Backstory and Context
Constructed in 1810, Castle Pinckney is a masonry fortification used by the U.S. Army in its coastal defense system for Charleston, South Carolina, during the War of 1812. The fortification was converted to use by the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.
Pinckney is a "castle" style fortification which was constructed on a
small island in Charleston Harbor known as Shute's Folly. Originally
constructed in 1742, the structure was demolished by a hurricane and rebuilt
using masonry just in time for the War of 1812. The fort exists in ruins today.
fortification is named in honor of Major General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, a
Revolutionary War general from South Carolina, Minister to France and South
Carolina delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Although born in South
Carolina, Pinckney was educated in England. He received his legal education at
Christ Church College in Oxford, studying under the British legal luminary Sir
William Blackstone. After earning admission to the English Bar, Pinckney
returned to practice law in his home colony until the Revolutionary War
erupted. He fought with distinction in the defense of Charleston and at the
1778 siege of Savannah. In the Northern Theater he fought in the Battles of
Brandywine and Germantown. Pinckney was taken prisoner when Charleston fell to
the British in 1780 and was held until 1782.
the war Pinckney returned to his legal practice and served in both houses of the
South Carolina Legislature. During the Constitutional Convention he was a
vociferous advocate of a strong federal government and advanced an unpopular
and soundly defeated proposal that Senators serve without pay. Pinckney reportedly
refused appointments to lead the U.S. Army, become a justice of the U.S.
Supreme Court, serve as Secretary of State and Secretary of War. When he
finally accepted a Presidential appointment as Minister to France, the
revolutionary government refused to receive him as Minister.
eventually returned to America when the country was preparing for a possible
war with France. He accepted an appointment to command American forces in the
south and served in that position until 1800 when the threat of war finally
subsided and he became the 1800 Federalists' candidate for Vice President.
Pinckney received his party's nomination for President in 1804 and 1808.
preserved, Castle Pinckney was placed on the National Register of Historic
Places in 1970. The Fort Sumter Ferry
passes by the island on its trek to the fort, but does not stop.