The defining events of Fort Pulaski occurred during the American Civil War. In April of 1862, Union troops directed rifled cannon fire at the fort breaching the southeast angle. The quick success of this experimental cannon surprised military strategists worldwide. The accuracy and range of the rifled cannon rendered brick fortifications obsolete. Immediately after capturing the fort, Union Major General David Hunter, an ardent abolitionist, ordered the release of area slaves. Many were recruited into the Union army comprising the First South Carolina Colored Regiment.
The park includes scenic marsh and uplands that support a variety of animal life characteristic of southern barrier islands. White-tailed deer, alligators, and raccoons as well as resident and migratory birds grace the landscape. Spanish moss drapes from yaupon holly bushes and other vegetation includes cabbage palms, various wetland grasses, and a variety of temperate hardwood and pine trees.