Historic Markers Across Georgia

Cisterns of the Construction Village

Marker ID: NPS 
Location: at Fort Pulaski NM located on Cockspur Island and the end of Fort Pulaski Rd, north of US 80, Savannah, GA.
County: Chatham
Coordinates: N 32° 01.653    W 080° 53.558
  32.02755    -80.89263333
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: WMKMA5
Cisterns of the Construction Village Marker  


Robert E. Lee, newly graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, joined Major Samuel Babcock of the Army Corps of Engineers in 1829 to begin work on building a construction village on this site. Two years later Lee transferred to Hampton Roads, Virginia. Due to failing health, Babock was replaced by Lieutenant Joseph K.F. Mansfield in 1831 who completed the construction village. Mansfield remained in charge of all work on Cockspur Island until 1845 and deserves primary credit for the construction of Fort Pulaski.

The construction village contained the shops and quarters required by workers building Fort Pulaski. Enslaved African Americans, rented from owners of neighboring rice plantations, performed much of the hard labor. Skilled masons and carpenters, including freed African Americans, were recruited not only in Savannah but were also brought down each fall from Northern States. Workers suffered from malaria yellow fever, typhoid, dysentery, destructive hurricanes and bone-chilling winter gales during the eighteen years that it took to complete the fort.

Fresh drinking water was an important but scarce commodity in the salty environment of Cockspur Island. Pipes running off roofs of buildings carried rainwater to round brick cisterns where it was stored for drinking and cooking. All that remains today are these brick cisterns to remind us of the construction village, which was the scene of so much human drama.

Over the years harsh environmental conditions on Cockspur Island took their toll on the wooden buildings that comprised the construction village. During a return trip to Fort Pukaski in 1861, then Confederate General Robert E. Lee reported that all of the temporary frame structures that he could recall on the island were gone. The remaining buildings survived the battle for Fort Pulaski in 1862 only to be completely destroyed during a hurricane nineteen years later.


Cisterns of the Construction Village


More information:
NPS: Fort Pulaski NM
Wikipedia: Fort Pulaski National Monument
Civil War in GA: Federals attack Ft Pulaski
CWSAC: Fort Pulaski

Wikipedia - Slavery
Allince87 - Modern Slavery
Wikipedia - Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves
Wikipedia - Emancipation Proclamation
Wikipedia - Thirteenth Amendment