Welcome to Fort Fremont.
Built in 1898 to protect Beaufort and Port Royal Sound during the Spanish American War, this fort is named in honor of Gen. John C. Fremont. Gen. Fremont was an explorer, the first presidential candidate of the Republican Party in 1865, and a Civil War general. The fort is significant as an intact example of late 19th and early 20th century military architecture. Fort Fremont was also the major armament at one of two surviving coastal fortifications in the U.S. intact from the Spanish-American War era.
Fort Fremont was one of the fortifications built under the direction of the Endicott Board, a body created in 1886 to evaluate the coastal defenses of the United States. Fort Fremont was authorized soon after the Spanish-American War began in April 1898. Although the war ended in the fall of 1898, and the Port Royal Sound was never threatened, construction continued as planned and the fort was completed in 1900. It was built by the U.S. Corps of Engineers with hired local labor.
It consists of two gun batteries, Battery Jesup and Battery Fornance. One battery had three, 10-inch disappearing rifled guns that served as the primary armament of the fortification. An adjacent battery consisted of two, 4.70-inch guns. The 10-inch battery measures approximately 250 feet wide and 50 feet deep. The battery has several rooms used to store ammunition and other supplies, as well as to provide protection for gun crews. The batteries were placed on a ridge overlooking Port Royal Sound and were barely visible to ship in the Sound. The disappearing carriages for the large guns were ingeniously designed so that the recoil of the guns carried them down and back to a position below the level of the parapet, where their crews could reload.
The complex at Fort Fremont covered nearly 70 acres at the Lands End section of St. Helena Island. Structures included an administration building, guard house, barracks, hospital, stable, engineering building, carpenter shop, storehouse, pump house, coal house, mess hall, bakery, commissary, post exchange, lavatory, water tower and a fire direction tower. There was also a parade ground. Other than the brick hospital, which is now a private residence, none of the structures remain. The fort was garrisoned by 100 officers and men of the 116th U.S. Army Coast Artillery from 1900 until its closing in 1911. Fort Fremont was an active military establishment from 1898 to 1912, when it was placed out of commission. The fort was later sold to private interest in 1930 and eventually purchased by Beaufort County in 2005 for use as a county park.
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