During his term of office President Thomas Jefferson authorized the construction of a national defense system of fortifications to defend the new nation. For Jackson was among those forts to be built. In 1808. Fort Jackson was started as a brick fortification. The fort was constructed over an old earthen batter from the Revolutionary War which had been called "Mud Fort." This was a time of international unrest and threats to our your country's independence were commonplace. War with France or Great Britain seemed likely. Four years later the United States engaged with Great Britain again in the War of 1812. During this time, local militia units, as well as Federal troops saw active duty at Fort Jackson. Upon the firing on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, the American Civil War began. For Jackson served as the headquarters for the Savannah River defenses for the Confederacy.
British Military Force Threatens the United States In the early years of the 19th century, the United States was a fledgling nation with a population of 7,700,000, a standing army of 6700, and a navy of only 12 ships. The Americans were vastly outnumbered by the major world powers of the time, France with an army of well over 600,000 and Great Britain with a navy of nearly 600 ships. Presidents Washington, Adams, and Jefferson had pursued neutral policies making every effort to avoid becoming embroiled in the world wide conflict between Great Britain and France. Following several events which threatened to bring the United States into this war, President Jefferson authorized the construction of forts and ships in 1807. One spot selected to be fortified was wharf lot 12 at Five Fathom Hole on the Savannah River. This fortification was to become Fort James Jackson.
Captain William McRee: Supervising Engineer In the spring of 1808, Captain William McRee, a member of the United States Army Engineer Department began supervising the construction of Fort Jackson. The work force consisted of hired laborers and leased slaves.McRee was born in 1787 in Wilmington, North Carolina. At the age of 15, McRee decided on a military career and enrolled at West Point. After two years, he graduated second in his class of three cadets and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Engineer Department. McRee was only 21 years old when he started construction of Fort Jackson. Except for a brief absence in 1811, he continued this work until his transfer in October of 1812. After his reassignment, he was still consulted by his successor regarding the Fort's construction. McRee served with distinction during the War of 1812 on the Canadian border. After the war, he resigned his commission in 1819 and spent the resst of his life as a government surveyor. Williams McRee died on May 15, 1833.
Garrison of Fort Jackson Starting in the Summer of 1812, Fort Jackson was garrisoned by various units of the United States Army and Georgia Militia. These troops included the 8th US Infantry, 4th US Artillery, and the Chatham Artillery.
Republican Blues During the early months of the Civil War, Fort Jackson's Garrison was composed of local militia units which served rotating tours of duty at the fort. One of these units was the Republican blues commanded by John Wayne Anderson. The Blues were first organized in 1808 and had previously served at Fort Jackson during the War of 1812. The Blues, typical of Savannah's old military units, were a fraternal social organization as well as a well-trained military unit. Their Civil War service at Fort Jackson began when they were transferred from nearby Wassau Island on November 12, 1861. Their tour of duty at Fort Jackson ended on August 20, 1862.