So my wife asked what I had planned for the day following New Year’s. I said I wanted to get out. It’s hard to believe, but my immersion in football the previous few days had reached an overdose.
She reminded me that Sam, my 4-year-old grandson, had asked that I take him to Fort Moultrie. His brother and I had made a cannon for their pirate ship and he wanted to make one as well but needed a model. So I picked him up and had a Moe’s lunch. Sometimes we do Moe’s and Lowe’s but opted for Moe’s and Moultrie today.
We checked in and then strode toward Fort Moultrie to begin the tour. We each had been before but not together. I’m a bit of a history buff so I started out telling him about the wars, officers and enlistees who manned the fort. Like having discourse with most his age, every comment begets a question. But I found that most of what he asked just needed translation to the 4-year-old level.
So these were the wars. “Who were the bad guys? Were they trying to take our treasure? Did we sink their ships? Did any of our guys get hurt? Where did they sleep? Did we capture any of the bad guys? Who’s buried there?”
And we were just at the entrance to the fort. I showed him the marker for Osceola, a Seminole Indian leader.
“Was he a bad guy?” Well, no, but he would not obey something he did not agree with, so he was imprisoned here.
“Is that what happens if you don’t obey?” Etc.
So we entered the fort. This was a magazine. “So they read in here?” No, a magazine is where they stored the explosives. “Why did they need explosions?” Well, remember how the cannon works: powder, cannon ball, fire in the hole. We will look at a lot of cannons before we finish the tour.
“Why are there bars on the doors? Was this the prison?” No, it was to keep people away from the explosives. “They wanted to steal them?” Well, maybe, but someone might wander in there smoking and cause the powder to explode.
This was the command post. “So they ate in here?” No, this is where they commanded the fort: radios, maps, etc.
“So why are there cups on that table if they didn’t eat in here?” OK, maybe they ate in here, too. See how the ceilings are shaped. These are arches. They make the walls stronger.
“Daddy and I designed my shoes online and they have arches.”
OK, that’s close.
So you see those things up against the outside wall, those are called buttresses. “That’s not a nice word, Pop.” OK, well let’s call them braces.
See these batteries had names. “You mean like AA?” Well a battery was where they placed the cannon or a set of cannons. “Can I fire the cannon?” No, but think about what “fire the cannon means.” They used fire to light the powder in these old cannons. Remember the powder magazines? “Yes, people wanted to steal the powder.” OK.
Notice that these guns are not as old as the cannons. They fired shells so these magazines were where the shells were kept. Some of the shells were so heavy, they had to use chains to lift them. “Did they get those shells off our beach? I never found any shells that big.” Well, sometimes bullets are called shells, especially large ones. They make them in a factory. “Oh!”
These structures down here were their cisterns. “They put their sisters in there?” No, the cisterns collected water from the roof of the fort and it ran down through pipes. They didn’t have indoor water like we do. “How about bottled water?” Well, maybe they had some in glass bottles but most of the water came from here. “I like to drink water from a bottle.”
And so now we have done the fort. Let’s head back to the car. “It’s a long walk, Pop.” Yep. “This was a nice day, Pop. “Yes it was, buddy. A nice day to start the year.”
V.C. Webster of the Isle of Palms is a retired partner from WebsterRogers LLP CPAs. He and his wife, Diane, have two children and three grandchildren.