Fort Mc Allister Essay

1704 words - 7 pages

The Savannah Campaign was one of the many battles waged by Major General William Tecumseh Sherman in his total war concept to destroy and devastate the Confederacy’s support. With the destruction of the rail and commercial center at Atlanta, General Sherman set his sights on Savannah with an intent to further cripple the state and ensure Union victory. In order to accomplish this task, there was one obstacle that his forces must overcome. This obstacle was Fort McAllister, a massive earthwork whose sole purpose was to defend the southern area of Savannah from coastal attacks by Federal forces. The purpose of this information paper is to provide a general summary of Fort McAllister’s history ...view middle of the document...

Being the largest of the three, the decision to emplace the Fort in a high ground overlooking the Ogeechee River. This area was known as Genesis Point, a strategic location that was located before the Ogeechee River reached its last bend. Originally designated as Genesis Point Battery, the battery only contained four guns. Demand by the local rice planters for protection resulted in the emplacement growing massive in its design. A massive earthwork with large gun emplacements divided by large trenches was built up during the fall and winter of the early Confederate War. It was a Class-One emplacement, with prepared artillery entrenchments focused along the river side. By the time of the Savannah Campaign, Fort McAllister’s original four smoothbore 32-pounders were augmented by one rifled 32-pounder, two 10-inch Columbiads, three 8-inch Columbiads, one 24-pounder, six 6-pounder howitzers, one 12-pounder Napoleon, one 12-pounder mountain howitzer, and one 10-inch seacoast mortar. Additionally, a Class-Six bombproof was fortified in the northeastern region where the heavier caliber guns were located. The name Fort McAllister derived from the George Washington McAllister, who was the late father of the owner of Genesis Point, Joseph L. McAllister.
The Battle for Fort McAllister for this campaign occurred on December 13, 1864, however it’s important to note the ongoing history of battle against this earthwork during the Civil War. Prior to the Savannah Campaign the Union utilizes three ironclad warships, USS Patapsco, Passaic, and Nahant on March 3, 1863 to be a test of their capabilities in the Savannah region. They devastated Fort Pulaski with their use of rifled cannons, a technology that rendered brick walls obsolete. The Federal Navy turned their sights on Fort McAllister afterwards, commencing a bombardment occurs for eight hours, dealing small amounts of damage to the fort itself. However, neither the battery nor the Fort was destroyed. The Union gained knowledge and experience from these small skirmishes, but the sheer power of the ironclads alone was not enough to destroy the fort. The reason Fort McAllister withstood the assault was sand. Engineers learned from the fate of Fort Pulaski that its brick walls were no match for the rifled cannons that the Northern warships now utilized. Therefore, they used sand and earth to create parapets that surrounded the entirety of Fort McAllister, augmenting the outside barriers with trenches for additional defense. The primitive design proved effective against the rifled artillery shells, and any damage was easily replaced with sand being shoveled back in place. This concept was used in future wars since then, even up to the modern-day Global War on Terror in the form of sand bags and HESCO barriers. However, there was a glaring oversight that the engineers did not consider: Fort McAllister was vulnerable from western side attacks through land.
General Sherman and his units had maintained...

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