After waking up to another day of nasty weather, we knew immediately that our Confederate Generals walking tour would not be in the itinerary for the day. Instead, we decided to visit the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist that has been in Savannah since 1896 but was founded in 1700 by the first colonists in Savannah. After roughing it in the rain for a few blocks, we came upon the Colonial Cemetery that includes many of the state’s most important figures. These people range from the first newspaper printer to many army generals of the 1800s. Last on our schedule for the day was Fort Pulaski. This site was most applicable to our journey because it served as a Confederate fort during the Civil War and was soon seized by the Patriots and became a refuge for escaping slaves.
Our first stop of the day proved to be the most entertaining of the three. Unbeknownst to us, the Cathedral holds mass daily at 6 AM and noon and we were lucky enough to walk in at 11:55 AM unaware that we would be there for the next hour and a half. This time allowed us to reflect on the importance of religion in the South throughout history and realize that religion was a vital reason for the discovery of America.
The Colonial Cemetery was much bigger than we expected and there were several graves that were marked as family vaults. The size of these graves exemplified the pride and honor families in the South had during the 1700s and 1800s. Even in death, it was important to display your level of wealth because that was a big part of your reputation. Other than that, it was difficult to read a lot of the smaller tomb stones because they were so old and made of limestone.
Our last stop was Fort Pulaski which served as a fort during the Civil War. It was initially a Confederate fort but it was eventually seized by the Yankees and used as a refuge for escaping slaves as well as a starting point for black regiments. Fort Pulaski is officially recognized as part of the Underground Railroad because of this refuge for ex-slaves. Also, it was very interesting to see the inside of the fort where the soldiers slept, ate, and worshiped. There were individual rooms for each of these purposes and even a large room for prisoners of war (If only walls could talk!). The last room on this side of the fort was reserved for the army general and had much nicer furniture as well as a larger fire place. The sign said that the general’s wife used confiscated furniture from southern homes to furnish his large room in the fort so it would have a “woman’s touch during the war.” This was interesting because, even though women were not publicly recognized as being influential, they obviously had a large affect on many men before and during the Civil War.
These are only the first stops of our long journey up the Southeast Coast and we hope to learn much more about the Old South after visiting so many important places from this incredible time in our nation’s history.
Thanks again for joining us for the ride.
-Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee