Castle Pinckney

Shute's Folly Island, Charleston, South Carolina


Historic American Buildings Survey, Chares E. Peterson, Photographer c. 1936 PART OF PARAPET.

Photo taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey



Typical of the castle-type fortresses which guarded important early settlements, but which lost their effectiveness with the improvement of explosive shells and the development of rifle pieces, Castle Pinckney is believed to be possibly the only horseshoe fort left in America which can be restored. The fort is a Charleston Harbor landmark and is historically interesting because it existed for such a long period of time, reflecting a number of colorful and significant events from the Colonial through the Confederate periods. The crescent-shaped, castle-type bastion on Shute’s Folly, a mile offshore East Battery, Castle Pinckney was constructed 1808-1811 as an inner-harbor, secondary defense fortress. The island’s name reflects a later owner, Joseph Shute, and preserves the Colonial custom of describing a Carolina sea island as a “folly.” The fort was named for Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, a Charlestonian and President Washington’s Ambassador to France, famous for his stand against the United States payment of any tribute. Castle Pinckney was the first ground seized by the Confederate military, accomplished on December 17, 1860, an act some historians claim as the first overt act of war. Listed in the National Register July 16, 1970. - SCDAH

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on July 16, 1970
Reference number
Architectural style
Other architectural type; "Horseshoe" fort
Areas of significance
Archeology - Non-Aboriginal; Military; Engineering
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction; D - Information Potential
Property type
Historic function
Period of significance
Significant years
1808; 1811
Number of properties
Contributing structures: 1
Contributing sites: 1

Update Log 

  • August 18, 2014: Photo imported by Michael Miller
  • January 13, 2014: Updated by Michael Miller: Added "Description"
  • July 7, 2012: Imported photos from HABS/HAER