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Today In Charleston History: August 21


1687 – Piracy.

A small fleet of ships, commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir John Narborough, was dispatched “for suppressing pirates in the West Indies.” It was England’s first serious attempt at restraining the ever-growing threat from buccaneers. Pirates coming into any of the ports of the province [English controlled] were “to be seized and imprisoned, and their ships’ good and plunder were to be taken and kept in custody until his Majesty’s Royal pleasure should be known.”

One observer remarked “only the poor Pyrats were hanged; rich ones appear’d publicly and were not molested in the least.”

1863 –  Bombardment of Charleston.  

Gen. Gillmore wrote a note to General P.G. T. Beauregard, which was delivered to Gen. Johnson Hagood, commander of the Confederate Battery Wagner on Morris Island at 11:15 a.m. Gillmore demanded that Morris Island and Fort Sumter be evacuated, or the city would be shelled. He wrote that should Beauregard:

refuse compliance with this demand, or should I receive no reply thereto within four hours after it was delivered into the hands of your subordinate at Ft. Wagner for transmission, I shall open fire on the city of Charleston from batteries already established within easy and effective range at the heart of the city.

Later than night, Lt. Nathan Edwards took a compass reading of the white steeple of St. Michael’s Church from the “Swamp Angel” battery, in order to properly aim the gun at Charleston.


P.G.T. Beauregard

Beauregard was out inspecting the city’s fortifications and not present when the Gillman’s note was delivered to Beauregard’s chief of staff, Brig. Gen. Thomas Jordan. Gillmore forgot to sign the note (whether by accident or by design has never been ascertained) so Jordan returned it to Gillmore’s headquarters for verification. By the time the note was signed and returned to Confederate headquarters it was 9:00 a.m. the following morning and sixteen Union shells had already hit Charleston.

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