Confederate Defenses on Sullivan’s Island in November 1863

The map, the defenses on Sullivan’s Island changed significantly between March and November 1863.  The previous spring, three important named works faced the entrance to the harbor, with two named works as “fillers” between the positions.  These named batteries and forts received heavier weapons through the summer months.  In addition, earthworks connected the batteries to seal off the beaches.  On the northern half of the island, the Confederates built new batteries and improved the existing positions in an effort to prevent a repeat of the experience on Morris Island.

The map below highlights the active positions in November 1863:


The batteries on Sullivan’s Island benefited from the relocation of guns from Fort Sumter during the summer months. Let me offer details of these works, working from south to north, with a comparison to the earlier armament where applicable:

Battery Bee had five 10-inch columbiads and one 8-inch columbiad in March 1863.  By November one of the 10-inch columbiads was replaced by an XI-inch gun formerly of the USS Keokuk.

Battery Marion had three 10-inch columbiads, one 8-inch columbiad, and three 10-inch seacoast mortars in November 1863.

The Brooke Battery between Marion and Fort Moultrie was a single gun emplacement for the 7-inch Triple-Banded Brooke rifle.  Behind it were three 10-inch mortars.

Fort Moultrie fought in the April 7, 1863 ironclad attack with nine 8-inch columbiads, five 32-pdr rifles, five 32-pdr smoothbores, and two 10-inch mortars.  The armament improved to four 10-inch columbiads, 2 8-inch seacoast howitzers, two 8-inch rifled and banded columbiads, three 32-pdr rifles, four 24-pdr smoothbores, and two 10-inch seacoast mortars.  Two 32-pdr smoothbores were at the fort but not mounted.

Battery Rutledge, like Battery Marion, was a new fortification earlier in the spring.  By the fall the armament grew to four 10-inch columbiads and two 10-inch mortars.

Battery Beauregard contained two 8-inch columbiads, one 32-pdr rifle, and two 32-pdr smoothbores in the spring.  By the fall the work had only one 8-inch columbiad, the other having been replaced with a 7-inch double-banded Brooke rifle.  The battery also contained two 8-inch seacoast howitzers, two 32-pdr rifles, one 32-pdr smoothbore, and two 24-pdr smoothbores.

Battery Marshall mounted one 8-inch columbiad, one 8-inch seacoast howitzer, one 32-pdr rifle, four 24-pdr smoothbores, two 12-pdr rifles, two 12-pdr smoothbore siege guns, a 3-inch Blakely, and four 6-pdr field guns.  At the beginning of November, dismounted at the battery were three 8-inch navy guns and two 32-pdr smoothbores.

In between Battery Beauregard and Battery Marshall were four numbered batteries designed to mount two guns each.  Two of these were recent additions to the line.  One of these works received a 32-pdr smoothbore from Battery Marshall.  Another received a rifled 32-pdr.

As mentioned earlier, the increase of weapons on Sullivan’s Island was in part due to the removal of guns from Fort Sumter.  From 44 guns at the time of the ironclad attack, Fort Sumter’s armament shrank down to a single serviceable gun at one point in the late summer.  By November, the fort had three – two 10-inch columbiads and a 42-pdr rifle. 

These were known as the “three gun battery” on the east face, allowing cross fire over the entrance channel with Fort Moultrie.  Though reduced, Fort Sumter had emerged from the rubble with at least some teeth.

As time permits, I will offer more detailed posts featuring the layout and profiles of these works.  And of course, the three gun battery will get its due also.

Published by Craig Swain

"Historical marker hunter" and Civil War enthusiast.

5 thoughts on “Confederate Defenses on Sullivan’s Island in November 1863

  1. In the early 90’s I lived on Sullivan’s Island, between Ft Moultrie and (the former location) of Battery Beauregard. A great place to live! (There was an old concrete Endicott Board fort right behind my apartment building, and it was a short jog to Moultrie…awesome)

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