Expecting to find a Civil War battle site, we were surprised to find Fort Moultrie is a military fort layered in history. Sullivans Island, where the fort is located, is touristy and has residential housing but most of the housing near the fort, itself, is military. There are more, small military fortifications on the island, along the seashore, away from the fort. A new Visitors' Center, with free parking, is right across the street from the fort. The museum and gift shop in the Visitors' Center are an excellent source of information on the history of Charleston Harbor and the movie in the theater will help unravel the overwhelming mountain of historic events you are about to be confronted with.
Walking toward the Sally Port (entrance to the enclosed ramparts) we saw two grave monuments. Osceola, the brave Indian chief who led his people during the Seminole Wars in Florida, was a prisoner at the fort, died and was buried there in 1838. The other monument honors the 62 men who died when their monitor Patapsco struck a Confederate torpedo in Charleston Harbor in 1865.
There are no barracks or parade grounds inside the ramparts. The tower for the Harbor Entrance Control Post/ Harbor Defense Command Post, used during WW II, is inside the fort, on a hill, to the left and is open to the public. Near it, huge cannon from 1898-1939 are mounted on black concrete batteries. Each segment of history and the guns related to them are explained on a nearby panel.
Finally we found the Civil War guns still pointing at Fort Sumter. On December 26, 1860, Major Robert Anderson and the men under his command had to leave the fort in secrecy for the more defensible Fort Sumter, out in the harbor, because of hostility in Charleston. They spiked the guns and burned the carriages before they left. The new Confederate army wasted no time putting out the fire and fixing the guns. In April 1861, General PGT Beauregard used the same guns to blast the Union army to submission and surrender and aggravated the commencement of the Civil War.
Sullivans Island is the setting for The Gold Bug, written by Edgar Allan Poe. He served as a soldier at the fort in 1827-28. At this fort William Moultrie, whom the fort was named after, demonstrated his remarkable abilities as a leader and the prowess of his officers and men during the Revolutionary War.