Charleston played a major role in the Civil War, and as we continue to commemorate the sesquicentennial years, we remember the soldiers who gave all. Here are just a few ways to discover more about these epic battles and the people who played a role.
Experience Charleston during the war through the stories and photos from local historian Jack Thomson at Civil War Walking Tours. From the website:
“Walk with Jack and his associates as they take you on a trip through Charleston’s history that is much more fun than any van or bus tour. This beautiful city has been bombarded for eighteen months by Union forces. Devastation and destruction are everywhere. Heavy smoke lingers in the air. And yet this city where the Ordinance of Secession was signed in 1860 survives…now more beautiful than ever…
…You will meet people like Gus Smythe, the young Confederate Signal Corps Sergeant up in St. Michael’s steeple with a bird’s eye view of the Union shells raining down from Charleston Harbor. You will also be introduced to Jane Wightman, a free person of color with her own slaves and a beautiful brick house on cobblestoned Chalmers Street.
Jack uses his collection of 118 photographs from 1865 to set the mood and illustrate his stories. Step back in time with Civil War Walking Tours and experience Charleston’s wartime society like never before. Your adventure awaits you!”
The museum’s tribute to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War is constantly evolving, so be sure to check the website frequently. Here is just one example of an exhibition from the museum’s website.
“City Under Siege: Charleston in the Civil War: This permanent exhibition provides a rich overview of events in and around Charleston from secession to 1865. Including the Federal naval blockade, Union bombardment, social dislocations, privations, and five major Union attempts to capture the “Queen City of the South,” the war and its effects changed the lives of Charleston’s residents forever.
Their story—one of suffering, sacrifice, initiative and tenacity—is told with extensive images and artifacts from the Museum’s collections. These include uniforms, artillery shells, firearms, “gunboat china,” the watch of a fallen South Carolina soldier, and the recently-acquired prosthesis of Colonel Peter Gaillard, who lost his hand in action against Union forces on Morris Island.”
One of the most famous forts of the Civil War, Fort Sumter is a popular destination for Civil War and history buffs. Here is a short description of the battle:
“…During the early-morning hours of April 12, 1861, Confederate gunners fired the first shots of the Civil War at this Union bastion in the middle of Charleston Harbor. After 34 hours of pounding, the fort’s commander, Maj. Robert Anderson, surrendered. The victorious Confederates occupied, using the strategic location to keep the Union navy from the harbor and to protect blockade runners.
After an unsuccessful Union attempt to bypass the fort by water, Union land-based guns were brought within range, eventually pounding Sumter into rubble. The advance of Union General William T. Sherman forced the Confederates to evacuate the fort Feb. 17, 1865.”
Feel free to visit any of these places and soak up the rich history of the Civil War.