The snake-like highway that parallels South Carolina’s intriguing coastline today is simply called U.S. 17. But English settlers who used it as the main route between Charleston and Boston, MA, more than 200 years ago, called it “The King’s Highway.” The roadway has taken on new significance, beginning in 2005 and continuing through 2007, as the state celebrates the 225th anniversary of its role in our country’s War of Independence.
More than 200 battles and military engagements took place in South Carolina during the Revolutionary Warmore than any other colonyand there are still a host of activities scheduled for this year to honor those first American patriots. It’s a great opportunity for families and visitors of all ages to learn a bit of history while enjoying the numerous attractions in this Southern state.
At the time of the American Revolution, South Carolina was one of the wealthiest colonies in British North America. This wealth was centered in the hands of the Lowcountry elite rice plantation owners and merchants in the ports of Charleston, Georgetown and Beaufort. There also were several inland trade towns established at Camden, Winnsboro and Cheraw, with smaller villages of Ninety Six, Orangeburg and Granby. In these places, visitors can see first-hand where the past can be found in the present.
Here are a few of the military battle sites, 18th-century plantations, and historic areas that help you experiencefor a momentlife in Revolutionary times.
On June 28, 1776, a large British fleet tried to sail into Charleston Harbor and take control of the most important American city south of Boston. Today, the outdoor museum is like a timeline of nearly 200 years of coastal warfare and defense. Imagine the rumble of cannon fire, the smell of black powder, and the shouts of the rebels under the command of Col. William Moultrie as they fought the king’s army.
Near Charleston, The King’s Highway takes visitors to a coastal cottage on the plantation of one of America’s Founding Fathers: Charles Pinckney, one of the architects of the U.S. Constitution. The plantation still looks just as you would imagine a Lowcountry farm should.
General Marion’s militia roamed these woods just north of Charleston. The “Swamp Fox,” as he was known, was a key figure during the war. Today you can go hiking, boating and picnicking where he wandered.
Located in McClellanville, the mansion is a Georgian-style structure that served as a refuge for a large number of women and children during the war.
The house is a typical Lowcountry rice plantation situated on the North Santee River.
Among the many Revolutionary sites found in Charleston, the Exchange Building is considered the most important. Patriots held protest meetings and created the present state government here. Beneath the building, confiscated tea was stored and prisoners were held in the provost Dungeon.
The Heyward-Washington House, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church and the Powder Magazine are among other sites open to the public. On the west bank of the Ashley River, north of Charleston, a historic district contains several Revolutionary-era homes, gardens and churches open to visitors.
South of Charleston on Highway 17, the area was used as a government location after patriots were forced to leave Charleston. Nearby are several historic sites.
Both the British and Americans occupied this town at the headwaters of the Great Pee Dee river. St. David’s Episcopal Church served both armies as a hospital. The historic district contains more than 50 antebellum structures and numerous buildings from the Victorian and Revival periods.
A thriving trade town, the British established a string of interior posts to protect their supply lines. Lord Cornwallis used Camden as a base of operation. Two major battles were fought here: The Battle of Camden and the Battle of Hobkirk Hill.
A full-color brochure detailing the history, the battle sites, a timeline of events, maps, key heroes and heroines of the war, and historic sites to visit around the state can be obtained by contacting the Olde English Tourism District at (800) 968-5909.Additional information can be found at www.southcarolinarevwar.com.
January 13-14 • Battle of Cowpens Anniversary, Chesnee
Living history encampments, tactical demonstrations and lantern-lit walks. (864) 461-2828
June 1-3 • Battle of Beckhamville, Great Falls
Takes place on the original battlefield. Includes period music, dancing, church service, colonial tradesmen and craftsmen, children’s activities. (803) 482-2370
July 14-15 • Battle of Huck’s Defeat, McConnells
Re-enactors re-create the events surrounding a significant defeat of British forces. Military camp life demonstrations, cooking, crafts, skills, period music. (803) 684-2327
August 11-12 • Battle of Camden, Camden
More than 1,500 re-enactors and living history interpreters commemorate the anniversary of the Revolution’s worst Patriot defeat. (803) 432-9841
October 6 • Battle of Kings Mountain, Blacksburg