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“C” is for Charlesfort

“C” is for Charlesfort. A mid-sixteenth French outpost in Port Royal Sound, Charlesfort was the first French settlement in the present-day United States. In early 1562 the admiral of France dispatched a Norman mariner, Jean Ribault, to survey the east coast of North America and locate a site for a future French colony. Impressed by the apparent potential of Port Royal Sound, Ribault, before returning to France, left behind more than two dozen volunteers, who constructed a small wooden fort they named after their king. Civil war in France prevented Ribault sending supplies and new settlers. Over fourteen months, mutiny, conflict with the local Indians, and shortages of food threatened the survival of the fort. The decision was made to abandon the site. The settlers—using an open boat to cross the Atlantic—resorted to cannibalism to survive. During the 1980s archaeologists discovered the remains and site of Charlesfort.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson 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.