Sunday, March 24, 2013

Civil War Sunday - Robert E. Lee - Engineer

Have you ever wondered what the "main players" in the United States Civil War did before the Civil War?

Some of them were career military people.  Some of them came from unlikely walks of life.

There is also the unlikely first military assignment of General Robert E. Lee.

Not long after his graduation from West Point and the death of his beloved mother, Lee was ordered to Cockspur Island, at the mouth of the Savannah River, in the Georgia low country near Tybee Island.  His mission:  to take this marshy and low-lying island, and do what it would take for a fort to be built there.

Yes, Robert E. Lee was - a civil engineer.  He was also a talented artist.
The drawings on the right of this explanatory sign were made by Robert E. Lee during his Cockspur Island duty and sent to lady friends back in Savannah.

This is one of the engineering drawings made by Lieutenant Robert E. Lee.

And what of the Fort?  Yes, it was built.  Its name is Fort Pulaski, and it still stands today, on Cockspur Island.

This is a picture of Ft.Pulaski today.

Ft. Pulaski played several roles during the Civil War.  It was captured in April of 1862 by the Federals,and remained in their control for the rest of the war.  Towards the end of the Civil War a portion of the fort was used as a POW camp by the Union, which leads to the story of the Immortal 600.  That will be a post for another time.

A picture of the original door,still in use.

This is Cockspur Island today. Some parts of it look stark, like the picture above.  But other parts are forested - a forest created by the ecological changes produced by the military under the direction of Robert E. Lee.

I visited the fort to see a Civil War fort and came away with a whole lot more.  There were nature trails and other places to explore; it's a wonderful day to spend part of a day if you love history.


  1. Interesting! I've read a couple bios of Lee but had not seen his artwork.

    It's a shame he did not cast his lot with the Union because the war would have been much shorter and Virginia might not have been devastated, to say nothing of the rest of the south.

  2. As always, very interesting info Alana. Great concept too about pre-war roles of the well knowns....


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