Setting the Scene: The Civil War Begins

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  • Setting the Scene: The Civil War Begins
  • On April 12, 1861, the Civil War commenced with the Confederate Army attack on the Union Army’s Fort Sumter, off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina.
  • In July 1861, the enslaved residents were sent to build two earthwork forts to guard the Sea Islands/Port Royal Sound. This included building steep earth banks, cutting palmetto logs, and constructing gun emplacements. As they completed this work, the enslaved residents anticipated the end of slavery and a hope for a better future. 
  • On November 7, 1861 (the “Day of the Big Gun Shoot”), Union forces successfully attacked and captured two Confederate forts (Fort Walker and Fort Beauregard) and the Sea Islands of South Carolina in the Battle of Port Royal, which lasted five days. Hilton Head Island, specifically Drayton Plantation, immediately became the headquarters for the Union Army. 
  • A mother and son heard the sounds of the attack. The son inquired and the mother responded: “Son, dat ain’t no t’under; ‘dat yankee come to gib you Freedom.”