Fort Fremont (1898-1921) - An Endicott Period Coastal Fort first established in 1898 as a military reservation on Saint Helena Island, Beaufort County, South Carolina. Named in G.O. 43, 4 Apr 1900, after Major General John C. Fremont, U.S. Army, of South Carolina, famous for his early explorations in the far west and for the part taken by him in the early history of California. Post abandoned in 1921.
Part of the Harbor Defense of Port Royal Sound. The post was positioned just upstream of the point where the Beaufort River entered Port Royal sound and the gun batteries covered both the sound and the river.
Two Endicott Period gun batteries were completed and turned over to the Coast Artillery on 2 Sep 1899. Battery Jesup was a 10" three-gun battery and Battery Fornance a 4.72" two gun rapid-fire battery. A mining capability was also anticipated because a mine cable tank was accepted for service along with the gun batteries on 2 Sep 1899.
Fort Fremont was built out as a small, one company coast artillery post. The majority of the post buildings were completed in 1899 and 1900 including three CAC barracks with a total capacity of 109 men, five NCO quarters, three officers quarters, a mess hall, a guardhouse, and a temporary hospital. A permanent brick hospital was completed on 15 Oct 1904 and that is the only remaining building on the fort site. A total of 32 numbered structures were built on the post the last being a searchlight shelter.
A category 2 Hurricane struck the Fort Fremont area in late August 1911 destroying the post exchange and the firehouse. Additional damage was caused post-wide.
By 1913 the decision was taken to abandon Fort Fremont as a garrisoned post and the Secretary of War ordered the majority of the buildings on the post destroyed. Only the brick hospital and one set of NCO quarters were retained. The post was put into caretaker status.
During World War I Fort Fremont was manned by a detachment of 30 CAC enlisted men and one officer beginning 15 May 1917. The detachment used the remaining brick hospital as a barracks and mess. By 13 Jan 1919, the detachment numbered 6 men and 2 civilians. The post was abandoned in 1921.
Now a part of Fort Fremont Preserve acquired by Beaufort County Rural and Critical Lands Program. No period guns or carriages are in place but the battery structures remain. Battery Fornance has been overbuilt with some kind of structure. Battery Jesup is structurally intact. The 1904 brick hospital building is the only remaining original building on the fort site, it is in use as a private residence.
Visited: 14 Mar 2012, 25 Jan 2010