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Saturday, April 13, 2024 - 01:58 AM


First Published in 1994



After a rainy Sunday cut short my sightseeing, the next day was much nicer. My intention on that Monday this past August, during a sightseeing trip to the Charleston area, was to return to Boone Hall Plantation, which I had visited on the rainy Sunday, and take some photos of the famous Avenue of Oaks.

But first I wanted to pay a return visit to a site that I had toured once before, back in 1999 - Fort Moultrie, which is a sub unit of Fort Sumter National Monument. Sumter sits just a mile from Moultrie. The two are strategically situated so as to provide enfilading fire to enemy ships that might attempt to enter Charleston Harbor. Moultrie lies near the end of a peninsula on a piece of land known as Sullivan's Island while Sumter sits upon a man-made island in the harbor.

I paid a modest admission fee, watched a movie in the theater (it seems like just about every NPS site has a movie, or at least a short video) and toured the small museum. I then crossed the street and conducted my own self-guided tour of the fort.

Ever since the first iteration of the fort, which was a simple affair made of palmetto logs way back in 1776, the fort has been reconstructed several times. The fort’s first service during the American Revolution, when the guns of the fort helped to rebuff the advances of a British fleet during a nine-hour battle, the soft Palmetto logs helped to cushion the blows of the enemy cannon shells. The fort was later named after William Moultrie, in honor of the man who commanded the fort during that battle.

After the colonies won their independence, the leadership determined that it would be in their best interests to build a network of coastal fortifications to defend the newborn nation from attack by sea. Thus, the fort, which had fallen into disrepair, was reconstructed in 1798. This reconstruction, however, was destroyed just a few years later, in 1804, during a hurricane.

Reconstructed in 1809, the third Fort Moultrie remained in operation for several decades. During this time, the Seminole chief Osceola was imprisoned here and is buried just outside the entrance. A couple of men who later became quite famous, William T. Sherman and Edgar Allen Poe, spent time here as soldiers.

After South Carolina seceded from the Union in 1860, the Union forces who were stationed at the time at Moultrie transferred to the nearby Fort Sumter, which was bombarded a few months later in April 1861, thus officially beginning the War Between the States.

Moultrie and Sumter remained in Confederate hands throughout the war, during which they successfully withstood a 20-month Union bombardment. After the war, Moultrie was remodeled and strengthened two more times, in the 1870s and again in the 1880s to defend against improvements in weapons technology. The fort remained an active military post until the end of World War II.

After checking out the fort, I walked a long path to the water's edge and allowed myself to be entertained for several minutes by the lightning-fast, sidling-darting movements of some tiny crab-like creatures. The sand-colored creatures blended in so well with the surrounding sand that I could barely see them until they moved.

I left the crabs to their own devices and I drove further up Sullivan's Island and then to Isle of Palms to catch another road that would take me to Boone Hall. Along the way I passed a little spot called Thomson Park, which featured some historical markers. Naturally, I had to stop and check them out. This is at a spot called Breach Inlet, which separates Sullivan's Island from the Isle of Palms.

While Moultrie was fighting off the British fleet, Colonel William Thomson and his patriot contingent rebuffed a British attempt to land men here at the northeastern end of the island. During the War Between the States, the H. L. Hunley, the first submarine to sink a warship, launched from Sullivan's Island and passed through Breach Inlet on the evening of February 17, 1864 on its mission to sink the Union warship, Housatonic. Although the Housatonic sank, so did the Hunley.

Although a large sign specifically stated, “NO WADING,” a fisherman was out in the water up to his knees. A shore bird was also standing in the water, but perhaps he didn't read English.

I drove next to Boone Hall, presented the raincheck pass that I had been given the previous day, and stayed just long enough to take my photos of the Avenue of Oaks.

I returned to US 17 and, since it was already early afternoon, I decided to have lunch at the Boone Hall Farms store and cafe. I enjoyed a BBQ plate that featured something that I had never had before – tomato pie. It was loaded with tomatoes and cheese. Dee-lish!


Next Installment – Angel Oak

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