Near the end of Beach City Road is the 5+ acre site containing Fort Howell, an excellent example of a Civil War era earthworks fort. Built in 1864 by the Union's 32nd Colored Infantry, it was to protect the freedmen's village of Mitchelville and to improve the defenses of Hilton Head.
In 1861, Hilton Head was captured by the Union Navy and became their headquarters in the South. Former slaves from Hilton Head and the surrounding plantations made their way to the encampment where many found employment. In 1862, Mitchelville was established near current Beach City Road and was the nation's first Freedmen's village, self-governing and with mandatory education requirements for the children.
The Fort is pentagonal in shape, surrounded by a dry moat, earthen walls 23 feet in height, and placement for 27 guns. Partially eroded and forgotten, it was rediscovered when neighboring Palmetto Hall was being developed and was donated to the Land Trust for preservation.
The Land Trust maintains the property in a natural state with adjacent areas for parking and with several interpretive signs. In 2011 it was listed as a National Historic site and the appropriate signage was erected. The upkeep and improvement of the site is an ongoing project of the Land Trust. It is open to the public during daylight hours.
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