Civil War History

Visit the plantation homes of the Senator who coined the phrase, “Cotton is King” and South Carolina’s “secession governor,” William Henry Gist who led the way to Civil War. Tour the sites of Civil War battles in South Carolina, including the ground where the Confederacy made its last stand against Sherman’s march across the South. From the first talk of secession and the first shots fired to one of the most decisive battles of the War’s end, South Carolina played an important role in American Civil War history.

The First Shots

The first shots of the Civil War were fired in Charleston Harbor on April 12, 1861.

Two days later the federal garrison in Fort Sumter surrendered to Confederate forces. Union troops occupied the Sea Islands in the Beaufort area in November beginning the move toward freedom for a few of the state's slaves.

There were few Civil War Battles in South Carolina until 1865, but one-fifth of South Carolina's white males of fighting age were sacrificed to the Confederate cause, and General William Tecumseh Sherman's march through the state at the war's end left a trail of destruction. Poverty would mark the state for generations to come.

Battle of Rivers Bridge - Sherman's March Across the Carolinas

In the Battle of Rivers Bridge at what is now the Battle of Rivers Bridge State Historic Site, Confederate troops made a desperate attempt to stop General William T. Sherman’s march across the Carolinas. After this bloody South Carolina Civil War battle on the banks of the Salkehatchie River, Union forces moved northward and captured the state capital. In a few months the Confederacy crumbled and the Civil War was over.

Other state park sites with South Carolina Civil War History include: