The National Park Service wants to take a fresh look at the Charleston area's Civil War battlefields with an eye toward preservation.
It's been decades since the region's thousands of acres of battle sites have been mapped and studied.
The Park Service discovered that maps were inadequate and had left out certain parts of the battles. The agency announced this week it is providing $95,000 in American Battlefield Protection Program grants to South Carolina for research.
The S.C. Battleground Preservation Trust will use $72,000 for research projects at nine Charleston-area battlegrounds: the Battle of Fort Sumter, the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the ironclad attack on Fort Sumter, the Battle of Secessionville, the Battle of Simmon’s Bluff, the First Attack and Second Attack on Fort Wagner, the Battle at Grimball’s Landing, and battles in Charleston Harbor.
The city of Cayce also received $23,000 to map the Battle of Congaree Creek and other preservation efforts.
The effort will "record maps, property information, and characteristics" of the battles, according to the Park Service. "The project will serve as the foundation for preservation efforts which include nominations for the National Register of Historic Places."
The money will be used to put together a team of archaeologists, geologists, historians to accurately map the battlefields. The team will sift through archives around the country, examine private letters and essentially “try to leave no stone unturned,” said Battleground Preservation Trust Executive Director Doug Bostic.
“The end game here is historic preservation," he added. "The first step to that is being able to accurately map these sites."
The most notable battles include the attack on Fort Sumter, which launched the Civil War, and Fort Wagner, where the black 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry served.
But there are others some may be unfamiliar with.
Simmon's Bluff was a bloodless Union victory near the Wadmalaw River where Confederates burned a federal camp. The Confederates notched an upset in the Ironclad Attack on Fort Sumter in April 1863 when many perceived the steam-powered warships as invincible.
Forts Sumter, Moultrie, Johnson and Secessionville Historic Districts are currently on the National Register of Historic Places.
But these areas, along with Simmon’s Bluff and Grimball’s Landing, still have undeveloped property that could be preserved after further research.
The S.C. Battleground Preservation Trust's job will be to "go in there and find out what else should be protected," Bostic said.
There's a chance the Secessionville Historic District, which is nationally hailed for its historic battle where the Confederates successfully fended off a Union land invasion, could be expanded on the national registry, he said. Charleston Harbor also includes the "Swamp Angel" site outside James Island where Union forces bombarded the Charleston peninsula.
Charleston Museum Director Carl Borwick pointed to the importance of preservation.
“Too many sites around the country are being lost to development,” Borwick said. “We can’t understand our world today without having a good understanding of our own history.”