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“S” is for Secessionville, Battle of

“S” is for Secessionville, Battle of [June 16, 1862). Union general Henry Benham launched an assault on Tower Battery near the planter village of Secessionville. The Confederate defenders, supported by the timely arrival of reinforcements, threw back the Union troops in fierce hand-to-hand fighting. A second Northern wave crashed against the battery’s left flank, but again was repulsed. Unbeknownst to the Northerners, the battery stood at the choke point of a telescoping peninsula. The marshy ground forces the Federal attackers into the mouths of Confederate guns. Aided by artillery, the Confederates repelled the Northerners with a ring of fire. Of the 4,500 Union attackers, nearly 700 became casualties. Confederate losses were fewer than 200 out of a force of 1,000. The Confederate victory at the Battle of Secessionville blunted what proved to be the Union’s best chance to capture Charleston.

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar receivedhisA.B.degreefromDavidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.