Fort McAllister State Park
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Fort McAllister is known as the best preserved earthen work fort of the confederacy. It was attacked several times by Ironclads but did not fall until Sherman’s march to the sea. A civil war museum is also on sight and contains a dizzying amount of information.
We started our visit in the lovely picnic grounds and playgrounds adjacent to the parking lot. There are ample covered tables and a decent playground for the kids to enjoy, all with views of the water.
Once fed we picked up the Jr. Ranger packet and Geocache scavenger hunt packet inside the visitors center. As a note, the visit to fort is an additional cost to state park entry. We started the visit with the intro video, which is shown on demand in their classroom. (This set up is great because the littles could work on their Jr. Ranger booklets while we enjoyed the video.) The video could use an update and highlights the “valor” of the confederate soldiers holding down the fort against union attacks. The video also glosses over that the fort is named for the plantation owner who gave the land to the confederacy to use as a fort. The fort itself was built using the labor of the enslaved people, for the purpose of winning a war to keep them enslaved.
As soon as the Littles saw the observation tower they ran for it. This tower was actually used to pass messages from the Confederate forts all along the coast.
The Middle Little brought his bird watching bag with him though and used the platform as the perfect place to identify some birds. He was content to hang out here for a bit and I was happy to oblige. The Big and Little Littles took the opportunity to run free on the open space bellow.
The earthen work fort is extensive. You can still go inside many of the tunnels and rooms inside the fort. The stairs have been replicated so that you can be on all the levels of the fort. It was endlessly fun for the kids to chase each other around up and down the stairs and in and out of the passage ways. When down on the ground, you feel surrounded by the tall earthen walls, not sure where the passages lead, but from up on top you can see everything, a birds eye view of the maze.
Cannons line the outer rim of the fort. They demonstrate how the fort defended itself against the seaside attacks, including those by the U.S. Ironclads. (A few weeks before we had visited the National Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, GA.) The Big and Middle Little really enjoyed the graphic novel Big Bad Ironclad which is part of the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series.
A path leads you away from the main part of the fort to where the magazines were. These are all well labeled. I honestly don’t think I realized how many different types of cannons they would have had at one place that all required different types of ammunition. Each of these was stored separately away from the main fort in case they exploded.
The path drops you out below the fort on the beach. The Littles asked if they could take a little rest and look a their books. I snapped a quick photo of them all angelically reading together, likely because they were tired of me making them walk. Moments later an argument erupted, but I’m just going to claim this moment as my victory.
We returned to the museum as several of the answers for the Geocache combo had to be found in the exhibit. We perused it quickly for the purpose of finding the answers. While I took the Little Little to the bathroom, the Big and Middle Littles navigated the geocache and Jr. Ranger badge with the ranger. When I returned they had prizes and badges in hand and the ranger said they were great.
Everyone was ready for a little rest so it was a quiet drive back to Savannah. I think they. were actually pleased when we hit a bit of traffic for a bit more quiet time in the car. In my opinion Fort McAllister is another great GA State Park that has lots to offer. Some guidance is necessary for context of the Civil War as the museum and video are a confederate sympathetic. Other then that though a visit will leave you understanding how the forts worked and getting a better picture of these complex structures then other earthen remains demonstrate.
Since we are talking about earthen forts. I want to make sure you check out the time we visited this amazing earthen fort in the Netherlands with the amazing Instagram worthy “Moses” bridge.
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