As published in the Island Eye News on March 3, 2017
We’ll start with a history question, but of course you will need to read through for the answer and explanation. No skipping down!:
Which of the following fortifications has stood to protect Sullivan’s Island and Charleston Harbor?
A. Fort Sullivan
B. Fort Getty
C. Fort Arbuthnot
D. Fort Moultrie
PATTY IN THE PARK ON MARCH 18!
On an Island named for O’Sullivan, with a rich Irish-American history, it is highly fitting that we properly celebrate the feast day of St. Patrick…regardless of the mayor’s name!
While there will be appropriate activities in our commercial district on the actual St. Patrick’s Day and early evening (Friday, March 17), our annual family-friendly event for the kids and their parents will be held the next day: Saturday, March 18. The fun will take place at the J. Marshall Stith Park (next to Town Hall) from 10 AM to noon that day.
Sarah Church, Chair of our Town Council’s Recreation Committee, encourages us to“join your fellow Islanders for a family-friendly St. Patrick’s Day Celebration! There will be plenty of Irish fun!”
Live entertainment begins at the Bandstand at 10:00AM, to include Celtic music by ‘Tradd Street’ (Hazel Ketchum & Tom Morley) and a magic show by ‘No Sleeves’. Other highlights include face painting, balloon artists, and treats!
Please note: Since this is a child-friendly event, alcohol is strictly prohibited,children must be accompanied by an adult, and no animals are permitted in the park.
BUT WHERE TO PARK?
For the above event, and any other destination in our commercial district at anytime, we are delighted to report that we have plenty of new FREE parking spaces available round-the-clock in our new, lighted parking lot behind our new Town Hall! Just enter off of Station 20 ½ Street (alongside and behind the fire station and shed). Excepting spaces marked for vehicles carrying handicapped passengers and police vehicles, all the spots are available at any time regardless of the parker’s destination.
These are great spots if you are heading for the park and for any of our commercial district restaurants and other businesses!
BACKTO OUR ORIGINAL QUESTION…
OK,which of those four named military installations was charged with protection of the Island and Charleston Harbor?
Correct answer: All of them!
Of course we know that Fort Moultrie remains as our home town component of the National Park Service’s Fort Sumter National Monument. But did you know how many names it has worn over its lives?
The original name for our Island fortification was, unsurprisingly, Fort Sullivan.It was after the great Battle of Sullivan’s Island in 1776, with its victory over the British fleet, that the name was changed to honor then-Colonel,later-General Moultrie.
Recently the Battery Gadsden Cultural Center offered another of its consistently fascinating and informative programs on Island history. Our unofficial Island Historian, Roy Williams, gave a spellbinding presentation on how the Spanish-American War spurred a major boom of construction and employment on the Island.
Roy mentioned during his talk that Fort Moultrie was briefly re-named “Fort Getty”,prompting the natural questions: Say what? and, Who is Getty?
Roy showed a PowerPoint slide with an excerpt from the April 12, 1903 New York Times reporting from Charleston that: “Senator Tillman has written Dr. Edward McBrady, the historian, inclosing a letter from Secretary of War Root saying that the name of the military reservation on Sullivan’s Island, recently known as Fort Getty, has been changed to Fort Moultrie, in honor of Major Gen. Moultrie of the Continental Army.”
The article goes on to credit the “South Carolina Historical Society, the Sons of the Revolution and the Daughters of the Revolution” with petitioning Senator Tillman to restore the earlier name of Fort Moultrie.
How did “the fort” get to be Fort Getty, and who was Getty?
Dawn Davis, Public Affairs Officer of Fort Sumter National Monument and Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, offered some valuable information on these questions. She notes that Elihu Root, the U.S. Secretary of War, in General Order No. 16, Feb 14, 1902, decreed that:
"The fortifications on Sullivans [sic] Island, Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.Fort Getty [should be named] in honor of Colonel George W. Getty. 4th U.S.Artillery, brevet major general, U.S. Volunteers, who died on Oct 1, 1901.”
Ms. Davis informs us that Col. Getty had a distinguished military career and fought for the Union in several major engagements including: Battle of the Wilderness (where he was severely wounded), Shenandoah Campaign, Fredericksburg, Petersburg, Antietam,and at Appomattox Courthouse when Lee surrendered.
The fort carried Getty’s name for only about 14 months. Since being reclaimed in 1903, Col. Moultrie’s name has remained in place until now.
But“Fort Arbuthnot”? That took place when the British controlled Charleston during part of the American Revolution. Says Ms. Davis, “The British changed Fort Moultrie's name to Fort Arbuthnot in honor of the British Navy Commander Admiral Mariot Arbuthnot who led the British fleet when Charleston fell in May 1780. Only when the British left in December 1782 was the name Fort Moultrie restored.”
See you around the Island!
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