Our next stop on this virtual walk around Fort Johnson, by way of photos taken at the end of the Civil War, is a point which looks across the interior of the fort at the walls on the east side of the fort.
The digital copy I am working from is a scan of a print and not one of the glass plate. So you might see some distortions related to that type of media in the crops that follow. For reference, this photo was taken with the camera standing at the point annotated as FJ8 on the diagram below:
The angle of the camera is centered across to the angle of the fort’s wall where the epaulement on the left of the water battery joined the wall facing Morris Island. This was a very important section, as it was the structure which prevented the Federals from skipping shot and shell into the back of the gun positions.
As related in the earlier discussion, photo FJ7 was taken from a point next to the ruins inside Fort Johnson. Somewhere on the extreme right of this crop, next to the chimney:
So imagine the camera tripod somewhere between the base of the chimney and the pile of bricks on the right:
That said, I’m more interested in the limber conveniently parked in our view. We see all the fixtures associated with this important piece of equipment. We can see the joins in the wheel. As well the dove-tail joins in the chest atop the limber.
Looking to the left of the limber, and through the pavilion of sorts built around the ruins, there appear to be a pile of logs or other rubbish.
I find this interesting, as it brings to mind a “burn pit” or sorts. Also note the mixed styles of vertical beams for the pavilion. Some square beams. Others are round poles. Sort of a “use what you have” structure. Oh, and notice the grass growing there. Clearly this structure had been around a few years.
Looking at the roof of the pavilion, we see shingles. And we also see bricks and wood laying on top:
Compare the pavilion roof to that of the shed directly behind. (And yes that is the shed seen in FJ7, earlier in our “walk”).
Looking above the shed, there are a couple vents sticking out of the fort’s wall:
These vents tell us the wall wasn’t just a pile of earth, but was in fact built over a bombproof. Panning back to the left, we see the entrance to the bombproof:
This is something the photos tell us that the survey diagrams do not accurately, or shall I say fully, depict. The wall is drawn, but the details of this bombproof were below the level of detail offered by the surveys. The bombproof was just to the side of the sectional diagrams offered by the Coastal Survey team. Without the photos, we might not know it existed.
However one structure seen on the survey diagrams is right in the middle of the photo. The fort’s cistern:
Here’s a closer view of the platform that sits over the cistern:
You must keep the three-dimensional aspect in mind here. The stacked logs behind the cistern are in fact the “crib” mentioned in FJ7. So there is some distance between the cistern platform and those logs. Notice the large stones on which the platform rests. And… particular attention to the bucket:
There are shadows of the planks on the right. But directly under the bucket, the wood is discolored as if moist. So we have a leaky bucket at Fort Johnson? Or someone has been sloppy with the water?
Looking back for the moment, this view also provides a fine study of a sling cart:
This cart has just been used for some work, as the chains are still laying across the tree.
If we look close beyond the wheels, we see the tent mentioned in FJ7.
Notice the posts and rail on the left side of the tent. That rail is seen in photo FJ6. See how this all pieces together nicely?
But what I like the most about this photo is that we have a couple of soldiers taking a break from their duties:
A couple of USCT resting on the stacked ordnance. The projectiles are 10-inch caliber for the columbiads. Note crumbling pyramid on the left… we’ll see that one again. Also note the stacked boxes:
We’ll see these from another perspective. The markings are easier to read from that view. But for now just consider those faces and body language. No martial pose. Sort of an “Are you done with the photo?” attitude. But as there is little blur, we might presume the photographer had requested they sit (or remain seated) at that point. Perhaps a study in the fortunes of war… these USCT, former slaves, now tending a former Confederate fortification.
Also demonstrating that change in ownership is the United States flag over the ramparts:
As related in the earlier posts, the particulars of the angle from which the flag is seen in the photos, we can determine the flag staff was on the outside face of the fort.
We think of these works in terms of “offense” and “defense.” We saw the offense in the form of four heavy guns. Now we need to asses the defensive side, particularly how it protected the vulnerable areas in the fort’s interior.
As mentioned above, this portion of the wall was particularly important as it protected the gunners and some of the sensitive portions of the fort from the Federals on Morris Island. But we don’t see Morris Island or anything beyond the fort’s walls. That’s how high these were constructed to serve the defensive purpose.
One other particular we should note about these walls. Look at the line across this view. Or allow me to emphasize that with yellow lines:
See how level these are? We have the main line (lower) that demonstrates the height of the main works. Then there is a “crest” at the point of the works, which we’ve seen in other views, with erosion at the edges, which stood a few feet higher. Again, these are details we can pull out from the surveys, but the photographs provide a three-dimensional verification.
Another component the photos bring to us is the reality of what the fort’s interior looked like…..
And maybe what it smelled like?
Next stop… we are going to look at that ammunition stacked on the left of this view.