The Civil War.  

Fort Pulaski - Civil War Heritage - Battlefield Tourism. Photo WTOC TV 11. Used under Creative Commons license.

Fort Pulaski. Photo (c) WTOC11

Drive 10 minutes to Fort Pulaski National Monument where you’ll see the Federal fort seized by the Confederates, and captured by Union troops using the  new technology of long distance rifle cannons.  Fort Pulaski and the Landmark Savannah Historic District are the movie settings of “The Conspirator“, a Civil War-era movie directed by Robert Redford for The American Film Company.



Lighthouse Inn‘s 100-year-old cottage is near the Tybee History Museum and Tybee Lighthouse, important battlefield places to the Confederate Rebels and Union “Lincolnite” [Federal] troops.  Southern storytelling will point to the ebb and tide of the Civil War in the Deep South near and on Tybee Island — the interesting historical happenings, authentic places, and character-rich people.

The coastal scenery is beautiful today!  The Civil War history becomes decidedly more real.

The History Channel says, “How can we know who we are if we don’t know where we’ve been?” At least 618,000 Americans died in the Civil War, and some experts say the toll reached 700,000.


From the Civil War accounts, we know that the southern coast, Savannah, and Tybee Island were important militarily.  Today, we are grateful for peace along the Georgia coast.

The eight flags that have flown over Tybee Island (aka Savannah Beach and Ocean City) make a striking photograph, especially when the Tybee Lighthouse in background.  The Confederate “Bars and Stars” is one of those flags flying at the Tybee History Museum in historic Fort Screven.

Additional blog posts will include more about Tybee Island in The American Civil War.

Friday, Apr. 13th, 2012. Following the Union capture of Ft. Pulaski during the Civil War, Maj. Gen. David Hunter issued General Orders No. 7 freeing those enslaved at the fort and on Cockspur Island. History of Emancipation: Marker Tybee Island, Chatham County, Georgia.

Construction of the new Fort Pulaski on Cockspur Island began in 1829 under the supervision of Major Samuel Babcock of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Due to his failing health, most of the work from 1829 to 1831 was supervised by Lieutenant Robert E. Lee, later to be the respected Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Did you know? When assigned as an apprentice engineer at Fort Pulaski on Cockspur Island (ca. 1821), Robert E. Lee sketched a terrapin [turtle] — the adopted nature symbol on Tybee Island?

Civil War 1861

On January 3, 1861, a Confederate force of 134 men easily overran Fort Pulaski, which was virtually abandoned at the time.

Ready…… Aim……. by Nathan Swinson (nathanswinson) on 500px.com
Ready…… Aim……. by Nathan Swinson

Reports in the New York Times, December 2, 1861, include:


AN ENGAGEMENT AT TYBEE ISLAND. Attack by Tatnall’s ‘Fleet’ upon the National Vessels. He is Driven Off. Loss Not Stated.

The National Troops in Possession of Warsaw, and Preparing to Attack Fort Pulaski.”

Civil War 1862

New York Times headlines on January 4, 1862, report “Preparations for new attack upon rebels. AFFAIRS AT TYBEE UNCHANGED. A Man Killed by a Round Shot from Fort Pulaski.”

Battery Halleck was constructed on Big Tybee Island by Union forces from late February through early April 1862The positions selected for the five most advanced batteries [this would include Battery Halleck and the four batteries on Goat Point] The positions selected for the five most advanced batteries [this would include Battery Halleck and the four batteries on Goat Point]. Materials and men, including the 17,000-pound mortars and their associated ammunition that were set up at Battery Halleck, were landed in the surf at the eastern end of the island near the Martello Tower and Tybee Light House. Source: NPS.gov

At 8:15 am on April 10, 1862, the batteries opened fire on Fort Pulaski and the Confederate contingent within.  220 shots were fired from the guns during the battle.  The secret to the siege was the use of rifled cannons by the Union artillery.  Within 30 hours a breach was made, and the troops within the fort surrendered.

Five Civil War shipwrecks are documented by W. Craig Gaines in Encylopedia of Civil War Shipwrecks. [Date notes, by ship]

Peter Demill, Union bark. Sank at a jetty and wharf off Tybee Island in early December 1861.

Cossack, Union whaling bark. Loaded with 250 tons of stone, the ship to be sunk as an obstruction. The Cossack was beached at Tybee Island to serve as a jetty and wharf for the Union force in early December 1861.

South America, Union bark.  Carrying 650 tons of stone, it was sunk in early December 1861 off Tybee Island to serve as a jetty and wharf for Union troops.

Arletta, British schooner. Carrying a cargo of coffee, whiskey and alcohol out of Nassau, Bahamas, the ship was run ashore by the USS South Carolina on the south end of Tybee Island on the night of March 3-4, 1864.

Israel R. Snow, U.S. Schooner, was beached on Tybee Island,  December 18, 1865, with the cargo on fire and ship leaking.

Additional Resource:

Tybee Island: The Long Branch of the South,

For more information:

Lighthouse Inn, a Tybee Island bed and breakfast inn.
Historic Tybee Bed and Breakfast, Celebrating 100 Years!
tybeebb.com | lighthouseinn@bellsouth.net
16 Meddin Drive | Tybee Island | Georgia | USA 31328
(912) 786-0901 | Toll Free (866) 786-0901 | Twitter @Rockinporch | Facebook

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