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Old 08-19-2014, 11:55 AM   #1
Lowcountry25 OP
Joined: Feb 2014
Location: Charleston
Oddometer: 72
Ghosts of the past

I live in Charleston, South Carolina. The city and the countryside here are beautiful. We have plenty of beaches, bars, restaurants and pretty women. We are also blessed with more history than just about any other American city., as Charleston was founded all the way back in 1670. What we do not have, unfortunately, is any good motorcycle riding WHATSOEVER. The roads are all flat and straight. I have to ride 45 minutes to get to any dirt, and then guess what. That dirt is all flat and straight.
So lately, I have been talking myself into making the best of it by getting out on my bike, photographing and posting some local things that are of historical significance. Here goes.

Everyone knows that the Civil War began here in Charleston, and that this city and State had much to do with bringing our nation to the precipice of war. The threat of war had been looming in South Carolina since as early as 1828. Three decades later, a sequence of events in my city would plunge the country into all-out war.
The moneyed elite in SC got rich through the system of slavery. Lincoln was viewed as a threat to that system. I won't bother with too much detail here because we all know the history. Southern States had said that if Lincoln were elected, they would secede from the Union. On November 6, 1860, Lincoln won the Presidential election. South Carolina immediately moved towards secession. On December 20, 1860, members of the SC Secession Convention met at St. Andrew's Hall on Broad St. in Charleston. They heard the Ordinance of Secession read to them, and then they voted on whether or not to secede. The vote was 169 to 0 in favor of Secession.

Here is a contemporary drawing of St. Andrew's Hall:

Here is a photo of the building taken during the Civil War. The hall had been destroyed in the great fire of December 1861, which was unrelated to the War.

All that remains of the building today is the fence that once stood in front of it. Here is that fence behind my bike:

Later that evening, the delegates reconvened and actually signed the Ordinance of Secession. This was done around the corner on Meeting St. at SC Institute Hall. Contemporary pic:

This building was also destroyed in the great fire of '61. It would have stood just below the Circular Church, seen here in a picture taken from the roof of the Mills House Hotel in 1865:

The building that sits on the site today is architecturally similar, but not the same.

From this point, the die had been cast. Other southern states followed suit and seceded as well. In Charleston, militias began mobilizing. There was a small Federal garrison of less than 100 men stationed in Charleston at Ft. Moultrie on Sullivan's Island. The fort was in disrepair. Sand from the beach had covered some walls, and cows were walking from the beach up and onto the ramparts of the fort. The force's commander, Major Robert Anderson, knew that he could not defend Moultrie. So under the cover of darkness on Dec 26, 1860, he moved his garrison into Ft. Sumter, which sat on a sand bar at the mouth of Charleston Harbor. Construction of Sumter had begun in 1828, but it had never been completed, and most of her cannon had not been mounted. Still, the South Carolinians viewed this as a hostile act. They knew that if Sumter could be reinforced and properly armed, it could dominate the mouth of the harbor, and completely close it down to all shipping. Within days, SC militia seized the two remaining Federal installations in Charleston.
First was the Federal Arsenal, located on Ashley Avenue. Here is a wartime photo of the arsenal:

The only two buildings remaining from the old arsenal are both seen in this photo. The building on the left is Colcock Hall. Here is how it looks today:

The other remaining building is the artillery shed, seen just to the right of Colcock Hall in the wartime photo. It is now a chapel. Here it is today:

In addition to taking the Federal Arsenal, SC troops also captured Castle Pinckney, a small masonry fort located in the interior of Charleston Harbor.

Wartime Castle Pinckney:

And here is Castle Pinckney today:


From late December of '60 until the war began in April of '61, there was a lot going on here. Mainly mobilization of troops and assets with the end design being the capture of Ft. Sumter. On April 12th, the war began when SC forces shelled the Federal troops stationed there.

The first shot came from a mortar battery at Ft. Johnson, on James Island. I live about 4 miles from this marker.

Due to the trees in the background, you cannot see Ft. Sumter in this picture. So I walked over to the trees and took these pics from there:

That's all I've got from this ride. I'm not sure what I want to talk about next, so give me a few days and I will find and photograph some more history for you. I hope you enjoyed it.
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Old 08-19-2014, 01:55 PM   #2
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Thanks for the lesson! Looking forward to more!
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Old 08-20-2014, 12:30 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reminder of why I am so grateful to call Charleston my home. The magazine in your photo is right next to Grice Marine Lab, which I visit periodically (for work). I have stood at that spot many times and looked upon Charleston harbor with awe.

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Old 08-20-2014, 04:12 PM   #4
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Have you got anything on the Hunley? And I forgot to say that I really enjoyed this report!

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Old 08-20-2014, 07:28 PM   #5
Lowcountry25 OP
Joined: Feb 2014
Location: Charleston
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Originally Posted by CharlestonRider View Post
Thanks for the reminder of why I am so grateful to call Charleston my home. The magazine in your photo is right next to Grice Marine Lab, which I visit periodically (for work). I have stood at that spot many times and looked upon Charleston harbor with awe.

Yep, this place is thick with history. I ride out to that point a couple of times a week just to have a look at the harbor, too. Whatdo you ride? I'll keep an eye out for you.
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Old 08-20-2014, 07:29 PM   #6
Lowcountry25 OP
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Originally Posted by HPTuner View Post
Have you got anything on the Hunley?
Sure, I can do one on the Hunley. Give me a few days to put it together.
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Old 08-21-2014, 08:08 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Lowcountry25 View Post
Yep, this place is thick with history. I ride out to that point a couple of times a week just to have a look at the harbor, too. Whatdo you ride? I'll keep an eye out for you.
I currently am riding a 1990 BMW K75C (which I love). I am also in the process of rebuilding a 2005 YZ250F (the purchase of which is a clear sign of my mid-life crisis ).

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Old 08-21-2014, 09:32 AM   #8
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You have LOTS to view in Charleston... The Market, Rainbow Row, Fort Moultrie, Shem Creek, etc. Used to live at IOP. Still miss it.
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Old 08-21-2014, 01:01 PM   #9
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Thanks for the lesson and tour - I like those parts too. As a youngster from California I did my Army flight training at Hunter AAF in Savannah. After my war, I returned to Hunter as a flight instructor. With 3 years of flight pay saved up, I showed up with a brand new Honda 450 Scrambler and a Porsche 914. The first week back I met a hot girl on the beach and we were something special for five months. Love those Southern girls. Very different from California girls (but I like them too). In fact, I saw that Southern beach girl again just last January after 43 years... She still looks good and sounds exactly the same.

I read Prince of Tides, once. The story was pretty dark, but I was mostly fascinated with how the countryside and waterways were discribed. I could smell again the sweet aroma of low tide.

I live in Boston now and have for 25 years. We have a lot of history too. In fact I live a few steps from the Boston Tea Party site. A few steps the other way to Faneuil Hall and the site of the Boston Massacre at the foot of the Old State House. The Old North Church (one if by sea...) is a ten minute walk. You stroll right past Paul's house.

Also, we have a lot of great riding in New England. Lots of twisty dirt roads even.

I like the old South, though. Savannah in particular.
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Old 08-25-2014, 02:46 PM   #10
Lowcountry25 OP
Joined: Feb 2014
Location: Charleston
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Ok, this one is for HPTuner.

Here's a little story about some more history that is local to my riding area. As I mentioned in my first post here, the Civil War began in what is essentially my backyard. I live on James Island, SC, about four miles from Fort Sumter. In addition to seeing the first shots of that war, Charleston would be under a heavy siege and an almost impenetrable naval blockade from 1862 through February of 1865. Today's ride was to cover a bit of the Confederacy's attempt to break the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, stationed off of Charleston bar.

The blockade was implemented almost instantly after Southern troops fired on Fort Sumter in April of 1861. The intent was that the US Navy would place warships off of Southern ports, and completely close down shipping of any kind. No war materiel would come in from Europe, and no agricultural commodities would be exported from the South. It would help to strangle the South both economically and militarily. It was dubbed "The Anaconda Plan" by its creator, General Winfield Scott. By August of 1863, the blockade at Charleston had become very effective. In that month, not a single blockade runner was able to enter the harbor. It would be a sign of things to come.

Southern leaders became desperate to raise the blockade and keep Southern ports open. One civilian in New Orleans thought he had an idea as to how the Federal Navy could be driven off. His name was Horace Lawson Hunley, and his idea was to build a submarine.

Arriving in Mobile, Alabama after the fall of New Orleans in April 1862, Hunley partnered with several engineers as well as Park and Lyons machine shop. Here, the group would build a hand-cranked submarine out of boiler plate. The boat would be approximately 40' long, 4.5' tall and 4' wide. It resembled a cigar tube, and was often referred to as "the cigar boat" or "the fish boat." In late summer '63, she was brought to Charleston via railway.

Immediately crews went to work with the little submarine, making practice torpedo runs on Confederate ships anchored in the harbor. On one such practice run in October of '63, Horace Hunley himself was at the helm when the submarine sank in about 30' of water. All eight men aboard would die. A week later, Confederate divers and engineers raised the sub from the harbor floor. The bodies inside were too swollen to be removed, so they were dismembered inside the sub and then passed up through the narrow hatches. Hunley and this crew were buried at Magnolia Cemetery, just north of the city. Below is Horace Hunley's grave that I took on today's ride.

The bodies had been removed while the sub was on the wharf at Mt. Pleasant. It was during this time that it was painted by the famous Confederate artist Conrad Wise Chapman. Here it is:

Taken from a similar angle this morning, here is the Hunley replica at the Charleston Museum.

After this accident, Confederate Lt. James Dixon would be placed in command of the sub. He had helped build her in Mobile, and had ridden the rails with her to Charleston. Shortly after Dixon took command, the sub was lying off the wharf at Fort Johnson. There were seven men inside the fish boat. A Confederate steamer passed by too closely, and the wake from the steamer swamped the Hunley, the water rushing in through the open hatches. Two men escaped, but the other five men down below were drowned.

Below is a wartime photo showing the wharf at Ft. Johnson:

Here is a photo I took this morning from roughly the same vantage point:

Again she was raised. A third crew was completed, and she continued in her efforts to strike a blow at the Yankee Navy. It was around this time that the sub's base of operations was moved from Charleston harbor up to Breach Inlet, located above Sullivan's Island, just north of the mouth of the harbor. From her berth here behind Battery Marshall, she could easily sally out to sea and attack the gunboat squadron. Below is a period painting of Battery Marshall.

If you look to the right of the guns, you can see a Federal Blockader at her station. Below is a photo from near the spot shown above.

Plaque at Battery Marshall:

Here is another painting of Batt'y Marshall by the same artist, looking across Breach Inlet at the battery from Long Island (now Isle of Palms).

And the same view this morning:

The left side of this photo is the mouth of Breach Inlet. It is from here that the Hunley left on the evening of Feb 17, 1864. That night, the little cigar boat became the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship in a time of war. The vessel she sank was the USS Housatonic, which was anchored about 4 miles offshore. Below is the Housatonic.

The Hunley never returned from that mission. She sank and was lost, along with George Dixon and the rest of the crew. She wouldn't be seen again until 1995, when she was discovered by NUMA. In August of 2000, the sub was raised and conservation efforts were begun. The remains of the crew were removed and buried at Magnolia Cemetery with full military honors. Here is a photo of that ceremony:

And here is the final resting place of all three Hunley crews, with the headstones of the final crew visible to the camera:

Finally, the Hunley as she sits today:

Thanks for looking, I enjoyed this little project. For more info about the Hunley, visit

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Old 08-26-2014, 12:59 PM   #11
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Very nice. Been wanting to get down and see the Hunley.
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Old 08-26-2014, 01:05 PM   #12
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Enjoying the report, keep it up!

"As a teen I would have fucked a snake if someone would hold it's head, drunk or not.

But I've matured. Now I'd make sure I was drunk before I tried to fuck a snake"..........Bueller
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Old 08-26-2014, 04:17 PM   #13
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Thanks for posting this up. I've been to Charleston about a half dozen times, and it remains my favorite city to visit. Lots of history, great architecture, great restaurants, etc. It's the one city that I know of that I would actually consider living downtown in......but I could never afford it! Not a great place to ride, but plenty of walking tours. The ghost tours at night, after touring the downtown graveyards in the day, are a ton of fun. I'm looking forward to visiting again, soon.
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Old 08-26-2014, 06:45 PM   #14
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Thanks for as outstanding report. Had the South not fired on the flag and instead used the contract as point of contention. The
North would not send troops to enforce a contract.

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Old 01-05-2015, 05:41 PM   #15
Lowcountry25 OP
Joined: Feb 2014
Location: Charleston
Oddometer: 72
Pissed I ride James Island's remaining Civil War earthworks

Been a while since I posted in this thread, and I've been thinking about doing this little ride for a couple of months. Finally got a nice weather day today, so I hopped in the saddle and got out in it.

I mentioned before that I'm lucky to live in Charleston, SC. Actually I live on James Island, which was the scene of continuous military activity by both sides for virtually the entire war. The Confederates held it, and the Yankees were campaigning to take it from '62 until Feb '65. The initial Confederate lines were in place as early as 1861, and were constantly modified and expanded for the next three plus years. Below is a basic map of what they looked like in the Summer of 1864.

Sorry about the small size, I don't know how to enlarge it. Below is a detail of that map. I live right about where the red X is, above Battery No. 3 (no longer existing).

Today I wanted to visit the remaining earthworks that I could just ride right up to on my bike. Nothing where I would have to go onto private property to see. My first stop was at Battery Harleston, which was a flanking water battery of Ft. Johnson, located on the harbor at the far right of the map. Battery Harleston isn't labeled on the top map, but it would be right below the word "Fort" in Fort Johnson. It was for inner harbor defense. Below is a painting of Batt'y Harleston by Confederate soldier/artist Conrad Wise Chapman.

Here is what it looks like today from the inside.

Looking westward towards where Battery Wampler stood. The sea has eroded the works a fair amount here.

This is a painting of Battery Wampler (also by Chapman) which was painted from about the same vantage point of the above photo.

From here I began riding down the old lines, from East to West. Next stop was Battery Cheves, constructed in 1863. I should note that these earthworks were built almost entirely by slave laborers, pressed into duty from the local Plantations by the Confederate military. Here's Batt'y Cheves.


The battery is completely overgrown, and it's tough to get a good feel for it.

Next stop was Battery Haskell, again moving westward. Here is Chapman's painting of it in 1863.

Below is today's photo from the same viewpoint. What's left of the battery is in the clump of trees.

Next up was Redoubt No. 2. There were six redoubts in a row (from south to north), all of identical dimensions and layout. Below is an aerial photo from 1937 of one of the six. Which redoubt it is is unknown, but you get the idea. Redoubt No. 2 is the only one that remains.

Here's the ditch and wall of the redoubt today:

Sorry for the gloves. I took 40+ pictures today, and my finger is in every one :(

From here I rode over to Secessionville to have a look at Battery Lamar. This place was the site of the heaviest infantry fighting on the island during the war. In June of '62, 6,500 Yankee troops assaulted Battery Lamar, which was defended by about 1,500 Confederates. The guys in blue were repulsed in bloody fashion, sustaining 683 casualties (107 dead), compared to 204 (52 dead) on the Confederate side. Below is a period sketch of that battle, with Battery Lamar visible in the background.

Tough to make out the fort in this picture, but the road runs right through the middle of the fort, which is shaped like a capital "M" The banks you see on the side of the road are all part of what was the fort.

From here I went to Battery No. 5.

Inside the battery:

Next, I rode over to Battery No. 1, which is sometimes called Battery Leroy. This earthwork is by far the largest remaining earthwork anywhere in the Charleston theater. Below is a period sketch of that work.

My bike in the picture below would be just left of the wagon in the picture above, in front of the main bastion of that line.


Like I said, this is a big earthwork. I walked the whole thing once, on the backside of it, in the middle of June. I woke up at 3AM the next morning COVERED in chiggers. I MEAN COVERED. I said "F*CK THIS" and went straight to the emergency room for a steroid shot. It was god-awful, so yeah, I don't walk earthworks in the summer anymore ;)

From there I followed the Stono River north, to my last stop at Fort Pemberton. Fort Pemberton guarded the backdoor to Charleston, and never saw much action at all. At most she exchanged artillery fire at long range with monitors in the Stono River from time to time. There is actually a very nice private residence built right inside of the earthworks, so all I could get was a couple of pics of the ditch and wall on the northern side.

Wall and ditch, looking down towards the Stono River

With that, I had ridden the whole James Island lines. I hope you guys enjoyed it. I enjoyed the good excuse to get out and ride, so thanks

PS. I apologize again for the crappy pictures.
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