Photo courtesy of Rob Shenk
The cannons still fire daily at Old Fort Jackson — the oldest brick fort in Georgia. This well preserved military museum on The Savannah River is less than 2 miles from Savannah’s historic district and is open for touring seven days a week.
Old Fort Jackson is also a National Historic Landmark. It was added to the esteemed list of important landmarks in the year 2000 -- making it the most recent of Savannah's 8 attractions on the historic landmark list.
Construction on Old Fort Jackson began during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency in 1808 as the young nation was anticipating possible future conflicts with Great Britain. It was completed a few years later and did see some engagements during the War of 1812, however, it was most active during the Civil War as it successfully defended Savannah against Union forces.
While Old Fort Jackson helped Savannah hold off Union ships, General Sherman was making his famous March to the Sea. Having burned Atlanta to the ground and appearing unstoppable, Savannah's political leaders met General Sherman on the outskirts of town and offered to surrender peacefully. After this, Old Fort Jackson was occupied by Union troops.
The fort's namesake is James Jackson, who served in the United States House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate and later, as the 22nd Governor of The State of Georgia from 1798 - 1801. He fought in the Revolutionary War and participated in the battles that won control of both Savannah and Augusta back from British forces.
Jackson was a very popular politician and his family followed in his footsteps. Both Jackson's son and grandson later served in the U.S. Congress. James Jackson died just a 2 years before construction on Old Fort Jackson began.
Today this early 19th century brick fortification is celebrated for the excellent condition in which it remains. It's one of the most popular Savannah tourist attractions, even though its outside of the historic district and technically outside the city limits. Kids especially enjoy a visit to Fort Jackson. Daily cannon firings (at 11am and 2pm) bring this military landmark to life in a way Savannah's other historic sights cannot match.
Walk through Fort Jackson on your own self-guided tour or call ahead to find out times for scheduled tours with knowledgable tour guides. These guides, who are sometimes dressed in period costumes, are filled with knowledge and fun facts about coastal forts and defense techniques employed during the forts active years.
Old Fort Jackson is open every day except for these holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.