History comes alive at Colonial Dorchester “Under the Crescent” event

Paul Zoeller/Staff Capt. Erik Nason, of Bowling Green, Va., yells out orders for members of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment during a Revolutionary War program Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 at Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site.

Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site transformed Saturday into a living replica of the Revolutionary War-era town that once existed near present-day Summerville.

The “Under the Crescent” event included archaeological digs of the site’s grounds, guided tours of the 250-year-old fort’s remnants and featured members of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment re-enactment group who fired off muskets in a cloud of sulfer-scented smoke.

Summerville’s Mayor Bill Collins on Saturday perused the historic site and said he encourages Colonial Dorchester to host more events in the future.

Collins successfully sought the site’s annexation into Summerville earlier this year as a way to enhance the town’s tourism appeal.

Collins said Summerville could use hospitality tax funds to further develop the site by possibly adding a visitor’s center and other amenities.

“This significant park gives us an opportunity to promote tourism and at the same time collaborate with the state to improve it and improve the experience that residents and visitors alike can have out here,” Collins said.

Park Manager Ashley Chapman said volunteers contribute to a number of ongoing projects at Colonial Dorchester, including archaeological digs for artifacts left by the site’s previous occupants.

Dorchester once flourished as a trading town, Chapman said, that utilized the nearby Ashley River for transportation the way today’s residents rely on Interstate 26. Pottery fragments, weathered utensils, bricks and nails displayed at the event all allude to the European, Asian, African and Native American influences on the town, he said.

“Colonial Dorchester is one of the most significant archeological sites on the east coast for Colonial-period history. However, a lot of that history is unseen under ground,” Chapman said. “These living history events allow it to come alive.”

The site took on a military presence in the late 1700s when Francis Marion and other American soldiers were stationed there during the American Revolution.

To reflect this, members of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment donned Revolutionary War-era hunting frocks and re-enacted Francis Marion’s old unit, saying they aimed to make the experience as authentic as possible.

Musician Sheri Pence played a field drum for the group, which travels from city to city to perform. She said the regiment draws people from all walks of life who happen to share a common love for history.

“Everything we do is about living history,” Pence said. “The nice thing about this group is we’re family oriented. We have children running around here and it’s kind of nice. Instead of having one person watch them there’s a whole group.”

For more information about Colonial Dorchester and the State Park Service, visit www.southcarolinaparks.com.

For more information on the 2nd South Carolina Regiment, visit www.2ndsc.org.

Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.