Category Archives: Charleston SC

Fort Johnston Photo Analysis, final installment: Landscape lost… and found?

Let me wrap up the “tour” of Fort Johnson by bringing you forward 150 years.  I closed yesterday’s post with a satellite view of the fort as it appears today:

Yes, nothing stands out in the overhead view that would indicate there was once a massive complex of earthworks around that point jutting into the harbor.   The 20th century improvements to the site have apparently swept away those of previous centuries.  But on the ground there are a couple of structures that indicate some of the 18th and 19th century activity at Fort Johnson.   Visible from the satellite view are a couple of round structures that used to be cisterns:

Charleston 4 May 10 283

While it would be nice to think one of these is the same seen in photo FJ8, I don’t believe that to be the case.  I believe these are post-war.  These cisterns are too far inside the fort’s interior.

On the other hand, there is one structure that was definitely part of the Confederate Fort Johnson still standing today:

Charleston 4 May 10 273

This is the old powder magazine.  According to the National Register of Historic Places nomination documents, this structure dates back to 1765.  Yes… 1765, not 1865… making this of Colonial, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War interest.

And, we have a “sestercentennial” anniversary of sorts to observe here.  The fort itself was named for Sir Nathaniel Johnson, one of the colonial governors of South Carolina.  In the same year attributed for the magazine’s construction, the British stored stamps brought from England in Fort Johnson, much to the ire of the colonists.  In 1775, South Carolinians took over the fort and, in an act to be repeated some decades later, raised the state flag (for the first time according to the nomination).  The fort remained in caretaker status through the early 19th century.  During the War of 1812, state militia placed two batteries at the fort.  But not until the 1820s did the US Army begin work at the fort, as part of the overall improvement of Charleston’s defenses.  And, of course, readers are well aware of the fort’s role in the secession crisis of 1860 and the bombardment of Fort Sumter in 1861.

Now the magazine itself is important to “fixing” the location of wartime (as in Civil War-time) Fort Johnson.  When the Confederates took over Fort Johnson, one of the improvements made was to incorporate the magazine into a bombproof.  The magazine remained buried until the 1960s.  At that time, the last major parts of the Confederate Fort Johnson was removed to reveal the Colonial-era magazine.

Knowing the history of that structure and using the magic of Google Earth, let me overlay one of the wartime surveys on the view today:


Let me stress, this is my “best guess.”  As such it is a work in progress to be improved and refined.  So please please take it as such… and a grain of salt.

The magazine’s location is not depicted with any annotation on the wartime survey.  But it should have been (logically) in the large bombproof on the interior of Fort Johnson.  The water battery stood on the north side of the Grice Marine Laboratory building.  The drive up to the point is roughly on line with the wartime road to Secessionville.  And from that I think the wharf’s location is at the circle at the end of the drive.

With that, let me be bold and throw in the diagram showing the photo perspectives:


Looking closer:


Again, take it with a grain of salt.

While Fort Johnson has faded, with the exception of the old magazine, with time, the placename and history remain.  We might stand there today and look across the harbor to replicate some of the wartime views.  But the earthworks and massive artillery pieces are not there today (though some of those guns sit across the harbor at other locations).  Though we can use the photos and surveys from the end of the Civil War to “paint” in our minds what Fort Johnson did look like in 1865.

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Fort Johnston Photo Analysis, Part XII: The Fort, the Wharf, and the harbor beyond

Our last stop on the virtual tour of Fort Johnson by way of wartime photos a view that promises the most interesting of all.


This view looks across the interior of the fort to the north with several features to the front of the water battery in view.  The perspective is depicted on the diagram below, designated as FJ10.


NOTE: Going back to review the diagram for this post, I realized points FJ7 and FJ8 were a bit out of alignment.  Those points have been corrected on my diagrams.

Unfortunately, for all that promise this photo’s preserved state lets us down.  I’ve never seen a digital copy of this photo from either a high resolution print or the original glass plate (if one exists… I’d love to see it!).  So what we are left with are grainy glimpses of what would be an incredible view of Charleston harbor.  But let’s work with what we have.

To the front left we see the chimneys and “pavilion”:


The points from which FJ7 an FJ9 were taken are in view, or at least close to the left side of this view.  We also see the pyramids of 10-inch projectiles and the stack of boxes containing 7-inch Brooke bolts.  Panning to the right of that stack of boxes, we see more of the familiar pyramids and also the cistern:


The bucket is on the opposite side of the cistern, as compared to the view from FJ8.  But we get a better perspective to see it’s layout.  A large circular stone structure with a square wooden platform on top.

Still further to the right, we see the tent featured in several of the other photos:


From this side, we see the rails used to anchor some of the lines.  We also see the tent has a wooden door, doorstep, and door frame.  In other words, further confirming this tent’s status as a deluxe model for its day.  Notice also to the extreme right the pyramid of bolts for the Brooke.

In all of those crops, we see the interior feature of the earthworks.  Several cuts seen in the works are the entrances to the gun galleries.  Looking to the first 10-inch Columbiad’s position, we see the “V” shaped cut.


Looking beyond the works, just beyond, we see a the large wheels of a sling cart.  That should be the same sling cart seen at the edges of FJ4.

Extending out to the upper right of frame in that crop is a jetty which intersects at the fort’s wharf.   So let us pan slightly to the left and out to consider the wharf… to look across the harbor:


The wharf itself is worthy of note.  A lot of history occurred at that wharf, when you consider the war from its first days right up to the end.  I cannot identify the steamer tied up there, given the resolution.  But it appears to be a typical light draft paddle wheel type.

What lies beyond is even more interesting.  Consider the perspective offered in relation to the harbor charts:


As this looks right across to the north, the camera gave us a view of Fort Ripley, an artificial structure built by the Confederates during the war.  Somewhere in the fuzzy distance is Castle Pinckney.  A historic anchorage to say the least.  I’d be interested, if a better digital copy emerges at some point, if this photograph captured a glimpse of the obstructions in the harbor.  Such would add a visual to go with Rear-Admiral John Dahlgren’s written observations.

Since we are looking beyond the fort for the moment, let me mention the other vistas offered in these Fort Johnson photos:


I’ve flipped FJ10 to yellow in this diagram.   FJ1, with angle of view in light blue, is representative of three photos looking across the front of Fort Johnson with Fort Sumter in the background.  And FJ4, with perspective indicated in green, looked back towards Charleston with a teasing glimpse of White Point.

This concludes the photos from this set.  Again let me emphasize the coverage offered by these photos:


Fort Johnson was “front line” from the start of the secession crisis, throughout the war, and right up to the end of hostilities… well a couple months shy.  These works were a cornerstone to the Confederate defenses of Charleston.  Likewise Fort Johnson was an important tactical objective for the Federals.  And these photos provide us a magnificent examination of the fort to include structure, armament, and fixtures.  Scarcely an inch of the fort escaped the camera lens.

And this is important.  You see, Fort Johnson is sort of a “lost landscape” from the Civil War perspective:

As I mentioned at the start of this series, the surveys and photos taken at the end of the war serve us well when studying this site.  They show us “what was.”  That said, I’ll conclude this series in my next post by looking at the past and present views of Fort Johnson.

Fort Johnston Photo Analysis, Part XI: All those projectiles stacked up in the fort… and a paper trail

On to our next stop in the virtual tour of Fort Johnson, by way of wartime photos, as we proceed through the interior.  Our next stop is this photograph:


This photo was taken from the location FJ9, as indicated on the diagram below:


We can pinpoint that location by referencing the tent, which is seen in several other photos:


As pointed out in earlier photo analysis posts, this tent has amenities to comfort those stationed at the fort.


The canvas sits snugly over the brick chimney.  And there is a platform to give the dwellers a proper floor above the sand.

And there is a railing to each side of the tent, providing an anchor point for the lines.  We’ve seen those railings on several other photos.  All providing us a three-dimensional appreciation for this tent.


And notice the stack of 7-inch Brooke bolts, which we examined from another perspective in FJ6.

Looking behind the tent, we see the crib and the bombproof entrance mentioned in FJ8.


Speaking of that previous post, I highlighted the line of the parapet of the fort.  Again we see that in play in FJ9:


Also notice here the “cuts” for the entrance to the galleries where the guns are mounted.  The number of entrances helps place this photo’s perspective for the diagram.  The photographer was standing directly behind the first 10-inch columbiad’s entrance, looking towards the second columbiad position and then to the Brooke Rifle’s beyond.

Speaking of the columbiads, we see several piles of ammunition for those big weapons, all at the ready.


Nothing extraordinary about these.  I’m pressed to say if these are shells or shot.  We don’t see holes for the fuse or other external features.  But then again, the shells, if empty, would have been stacked with the holes down to reduce moisture accumulation.  On the other hand, Fort Johnson’s big guns needed solid shot should the Federal monitors gain the harbor.

What we can see in these photos are fine surface details of these projectiles:


Notice the casting seam running the circumference of some.  Also the spotty or streaked exterior:


Colorize those in your mind. A mix of black paint and rust, perhaps?

One of the pyramids has fallen down.  It’s the one that lacks wood rails or braces, second from the camera:


We’ve seen this from another perspective in FJ8:


Not enough change in the stack to determine “before or after” in this case. But as you can tell, those projectiles made a handy seat.

Beyond the columbiad projectiles, there is a stack of ammunition crates:


The resolution of the digital scan allows us to zoom down and read what is on those crates.  So what are they?


Each apparently contains (or did contain) “1 42-pdr Rifle Bolt”.  The hand painted marking below that stencil is worth considering.  I think it indicates the weight of the projectile, packing material, and box.  It looks like a “Wt. 116lbs.”

The next box up in the stack also has marking to consider:


I cannot make anything worthwhile out of these markings, except for what appears to be “Bolt” and “Wt. 115lbs.”

And where did these come from?   Next crate up tells us that:


From Charleston Arsenal in 1864.

OK, want some more?  The crate on top tells us who was responsible for these bolts:


The stencil was applied over a seam in the wood…


But I read that as “Cpt. Ingraham.”

Captain H. Laurens Ingrahm was an ordnance officer assigned to the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.  He spent most of the war in Charleston, at the depot.  And there are ample receipts indicting Ingraham handled projectiles of this caliber:


Or in some cases, annotated as 7-inch rifle shells or bolts:


Always nice to get a positive name match.

There’s a lot more to the story of Ingraham and his war-time service.  But I’ll save that for another day.

For the moment, let me bring this installment to a close, looking up at at the flag over the fort:


Tomorrow we will celebrate American Independence Day.  It will be the 239th anniversary of the event.  This photo takes us back 150 years to a time when Americans were looking forward to the first such Independence Day after four years of Civil War.  Those four years were in many ways the most destructive the United States has ever seen.  The flag, and thus the photo, speak to me today as a symbol of both the country’s independence but also wisdom in reconciliation following that war.

Fort Johnston Photo Analysis, Part X: Structure of the fort from the interior

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.

Fort Johnston Photo Analysis, Part IX: Ruins, Tents, Sheds, Sandbags, and the Flag

Let’s step a little further into Fort Johnson for our next stop, as we virtually walk around the site.  The next photo, which I’ve labeled FJ7 for tracking purposes, is this view looking across the interior:


I’ve plotted the location from which this photo was taken on the diagram below, keyed to FJ7:


As mentioned in the earlier post, we can narrow down the perspective of this photo by referring to objects in view, and comparing those objects to the perspective of other photos.  For me the “pin” is the pyramid of bolts with the markings “A C” on the top three:


In fact, we can see both of the bolt pyramids, flanking the entrance to the Brooke Rifle’s position, seen in FJ6:


To the left of the pyramids, is a common-place tent.  One of thousands used during the Civil War.  Nothing in particular to make it particularly noteworthy.


But notice all the extra support for this tent.  The railing around the sides of the tent serve as a second anchor. There’s a platform under the tent to elevate off the sand and provide dwellers some sort of proper floor.   Sort of reminds me of the tents setup by the Federals on Morris Island, in particular those inside former Battery Wagner… yes these:


I’d say it is likely the tent in Fort Johnson was setup by the Federals.  Perhaps the same Federals – the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery – who maintained the tent seen over on Morris Island.  But under the rule of “form follows function” I’d submit the Confederates owning similar tents and with similar requirements, would have used the same arrangements… had there been such a need.

We will see this tent again in FJ9… we are not done with the minutia of tenting arrangements.

I doubt the photographer was worried about the tent when composing this photo.  What appears in the foreground seems to be the main subject:


That is the crumbling bricks of a chimney and some wood walls.  The bricks appear to be just plain old bricks.  Nothing of great interest….


But then again, this is “To the Sound of the Guns” and not “Bricks of the Civil War.”  So I encourage masonry experts from the internet to enlighten us as to any peculiarities worthy of study.  I would just point out that this chimney matches with the annotation “ruins of old fort” in the survey diagram.

The wood structures extending from the ruins are more interesting to me:


Because these appear in a couple of photos, specifically FJ8 which I’ll walk through next, we have somewhat a three-dimensional appreciation of these.  Because these are rough hewn, I don’t think these were parts of the buildings that stood at Fort Johnson before the war.  These have the appearance of storage points, defined by low walls.

In the distance beyond these ruins, we see what appears to be a crib.


There is a doorway defined on the left.  Logs were laid without any filler between.  I’d submit this was also some sort of defined storage space instead of quarters.  Otherwise we’d see some effort to seal off the walls and vestiges of overhead cover.

Behind the crib is the entrance to the 10-inch Columbiad Rifle’s position.

And to the right is another chimney.  These chimneys take me back to the 1861 observations from Fort Sumter:


18th century buildings invariably had chimneys.  And we see a lot of buildings in view.

To the right of the chimney is a clear view of the slope on the angle of Fort Johnson which faced Fort Sumter directly.


In contrast to the other sections of the fort, this slope is deteriorating.  I don’t think that is simply a couple months of neglect.  Looks more as a longer term issue left behind by the previous tenants… the Confederates.  So to me the “story” in that crop is the labor shortage long reported by the Confederate engineers.  That would be the lack of soldiers detailed to do the work, as well as the lack of impressed, requisitioned labor in the form of slaves and free blacks.  A shortage I documented in numerous posts during the sesquicentennial.

To the right of that is another group of chimneys with a building right in the middle:


I’m inclined to call this a shop or shed of some sort.  There’s a lot of “stuff” laying around the building.  None of which is in focus well enough to give much detail.  Sad, because there were probably some interesting items for discussion laying about there.  Instead, we just have the clapboard building with a tarp over the roof.

Look above the building and we see the United States flag proudly waiving in the breeze coming off the ocean:


This allows us to locate the flagstaff, or at least the flagstaff in use by the Federals in the spring of 1865, at Fort Johnson.  Given the perspective of FJ7 and FJ5 of the fort’s exterior


The lines match up to place the flagstaff on the forward wall of Fort Johnson facing Morris Island.  And the photographer was keen to include the United States flag over these recently captured Confederate works.

As is my habit, let me turn to the extreme foreground in closing this “stop” of the tour:


Not grass, but a lot of bricks and broken sandbags.  I cannot help but think of the thousands of sandbags used around Charleston, by both sides, during the four long years of conflict.

Fort Johnston Photo Analysis, Part VIII: Over a hundred 90-pound bolts to deal with Federal monitors

In the last installment in the walk around Fort Johnson, I offered up this diagram indicating the perspective of several photos of the interior of the fort:


Let me pick up this tour by stopping at point labeled FJ6 on that diagram.  That is where the photographer setup his equipment for this photo:


We are looking into the gallery where a 7-inch Double-Banded Brooke Rifle sits.  This is the same weapon appearing in photo FJ2 on the exterior of the fort.  What I like most about this view is that the line of sight is parallel to the profile line used by the surveyor’s diagram of the fort’s profile:


“Section 2” in the diagram above was along a line drawn through the right-most gun position.  The FJ6 photo looks down the position to the left of that line.  And keep in mind that “Section 1” runs perpendicular to the line of Section 2 and thus the line of sight in photo FJ6.  Sure, you say, what is there to be excited about?  Well this allows us to visually confirm… or reject … some of the particulars of the survey.  So let us pay attention the those profiles…


What catches my eye is the slope of the “V” that forms the gallery here.  The survey, since it used crisp lines, indicates the works had a “V” with a crown on each arm.  Almost a “V” within a “V.”  What we see in the photo is an eroded version of that.  A crown exists, but the slope is more of a gradual curve down to the base of the “V” and not offering a distinct shelf or shoulder where the crown meets the base.  Surveyors’ “license” perhaps?  No.  I think the surveyors accurately depicted what they saw.  But theirs were trained eyes, experienced by four years work with earthworks in the field, to know what the profile was designed to be.  And those surveyors were quick to extrapolate from the effects of weather, erosion, and neglect to show how the works were originally built.  After all, the survey was part of a report that needed to demonstrate how formidable these works were, and not intended as a study in shifting of sand.

That all said, let’s look at what would be the “star” of this photo – that big rifle:


Notice the cuts into the carriage, on both cheeks.  Also notice the quoin for elevating the gun.  This gun is pointed to the waters between Forts Sumter and Moultrie.

Looking down at the table supporting the gun, there are tick marks along the edges.


The tick marks below the race appear distinctly in the “sunny side.” But faintly along the edge of the race where the sun is directly on the wood.  However, under the shadow of the carriage, the opposite is true.  So as we consider where the gun was pointed, we have some indication as to how the gun crew ensured the weapon was on target.  The Confederates did conduct practice fires, which we call “registering” today, against targets in the harbor.  And of course they had feedback from the many counter-bombardments of Federal targets on Morris Island. So you might say those tick marks were “earned” along the way.

I would be remiss without calling out the barrel, which serves as a convenient mark to associate several photos.  We can also examine the texture of the fort’s walls.


Moving back a bit from the gallery, let me look through from left to right.  On the far left is the end of a railing.  What we will see from some of the other photos is that this rail served as an anchor for ropes extending from a tent.


To the left of that rail is a wash basin.  It’s a metal basin, perhaps tin, as we can see the metal seam up the side.


But since this is “To the Sound of the Guns” and not the “Civil War Field Hygiene” blog, we are going to look past that wash station at the pyramid of Brooke bolts:


These bolts have a square headed nut for the bolt attaching the sabot to the body.  We’ll see from another view there is a space between the sabot and the body.  There are two bourrelets (the band around the projectile used to align it to the bore), with one at the base and another towards the front.

One of the bolts in the stack is missing its sabot:


I’m not as good with projectiles as I am with cannons.  But I think these are “Tennessee” bolts, known to collectors as “Type II.” There are four holes in the base of the bolt.  One of those is filled by the bolt used to retain the sabot.  The other three, spaced around the middle of the base, are indentations that matched up with lugs on the inside face of the sabot.  The way this worked – when the Brooke was fired, the expanding gasses would push against the copper sabot and thus force the concave outer face to seal against the bore and into the rifling grooves of the bore.  That also forced the three lugs on the inside face of the sabot into the three holes on the base of the bolt.  With the copper sabot pressing into both the rifle grooves and into the holes, the spin of the rifling was imparted to the projectile.  And we can see all the parts for that system, save the rifling of the bore, in this photo.

Projectiles of 7-inch caliber were produced in Charleston and also brought in from other sources.  The bolts were used from both the 7-inch Brooke and rifled 42-pdr guns.  These were intended to counter Federal monitors.  Though, with their mass, the bolts would have crashed through any wooden vessel with ease.  We see fifty-six of these stacked to one side (two pyramids of bolts, stacked nose to nose).  To the other side of the gallery, there is another pyramid of bolts, these stacked tail to tail:


Here we see the flat faces of the bolts.  Not designed for aerodynamic efficiency, these flat faces were meant to impart the most force upon iron plate.  These projectiles didn’t pierce, rather were designed to shatter or bend the plate.  Purely a mass times velocity equation.  Each weighed just over 90 pounds.  And we are seeing over 100 of these bolts.  A lot of mass that would have been thrown at any Federal monitors trying to force passage into Charleston.

The top three projectiles have markings:


“A C” … which I am at a loss to explain.  But those top three bolts, with markings, appear in another photo.  So they are good placemarks as we “tour” the fort.

As we “walk” to the next point along our “tour,” we’d have to step over some weeds growing up in the fort:


A reminder that this photo was taken in the spring of 1865.  Weeds and grass were taking hold over the fortifications of a war in the closing stages.

Fort Johnston Photo Analysis, Part VII: The interior through the camera lens, preserved on glass plate

Thus far, we’ve looked at photos taken of the exterior of Fort Johnson, specifically the water battery.  But those were not the only places the photographer, George Barnard, visited in the spring of 1865.  In fact, Barnard spent considerable time inside Fort Johnson.  From that, we can “virtually” tour the fort, 150 years later, by way of those photographs.

Summarizing what we’ve seen thus far, here is the diagram depicting the location of the camera and perspective of the first five photos in this study… er … tour:


At the end of our examination of FJ5, I called attention to the Brooke Rifle and the barrel out in front of the gun.


The rifle and the barrel are key reference points as we step into the interior.  Both appear in the photo that I’ll label, for our purposes, FJ6:

Up close:


I’ll examine the other details of this photo in a dedicated post, but the Brooke establishes that we are looking down the back of the second gallery from the right on Fort Johnson.  Notice the pyramid of bolts to the right of the crop above.  Note the letters “A.C” on the top three. You see them again in another photo of the fort’s interior:

I’ll call this one FJ7.  And aiding the effort to establish the camera’s perspective is that pyramid of bolts, in the distant center:


See the letters?

The centerpiece of FJ7 are the debris and ruins inside the fort. Those appear on the surveys.  And that further establishes the perspective of the camera.  The ruins also appear in another photo of the interior, but from a different angle:

I’ll call this one FJ8.  Up close, here’s the ruins… which don’t see too badly ruined… if all you want is a pavilion.


Panning to the left, looking beyond the sling cart, we see the tent, with chimney:


That tent appeared in FJ7.  To the right of the tent is a platform with a bucket on top. That coincides with the location of the fort’s cistern on surveys.  Beyond (above) the platform is a log crib.  The crib and tent also appear from another perspective of Fort Johnson:

This photo, FJ9 for my labeling, looks across the interior wall of the fort.  Stacked pyramids of shot and shell stand along that wall.  Some of those were seen in FJ8.  As are the tent and crib:


Those sequences are fine, but only show the “small” particulars of the fort.  What we would like is a wide angle view of the fort’s interior.  Well we have one:


Unfortunately I cannot find this photo, which I’ll call FJ10, from a digitized glass plate.  Only a scan from a printed copy.  But in this view we see, from left to right, the ruins, pyramids of shot and shell, the cistern, and the tent.  There are other points of reference to mention here (notably the sling cart beyond the fort, which was seen in the exterior photographs).

That is sufficient to start plotting the camera locations of the five photos against the fort surveys:


The green lines demonstrate the angle of the camera view.

Considering the first five “stops” made in front of Fort Johnson:


You can see, hardly an inch of the Confederate water battery escaped the camera lens.  How many places of note from the Civil War can we say that about?