Fort Palmetto

Mount Pleasant, SC

Fort Palmetto, a three-gun battery, was constructed at the eastern terminus of the Christ Church Lines overlooking Copahee Sound and Dewees Inlet. Dewees Inlet, located between Long Island (Isle of Palms) and Dewees Island, was a possible access point for Federal ships coming in from the ocean. The inlet was twelve feet deep at mean high tide and seven feet deep at low tide, enough water for a light-draft ship or barge transporting troops.


As early as the fall of 1861, the Federal navy was exploring the waterways from Charleston to McClellanville. Christ Church Parish, east of the Cooper River, was long recognized by the Confederate army in Charleston as a potential point of attack during the Siege of Charleston. The Christ Church Lines were built to defend the parish from an infantry attack coming from the northeast. Fort Palmetto was strategically located to stop any Federal ships looking to advance on Charleston by the inland waterways.


The earthwork fortification measured 160 feet long and eighty feet deep with a parapet fifteen feet tall and included a powder magazine twenty-five feet tall. A second powder magazine or bombproof was included in the fortification design as well. A company of the 20th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry served as the garrison for much of the war.


The earthwork fort was armed with one 9-inch Dahlgren gun and two 32-pound rifled and banded guns. The Dahlgren gun had an effective range sufficient to fire on the inland waterway which was less than two miles from the fort. The two 32-pound guns had a much longer range that could reach Dewees Inlet, a little more than four miles away. The guns at Fort Palmetto became an effective deterrent, for the many Union ships, large and small, that probed the inland waterways.


Fort Palmetto, in the footprint of the Oyster Point development, is part of Fort Palmetto Park developed by D R Horton and deeded to the Town of Mount Pleasant. D R Horton, to protect the fort in perpetuity, granted a conservation easement to the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust in 2014.