The island that I sail to is a barrier island. It used to have a light station with a keeper's house and several outbuildings.
Now the old lighthouse is all that remains, and it sits about 300 yards offshore of the island, isolated due to heavy erosion and completely surrounded by water. The waves and shifting sands eradicated visible traces of what used to be there.
The history of the island has interested me for some time. During the Civil War, the island was heavily fortified by Confederate forces to defend the harbor, with the fortifications centered on Fort Wagner.
A Union assault against Battery Wagner attempted to capture the Battery and the remainder of the low, sandy, flea infested island (know locally as Coffin Island due to its use as a Lazzaretto and leper colony prior to the war). After a heavy naval and land bombardment, as assault force led by the 54th. Massachusetts, a black regiment of free men from the North, went in with fixed bayonets to storm the fort. The fighting was fierce and the 54th Massachusetts saw heavy casualties. The ill-fated assault was depicted in the movie Glory.
Eventually, the Confederates abandoned Morris Island due to heavy shelling by Union forces on Battery Wagner. The Union forces used the island to install a gun crew for a cannon, known as the Swamp Angel, that was used to fire on the city. The Swamp Angel sent 16 shells into the city resulting in heavy damages.
Most of the island eroded away after the war and the site of the Fort is today underwater. There are some traces of the Swamp Angel Battery still remaining though. Relics are occasionally found there.
Plans to commercially develop the 125 acres of high ground on Morris Island as a luxury residential area resulted in several groups fighting to have the island declared a national historical park. Fortunately, a non-profit private land conservation organization purchased the island so that it will be preserved and protected from development.
This afternoon I'm doing an educational outreach program for 50 Brownie scouts on Morris Island. I think that I'll focus more on the critters found on the barrier island beach. The island has about 3.5 miles of beach. It's a great place to find shells, ancient shark's teeth, Clovis spearheads, starfish, and other sea life that is left on the beach by the receding tides.
Palmetto trees, cedar trees, and other remnants of a scrub-shrub habitat have fallen and lie like bleached bones from the effects of erosion. The interior of the island has vegetation, mosquitoes, biting flies, deer and small mammals. It's a great opportunity to get to one of my favorite spots, help educate some young ladies, and get out of the office on this beautiful Friday.
Have a good one yourself.