An April 2004 trip
to Charleston by Mary Dickinson
Quote: Visiting parks and forts in and around Charleston Harbor will introduce you to a lot of our country's history. You will be able to understand military installations, what takes place during wartime, and how our country protects itself.
Federal forts had been constructed in the Charleston area to protect the city from invasion after the War Of 1812. Granite, mostly from New England, was used to build an island on a shoal in the harbor to construct a fort. It was named Fort Sumter. In December of 1860 the fort was still not finished. Major Anderson, in charge of Fort Moultrie, had orders to move his men to Fort Sumter if the situation in Charleston got too hostile. The major and his two companies, consisting of 85 officers and men, moved across the water to the safer fort the day after Christmas, 1860, because they were in eminent danger of attack.
The unfinished Fort Sumter was designed to hold 135 cannon. Only 15 had been mounted. The barracks were still in the construction stage. His men worked day and night to prepare for an attack. Other southern states seceded from the Union and, as the Confederacy took form, they viewed the situation at Fort Sumter as a hostile military maneuver by a foreign government.
On April 12, 1861, the new Confederate army, under General P G T Beauregard, commenced firing on Fort Sumter. Three days later, a fire broke out in the barracks near the powder room so Major Anderson had to surrender.
Today, two tour boats are allowed to land at Fort Sumter, one from Patriots Point in Mount Pleansant and the other from Liberty Square, next to the Aquarium in downtown Charleston. Parking in downtown Charleston is very expensive and free at Patriots Point. The fort was almost demolished during the war. Barracks were built on the parade ground inside the fort during WW II and are painted black.
While we were there a park ranger gave a really good talk about the Civil War and its effects on the south. He said, England, the south’s best customer for cotton and rice found a supply source elsewhere causing a break up of the plantation system with only a minor market after the war. Many of the former slaves stayed where they were and eventually owned their own homes as sharecroppers.
As part of the tour of the harbor, Ft Johnson, Castle Pinkney, the battery on the shore of Charleston, Ft Moultrie and much, much more were brought to our attention.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 2, 2004
Fort Sumter National Monument
1214 Middle St
Sullivan's Island, South Carolina 29482
+1 843 883 3123
Attraction | "Fort Moultrie"
Walking toward the Sally Port (entrance to the enclosed ramparts) we saw two grave monuments. Osceola, the brave Indian chief who led his people during the Seminole Wars in Florida, was a prisoner at the fort, died and was buried there in 1838. The other monument honors the 62 men who died when their monitor Patapsco struck a Confederate torpedo in Charleston Harbor in 1865.
There are no barracks or parade grounds inside the ramparts. The tower for the Harbor Entrance Control Post/ Harbor Defense Command Post, used during WW II, is inside the fort, on a hill, to the left and is open to the public. Near it, huge cannon from 1898-1939 are mounted on black concrete batteries. Each segment of history and the guns related to them are explained on a nearby panel.
Finally we found the Civil War guns still pointing at Fort Sumter. On December 26, 1860, Major Robert Anderson and the men under his command had to leave the fort in secrecy for the more defensible Fort Sumter, out in the harbor, because of hostility in Charleston. They spiked the guns and burned the carriages before they left. The new Confederate army wasted no time putting out the fire and fixing the guns. In April 1861, General PGT Beauregard used the same guns to blast the Union army to submission and surrender and aggravated the commencement of the Civil War.
Sullivans Island is the setting for The Gold Bug, written by Edgar Allan Poe. He served as a soldier at the fort in 1827-28. At this fort William Moultrie, whom the fort was named after, demonstrated his remarkable abilities as a leader and the prowess of his officers and men during the Revolutionary War.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 2, 2004
Fort Moultrie National Monument
1214 Middle St
Sullivan's Island, South Carolina 29482
+1 843 883 3123
Attraction | "The H L Hunley at the Charleston Museum"
Through an acrylic window that replaced one metal plate on the exterior of the submarine we could see a peculiarly shaped metal rod extending from stem to stern. Seven men sat side by side and turned the rod to operate the propeller and cause the vessel to move. The Charleston Museum and Patriots Point are vying for the privilege of displaying the original submarine after it has been reconditioned from over 150 years in a watery grave.
During the war, technology progressed dramatically when Confederate General P G T Beauregard was in a stalemate trying to figure out how to break the blockade. Although the concept of using submarine warfare was introduced during the Revolutionary War by David Bushnell, it was considered undesirable by both the north and the south at the beginning of the war. Beauregard decided to try it anyway. Two disastrous attempts to use the submarine resulted in all eight men aboard dying. The third sunk the USS Housatonic in five minutes and although the Hunley gave the signal of two lights, meaning success, it was never heard from again.
By examining the wreckage, scientists believe the men aboard ran out of oxygen and became unconscious and eventually the submarine sunk to the bottom. The Sons of the Confederacy want recognition for the brave men who lost their lives and for the first submarine to attack and sink an enemy ship during war time.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 3, 2004
Archealogical Discovery: The Hunley
Charleston, South Carolina
Attraction | "Patriots Point"
The Yorktown Aircraft Carrier has been discussed in a separate entry. Other vessels located on the same pier include The Laffey, a destroyer, The Ingham, a Coast Guard cutter and the submarine Clamagore. A Vietnam Base Camp is located near the gift shop and snack bar and the Cold War Submarine Memorial is near the entrance to Patriots Point.
Aboard the Laffey DD-724 we went inside a cabin that had been hit by Japanese Kamikaze on April 16, 1945, killing 32 men and wounding 71 more. Many Japanese items related to that event were displayed in a glass front cabinet. Framed photographs and awards hung on the walls. Because it took so much abuse in that battle the ship became known as "The ship that wouldn't sink". We were able to walk through the ship and see where the officers and men worked, what they did, and where they ate and slept. On the aft deck we saw how the big guns were loaded and how 55-pound bullets were brought up from below. Also on the aft deck a helicopter was on exhibit. It was operated by remote control and was used to drop torpedoes on submarines.
The Coast Guard Cutter Ingham WHEC-35 was commissioned in 1936. It fought in convoy battles in the North Atlantic during WW II and sunk a German U-boat and engaged in more action in Vietnam. Walking through the ship brought us to the captain's quarters, we were able to view the engine room from above and we went through the sailors' dining room and sleeping quarters. We went past the brig.
We entered the submarine Clamagore through the torpedo room then climbed through three foot oval watertight doors to the living quarters. We past the conning tower that operates the scope and the devises that make the ship move up or down while underwater.
Patriots Point is open from 9am-6pm in the summer, and there is an admission fee of $13 for adults, $11 for seniors, and $6 for children
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 3, 2004
Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum
40 Patriots Point Road
Charleston, South Carolina 29464-4377
Attraction | "USS Yorktown"
In 1957, Bob had been aboard the Yorktown for a few hours when he was in Gibraltar. From his experience on a carrier he knew what and where everything was and why it was there. A loud speaker announced lunch was being served in the CPO's mess hall. Aboard ship, sailors refer to everything by using initial and navy jargon. We did have lunch in the Chief Petty Officer's Dining Hall.
In the hangar bay, immediately ahead of us, was a wall with huge copper plaques and the names of all the Metal Of Honor recipients. Nearby was a flight simulator. I knew better than to try it but some of the 250 boy scouts camping aboard the ship were having a great time.
If you have watched WW II movies and you want to see what bombers, dive bombers, fighters, torpedo bombers or any other combat aircraft looks like you can see it all aboard the Yorktown. You can even sit in one. Full size replicas of bombs, torpedoes and rockets are usually under the planes appearing to be ready to be loaded or are already in place with the doors open. It fills you with an awesome respect for the destruction of war and the brave men that must be ready and able to cause it.
Bob said the flight deck was three decks up so we got our exercise for the day by climbing the metal ladders leading to it. He has always described a plane being catapulted off an aircraft carrier and enjoyed explaining how that happened by showing me the track that was used. The carrier is steered into the wind and the plane is jettisoned off the bow. The planes land on the stern with the ship in the wind, also. The plane has a hook that attaches to a wire that runs across the deck and causes it to stop quick. He had a few gruesome stories about what happens if things go wrong. More planes were on the flight deck. Then we climbed into the superstructure and saw where the captain sits and views the horizon.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 5, 2004
USS Yorktown at Patriots Point
Charleston, South Carolina