Old Fort Jackson is located on a site known as Salter Island 3 miles from downtown Savannah. It is the oldest brick structure in the state of Georgia.
It has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a very historic site; there was an earthen work "mud fort" on this site in 1776. It was abandoned because the site was considered unhealthy. In 1808, President Andrew Jackson began constructing a national defense system. Fort Jackson was among the forts commissioned. It was named for the Revolutionary War hero and Former Georgia Governor James Jackson.
Europe was in a state of unrest, and invasion was expected at any time from either the English or the French. War was declared with England in 1812, and the fort was occupied by the militia as well as federal troops. The fort saw no action in the War of 1812, and between 1845 and 1860, it was strengthened and expanded. Salter Island was the perfect place from which to defend access to Savannah. It overlooks Fathom Hole, the 18th-century deep port of Savannah. The remains of the IronClad Vessel Georgia are still resting on the bottom of the Savannah River just off the fort.
There is a sign on the ramparts to show you where it is located. No ship could get into Savannah without passing Fort Jackson.
During the Civil War, Fort Jackson was part of the defensive fortification of Savannah. It was the headquarters of the Savannah River Defenses. Savannah never was attacked from the sea; it surrendered to General Sherman in December 1864. Union troops occupied the fort for 3 months. During the next 40 years, the fort saw limited military use, eventually being decommissioned in 1905. In 1964, the Georgia Historical turned Fort Jackson into a maritime museum. However, due to financial cutbacks, the fort was closed, and in jeopardy of being dismantled, local citizens formed the Coastal Heritage Society, a nonprofit historical organization that took over the management of the site in 1976.
There is a lot to see at the fort. You begin with a 17-minute video in the theater. You then walk through the museum, which is located under the ramparts in what was the powder magazine. You will see weapons,
uniforms, and artifacts excavated on the site and from the ironclad CSS Georgia. You can walk up onto the ramparts, enjoy the view of the Savannah River, and stand next to the cannons.
When you are done, visit the nice little gift shop and talk to the friendly ranger.