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Charleston: A Military Perspective


The military has had a long and engaging relationship with the port city of Charleston, South Carolina, from the American Revolution and Civil War to the recent discover of The Hunley.

Fort Moultrie
As early as 1776, the British attempted to invade Sullivan’s Island, across the harbor from Charleston. The first American victory over the British Navy, at a palmetto log fort, galvanized the patriot’s cause for independence. It wasn’t until three years later on May 12, 1780, that the British took Charleston in hopes of maintaining their colonies in the South. The war officially ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

Today, the National Park Service at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island interprets 171 years of American seacoast defenses from 1776 to 1947. The visitor center houses exhibits on Fort Moultrie’s history and a 20-minute orientation film. Guests are encouraged to walk the grounds.

The Citadel Archives and Museum
A state-supported military college founded in 1842, The Citadel, showcases its history in its museum located in Daniel Library Building (use south entrance). Exhibits highlight the life of a cadet - academics, social, military and athletics. Important achievements of the institution, as well as its alumni, are highlighted.

Fort Sumter National Monument
Fast forward to the Civil War. Fort Sumter, sitting in Charleston Harbor, is where it all began. In April 1861, following the election of President Abraham Lincoln, South Carolina seceded from the union. Visitors can travel by boat (admission required) to see this significant site that is now part of the National Park Service. Debarkation points are at the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center at Liberty Square and at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum.

Charleston Museum
The Charleston Museum, located across from the Charleston Visitor Center, also documents the community’s role in the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars, among other exhibits. This is American’s first museum, founded in 1773. It preserves and interprets the cultural and natural history of Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry.

The Confederate Museum
At the corner of Market and Meeting Streets in downtown Charleston, is Market Hall, home of The Confederate Museum. Operated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), the museum features Confederate memorabilia.

Originally a service organization to assist Confederate soldiers and their families, today, among other activities, the UDC works to preserve history from 1855 to present. Members are direct descendants of Confederate soldiers, sailors and statesmen.

Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum

The imposing 888-foot aircraft carrier U.S.S. Yorktown is the flagship of the Patriots Point battle group. The destroyer, Laffey, the Coast Guard cutter, Ingham, and the submarine, Clamagore, are all on display along with 25 aircraft, the Congressional Medal of Honor Museum and Cold War Submarine Memorial. Veteran volunteers lead guided tours, or take one of several self-guided tours available on the Yorktown.

The American Military Museum
One of the youngest museums in town showcases materials from U.S. military conflicts from the Civil War to present. Located between the IMAX Theatre and the South Carolina Aquarium at Charleston’s Aquarium Wharf, it’s sure to please veterans or anyone with connections to the military.

  The expansive and extensive collection of uniforms and memorabilia takes visitors back in time. All branches of the military: Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine and Coast Guard are recognized. Its founder is passionate about the collection and can easily recount details often overlooked by the average person. With each passing day, items are added.

The Hunley

On the evening of February 17, 1864, the Confederate’s H. L. Hunley became the world’s first successful combat submarine by sinking the Union’s U.S.S. Housatonic. Then, after signaling to shore that the mission had been accomplished, the submarine and her crew of eight vanished.

Lost at sea for more than a century, The Hunley was located in 1995 by Clive Cussler's National Underwater Agency (NUMA). The hand-cranked vessel was raised in 2000 and delivered to the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, where an international team of scientists are at work conserving the vessel and piecing together clues to solve the mystery of her disappearance.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy have been working with The Hunley to assure a proper burial for the deceased.

Fort Moultrie
1214 Middle Street
Sullivan's Island, SC 29482
(843) 883-3123

The Citadel Archives and Museum
171 Moultrie Street
Charleston, SC 29409
(843) 953-6846

Fort Sumter National Monument
Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center at Liberty Square
340 Concord Street
Charleston, SC
(843) 883-3123

The Charleston Museum
360 Meeting Street
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 722-2996
The Confederate Museum
188 Meeting Street
Charleston, SC
(843) 723-1541

Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum
40 Patriots Point Road
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464-4377
(843) 884-2727

The American Military Museum
360 Concord Street
Charleston, SC 29417
(843) 577-7000

The Hunley
Warren Lasch Conservation Center
1250 Supply Street, Building 255
Former Charleston Navy Base
North Charleston, SC 29405
(866) 866-9938

Photos: Fort Moultrie, The Hunley (replica) outside the Charleston Museum, The Laffey at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, and The American Military Museum - ©2006 Flying Compass, Inc. All rights reserved. Photo Courtesy: Fort Sumter - National Park Service, Fort Sumter National Monument

Beyond a historical significance, the city has had an ongoing relationship with the Navy, Army and Air Force. Please go to Page 2