By Patra Taylor

Lee, Moultrie, Sumter, Horry, Hampton, Pickens, Marion: These are the names of just a few of the Palmetto State’s first century patriots who led the charge in 188 hard fought battles to repel the British from S.C. during the American Revolution. Although the names seem ever-present in our daily lives, the gallant acts of our state’s heroes seem to have faded from our collective memory; the amazing stories of their lives and deaths now primarily the purview of historians.

“When I say to people … even local people … that were it not for South Carolina, the Americans may not have won the American Revolution, they look at me like I’m crazy,” says historian/author Doug Bostick, an eighth-generation South Carolinian and the executive director of South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust (SCBT). “We’ve become that disassociated with our real stories.”

Bostick refers to the words of historian and statesman, George Bancroft, in his book, History of the United States, published in 1857 to make his point. About our state, Bancroft wrote: “Left mainly to her own resources, it was through the depths of wretchedness that her sons were to bring her back to her place in the republic … having suffered more and dared more and achieved more than the men of any other state.”

Through the support and encouragement of the National Park Service, SCBT has joined forces with the Washington, D.C.-based Civil War Trust, to acquire and preserve a number of the nation’s important Revolutionary War battlefields.

“These sites are real treasures, not just from the standpoint that we’ve lost touch with the fact that they exist, but they are treasures from the standpoint that S.C. had a major role in the founding of this nation,” states Bostick. “The Revolutionary War in S.C. was a defining campaign that set the stage for the British losing the war.”

According to Bostick, the Trust and the SCBT worked with historians and archeologist to identify 62 key Revolutionary War battles and conflicts that occurred in S.C. for inclusion on the “Liberty Trail,” a driving trail designed to connect these sites through land preservation and on-site and web-based interpretation. This critical and unique project will preserve many sites that have remained unprotected for more than two centuries.

The initial phase of the project focuses on 24 sites identified as critical preservation priorities. Of these initial 24 sites, 16 battlefields sites are targeted for land preservation with the remaining eight sites linked with interpretation.

Local businessman, Hugh Lane, Jr., lends his full support to the Campaign 1776 project and the Liberty Trail. “I think preserving these sites for future generations is a wonderful idea,” says Lane, who served as chairman of the Charleston County Conservation Bank during its preservation heyday. “I’ve always thought that the history of S.C.’s role in the Revolutionary War would be a much better focus for us as a state.”

According to Lane, grant funding from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program and the S.C. Conservation Bank has already provided about half of the total $15 million needed for acquisition, site preparation and interpretation costs for the initial phase of this project. One out-of-state business leader has also made a $250,000 gift. Lane hopes that in the coming months, more state and local individuals and businesses will support the effort with generous financial contributions.

Bostick says that the Civil War Trust, under the leadership of Jim Lighthizer, has wasted no time getting the project into gear. “We’ve already bought Fort Fair Lawn, an 80-acre British earthworks fort in Berkeley County,” says Bostick. “Fort Fair Lawn is spectacular. The erosion at the fort has been minimal, some of that due to the heavy clay content of the soil and some to the fact it sits on a limestone base. In terms of condition, it’s in better shape today than most Civil War forts that I see, which is remarkable.”

The Civil War Trust has also acquired the 12,000 acres at Colleton Castle battle site located near Moncks Corner; 122 acres at Battle of Hanging Rock site in Lancaster County; 58 acres at the Battle of Waxhaws in Buford; and three small tracts totaling about 15 acres at Eutaw Springs in Eutawville.

Bostick continues, “What really excites me about this project is that we’re not just going to acquire these properties, we are developing cutting-edge interpretive plans so that the public can go visit these as part of a driving trail. There will be apps you can download that will describe the history of the fort. You can also link to bios, see battle maps and use augmented reality to see what these places looked like at the time of the war. There’s going to be some exceptional things involved in implementing this project and that’s the part that I really love. We’re not just going to save these sites … put a chain and a bolt over the roads leading to them. We’re going to swing the gates wide open and invite everybody in and then tell them the stories of what occurred there.”

“We are excited to tell the stories from a largely unknown chapter of American history,” adds Jim Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Trust. “We’re going to tell the stories of how the American Revolution was won in S.C. and we’re going to tell these stories in new and innovative ways that have never been done before.”

To find out more about the Liberty Trail, please visit www.civilwar.org/campaign-1776.

 

Here is the list of the initial 24 sites targeted through the Campaign 1776 project: 

Mepkin Plantation, Moncks Corner, S.C. (Interpretation Opportunity)

Attack at Wadboo Bridge, Moncks Corner, S.C. (Interpretation Opportunity)

Avenue of Cedars, Moncks Corner, S.C. (Interpretation Opportunity)

Battle of Moncks Corner, Moncks Corner, S.C. (Interpretation Opportunity)

Fort Fair Lawn, Moncks Corner, S.C. (Preservation and Interpretation Opportunity)

Colleton Castle, Moncks Corner, S.C. (Preservation and Interpretation Opportunity)

Lewisfield Plantation, Moncks Corner, S.C. (Preservation and Interpretation Opportunity)

Battle of Eutaw Springs, Eutawville, S.C. (Preservation and Interpretation Opportunity)

Siege of Fort Watson, Summerton, S.C. (Interpretation Opportunity)

Battle of Wyboo Swamp, near Manning, S.C. (Preservation and Interpretation Opportunity)

Battle of Halfway Swamp, Pinewood, S.C. (Preservation and Interpretation Opportunity)

High Hills of Santee, Sumter County, S.C. (Interpretation Opportunity)

Historic Camden, Camden, S.C. (Interpretation Opportunity)

Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill, Camden, S.C. (Preservation and Interpretation Opportunity)

Battle of Camden, Camden, S.C. (Preservation and Interpretation Opportunity)

Battle of Rugeley’s Mill, Kershaw County, S.C. (Preservation and Interpretation Opportunity)

Battle of Hanging Rock, Lancaster County, S.C. (Preservation and Interpretation Opportunity)

Battle of Waxhaws, Buford, S.C. (Preservation and Interpretation Opportunity)

Battle of Rocky Mount, Great Falls, S.C. (Preservation and Interpretation Opportunity)

Battle of Cedar Spring, Cedar Springs, S.C. (Preservation and Interpretation Opportunity)

Ring Fight, Oconee County, S.C. (Preservation and Interpretation Opportunity)

Battle of Fishing Creek, Chester County, S.C. (Preservation and Interpretation Opportunity)

Battle of Port Royal Island, Port Royal Island, S.C. (Preservation and Interpretation Opportunity)

Battle of Musgrove Mill, Clinton, S.C. (Preservation and Interpretation Opportunity)     

Mercury newspaper racks are located at the following locations:

The Meeting Street Inn

Clair's Service Station at 334 Folly Rd.

Harris Teeter on Houston-Northcutt Blvd.

The Square Onion in I'On

Mt. Pleasant Library on Mathis Ferry Rd.