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Day 107 - Charles Town & Fort Sumpter (Photo's Added)

Charles Town is the original location of the settlement, nice museum, lots of walking. I took a ferry to Fort Sumpter - first shots of Civil War.

sunny 50 °F


Miles Driven - 30 (Backwards, but really a RT)
Weather - No Wind today (bridge was almost fun to drive!), Cool but Sunny
Camped at Mt. Pleasant KOA again. Mom needed to get some prescriptions filled at Walmart (need to pick them up after 9AM in the morning, so I can sleep in a bit), which is right next to KOA. Took advantage of their heated pool tonight!


I enjoyed trying to edit the video of the Dolphin's, but have really got to go through the tutorial (or read the manual?). I wanted to edit out the sound track, since all it had was other tourists chattering in the background, but couldn't figure out how to do it. Hmm, always seems to be something else I need to (want to?) learn...


Charleston, South Carolina seems to have a plan similar to Jamestown & Yorktown in Virginia - where they build a re-enactment of colonial era historic settlement. We visited this version this morning, but am not sure I'd recommend it. I think they have re-enactors and more activities in the summer, but it was pretty empty today. There is an excellent museum, which was probably worth the trip even if the historic site wasn't much. Not sure museum is the right word, but I think that's what they call it. It had a few artifacts, but was mostly displays about the early history of Charleston, how things developed and why. Very educational.

Outside, we also finally saw some sweetgrass. This is what the Gullah basketweavers use that we'd been learning about. The Charles Towne Landing folks use it in their landscaping.


Just outside the visitors center were some ponds with lots of yellow bellied sliders (turtles). Mom & I both enjoyed throwing them some food (from the vending machine for this purpose of course, not junk food such as we eat.)


Probably the first thing to know about Charleston is that the current city is not where the original settlers built their town. The first settlement was across the river a little further up in a swampy area that they felt was easier to defend against the Spanish. However, it did not have a good deep water port, so after about only ten years, they moved to the current location. The top arrow shows the first settlement, where "Charles Towne Landing" site is. The lower arrow points to the historic Charleston location.


In 1663, King Charles II of England granted eight aristocratic noblemen, the "Lords Proprietors", the land referred to as Carolina in recognition for their help restoring the monarchy after the English Civil War. They were given almost complete control over the colony they would form. While noblemen, they were also shrewd business men. The most active Lord Proprietor was Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper, who owned part of a sugar plantation in Barbados, financed slave traders and held shares in Hudsons Bay Company. He and the other Lords Proprieters viewed the cruel, but finacially profitable, Barbados sugar plantations as a successful model for their new colony.

To recruit people, the Lord Proprietors promised land grants, the right to own slaves and a degree of religous freedom. 93 settlers left England in August 1669 for the West Indies. More settlers were recruited in Barbados, including many former indentured servants who had earned their freedom, but found no land available in Barbados as it had all been taken up by the rich planters for sugar plantations. They were attracted to the availability of land in Carolina.

The party ran into bad weather and several storms after leaving Barbados however and took five months to reach Carolina. The local Kiawah tribe actually encouraged the English to settle here and helped them. Other tribes had obtained guns from Europeans and the Kiawah needed an ally to help protect them from these enemies.

To succeed, the initial settlers had to work hard to carve fields out of forests, build houses, workshops, a store house, fort, roads, bridges and docks. During the first decade, most of the hard labor was provided by indentured servants, although slaves were increasingly imported for the hard work. They had hoped to get rich by developing a reliable "cash crop" for sale in Europe and the other colonies. Early explorers thought Carolina had a year round tropical climate like the West Indies, but they were fooled by the hot, humid summers. Most of the tropical plants imported by the colonists were killed by the cold winters. Timber became one of the earliest exports, as Barbados planters needed as many barrels as they could get for their molasses and rum exports. Trade with Native Americans also provided profitable exports to the early colony, at least until local stocks of deer, bison and elk were wiped out or driven farther west.

The first major, successful cash crop was rice which was developed using the expertise of African slaves. This was a very labor intensive crop and by 1708 the majority of people living in Carolina were of African decent. The famous wealth and refinement of the planter aristocracy was produced by enslaved Africans in sweltering rice, indigo and cotton fields. Carolina became one of the wealthiest colonies in part because of it's excellant harbor, fertile soils and stable, well-financed leadership. But by following the cruel, but effective Barbado's model of vast plantations using cheap slave labor, the elite familes of Charleston created a culture of wealth and refinement for themselves.

A lot of the above information gleaned from exhibits and signage in Charles Towne's museum before we headed outside. Sorry for getting so verbose here, but I thought their history was well laid out and concise.

Not much is left of the actual first settlement. Archeoligists are still working the site and they have located where the original palisade (walls) of the fort were located. These have been reconstructed. The site includes a a house typical of the era and a small farm. The scenery is very nice also.


There is also a Pillory and Stocks set up so visitors can see for themselves what some of the milder forms of punishment were in medieval Europe (imported to the colonies).


After the early settlers moved to the new location, the original settlement eventually was abandoned and converted to plantations. Some of the site still contains the last home and gardens from the plantation era. Again, we are still surprised to see such lovely blooms this late in December!


Charles Towne - in summary? The museum offered a lot of history, very well done. The outside area requires a lot of walking. Mom really wasn't up for that, so we borrowed a wheelchair. In the summer I think they have a lot of activities and re-enactors, but it was really quiet when we visited. The signage outside was pretty much a repeat of what was in the museum, so other than seeing where the stockade was and generally having a lovely walk, there was not much to more to do outside. (We weren't quite up to see the animals I'm afraid).

Earlier I had decided to try to visit Fort Sumpter today also. After Fort Macon and Fort Knox, I figured I had a pretty good idea what an 1800's coastal fort looked like, but Fort Sumpter played such a critical role in Civil War history, I figured I might as well see it since we're here. This was where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Mom wanted to skip the fort, so she stayed in the rig.

First, Fort Sumpter is out in the Charleston Harbor. To get to it, you have to take a ferry, from which I got some nice shots of the Charleston waterfront, a better (?) shot of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, and one of the USS Yorktown, which is retired across the river from Historic Charleston at "Patriot's Landing".


If that's not enough, there is also plenty of wild life in the harbor - including a new favorite of mine, brown pelicans. Then topping that off - dolphins!


Of course, Dolphins are hard to capture as they generally appear only briefly, then go back down and come up somewhere else. However, when I was at the Fort itself, a school of dolphins camped a couple hundred (?) yards offshore and stayed there - perhaps fishing? Anyway, at this zoom level and without a tripod (I wasn't expecting to take video), it's not great. But if you've got a high speed connection, this might be fun to watch.

There is a small museum at Liberty Square where you catch the ferry. While there, I learned a couple of interesting things. Fort Sumpter was attacked twice during the Civil War, the first time when the Confederates attacked it to start the war. But the more devistating attack came later when the Union laid seige to the Fort and eventually recaptured it. During that second attack, the Fort was severly damaged. Originally, it had been a three story building standing 50 feet above the water. Now it has only one story left (and an ugly, black concrete battery in the center that was added later). Here is a drawing of how the fort originally looked.


Once I finally got to the Fort, it was easy to see how close to land it was and how much damage to the brick work is still visible (some shells are still embedded in the walls). Since I was on the last ferry of the day, there was an absolute time limit, so I couldn't take that many pictures...


Tomorrow I may visit Yorktown and one or two other things - then try to get as close to Savannah as we can.

Posted by jl98584 21:49 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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Very nice dolphins...I always enjoy seeing the dolphins. I think they touch our playful side..
Beautiful places that you are visiting. Nice photos. Jeanette, you look alot like nick in the pics..

by rllomas

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