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Fort Moultrie – What You Need to Know

A visit to Charleston, South Carolina could not be complete without a visit to Fort Moultrie National Historic Park. After a visit to Fort Sumter, it only seems appropriate to check out the other fort that guarded Charleston since the Revolutionary war.

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Do you need to pay to get into Fort Moultrie?

Yes, there is an entrance fee of $10 per adult (anyone over the age of 16). Alternatively, you can buy the America the beautiful annual pass, which will get a family into over 100 parks or public land sites for a full year. Well worth it if you are planning to see more than two paid sites in a year.

Driving from Patriots Point or Charleston over to Sullivan’s island is very straight forward and easily navigated using GPS (see route map above). Given that the fort is on an island, be prepared for the possibility that Route 703 could have a high level of traffic. We experienced a little on our drive to the site.

After turning onto Sullivan’s island, it turns into a residential area and is very easy to find the visitor center.

External Fort Moultrie entrance sign in

There is a very large parking lot for the visitor center for Fort Moultrie, so you should not encounter any issues with parking. The facility itself is spacious and has a number of interesting exhibits on the evolution of the fort over the years.

While the fort is not as famous as its neighbor, Ft. Sumter, it does tell a comprehensive story of the history of coastal defenses on the East Coast of the United States.

External view of Fort Moultrie Visitor center with flagpole and American flag

There is an informative, albeit aged video that you can watch in the visitor center that tells the story of the fort and the changes that were made to its defenses over that time.

The exhibits are well organized and takes you through the deep history of the fort from a small outpost through the civil war and up to its role during World War II.

Don’t forget to pick up your National Park Passport Cancellation stamp. The Jr. Ranger program is also a great way to get the kids involved in a visit and earn a super cool badge as well.

National Park passport cancellation stamps are a great, no cost, low impact way to commemorate a visit to one of our National Parks. We have an entire article dedicated to explaining the program and how to get the most out of it.

Once you are at the visitor center, getting to the actual fort itself is not so hard. All you have to do is cross the street! I would advise to stay on your toes and watch the traffic! Middle street can be very busy at times.

The first thing you are presented with the main gate (Sally Port). You can see the observation tower and flagpole from the outside easily.

Roaming Monk Factoid: Fort Moultrie was named after the commander of the fort during the Revolutionary War, William Moultrie, who led the defense of Charleston in 1776 preventing British occupation at the start of the war.

Battlements of the Fort

The fort seen today is the third iteration of construction. The first fort that was utilized during the Revolutionary war and helped repel the British attack on Charleston in June of 1776. This was mainly built of palmetto logs and sand at that time.

After it feel a part due to neglect, it was rebuilt in 1798 after war broke out between Britain and France to help keep the coastline secure. Unfortunately, it fell into ruin yet again, with the remaining fort finally destroyed in a hurricane in 1804.

The third brick iteration, that you mainly see today, was built in 1809 and continued with modifications through World War 2.

Memorials

Outside of the fort there are two small grave markers. One for Oceola, a Seminole leader who led his people to fight to remain in Florida rather than submit and be removed to Indian Territory. He died Jan 30, 1838, of throat infection within the fort.

The other marker is for four of the sixty-two union sailors who died when their Ironclad, U.S.S. Patapsco sank due to a confederate mine in January of 1865.

Parade grounds, with US Flag waving at Fort Moultrie
Parade Grounds at Fort Moultrie

Inside the Fort

The fort is laid out for a self-guided tour, which highlights the different eras of military use the fort has seen. The structure is fairly large and kept our family fairly busy as we fanned out to see the various cannon and artillery pieces spread across the fort. The artillery pieces ranged from the Civil War, World War I, and up to World War 2.

They segmented the fort into different time periods so you can see how the Fort was utilized at each stage of its development.

I think my son enjoyed the World War II guard and observation tower with the signal light the best. Although delving into the 1870 powder magazine rooms was pretty neat.

Fun on Sulivan’s Island

Overall, we enjoyed our visit to Sullivan’s island, Fort Moultrie and the overall Charleston area. For families, you can find many things to see, do and experience, and you can start with one of these great National Park Service Sites!

Family Friendly Sites Near Fort Moultrie

There are several Family Friendly areas to explore around the Fort that you can consider adding on to your visit.

  • Sullivan’s Island Beach: Enjoy time relaxing and playing on the beach at Sullivan’s Island. It is beautiful and only 20 minutes from Charlestown.
  • Isle of Palms County Park: Right next to the beach, there are playgrounds, dressing rooms, restrooms, and outdoor showers to help during your visit.
  • Ocean Walk at Pitt Street Bridge Park: Awesome place to see the sunset! There isn’t a lot of seating, so blankets, towels or bag chairs should be considered. Parking can be difficult.

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