South Carolina, Where We've Been

Fort Sumter, Charleston Tea Garden, Angel Oak, Downtown Charleston

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Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter was fired upon from nearby Fort Johnson. Thousands of rounds bombarded the fort walls from behind and while not a single person lost their life from the event, it decimated the fort. The attack on Fort Sumter led to the beginning of the Civil War in 1861.

The only way to reach the fort is by ferry as it sits in the middle of the Charleston inlet. The fort was never meant to defend an attack from behind its fortifications, so the rear wall of the fort neither has cannons or a tall wall to defend from such attacks. 

As the attacks wore on and their supplies became depleted, the Union soldiers held the fort for as long as they could (about 33 hours) before eventually surrendering to the Confederate soldiers.

You can see several projectiles still encased in the brick walls of the fort. Can you find one in this picture below? 

The 33 starred American flag that flew over Fort Sumter was badly damaged from the shelling. The flagpole it was mounted to received a strong hit and both it and the flag fell to the ground. It was then that 2Lt. Norman J. Hall rushed out into the open battlefield to retrieve the flag, dismissing any danger to himself, and remounted it on a makeshift flagpole. When the commander surrendered, they took the flag with them back to the north to raise awareness of the battle. It wasn’t until four years later that the flag once again was raised at Fort Sumter, but this time in victory.

Charleston Tea Garden

The history of tea in America goes back several hundred years when in the 1700’s the first Camilla Sinensis (tea) bushes were brought over from China. Several attempts were made to propagate the tea bushes, but it wasn’t until 1888 that the first successful tea farm was established. For 27 years, Dr. Charles Shepard tended his tea plantation, making award winning teas, until his death in 1915.

With no one to attend to the plantation, the tea bushes were neglected and became overgrown until they were bought by another man in 1963. They were then transplanted to another farm, and underwent research until 1987. It was then that the plantation was bought again by a tea enthusiast who turned the plantation into a commercial operation. In 2003, the plantation was then sold again to the Bigelow company, and eventually changing the name to the Charleston Tea Garden.

South Carolina’s coastal climate closely replicates the conditions of successful tea plantations in other parts of the world. It’s been the only place in America where the tea bushes have successfully been grown. 

The machine, shown below, is one-of-a-kind. It was made just for harvesting the tea leave at the Charleston Tea Garden. It is designed to go in between the rows of the bushes and shave off the top and side leaves and collect them in the harvesting bin.

The Tea Garden makes 9 different flavors of tea, both bagged and loose leaf. They conveniently sell it after you dabble in the free samples in the store. The raspberry was amazingly good so of course we took some home.

Angel Oak

While not as tall or as old as the Great Sequoias, this oak tree has seen its fair share of sunsets. It’s estimated to be about 400-500 years old with a shade cover around 17,200 sq.ft. To keep it in a healthy and manageable condition, the tree has several support braces on its heavier branches to keep them from breaking off from the main trunk.  

The branches are covered in moss giving it a green, almost swampy look. The kids thought it would be a perfect tree to build a treehouse in, but unfortunately no one is allowed to climb or even touch its delicate structure. 

Downtown Charleston

You might recognize the inside of this building in a famous painting. This is Old Exchange in downtown Charleston, SC. Delegates gathered on the second floor in 1788 and ratified the U.S. Constitution. Those three tall windows in the middle…

…are the same three windows below that look out onto Broad Street. 

The building also contains one of 200 official copies made of the Declaration of Independence. This copy is held in a temperature controlled glass case on the first floor.

Jaden and Ellie signed their “John Hancock’s” to another copy of the Declaration of Independence. 

Many years later, this building changed purposes yet again to be the post office in Charleston. Now if anyone knows how to work one of these locks, please let me know. We tried unsuccessfully to figure out how these worked.

A copy of the Constitution hangs on the wall just outside the meeting room.

During the Revolutionary War, when the British were in control of the city and the Exchange, patriot prisoners were held in confinement in the dungeon (located in the basement). The ceiling of the basement is a double barrel construction. Laying on top of the arches is a thick layer of sand. This was constructed in such a way that if the gun powder in the building was to explode, the sand would be released to quickly control the explosion and put out any resulting fire. 

We continued the tour around Charleston by a story-telling pirate. He told us some of the history of the buildings and the pirate tales that put Charleston on the map. It was the pirates that ultimately made Charleston grow into the city it is today due to the amount of gold that was brought in and traded.


Charleston AFB FamCamp

We stayed at Charleston Air Force Base FamCamp for the visit to South Carolina. The sites were nearly full when we arrived early in the morning. We were told someone was going to check out later that day and to take their spot once it was checkout time. That time came and went and the person hadn’t moved. Despite their best efforts, they weren’t able to get ahold of the seemingly immovable guest. They ended up giving us a different site which was a little tighter but seemed to fit our needs.

We were able to wash the truck and RV in our site for an addition $10 (water fee). It was a good thing we brought along all of our washing equipment. It has come in handy several times now.

A thick wooded area gave us a lot of shade which was nice for the ambience, but didn’t help with a Starlink connection.  Still we were able to use AT&T to connect, it just wasn’t a speedy connection. 

Quinn seemed to love the spot. He curled up on top of the couch and stared out of the windows a lot of the time.