Category Archives: South Carolina

Charles Pinckney National Historic Site

Overview

North of Charleston, South Carolina near Fort Moultrie is a National Park Service (NPS) site dedicated to preserving the memory of one of the forgotten framers of the U.S. Constitution.  Charles Pinckney served as an officer during the American Revolution and a delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.  Before his death in 1824, he would go on to be four-term Governor of South Carolina, ambassador to Spain, and member of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

Highlights

Museum, historic home, nature trail

Must-Do Activity

The low-country cottage that serves as the NPS visitor center and museum was built in 1828, probably on top of the foundation for the Pinckney’s plantation house.  It is filled with artifacts and information on the Pinckney family and their slaves that farmed rice and indigo.  The NPS rangers were very welcoming to us here when we visited during our Pretirement year in 2016.  This site is free to visit and located across from the well-known Boone Hall Plantation (admission charged).

Best Trail

A short trail leads to an overlook of the tidal river area, but watch out for poison-ivy and ticks.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The live oak trees growing on the property are beautiful with twisting branches draped in Spanish moss.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/chpi/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

The access roads are paved except for the last part on NPS property which is well-packed sand and gravel.

Camping

No camping at the site, but there are options outside Charleston in Francis Marion National Forest.

Related Sites

Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park (South Carolina)

Reconstruction Era National Monument (South Carolina)

Ninety Six National Historic Site (South Carolina)

Explore More – The NPS property is only 28 acres of the original 715-acre Snee Farm, part of the original royal land grant given to Richard Butler in what year?

Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park

Overview

Located at the entrance to the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, a group of defensive forts have gone through many permutations since the 1770s.  The most famous, the five-sided Fort Sumter was still unfinished (after 30 years of construction) when South Carolina became the first state to secede from the United States on December 20, 1860.  This led Major Robert Anderson to flee Fort Moultrie with 85 Union troops for Fort Sumter, which Confederates fired at on April 12, 1861, marking the first shot of the Civil War.  Fort Sumter is only accessible by ferry, but you can drive a car to the National Park Service (NPS) museum at Fort Moultrie, commemorated on the U.S. quarter-dollar coin minted in 2016.

Highlights

Museum, Fort Moultrie, Fort Sumter, wildlife

Must-Do Activity

Fort Sumter was built upon a sandbar in Charleston Harbor, raised and leveled with 70,000 tons of granite brought down from New England.  A toll ferry takes visitors to the island from downtown Charleston or Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum.   Dolphins, pelicans, and shore birds are commonly spotted on the 40-minute ferry ride to Fort Sumter.  Destroyed by the end of the Civil War, the fort today looks nothing like it did back then, having gone through multiple upgrades before it was deactivated in 1947.  At the site, the NPS displays cannons representing each era alongside interpretive signs.

Best Trail

A walk through Fort Moultrie explains its 170 years of military use before it became part of Fort Sumter National Monument in 1948.  Constructed on Sullivan’s Island in South Carolina, Fort Moultrie was not yet finished when a British attack was repelled on June 28, 1776 at the beginning of the Revolutionary War.  After being destroyed during the Civil War, it saw new life during World War I with the placement of disappearing rifles and World War II with anti-aircraft guns. 

Instagram-worthy Photo

Major Robert Anderson surrendered and lowered the U.S. flag on April 14, 1861, though there were no casualties during the bombardment.  After rifled cannons had reduced the fort’s walls to rubble, Major Anderson raised the exact same flag above Fort Sumter four years later to-the-date near the end of the Civil War. 

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/fosu/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

$10 per person to visit Fort Moultrie (or America the Beautiful pass); charge for passenger ferry to Fort Sumter but no NPS fee

Road Conditions

Free parking at Fort Moultrie, but pay parking for the ferry from Liberty Square in downtown Charleston or Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum.

Camping

None

Related Sites

Fort Pulaski National Monument (Georgia)

Charles Pinckney National Historic Site (South Carolina)

Congaree National Park (South Carolina)

Explore More – Who was the famous Native American chief who died of scarlet fever as a prisoner at Fort Moutlrie in 1838?

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Ninety Six National Historic Site

Overview

Ninety Six was a bit of a misnomer for this 18th-century trading village in South Carolina.  It was estimated at the time to be 96 miles from a major Cherokee village, but was actually closer to 78.  Then again, Seventy Eight does not have the same ring to it, does it?  A small stockade built around a barn survived two attacks by Cherokees in the 1750s, then during the American Revolution the town fell into British hands after a battle on November 19, 1775.  They proceeded to build a star-shaped earthen fort that was partially reconstructed in the 1970s.

Highlights

Reconstructed Revolutionary War earthen fort, museum, film

Must-Do Activity

In 1781, six year after the town fell into British hands, a month-long Patriot siege led by General Nathanael Greene failed, but the Patriots abandoned their underground tunneling when they learned of British reinforcements arriving.  The British wound up retreating to Charleston anyway and burning the town behind them.  Ninety Six never fully recovered and remained undeveloped, which allowed archaeologists in the 1970s to rediscover the old tunnels and zigzag trenches designed by Colonel Thaddeus Kosciuszko. 

Best Trail

With interpretive pamphlet in hand, you can get a good idea of Colonel Thaddeus Kosciuszko’s strategy from atop the observation platform built along the one-mile self-guided trail.  The park also contains the 27-acre Star Fort Pond, which is accessible by road or the Cherokee Path Trail from the visitor center.

Instagram-worthy Photo

This is the only National Park Service site we know of where visitors are encouraged to brandish a musket.  They also have a pillory to pose in.

Peak Season

Spring and fall, since it can be very hot in the summer with little shade.

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/nisi/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

Access road paved

Camping

Greenwood State Recreation Area has a campground on a lake about nine miles north.

Related Sites

Cowpens National Battlefield (South Carolina)

Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park (South Carolina)

Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial (Pennsylvania)

Explore More – Who was Robert Gouedy and why was he significant in the history of Ninety Six?

Cowpens National Battlefield

Overview

In 1780, there were 8,000 British troops in South Carolina and Georgia, but none were as feared as the 270 cavalry under Colonel Banastre Tarleton.  Following an attack at Waxhaws where his men inflicted 75% casualties on the retreating Patriots, he became known as “Bloody Ban” and a slaughter of surrendering soldiers was known as giving “Tarleton’s quarter.”  After the major American victory at nearby Kings Mountain, the British were also defeated here on January 17, 1781 as they retreated to Yorktown, Virginia. 

Highlights

Museum, Battlefield Trail, U.S. Memorial Monument, Robert Scruggs house

Must-Do Activity

The fiberoptic map in the National Park Service visitor center provides a good understanding of this 20-minute battle.  Following the Patriot victory at Kings Mountain, Colonel Tarleton was sent to capture a Patriot army under Brigadier General Daniel Morgan.  On January 17, 1781, Morgan used his militiamen to sucker in the aggressive Tarleton, instructing them to fire two shots then retreat towards the lines of trained infantry and cavalry under Lieutenant Colonel William Washington (George’s second cousin).  The British took the bait and lost 80% of their force (110 killed, 229 wounded, and 600 captured), though Tarleton escaped. 

Best Trail

The Battlefield Trail partially follows the historic Green River Road and is 1.25 miles roundtrip from the visitor center.  The auto tour route closes at 4:30 p.m. but after hours parking is available at the trailhead off Highway 11, which also accesses the Battlefield Trail.  It is part of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, which has 87 of its 330 miles publicly accessible, starting in Tennessee.  There is also a 2-mile nature trail near the picnic area.

Instagram-worthy Photo

A 1932 monument marks the beginning of the Battlefield Trail.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/cowp/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

Kings Mountain State Park is 30 miles east of the park next to Kings Mountain National Military Park.

Explore More – What locally grown fruit provided the inspiration for the painted water tower in Gaffney, South Carolina?

Kings Mountain National Military Park

Overview

In 1780, the conclusion of the Revolutionary War was anything but decided with the British army firmly entrenched in New York City, Charleston, and Savannah.  General Charles Cornwallis commanded 2,200 troops in the colony of South Carolina and his plan was to meet up with Major Patrick Ferguson’s 1,100 men near Charlotte, North Carolina.  Many historians consider the events that took place here on October 7, 1780 the beginning of the end of the war that culminated less than a year later at Yorktown. 

Highlights

Museum, film, Battlefield Trail, U.S. Monument, grave of Major Ferguson

Must-Do Activity

Though the museum in the National Park Service visitor center is small, it is well done and very informative.  You will learn that throughout 1780, a ragtag band of Patriot militia dogged Major Ferguson, forcing him to make a stand 39 miles south of his destination at Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780.  When the Loyalist force finally surrendered, the enraged Patriots gave them “Tarleton’s quarter.”  Killed during the fighting, Major Ferguson was the only person in the battle born in the British Isles (in Scotland).

Best Trail

Start at the visitor center, then walk the 1.5-mile Battlefield Trail.  It is part of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, which has 87 of its 330 miles publicly accessible, starting in Tennessee.  Just be sure to be out of the park before the gates close for the night.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The 83-foot tall U.S. Monument was dedicated in 1909 by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Peak Season

Late summer when 18th-century military encampments occur on select weekends.

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/kimo/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

There is one backcountry campsite on the grounds, which requires free registration at the visitor center.  Neighboring Kings Mountain State Park offers 119 campsites and many miles of trails.

Explore More – What earlier event provoked the Patriots to give “Tarleton’s quarter” after the Loyalists surrendered?