Legacy Leadership, LLC, 2015      All Rights Reserved

Legacy Leadership, LLC
 (843) 842-2339


Sign up now to learn about Legacy’s events



Battle of Fort Pulaski:
The Defense of Savannah


As the Chief Engineer of the United States Army said prior to the Civil War, “You might as well bombard the Rocky Mountains as Fort Pulaski … the fort could not be reduced in a month’s barrage with any number of guns of a manageable caliber.”  Fort Pulaski on Cockspur Island was the dominant feature of the Defenses of Savannah, the most strategic point along the coast south of Charleston.

Shortly following his graduation from West Point, the bright young engineer, 2nd Lieutenant Robert E. Lee, was sent in the Autumn of 1829 to assist General Babcock in the construction of the five-sided fortification at the mouth of the Savannah River.  Completing the string of impregnable fortifications along the Atlantic coastline had been a high priority for the United States military as an aftermath of the War of 1812, and Babcock’s lingering illness left Lee largely in charge at Fort Pulaski and the other Savannah defenses until his reassignment to Virginia in 1831.  Delayed in its completion until 1847, Fort Pulaski would be largely neglected until shortly following the Federal Army’s occupation of Fort Sumter in December 1860.  Seized by Georgia troops on January 3, 1861, the fortifications were restored and bolstered by the addition of additional cannon and earthworks, and a second line of coastal batteries was added to the string of defenses from Fort McAllister south of Savannah to Fort Walker to the north on Hilton Head Island.

Lee returned to Fort Pulaski in November 1861, shortly after Hilton Head Island had fallen to an amphibious invasion, and he immediately ordered the refinement of its defenses intending to make the fort a bastion of the Savannah terminus for control of the railroad from Savannah to Charleston, the strategic priority for Confederate forces in the Southeast Coastal Region.  Although the port of Savannah had been effectively blockaded by the U.S. Navy to ocean shipping since May of 1861, Captain Josiah Tattnall of the Georgia Navy controlled the waterways of the barrier islands and the inland shipping of supplies among Confederate installations in South Carolina and Georgia, and Fort Pulaski figured prominently in keeping the blockading ships at distance from the internal shipping channels.

The morning of April 10, 1862, Confederate forces at Fort Pulaski looked across to what had been dunes and brush the day before to see massive batteries on Tybee Island across the Savannah River containing over 35 guns of various types and large caliber, including five of the brand new James Rifles, high-powered rifled cannons capable of penetrating the massive walls of Fort Pulaski from a distance of one mile or more.  After an offer of surrender from General David Hunter had been refused by Colonel Charles Olmstead, Pulaski commander at the time, a devastating 30 hour barrage destroyed the corner of the fort housing the ammunition storage, and Olmstead, now fearing a massive loss of life should the stores be detonated by a shell, raised the white flag over the now vulnerable fort.

The Leadership Experience

This program will explore the cases of Lieutenant Robert E. Lee, as the engineer-in-charge by default, making critical design and resource allocation decisions early in his career, Captain Josiah Tattnall in planning and executing critical supply missions and raids along the contested waterways in the Savannah area, Captain Thomas Gillmore in planning and executing the bombardment of Fort Pulaski and risking the censure of his senior commanders, and Colonel Charles Olmstead in deciding first to defend and later to surrender the fort.

Leadership lessons and practices highlighted during the Defense of Savannah Leadership Experience will include:

 Establishing clear understanding and direction amid ambiguous conditions

 Evaluating implications and alternatives in decision making

 Utilizing alternative strategies to validate a direction set

 Executing flawlessly based on superior understanding of mission variables

 Planning for advantage based on deception and the element of surprise

 Stimulating initiative and ownership of results

 Creating focus on the greater good to validate local sacrifice in the near term

 Acting as a member of multiple teams in the context of strategic clarity

This is a full-day program, with two possible modes of transport from Hilton Head to the Savannah locations.  Special arrangements can be made to transport the group by boat to a landing in Savannah, or bus transportation can bring groups through the Savannah Wildlife Preserve to Fort Pulaski as a start to the program.

Honey Hill Leadership Experience

Programs & Services

Fort Pulaski Leadership Experience

Mitchelville Leadership Experience

Battle of Port Royal Leadership Experience

Fort Pulaski-PRINTER.pdf-2.pdf


The Lowcountry Leadership Experience

The Hilton Head Leadership Experience