A Field Report from Charleston, by Laurence Schiller

Tour leader Rick Hatcher

Charleston, South Carolina, the cradle of the rebellion, was the site of another fabulous Blue and Gray Education Society tour over the weekend of December 13–15, 2019. Led by retired Park Ranger Rick Hatcher, the tour offered the group a taste of the vast cultural treasure of Civil War Charleston.

We began on Friday night with an introductory talk about Antebellum Charleston and then went to see the 1808 Nathaniel Russell House on Meeting Street for a candlelight tour.

Saturday morning found Rick leading a walking tour through downtown Charleston, including visiting sites where people such as Gov. Francis W. Pickens, as well as St. Lawrence Hall and Institute Hall, where South Carolina voted to secede in December 1860.

After a lovely lunch on James Island, we spent the afternoon examining the Secessionville campaign of June 1862. We traveled to the beach on Sol Legare Island, where Federal forces first landed and camped while they prepared to penetrate Confederate defenses that straddled James Island. On June 16, 1862, two divisions under the overall command of Maj. Gen. Henry Benhem attempted to overrun the Confederate Tower Battery that was sited between a river and marsh and protected the village of Secessionville and the path toward Charleston. Poor reconnaissance combined with a poor plan of attack and inspired Confederate resistance frustrated the gallant attempts of the Federals to take the battery. We saw the partial remains of the battery and examined where the attack took place. A delightful dinner was had on an evening Charleston harbor cruise.

Tour participants: Sam, Leigh, Mary, Ed, Martha, Laurie, Burford, Rick, Cathy

Sunday saw visits to Fort Moultrie, which not only was involved in the bombardment of Fort Sumter, but also in successfully resisting British attempts to take Charleston in 1776; and then a cruise to Fort Sumter, where the war may be said to have officially begun.

Rick led an excellent and informative tour that was enjoyed by all the participants.

Fort Sumter