The blockade runner was hugging the shore of Dewees Island, trying to sneak into Charleston Harbor before first light. But the Nellie wouldn't make it. The steamer had sailed from Nassau with hopes of slipping past the gunboats and selling its cargo.
It was unlike anything that had ever sailed into Charleston Harbor. The ship was 150 feet long with a low, flat deck that quickly gave way to a steep, sloping, ironclad casemate. Peeking out of this floating fortress were the barrels of four considerable guns.
The gunboats sailed into the Stono a little farther every day, shooting at troops on James Island before slipping back out to sea. It began in the fall of 1862 and continued into the winter of 1863, the Yankees growing more brazen each week.
Something about Folly Island didn't look quite right. As the night faded to a dull gray on Friday morning, July 10, 1863, the Confederate troops guarding the southern tip of Morris Island stared across the inlet, trying to figure out how Folly had changed. They soon realized that,...
A tropical storm blew through the Lowcountry on Monday night, Aug. 24, 1863, forcing a brief cease-fire in the siege of Charleston. When the sun rose the next morning, locals finally had a chance to survey the damage from the weekend's bombardment.
A military escort led the casket deep into Magnolia Cemetery, where a sizable crowd of onlookers waited quietly at the grave. It was Sunday, Nov. 8, 1863, and the occasion was becoming all too common in Charleston.
The Confederate flag was falling -- a slow-motion, seemingly endless cascade into the smoking rubble below. On that day, June 20, 1864, it appeared the flag would be just another casualty in the continued bombardment of Fort Sumter, another fallen soldier.
On the 514th day of the siege, Charleston was quiet. No shells would be hurled at the city that day -- Monday, Dec. 5, 1864 -- as Confederate and Union troops had called a temporary truce to exchange prisoners.
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, The Post and Courier presents "Civil War|150 years," a 20-part series from columnist and author Brian Hicks. Hicks' series, subtitled "Charleston At War," will appear in print on Sundays, and online at www.postandcourier.com/civilwar." Additional coverage -- including the stories of residents who had family involved in the War -- will be continually updated online.
It had all come down to this moment. Robert Barnwell Rhett sat in the grand meeting room at St. Andrew's Hall, waiting for his name to be called. It was just after 1 p.m. on Dec. 20, 1860, and -- decades after he had first suggested the idea -- South Carolina was seceding from the United States of America.
A gray fog rolled through Charleston on Christmas Day, a thick, wet blanket that cast a pall over the entire city. Cold rain blowing in from the harbor kept most people indoors, save for those children who were able to "escape the parental roof" and sneak outside, roaming damp sidewalks to gaze at the festive decorations in misty shop windows.
The boat was a civilian steamship with two masts and a side paddle wheel. To any casual observer, it appeared to be just another commercial steamship -- one more merchant vessel surfing the Gulf Stream.
The parade began under a "threatening sky" that afternoon. At 4:30 on May 6, a battalion of cadets from the Military College escorted the men of the Palmetto Guard through the streets of Charleston, a procession that stirred such excitement that even the weather could not dissuade the city's ladies -- "especially young ladies," the Mercury reported -- to a grand ceremony at Institute Hall.
John Raven Matthewes saw the men before they reached the plantation, and knew what he must do. Since taking Port Royal Sound earlier in the month, the Union had landed thousands of soldiers on South Carolina soil. These Yankee troops were now slowly inching their way north toward Charlest...