A Patriot’s View of Charleston
By Burt Carey
Military history buffs who come to Charleston will never leave this South Carolina city disappointed.
It’s where the first shots of the Civil War were fired in the 19th century. It’s where you’ll find plenty of naval ships that tell the story of America’s freedom in the 20th century. It’s where you’ll find the Medal of Honor Society Museum. And it’s where then Senator John Kerry used this military backdrop to launch his presidential campaign in the 21st century.
Charleston is also a world-renowned hot spot for fine dining, grand hotels, antebellum and Gilded Age homes, and a thriving marketplace all offered up with a sweet Southern charm.
On April 12, 1861, Confederate artillery opened fire on Fort Sumter, and 36 hours later the Union Army surrendered. It would take the Union almost four years to win the fort back.
Visitors today can tour Fort Sumter and hear about the harrowing battle that started a gruesome war between the states. And even earlier, on nearby Sullivan’s Island, British forces attacked Colonial fighters who dug in behind the walls of an incomplete palmetto-log fort on June 28, 1776. Known to the British as Fort Sullivan, it was later renamed to Fort Moultrie in honor of its commanding officer, Colonel William Moultrie.
You’ll want to see the Powder Magazine, the oldest public building in the Carolinas, which was rebuilt in 1748 and remained in service until the Revolutionary War. Today it’s open as a National Historic Landmark.
Stop by the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center at Liberty Square, where admission is free, and the telling of events leading up to the Civil War will bring you face to face with our country’s history.
Every block of Charleston is literally spilling over with history.
Across Charleston Harbor and the Cooper River is Patriot’s Point, where you’ll find the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10) open to visitors. (the first USS Yorktown [CV-5] was sunk in the Battle of Midway on June 7, 1942.) Step aboard and see how this floating fortress and its aircraft were used by sailors as America fought its way through the successful end of World War II and beyond.
Patriot’s Point is where you will find the Patriot’s Point Naval & Maritime Museum, including the diesel-powered attack submarine USS Clamagore (SS-343), WWII destroyer USS Laffey (DD-724), the Cold War Memorial, Vietnam Experience Exhibit and the Medal of Honor Society Museum.
It’s all here in Charleston, just waiting for you to visit and learn about our country’s heroes. For reservations, dining and other accommodations check the Charleston Convention & Visitor’s Bureau site here.