Beaufort County Historical Society presents ‘Gate of Hell: The 1863 Campaign for Charleston’

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On July 18, at the Performing Arts Center in Beaufort South Carolina, Doctors Stephen R. Wise and Lawrence Rowland will present, beginning at 7 p.m., a program on the all important 1863 Campaign for Charleston for which Beaufort and Hilton Head served as the Federal Army and Navy’s logistical and medical center.

The summer of 1863 witnessed three massive campaigns that sharply affected the Civil War’s outcome — Gettysburg, Vicksburg and Charleston. The attack on Charleston, which originated from the Beaufort-Port Royal-Hilton Head area, introduced a new era in the science of engineering and gunnery. It involved extensive use of ironclad vessels as a combined Northern army/Mavy task force tried to sweep the Confederates off the island and capture Battery Wagner. The campaign was a major testing ground for African American troops including the well-known 54th Massachusetts. It also involved such personalities as Northerners Quincy A. Gillmore, Rear Admiral John Dahlgren, Nurse Clara Barton and Confederates General P. T. G. Beauregard, Ambrosio Gonzales and Beaufort natives Stephen Elliott and Alfred Rhett.

The skillful, bold operations made the 1863 Campaign for Charleston exceptional in the annals of military history. One British observer considered the battle of Morris Island to be the war’s most important campaign. Dr. Rowland will give background on the campaign and the importance of Port Royal to the Northern war effort and Dr. Wise using period photographs will vividly recount the campaign. Books by Rowland and Wise will be available after the talk. The presentation is sponsored by the University of South Carolina Beaufort and the Beaufort County Historical Society.  The event is free and open to the public and is part of the historical society’s series commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War.