By Pamela Brownstein
On a rainy Saturday morning recently, 20 people piled into two vans and set off to explore the historic sites that are part of Naval Hospital Beaufort in Port Royal.
Despite the drizzle, the group listened with interest as the informed guides described the significance of three areas: Old Fort Plantation, the Emancipation Oak and Fort Frederick.
The Naval Hospital was formerly the John Joiner Smith Plantation, but what remain are the live oaks that once lined the drive up to the plantation house.
During the Civil War, the First South Carolina Volunteers, the first federally authorized black unit to fight for the Union, camped at this site, known as Camp Saxton. On January 1, 1863, General Rufus Saxton assembled a large populace on this site for one of the earliest readings of the Emancipation Proclamation under an oak tree.
Fort Frederick was built by the English in 1735 along the Beaufort River to protect Beaufort from the Native Americans in the area, and the Spaniards in Florida.
The free public tours take place the third Saturday of every month at 10 a.m. , so call 843-228-5306 today to reserve a spot for September 17.