Once upon a time, the city of Savannah was defended entirely by a 7-year-old boy with a musket. Well, in the mind of that happy little boy, that is. He visited Fort James Jackson in Savannah with his family and experienced history come to life.
Located within sight of the spires and streets of the city of Savannah, Old Fort Jackson is a museum to more than 200 years of history and culture of the port city. This masonry structure is located one mile east of Savannah and was built between 1808 and 1812, making it one of the oldest surviving brick fortifications on the East Coast. Thomas Jefferson ordered the construction of the fort as a defensive system that proved timely as the War of 1812 ignited in the still-new United States. As British armies burned Washington, D.C., and bombardments by its fleets inspired "The Star Spangled Banner," Fort Jackson stood ready to withstand an invasion that never came.
In the years following, the fort was improved and expanded, always ready to defend the gateway to Georgia and the South Carolina Lowcountry. In time new forts downriver, such as Fort Pulaski and Fort Screven, rendered Fort Jackson obsolete or a second line of defense. No battles were fought at Fort Jackson, and the result is a pristine time capsule of history and adventure that makes it a must-see for anyone who wants to catch a glimpse of life in another age.
Owned by the state of Georgia and operated by the Coastal Heritage Society, Fort Jackson regularly features guides and re-enactors dressed in period clothing who delight visitors young and old with a hands-on experience of history. Recently my family and I visited Old Fort Jackson and enjoyed several hours of exploring the fort. With drums tapping and boots keeping time, historical interpreters Brian Carney and Aaron Bradford led visitors into the fort for a guided tour. A Confederate cook prepared lunch over an open fire, a Union soldier instructed my young boys on semaphore flag code, cannons boomed and children smiled.
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Visitors can experience this and much more at Old Fort Jackson. "There are several great historic sites in the area," Bradford said. "Fort Jackson has cannon firings and historic demonstrations every day."
A treasure from the past is just a few minutes away and open to all to appreciate.