During William McKinley's administration, the nation was being inextricably drawn into a war against Spain over its treatment of the people of Cuba. Conditions were abysmal and the plight of the Cubans attracted the sympathies of the American people.
Georgia's coastal defense improvements were accelerated as war approached. Fort Screven was ordered built on the north end of Tybee Island to provide a more modern system of seacoast defenses. Fortifications were constructed to guard the entrances to Savannah, Darien, Brunswick, and St. Mary's. All but one of these were temporary, being abandoned soon after the Spanish-American War ended. Only Fort Screven on the north end of Tybee Island remained an active military post until 1947.
Initially, the fort was informally called Fort Tybee, then Camp Graham. On April 27, 1899, a presidential proclamation changed the name to Fort Screven in honor of General Joseph Screven, a Revolutionary War hero who was killed in action near Midway, Georgia, in 1778. The gun batteries that were a part of the fort were named to honor America's war heroes.
From 1897 to 1947, Fort Screven was an integral part of America's coastal defense system. Troops trained and stood guard on Tybee Island through the Spanish-American War of 1898, World War I, and World War II. In 1947 the Fort was closed and sold to the town of Tybee.
In 1961, Battery Garland the former gun battery and magazine for a twelve-inch long-range gun became the Tybee Museum. Rooms which once stored six-hundred pound projectiles and two-hundred pound bags of gunpowder now hold the collections and exhibits of over four-hundred years of Tybee Island history.