Civil War in Georgia - Lat34North; Header

Civil War Historic Markers Across Georgia

The Civil War in Georgia as told by its historic markers.


The Sea Battles of Fort McAllister

Beginning on 1863/01/03 and ending 1863/03/03

In April of 1862 Capt. Joseph L. McAllister founded the Hardwicke Mounted Rifles which later served in Virginia. Capt. McAllister also agreed to allow the construction of Confederate gun defenses with earthwork fortifications for four guns at Genesis Point on his land.[1] This fort was to guard the southern flank of the Savannah defenses as well as the entrance to the Ogeechee River, the important railroad trestle of the Atlantic and Gulf railroad, The King´s Road that carried the harvests of southwestern Georgia to Savannah and then to the Army of Northern Virginia as well as the rich cotton and rice plantations that lay upstream. [2]

Fort McAllister was attacked from the sea seven times, the first attack occured on July 1, 1862. The fiercest battle occurring on March 3, 1863 when Admiral Dupont ordered the ironclads Montauk, Passaic, Nahant and the Patapsco to attack Fort McAllister. The four Monitors exchanged fire with the fort for nearly 8 hours before the ironclads withdrew. The damage to the fort was quickly repaired the next day. The fort was finally captured from the land side by General Sherman on December 13, 1864. [3]



Roll over pushpin to display title
Click on pushpin for marker text
Click on + or - to zoom in or out
Drag map to move it

Marker Display Option:
Start Date
End Date

Map legend




Historic Markers Across Georgia - Civil War in GA

Fort McAllister - 1861-1863

The specifications for the fort where done by Capt. John McCrady [CS]. Company A of the 1st Georgia Infantry ("DeKalb Rifles"), under the command of Lt. Alfred Hartridge, who was detached and ordered to build the fort July 7, 1861. The fort was built using available materials, primary sand and mud.[4] The main armament was one rifled 32-pounder and one 8 inch columbiad.[5] After the capture of Hilton Head, S.C. in 1861 and a visit by Robert E. Lee to the site to review its defenses, the fortifications of the area were strengthened and the obstructions were placed in the Ogeechee River. In 1862 Union forces occupied Tybee Island, blockaded the port of Savannah and captured Ft. Pulaski in April of that year.

July 1, 1862

In an effort to destroy an unmarked schooner, the gunboat Potomska, under the command of Lieutenant Pendleton G. Watmough [US] sailed to within the range of the fort's cannons and opened fire on the schooner. The fort returned fire. Being outgunned, the Potomska withdrew. The Potomska tried to return at night to destroy the unmarked schooner but by then the schooner was gone. [6]

July 29, 1862

Hot Shot Furnace
When the Confederate blockade runner Thomas L. Wragg (The Nashville) failed to make it in to Charleston or Savannah, The Nashville broke through the blockade and headed up the Ogeechee River to the protection of the guns of Fort McAllister. The heavily armored side-wheeler Paul Jones, commanded by Charles Steedman, and two Unadilla class gunboats, The Unadilla and The Huron and the sloop Madgie where in pursuit.

Among the armament of the Paul Jones was a 100-pounder rifled cannon. At about 10:00 am the Paul Jones rounded a nearby island firing the 100-pounder. Captain Hartage, now commanding the fort could tell by the sound on the gun that it was one of the new rifled cannons. He ordered his men to hold fire until the Yankee side-wheeler came into range at which time Rebel gunners saluted it warmly.

The two sides exchanged fire for nearly an hour and a half. After which the Paul Jones and the others retreated to safety.[7]

General characteristics of the Paul Jones [8]
Displacement: 1,210 tons
Length: 216 ft 10 in (66.09 m)
Beam: 35 ft 4 in (10.77 m)
Draft: 8 ft (2.4 m)
Propulsion: steam engine, side wheel propelled
Speed: 10 knots
Armament: one 100-pounder gun
two 11 inch guns
two 50-pounder guns
two 24-pounder guns


July - November 1862

The fort was reinforced by members of the Savannah Republican Blues and Martin's Light Battery. In September the Emmett Rifles, replaced the DeKalb Rifles. The movement was completed in October.[9]

November 2, 1862

The commander of the Emmett Rifles, Captain Augustus Bonard, while on a scouting mission near the mouth of the Ogeechee River, approached the Union gunboats USS Wissahickon and the USS Seneca. The USS Wissahickon pursued Captain Bonard until it was within range of the cannon at Fort McAllister. The USS Wissahickon and the fort exchanged fire. The USS Wissahickon was hit, and withdrew.[10]

November 19, 1862

About 8:15am, November 19, 1862 the USS Wissahickon approached the Fort McAllister, under a full head of steam and brought its guns to bear. Behind her were the USS Seneca, the USS Dawn and the mortar schooner USS Para. As the ships advanced they opened fire. The battle continued until 2:30pm, when the Union ships withdrew. Early in this exchange the USS Wissahickon sustained serious damage.[11]

Abatis (land side of fort) HospitalBarracks

January 27, 1863

Toward the end of 1862, Admiral Samuel Francis du Pont became the first U.S. naval officer to be assigned command over armored "ironclad" warships.[12] In 1863 Admiral Du Pont wanted to test the effectiveness of the fire from ironcladd against forts.[13] On January 26 the Passaic-class ironclad USS Montauk, along with the USS Wissahickon, the USS Seneca, the USS Dawn and the mortar schooner USS Para, towed behind the USS Dawn, approached Fort McAllister. The USS Montauk dropped anchor near the outer edge of the effective range of Fort McAllister's guns while the other ships anchored a mile astern. On January 27 the Union ships opened fire and the two side exchanged fire for almost 5 hours. According to the Federal accounts, the gunnery of the Georgians was so excellent that the monitor was repeatedly hit and all the shots came close to her, but her armor protected her from damage.. On the other hand, the Federals could not see that their fire had not produced any material effect on the fort. The Union forces withdrew after all the shells on board had been used. [14][15] The attack by the Union ironclads proved ineffective due to their small number of guns and slow rate of fire.[16]

February 1, 1863

On February 1st, the USS Montauk in company with the same flotilla that had escorted her on her previous sortie once again approached Fort McAllister. Emboldened by the success of January 27, the USS Montauk steamed to within 700 yards of Fort McAllister[17] while the wooden boats lay two miles east. As the vessels approached, the First battalion sharpshooters commanded by Capt. Arthur Shaaff, lined the river bank prepared to annoy the enemy if the obstructions were passed. Col. Robert H. Anderson´s official report.


7:45 a.m. on Feb.1 the battery was attacked by one iron-clad of the monitor order, whose armament was one 15 inch and one 11 inch gun, three gunboats (wooden), and one mortar boat. Before the enemy’s boats came within range I ordered Capt. Arthur Shaaff, commanding the First Battalion Georgia Sharpshooters, to line the river bank with his riflemen. His right rested about a quarter of a mile in rear of and west of the battery. As soon as I was satisfied that there was no intention on the part of the enemy to land at Kilkenny on my right flank, and that his intention was restricted to passing the obstructions, I ordered him to deploy his battalion on his right file at ten pace intervals, which enabled him to cover the bank of the river for over a mile with his sharpshooters, who had excellent cover, and would have annoyed the enemy terribly had he succeeded in passing the obstructions. (O.R. Series I vol. 14 serial # 20) 


Martin's light battery and Captain McAllister's troop were held in reserve while the two rifle guns of the Chatham artillery, under the command of Lieutenant Whitehead, were placed in pits on a bluff a mile to the rear. The guns of the CSS Nashville were taken out and mounted about seven miles up the river under the command of Captain Baker. The steamer CSS Nashville was put in readiness to be sunk if necessary to keep her from capture by the enemy. According to the report of Colonel Anderson, began its attack at 7:45 a. m. The gun duel between the two forces lasted for five hours. After an hour of intense fighting the skipper of the USS Montauk knew the tide was going out and pulled back to a position roughly twice the distance from Fort McAllister. Federal report note that the Confederate fire was accurate and the monitor was hit forty-six times, but the weight of metal thrown at her was not sufficient to do harm. During the attack, Maj. John B. Gallie, Twenty-second battalion, was killed when a shell disabled the 32-pounders at 8:30 a. m. [18][19]

Colonel Anderson's official account of this fight was as follows:

"The enemy fired steadily and with remarkable precision at times their fire was terrible. Their mortar firing was unusually fine, a large number of their shells bursting directly over the battery. The ironclad's fire was principally directed at the 8 inch columbiad, and at about 8:15 o'clock the parapet in front of this gun was so badly breached as to leave the gun entirely exposed. The detachment did not leave their gun or evince the slightest fear, but in a most gallant and determined manner fought their gun to the close of the action, refusing to be relieved. The name of the brave officer who commanded this gun is First Lieut. W. D. Dixon, of the Republican Blues, First Georgia volunteer regiment. At 8:30 a. m. one of the 32-pounders was disabled, one of the trunnions being knocked off. The same shot also killed Maj. John B. Gallie, Twenty-second battalion Georgia artillery, the gallant commander of the battery. Prior to this he had been wounded in the face by a fragment of shell, but refused to be relieved, and continued notwithstanding his suffering, inspiring the men with his own. gallant and unconquerable spirit up to the time he was killed. Thus perished nobly a brave, good and gallant soldier. Capt. G. W. Anderson, Jr., upon Major Gallie's death succeeded to the command of the battery, and displayed during the whole action the utmost coolness and gallantry, as did Capt. Robert Martin, commanding the 10-inch mortar; Capt. G. A. Nicoll, Company F, Twenty-second artillery, and every officer of the battery. The whole fire of the Confederate battery was concentrated upon the ironclad."[20]

The USS Montauk had expended all of her ammunition about noon and withdrew. The other ships continued their fire for about another hour.[21]

February 28, 1863 - The sinking of the CSS Nashville (Rattlesnake)

The CSS Nashville was a brig-rigged passenger steamer built in 1853 at Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The Confederates seized her at Charleston harbor after the fall of Ft Sumter and fitted her out as a cruiser. Commanded by Lieutenant Robert B. Pegram, CSN , she ran the Union blockade on October 21, 1861, and headed across the Atlantic to Southampton, England, the first ship of war to fly the Confederate flag in English waters. The CSS Nashville returned to Beaufort, N.C. on February 28, 1862, having captured two prizes worth US $66,000. She was then sold for use as a blockade runner and renamed Thomas L. Wragg. On November 5, 1862, she was commissioned as the privateer Rattlesnake .[22]

Carrying a load of cotton and tobacco, which the Confederacy wanted to trade for war supplies, the Rattlesnake (CSS Nashville) was trapped in the Ogeechee River by the Union blockade for several months. The Rattlesnake had tried to evade the tightening federal blockade on a number of occasions, all unsuccessfully. She tried again on the night of February 27 and failed to reach the open sea. Upon her return the Rattlesnake ran hard aground far above the obstructions gaurding Fort McAllister.

The Rattlesnake was well within sight of the federal ships. Realizing the only hope of saving the Rattlesnake was to try and refloat her was to lighten her by unload her cargo, the Confederates quickly begun the task, but the tide was against them and their efforts failed. Soon the USS Wissahickon, USS Seneca, and USS Dawn moved down the Ogeechee River to their standard positions while the USS Montauk moved to within range of the grounded Rattlesnake. The USS Montauk opened fire on the Rattlesnake, the fort fired on the USS Montauk, while the other Union ships fired on the fort. As the gunners on the USS Montauk gained the range their accuracy increased. The artillery shells soon pierced the pilothouse, deck, and paddlebox and the Rattlesnake begain to smoke and in about 15 minutes, flames became visible coming from the paddlebox. At 9:20 her pivot gun exploded, and half an hour later her magazine blew up, tearing the vessel into smoking, blackened fragments.

After the action, on her way to the month of the river, the USS Montauk struck a torpedo which blew a hole in its side. Commander Worden ordered the ironclad to run aground to prevent it from sinking. Using wood and pine resin, the hole was temporarily repaired, the was water pumped out, and the USS Montauk continued its journey.[23] [24]

General characteristics of the CSS Nashville[25]
Displacement: 1,221 long tons (1,241 t)
Length: 215 ft 6 in (65.68 m)
Beam: 34 ft 6 in (10.52 m)
Draft: 21 ft 9 in (6.63 m)
Propulsion: Sails and steam engine
Complement: 40 officers and men
Armament: 2 X 12-pounder (5 kg) cannons

March 3, 1863

Three new ironclad monitor joined the USS Montauk in her next attack on Fort McAllister. The USS Passaic, commanded by Capt. Percival Drayton, the USS Patapsco, commanded by Ammen and the USS Nahant commanded by Nahant, each having a revolving turret. Three of the ironclads were armored with one 15 in smoothbore and one 11 in gun, the Patapsco carried one 15 in smoothbore and a 8 in (200 mm) Parrott rifle.[*] The Confederates at Fort McAllister were not familiar with these revolving floating batteries, but soon learned they were not such a formidable monster after all. The Union ships laid anchor and commenced firing at 8:40am. The Fire from the ironclads was extremely destructive, creating huge gaps in various walls of the fort. The monitors kept up their fire for nearly 8 hours before withdrawing and the mortar boats kept up the din all night. The only affect of all this was to temporarily dismount the 8-inch gun and the 42-pounder and slightly wound two men. The next day the troops, aided by slave labor, repaired the walls and cannon.[26][27]

After all these attacks, Admiral Dupont, reported that, "Whatever degree of impenetrability the monitors might have, there was no corresponding quality of destructiveness against forts." Horace Greeley, in his "American Conflict", says "that from this time the Union fleets to saved their ammunition by letting Fort McAllister alone."[28]

On direct orders from the Navy Department the ironclads moved north to attack the defenses of Charleston.[29] As the war continued and attacks on Fort McAllister became less likely troops, weapons and material were moved to places were the Confederacy deemed they were needed.[30]

* Note: information on the Armament of the four ironclads comes from Wikipedia. Refer to the links for each ship for futher details.

Confederate forces in the district of Georgia

The organization of Confederate forces in the district of Georgia reported in March 1863, under Gen. H. W. Mercer[31]

Brigade of Gen. W. H. Taliaferro

  • Thirty-second regiment Col. George P. Harrison.
  • Forty-seventh regiment Col. G. W. M. Williams.
  • Fourth Louisiana battalion, Col. J. McEnery.

Brigade of Gen. W. H. T. Walker

  • Twenty-fifth regiment, Col. C. C. Wilson.
  • Twenty-ninth regiment, Col. William J. Young.
  • Thirtieth regiment, Col. Thomas W. Mangham.

Savannah River batteries and other defenses

  • First of Georgia, Col. C. H. Olmstead.
  • Fifty-fourth regiment, Col. Charlton H. Way.
  • Sixty-third regiment, Col. G. A. Gordon.
  • First battalion sharpshooters, Capt. A. Shaaff.
  • battalion Savannah volunteer guard, Maj. John Screven.
  • Emmet rifles, Capt. George W. Anderson.
  • Fourth cavalry, Col. D. L. Clinch.
  • Fifth cavalry, Col. Robert H. Anderson.
  • Cavalry battalion, Maj. E. C. Anderson, Jr.
  • Battalion partisan rangers, Ma.j. John M. Millen.
  • Twenty-second battalion artillery, Col. E. C. Anderson.
  • Chatham light artillery, Capt. Joseph S. Cleghorn.
  • Chestatee light artillery, Capt. Thomas H. Bomar.
  • Columbus light artillery, Capt. Edward Croft.
  • Joe Thompson artillery, Capt. Cornelius R. Hanleiter.
  • Martin's light artillery, Capt. Robert Martin.
  • Read's light artillery, Lieut. J. A. Maxwell.
  • Terrell's light artillery, Capt. E. G. Dawson.

On duty in Florida under Gen. Howell Cobb

  • First regulars, under Colonel Magill.

On duty in South Carolina.

  • Eighth battalion, Maj. B. F. Hunt, was on James Island, S. C.
  • Forty-sixth regiment, Col. P. H. Colquitt, Charleston, S.C.
  • Twenty-first battalion of cavalry, Maj. William P. White, Charleston, S.C.

The total number of effectives on duty in the State for coast service was a little over 12,000.
Forces in South Carolina and Florida, from which reinforcements might be hoped in emergency, were about 17,000.


For more information visit



  1. Fort McAllister State Historic Park  [Online]
  2. Evans, Clement A. (editor) Confederate Military History. 18 vols. Extended Edition. Wilmington: Broadfoot ©1987. (reprint of 1899 edition) pg 201
  3. Our Georgia History - Our GA History - Fort McAllister  [Online]
  4. Our Georgia History - Our GA History - Fort McAllister  [Online]
  5. Evans, Clement A. (editor) Confederate Military History. 18 vols. Extended Edition. Wilmington: Broadfoot ©1987. (reprint of 1899 edition) pg 201
  6. Our Georgia History - Our GA History - Fort McAllister - July 1, 1862   [Online]
  7. Our Georgia History - Our GA History - Fort McAllister  [Online]
  8. Wikipedia - USS Paul Jones (1862)  [Online]
  9. Our Georgia History - Our GA History - Fort McAllister - November 2, 1862   [Online]
  10. Our Georgia History - Our GA History - Fort McAllister - November 2, 1862   [Online]
  11. Our Georgia History - Our GA History - Fort McAllister - November 19, 1862   [Online]
  12. Wikipedia - Samuel Francis Du Pont  [Online]
  13. Evans, Clement A. (editor) Confederate Military History. 18 vols. Extended Edition. Wilmington: Broadfoot ©1987. (reprint of 1899 edition) pg 201
  14. Evans, Clement A. (editor) Confederate Military History. 18 vols. Extended Edition. Wilmington: Broadfoot ©1987. (reprint of 1899 edition) pg 201
  15. Our Georgia History - Our GA History - Fort McAllister - January 27, 1863   [Online]
  16. Wikipedia - Samuel Francis Du Pont - Civil_War  [Online]
  17. Our Georgia History - Our GA History - Fort McAllister - February 1, 1863   [Online]
  18. Our Georgia History - Our GA History - Fort McAllister - February 1, 1863   [Online]
  19. Evans, Clement A. (editor) Confederate Military History. 18 vols. Extended Edition. Wilmington: Broadfoot ©1987. (reprint of 1899 edition) pg 202-203
  20. Evans, Clement A. (editor) Confederate Military History. 18 vols. Extended Edition. Wilmington: Broadfoot ©1987. (reprint of 1899 edition) pg 202-203
  21. Our Georgia History - Our GA History - Fort McAllister - February 1, 1863   [Online]
  22. Wikipedia - CSS Nashville (1861)  [Online]
  23. Our Georgia History - Our GA History - Fort McAllister - February 28, 1863   [Online]
  24. Evans, Clement A. (editor) Confederate Military History. 18 vols. Extended Edition. Wilmington: Broadfoot ©1987. (reprint of 1899 edition) pg 203
  25. Wikipedia - Samuel Francis Du Pont - Civil_War  [Online]
  26. Our Georgia History - Our GA History - Fort McAllister - March 3, 1863   [Online]
  27. Evans, Clement A. (editor) Confederate Military History. 18 vols. Extended Edition. Wilmington: Broadfoot ©1987. (reprint of 1899 edition) pg 203-204
  28. Evans, Clement A. (editor) Confederate Military History. 18 vols. Extended Edition. Wilmington: Broadfoot ©1987. (reprint of 1899 edition) pg 203-204
  29. Wikipedia - CSS Nashville (1861)  [Online]
  30. Our Georgia History - Our GA History - Fort McAllister - March 3, 1863   [Online]
  31. Evans, Clement A. (editor) Confederate Military History. 18 vols. Extended Edition. Wilmington: Broadfoot ©1987. (reprint of 1899 edition) pg 205



Links to Civil War Historic Markers Across Georgia.


C.S.S. Nashville
Damage From Naval Bombardments
Destruction of the C.S.S. Nashville
Fort McAllister The Naval Bombardments
Hot Shot Furnace
Machinery From the C.S.S. Nashville
Major John B. Gallie
Obstruction of River
Position of the Monitors
Sinking of the CSS 'Nashville (Rattlesnake)'
Tom Cat