Welcome to Fort Fremont! Located off Lands End Road on St. Helena Island in Beaufort County, the fort was built in 1899 as one of six designed to protect the southeastern coast during the Spanish American War. It was the newest coastal defense design of the times. With Battery Jesup, which had three 10-inch breech-loaded disappearing cannons and Battery Fornance, which had two 4.7-inch rapid fire guns, Fort Fremont was an imposing sight built on 170 acres of Port Royal. The U.S.S. Maine made its final stop for provisions here before making its final voyage to Havana, Cuba at the start of the war. Remember the Maine? Port Royal does!
Fort Fremont was built out as a small, one company artillery post. There were three barracks, five NCO quarters, three officers quarters, a mess hall, a guardhouse and a brick hospital which is the only remaining building on the site. It is currently a private residence.
Never seeing war or firing a single shot, the guns in Battery Jesup were removed in 1918 but the guns in Battery Fornance remained. During WWI, it was manned again by a small detachment but abandoned in 1921. A part of Fort Fremont Preserve was acquired by the Beaufort County Rural and Critical Lands Program. No period guns or carriages are in place but the battery structures remain. Battery Fornance has been overbuilt with some kind of structure but Battery Jesup is still structurally intact.
Of course there are a few ghost stories attached to Fort Fremont. One only has to walk through the dark tunnels to feel extremely spooked! There is what is called, the “Lands End Light” which no one knows exactly who or what it is. One explanation relates to the violence that had erupted between the soldiers stationed at the fort and local African-Americans over the purchase of illegal whiskey. There were several brawls and gunfights, and one fight resulted in the death of Private Frank Quigley and he is rumored to be the source of the Light seen floating down the dark road leading to Fort Fremont. Also, the Light is said to be the lantern of a Confederate soldier who was on patrol along Land’s End Road in 1861, on watch for Yankees invading St. Helena Island. A Yankee soldier (or soldiers) sneaked up behind him and cut off his head, and he now goes up and down the road in search of it, carrying his old iron lantern.