Early Efforts at Settlement
Captain Hilton, when exploring what is now Parris Island, came upon the remains of an old fort “which we supposed to be Charles's Fort, built, and so called by the French in 1562.”
Both the French and the Spanish attempted settlements on St. Helena; little remains of Charlesfort, Fort San Salvador, Fort San Felipe, or Fort San Marcos.
The Civil War
Fort Walker was a Confederate fort in what is now Port Royal Plantation. The fort was a station for Confederate troops and its guns helped protect the 2-mile wide entrance to Port Royal Sound, which is fed by two slow moving and navigable rivers, the Broad River and the Beaufort River. It was vital to the Sea Island Cotton trade and the southern economy.
On October 29, 1861, the largest fleet ever assembled in North America moved South to seize Fort Walker. In the Battle of Port Royal, the fort fell to 12,000 Union troops. Although the fort was renamed Fort Welles, in honor of Gideon Welles (then Secretary of the Navy), the name Fort Walker has persisted.
The Spanish-American War
Fort Fremont was authorized by Congress in 1898, and construction began the following year. It was said to be the most expensive fort built in Beaufort County, and the most useless, since a shot was never fired there.
Fort Fremont is located at Lands End on St. Helena Island, S. C., four miles southeast of Port Royal. It overlooks the Fort Fremont Reach of the stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway that runs from Port Royal to the Beaufort River.