Honors College Theses

Publication Date



History (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Michael Van Wagenen


Savannah, Georgia is the fourth busiest port in the United States, processing approximately 4.35 million standard shipping containers every year. The port’s protector Fort Pulaski towers among the coastal marshlands and estuaries of the Savannah River. Located on Cockspur Island at the mouth of the Savannah River, this strategic location allowed the fort to protect Savannah’s vital harbor. Built as part of the United States’ Third System plan to build fortifications along the eastern seaboard, construction of Fort Pulaski began in 1827 and finished twenty years later.

Water has played a pivotal role in the history of Fort Pulaski and Cockspur Island. Since its construction, the fort has been battling the Lowcountry landscape to remain on high ground. While water proved to be a military advantage before the Civil War, as weapons technology advanced, Third System forts were left behind. Following the war, Pulaski underwent changes to become a historic site. Instead of battling invading armies and navies, the fort faced growing problems from its environment that were detrimental to its preservation.