The fortification at Hilton Head was one of several earthwork fortifications constructed during the occupation of Hilton Head Island, the largest and most permanent called Fort Howell, in 1864. Fort Howell was constructed by Union forces occupying the island and was one of the final fortifications to be built during the war. The men of the 32nd U.S. Colored Infantry Volunteers labored to complete the fort in the fall of 1864, to protect nearby Mitchelville, a freedman's town of newly emancipated slaves. The 'Traverse' was an earthwork that protected troops inside from enemy assaults on the fort's entrance. Pentagonal in shape, the earthwork measured approximately 525 by 400 feet and reached a height of 23 feet. Four magazines, protected by earth mounds, housed powder and shot for up to 27 guns. The exterior of the fort featured a moat and wooden palisades. The area was directly adjacent to the fort walls, further protected by guns mounted in bastions. About the Artist: Henry Mehles was 34 years old when he mustered into the Union Army, for a three-year term, as a 1st Sergeant. He later achieved the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in Company B, 1st Regiment, New York Volunteer Engineers.