Charleston, South Carolina   Leave a comment

Day 15-17

Charleston, South Carolina, is one of my favorite cities. My cousin, Juanita, and her husband, Ralph, have lived there for about 20 years and we love to visit with them. Juanita and Ralph cooked us up a scrumptious dinner. Since Ralph has mastered the art of “shrimping,” we had the best shrimp on the menu. Not only has he mastered the art of catching them, he has mastered cooking them too. Aunt Dot came down to have dinner with us too. She looks great and we had a wonderful visit. The next evening our group planned a pot luck to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. We hoped that Aunt Dot would join us, but she passed on the Mexican food.

Juanita and Ralph did join us in our celebration, along with a couple from our 2010 Grand Circle Trip, Dave and Louisa. The food was really tasty. Juanita and Ralph enjoyed chatting with our guests and felt right at home. They could see right away the camaraderie of our group and thought it was a great way to travel.

Middleton Place Plantation is located just outside of Charleston, S.C., on the Ashley River. Four generations of Middletons lived here from 1741 to 1865. Henry, President of the first Continental Congress; Arthur, a signer of the Declaration of Independence; Henry, Governor of S.C.; and Williams, a signer of the Ordinance of Secession.

The residential complex consisted of a central dwelling built early in the 18th century and 2 detached flankers (a gentlemen’s guest quarters and a library and music conservatory) built in 1755, after the gardens were completed by Henry Middleton.

The main house and both dependencies were looted and burned by a party of the 56th New York Volunteers on February 22, 1865. The central dwelling and north flanker were completely destroyed 2 decades later in the Great Earthquake of 1886.

The south flanker was less severely damaged in the Civil War fire, allowing Williams Middleton to restore it in the 1870s for use as the family’s residence.

Below are photos of the south flanker and below that are photos of the remains of the main house. Bill is standing on the carriage steps that still remain.

On the grounds next to the stables were the potters, the woodsmen, and the candlestick makers. Back in the day, the Middleton Plantation probably did not have a potter on the grounds because of the labor and expense to fire the pottery and the fact that they were so close to town. It is thought that they purchased their pottery from town.

The slave cemetery is located beside the carriage house, extending down to the rice mill pond. Tombstones for John Johnston (1859) and Edward Brown (1851) were uncovered within the cemetery area and placed in their present location to avoid damage. Slave funeral services on southern plantations were often elaborate ceremonies reflecting African origins mixed with Christian beliefs. African tradition placed great importance on burial in home ground. Because of this, a separate slave cemetery was typically found near the row of slave quarters. They would commonly sing and pray through the night after a death, wishing that they might join the departed in “going home.” Mourners would beat a drum on the way to the cemetery and march around the grave in a circle, shouting to the drum beat.

Many of the area plantations were rice plantations. As you can see in the photo below left, water backs up into the ponds at high tide. They close the gate, trapping the water in the pond using the hydraulic water pressure to run the mill to grind corn, rice, flour, etc.

America’s oldest landscaped Gardens, laid out in 1741 are the essence of this National historic Landmark. The beautiful old oak trees are amazing. The gardens, here at Middleton, started out as “green” gardens, but eventually flowers were introduced to the grounds. Within the gardens is the tomb of Arthur Middleton, 1742-1787, who is buried with his mother Mary Williams, 1721-17??, his son Henry, 1770-1846, his grandson Williams, 1809-188? And great-granddaughter Elizabeth, 1849-1915.

The Charleston “Battery” is my favorite place. I love the homes along the Battery. The owners of the “Piggly Wiggly” chain live in the mansion below on the left. There is a pig on each side of the steps.

The Joseph Manigault House “Charleston’s Huguenot House” was built in 1803, an example of an Adams-style, or Federal, architecture, reflecting the virtues of elegance and simplicity. Planters commonly maintained homes in the city and on their plantations. At that time his neighborhood was considered the “country,” a suburb beyond the city limits of Charleston.

The Manigaults acquired their great wealth in the 18th century as rice planters and merchants. They were one of South Carolina’s leading families. Joseph inherited several rice plantations and over two hundred slaves from his grandfather in 1788 and also married well. His first wife was Maria Middleton, daughter of Arthur Middleton. Following her death, he married Charlotte Drayton, with whom he had 8 children. When Joseph died in 1843, he was heavily in debt, attributed to a lack of attention and modernization on his rice plantations. The Manigault family continued to occupy the residence until 1852.

The house was built totally symmetrical. In order to keep it symmetrical, there are 2 “fake” doors. 1 upstairs and 1 downstairs. I won’t tell you where they are located, you’ll have to visit the house and find them yourself.

The Charleston Museum was America’s first museum. It showcases the cultural and natural history of South Carolina’s lowcountry. Below is a photo of a replica of the Civil War Submarine, H.L. Hunley. The Hunley became the first submarine in history to sink an enemy ship. Armed with a spar-mounted torpedo, it sank the Federal blockading vessel, Housatonic, the night of February 17, 1864. The Hunley never returned to port. After searching for more than a century, it was considered permanently lost, but not forgotten. The Hunley was found in 1995 and raised on August 8, 2000, and is now on display in Charleston’s Naval Base property.

The restrooms displayed chamber pots found in the area.

We stopped at the City Market for shopping and lunch. We decided to dine at “Sticky Fingers.”

On December 20, 1860, South Carolina voted unanimously to secede from the Federal Union. Within 6 weeks, 5 other states seceded: Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana. On April 11, Brig. Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard (commander of Confederate forces) demanded that Maj. Robert Anderson (commander of 2 companies for the Federal forces) surrender Ft. Sumter. Anderson refused. Anderson was Beauregard’s artillery instructors at West Point in 1837 and did not welcome the prospect of firing on his old friend and former instructor. However, he was determined to evict the Federal Troops. The opening shots of the Civil War were fired on April 12, 1861. In the early dawn of April 12, a mortar shell fired from Fort Johnson in Charleston Harbor burst over Fort Sumter, inaugurating the American Civil War. It is said the Gen. Beauregard watched from his balcony on the Battery. 2 p.m. the following day, Anderson agreed to a truce. That evening he surrendered. On April 14, Maj. Anderson and his garrison marched out of the fort and boarded ship for New York. Miraculously, no one on either side had been killed, but 5 Federal soldiers suffered injuries. They defended Ft. Sumter for 34 hours, until the quarters were burned, the main gates destroyed, and the gorge walls seriously injured. The Civil War had begun.

For the next 4 years, Fort Sumter remained a Confederate stronghold despite frequent attempts to capture it. Between 1863 and 1865, determined Confederate soldiers kept Federal land and naval forces at bay for 587 days – one of the longest sieges in modern warfare. By February 17, 1865, the fort was virtually demolished and the Civil War was nearly at an end. The Confederates reluctantly abandoned the fort, leaving it to be re-claimed by Federal troops.

Ft. Sumter today bears only a superficial resemblance of its original appearance. The multi-tiered work of 1861 was reduced largely to rubble during the Civil War.

This 10 foot by 20 foot tattered storm flag flew over Ft. Sumter during the bombardment of April 12-13, 1961. On the second day a Confederate projectile shattered the flagstaff causing members of the Federal garrison to rush onto the parade ground, amid exploding shells and burning timbers, to retrieve the fallen flag. They carried it to the ramparts where it was hastily nailed to a wooden pole and re-raised. The tiny nail holes are still visible along the flat left border.

Our guide pointed out if you look at the fourth column of stars, 4th row down, you can see what appears to be a soldier’s face. The flag is actually frayed, but from a short distance, it looks like General Grant, see photo below right..

Confederate General Beauregard permitted Major Anderson to take this flag with him when the Federal forces evacuated Fort Sumter on April 14, 1861. The flag remained in the Anderson family until 1905 when it was presented to the War Department.


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