County acquires Port Royal Island Battlefield along Highway 21

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The purchase will protect Revolutionary War battlefield from development

From staff reports

At the close of 2020, Beaufort County succeeded in permanently protecting 12 acres along Highway 21, known as The Port Royal Island Battlefield.

This Revolutionary War battlefield contains significant historic value and artifacts and is protected as a critical piece of the county’s rich cultural landscape.

The property is protected in partnership between the Department of Defense, Beaufort County Rural and Critical Lands Program, the South Carolina State Conservation Bank, and the South Carolina Battleground Trust. This property has been a long-sought acquisition and fulfills cross-cutting goals including supporting the military installation, protecting critical cultural resources, and connecting with the S.C. Liberty Trail.

Protection is made possible by a partnership of funding sources, good timing, and the willing sellers, Harris Pillow Company and Mike and Connie Kling.

The Department of Defense contributed $910,000 and placed a restrictive easement on the property to protect from future development that would affect the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. Beaufort County’s Rural and Critical Lands Program contributed $557,037.

“Beaufort County is proud to add the Port Royal Island Battlefield to our protected cultural landscape,” County Councilwoman Alice Howard said. “Rural and Critical lands tax dollars protected this important piece of Revolutionary and American history for our citizens, visitors, and future generations.”

The South Carolina State Conservation Bank contributed $352,963 to protect the property and S.C. Battleground Trust will hold a Conservation Easement to protect its historic value. In the future, the property will be an anchor along the S.C. Liberty Trail, a statewide network of Revolutionary War battlefields.

“The S.C. Conservation Bank proudly supports the Liberty Trail initiative. Protecting the Battle of Port Royal site is an important step towards the goal of securing our state’s Revolutionary War legacy and making our history available for the public,” Director of the S.C. Conservation Bank Raleigh West said in a release. “We are also grateful for the continued partnership with Beaufort County and the Department of Defense and their ongoing commitment to conservation.”

The battlefield, where two signatories to the Declaration of Independence – Thomas Heyward, Jr. and Edward Rutledge – fought, is significant to Beaufort County and the Revolutionary war. Had the British been successful at this site, they would have controlled the deepest natural harbor on the east coast – The Port Royal Sound.

Doug Bostick, CEO of the S.C. Battleground Trust, offered, “We are thrilled to know that this significant battlefield is preserved. It will be an important stop on the Liberty Trail. This early-war battle includes a number of compelling storylines. We are excited to work with the County to interpret this battlefield to the public.”

The South Carolina Liberty Trail is a partnership between the S.C. Battleground Trust and the American Battlefield Trust in Washington, D.C. The ambition is to create a driving tour network of 70 Revolutionary War battlefields throughout the state and connect to smaller and related historic and cultural sites through an innovative APP now in development.

For more information on Beaufort County’s Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program, visit http://ruralandcritical.org/.