Home » Black History » Today In Charleston History: January 31

Today In Charleston History: January 31

1780 – The Seige of Charlestown

Continental Army General Benjamin Lincoln requested that Governor John Rutledge “order 1500 Negroes to assemble in the vicinity of this town with the necessary tools for throwing up lines immediately.”


Charles Pinckney delivered a speech in the U.S. Senate on the subject of trial by jury.

Viewing as I do impartial juries as among the most indispensable ingredients of a free government, it is my duty to declare … that in those states in which the federal marshals have a right to summon jurors as they please, the people are not free!

1863 – Civil War
At about 5am, Confederate ironclads CSS Palmetto State and CSS Chicora attack the Union blockade outside of Charleston harbor. The Palmetto State rammed bow first into the Mercedita’s port quarter, ripping a hole in the ships keel. The Confederate crew fired its point blank into the Mercedita, bursting the ship’s boilers, immediately crippling the ship. The Chicora  and the USS Keystone State exchanged fire, with a Confederate shot hitting the steam drum on the Keystone State. The explosion killed 20 men. The Chicora signaled for the ships surrender but there was no reply.
Union ships began to arrive and both sides fired at one another until sunrise, when the wooden Union navy retreated, unable to inflict damage upon the iron side Confederate warships.

ironclad attack - 1863

 1864 – Civil War   

 Colonel W.W.H. Davis took in three Confederate Irish deserters from Charleston who complained they were “much pinched for food.” From the deserters accounts Davis reported that:

Our shells have done considerable damage in Charleston. Most of the shells explode, but as yet few people have been injured by them. Charleston is depopulated, except by the very poorest class of people, and they have moved as far uptown as they can get. Beauregard’s headquarters and all the public offices have been removed to the upper part of the city. 


Charleston, Meeting Street, circa 1865 – Ruins of the Circular Church after the 1861 fire and Federal Bombardment.

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