Once the fort was reclaimed by the Union, it was put to better use, from both the standpoint of the Union as well as its own design. During and after the war, the fort was used as a military prison. While it didn't see the likes of Al Capone, Fort Pulaski housed the Confederate Secretary of State and other Confederate government members after the war. The fort was never recommissioned into service and instead was abandoned until the National Park Service took over.
Like most civil war sites, legend has it that Fort Pulaski is haunted. There are tales of a soldier who died one evening while on sentry who comes back and haunts the site.
Whether that is true or not remains a legend, but the fact is that there are people buried in undisclosed locations near the Fort. During the war, a group of prisoners known as the Immortal 600 were kept at the fort. Several of them died and were buried on the grounds. The cemetary where prisoners and soldiers were buried has been found, although no one has determined who was buried where.
THE CEMETERY. On the glacis, or north bank of the demilune moat, a small cemetery was established when the fort was under construction. Here, during the Civil War, both Confederate and Union soldiers were temporarily buried. The 8-inch columbiad, which marks the site, was a Confederate gun damaged in the bombardment.
During the War of 1812, it became clear that the United States needed a defense system. On March 15, 1830, the United States government took 150 acres here in Chatham County GA for the construction of a new fort. Construction began in early 1829, and was overseen by an Major Samuel Babcock of the Army Corps of Engineers and a new West Point graduate, Robert E. Lee. Following Lee's transfer and Babcock's death in 1831, Lieutenant Joseph K.F. Mansfield took charge of the fort's construction until near its completion in 1845. Lt. Mansfield often had to pay for the materials to construct the fort out of his own pocket.
To support the weight of the fort, it had to sit on a firm foundation; which was a challenging task in such a marshy environment. Workers drove the pilings on which the fort sits 70 feet into the soft mud of Cockspur Island. Brick arches were then built on top of these pilings to support the dirt, cannons, and platforms of the terreplein. Fort Pulaski was initially designed to be a two-story fort with three tiers of guns, but conditions made such a design impractical. Fort Pulaski was constructed as a masonry fortification with 5 walls, each of which was from 7 to ll feet thick and 32 feet high. It was built to include 67 arched casemates, used for housing soldiers and storing supplies, that supported a 30 foot wide terreplein on which the cannon platforms were placed. Approximately 25,000,000 bricks were used in its construction. The fort still stands, despite having beared the brunt of numerous powerful hurricanes and one unrelenting bombardment.
Following the completion of the fort in 1847, there was little use or activity until the Civil War. There were only two caretakers stationed there which made it easy for the state of Georgia to capture the fort for the Confederacy.
With the establishment of the new Province of Georgia in 1732, Cockspur Island also came under the direction and administration of the English Crown. On February 6, 1736, Reverend John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, and his fellow colonists landed at Peeper (now Cockspur Island). Peeper Island was named because it was only out of the water at low tide. He then preached his first sermon in the New World. According to this marker, a monument has been erected near here on Cockspur Island to commemorate the event.
"Sent to Georgia by the Trustees as missionary, Wesley was the third minister of the Established Church in the colony. He preached in the scattered settlements of Georgia, journeying thither by boat and over Indian trails. Wesley returned to England in 1737 after differences with his parishioners. "I shook off the dust of my feet and left Georgia" he wrote, "having preached the Gospel there (not as I ought, but as I was able) one year and nearly nine months"
Little would happen for the next 23 years, until King George II granted ownership of 150 acres to Johnathan Bryan. An extra 4 to 20 acres was set aside by the Crown for public use. This small area would eventually be the site of 2 of Cockspur Island's 3 forts.