Folly Island, SC

Charleston Home

Courtesy of Richard Edling, PA
For any use of these photos contact


1. Folly Island Civil War History
2. Educator's Guide to Folly Island - History
3. Beached remains of the blockade runner Ruby
1. Map of Islands near Charleston: Courtesy of

2. Historical Islands Map
3. Historical Map of Charleston Harbor

Wartime Photos:
1. Ambulance crosses interior of Folly Island
2. Beached remains of British-built blockade runner Ruby
3. Union camps on Folly Island

Folly Island played an important historical role during the Civil War. Federal troops began occupying the island in 1863. At the height of the occupation, over 13,000 troops were stationed on the island.
The island these troops occupied was very different from the island of today. At that time, Folly Island was relatively uninhabited. The first system of roads on the island was constructed by the federal troops to allow ambulances to transport wounded soldiers, and for communication purposes.
The troops also constructed various forts and batteries on both the northern and southern end of the island. A large commissary depot, known as Pawnee Landing was built to aid in the unloading of troops and supplies. The only actual fighting to occur on Folly Island was on May 10th, 1863, when confederate forces attacked federal pickets on the left side of Little Folly Island. The fighting was light, as the confederate forces were conducting a reconnaissance mission, aimed mostly at gathering information and taking prisoners.

Folly Island's major importance in the Civil War was its use as a base, housing troops and equipment, and for the presence of an artillery battery located at the northern end of Little Folly. The island was the federal staging area for the battle of Morris Island which took place from July to September of 1863. Morris Island was the home of Fort Wagner, a confederate fortification that guarded the entrance to Charleston harbor. From the artillery battery on Little Folly, the federal troops shelled Fort Wagner and deployed troops to capture the fort. With the capture of Fort Wagner, the federal troops were now in position to shell Fort Sumter. The troops moved their artillery from Big Folly to the captured fort, and renamed it Battery Meade.
The shelling began on August 17th, 1863, and quickly reduced Fort Sumter to rubble, but it was unable to force a confederate surrender. Folly Island, and Morris Island remained occupied by federal troops until the end of the war.


(2003) View from northern tip of Folly Island, looking toward southern end of Morris Island
The first Charleston lighthouse continued to provide service up to the Civil War. In 1861 the fleeing Confederate soldiers blew up the lighthouse so northern troops could not use it

(2003) Folly Island



(2003) Fort Green (1863-1865). A Union fort located on the eastern end of Folly Island at Lighthouse Inlet. Nothing remains. This fort replaced 10 separate unnamed batteries (total 44 guns) that were built to assault Morris Island in July 1863 (Lighthouse Inlet Batteries (USA)

(2003) Sand dunes on north end of Folly Island similar to terrain on Morris Island and Fort Wagner as seen in the movie Glory


(2003) Folly Island


(2003) Folly Island

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