Fort Howell


Beach City Road
Also see  Fish Haul Plantation

Fort Howell is an earthwork fort, covering about three acres of land, which was erected in early 1864 by Union troops, the 32nd Colored Regiment from Pennsylvania. 

The fort, built on the pre-Civil War plantation of Captain William Pope, was named for Brigadier Joshua Blackwood Howell of the 85th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.  Howell served as commanding officer of the Department of the South, Hilton Head District, from February 5 through April 18, 1864.

South Carolina Institute of A & A original listing


p. 11   Area known as Fish Haul Plantation

A c1893 map shows the fourth camp of the 3rd New Hampshire partially within the study tract.

p. 16   “The spring and early summer of 1864 saw the removal of many troops from Hilton Head to the Army of the Potomac.   Numerous complaints were sent to Washington, arguing that depleted troop strength would leave Hilton Head vulnerable to attack.   The troops were not available, so as a next best thing, the entrenchments on the island were revamped and two new forts constructed.

Captain Suter, as Chief Engineer, was ordered to construct a fort at Mitchelville on August 17, 1864. Two days later the 32nd USCT was directed ‘to a point just beyond Mitchelville’....By September the work had been completed.   General Order #139 was issued on September 26th.  The new work would be called Fort Howell, in honor of General Joshua Howell, who had been killed in Virginia. The camp of the 32nd USCT underwent archaeological data recovery in 1989: it was located directly across Beach City Road from the study tract.

Local tradition has it that this was a make-work project that was never armed and barely garrisoned. A detailed plan is filed at the National Archives (RG 77 Drawer 146) indicating that the Chief Engineer...took it very seriously. Guns from the dismantled Fort
Seward on Bay Point were ordered sent to the new work...on October 3, 1864.”

The National Archives contains almost all of the official correspondence of the Civil War and should be consulted in researching such areas as Mitchelville and Fort Howell.

p. 19   “The heirs of Mary B. Pope were among those reclaiming land.   They paid back taxes in April 1875 and received Fish Haul Plantation.   The 1300 acres seem to have included both Mitchelville and Fort Howell, although the deed mentions neither.”   See Fish Haul for disposal of these areas.

Brockington, Cultural Resources Survey of the 20 Acre Commuter Terminal Tract, Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County. South Carolina, p. 11, 16, 19
(Source material listed in survey)

p. 24   “The survey resulted in the identification of one cultural resource, the site of a still which dates to the 1950s and 1960s.   That site was on the surface....  This site indicates that illegal whiskey making was carried out on Hilton Head Island, possibly into the 1960s.”

Currently on state highway 334, 1.1 miles from its intersection with Highway 278, lie the four acres of Fort Howell, a unit of the 1862 built fortifications, protecting the main army depot at Coggins Point from surprise landside attack across Fish Haul Creek.  It was named in honor of Major General Ormsby M. Mitchell who arrived on Hilton Head September 22, 1862 via the transport steamer Arago as commander of the department.  It was then renamed Fort Howell for General Joshua Blackwood Howell after he was killed at Petersburg, Virginia.

Peeples, An Index to Hilton Head Island Names (Before the Contemporary Development). p.16


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