Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Castle Fell

Castle Pinckney was the first Union military position seized on December 27th 1860 by a Confederate state government.

Castle Pinckney was built in 1810 on Shutes’ Folly Island about a mile off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina.  The fort was started in 1797 as a stick and earth structure to protect the city from naval attack and was named for American Revolutionary War hero Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.  It was replaced in 1809 by a brick structure that reminded people of a castle.  The fort was garrisoned in the War of 1812 and during the Nullification Crisis of 1832.  The rest of the time the fort was used as a storehouse for military supplies.

As the country closed in on Civil War, Castle Pinckney was a part of the Union defense of Charleston harbor which included Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter.  Pinckney was protected by 28 guns of various sizes in 1860.  Once week after South Carolina seceded from the Union, on December 27th 1860 the Castle was stormed by a small force using ladders to climb over the parapet.  The Union soldiers garrisoned at Pinckney turned it over to a South Carolina militia without firing a shot and joined Union Major Robert Anderson at Fort Sumter.  This move made Castle Pinckney the first Union holding to fall to a Confederate force.

Castle Pinckney was manned after Fort Sumter fell by the Charleston Zouave Cadets.  After the First Battle of Manassas, Pinckney was used to hold 154 Union prisoners of war.  Although Pinckney was bombed heavily during the war it stayed in Confederate hands until after Charleston fell.  The Union reoccupied the fort February 18th 1865.

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