The Siege of Fort Pulaski

Aerial view of Fort Pulaski.
Courtesy of the National Park Service.

The capture of Fort Pulaski on the mouth of the Savannah River had many significant implications. When the fort surrendered on April 11, 1862, it closed the port of Savannah. Accordingly, cotton exports had to be transported to Charleston or Wilmington to reach European markets. Most importantly was the impact of large rifle cannons on US coastal defense fortifications. These brick forts were considered indestructible, yet, after a 36-hour bombardment, Pulaski’s walls were breached, and it was forced to surrender. More than 40  years of military planning was changed in clouds of brick dust.

Why Savannah?

Savannah was Georgia’s largest city. Located on the Savannah River, just over 20 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, it was a leading cotton export port. Harbor activities made the town a major industrial and commercial center. The railroads that passed through Savannah northward were a primary supply link between the Deep South and Richmond, Virginia. Furthermore, Savannah featured several shipbuilding facilities and was home to the Georgia State Arsenal.   Read more

On the Same Team: LGBTQ+ in the Navy

WWII WAVES enlistment poster. Accession number 1962.0316.000001

If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts on World War II, you already know that 300,000 women served in the newly founded women’s military service groups during WWII, including Army, Army Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines. Of those women, nearly 100,000 served in the Navy’s WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services). With that large number in mind, it should be no surprise that some WAVES were homosexual and would likely define themselves as LGBTQ+ today. 

Serving “In the closet”

While the military at this time was officially against allowing LGBTQ+ identifying people into the military, they also were desperate for more service members. So in some ways, there was a similar mentality to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of the 1990s and 2000s. Ben Small, a gay man who served in the Army Air Corps during WWII, remembered the mentality was “If they’re gay, fine. Just so long as they didn’t embarrass anybody or do anything on the premises.”    Read more

Yacht America Builder’s Model Donated to Mariners’

Portrait of George Steers (1819-1856) Engraving by William G. Jackman, circa 1855. Accession#1941.0401.000001/LE 1517.

In 1850, in an effort to demonstrate American advances in shipbuilding to the world, a group of New York  yachtsmen formed a plan to send a yacht to England to race against British boats. The task of designing the boat was given to George Steers, one of New York’s leading naval architects and the designer of the port’s fastest pilot boats. 

At that time, naval architects used various methods to plan the shape of a vessel’s hull. In America, it was common practice to build a scaled half-model as part of the design process. These builder’s half-models provided a physical representation of the proposed vessel’s hull shape and were used by shipwrights to plan the construction of the full-sized vessel. When Steers’s yacht, named America, beat some of the fastest boats in England in a race around the Isle of Wight, the traditional rules governing naval architecture were completely overturned and Steers’s model became revered as the symbol of this seminal event in maritime history.    Read more

Fabulous Fotos: Timeless Beauty

Serene view of a sailing vessel on water in Hampton, Virginia.
Armstrong Point, Hampton, Virginia, ca.1910. The Mariners’ Museum #P0001.008-02-APH03-027.

Cyanotypes can evoke a timeless quality, particularly when the subject matter is similarly aligned. This delicate image is all the more beautiful because of this process.

The cyanotype is one of the earliest photographic processes. Invented by England’s Sir John Herschel in 1842, it came to be known as the blueprint process (as in architectural plans). Photographs were contact printed (the final image is the same size as the original negative), exposed to sunlight, and developed with water.   Read more

Engaging Youth with Planting and Discovery

Student planting native grasses in Mariners’ Lake for the B-WET 9th grade program.

Celebrating World Environment Day with B-WET

If you’ve been hiking or picnicking around Mariners’ Park, you may have noticed it’s sweltering! While walking around Lions Bridge, you may have also noticed a sign that points out a planting site at the shores of Mariners’ Lake.    Read more