Home » Charleston Firsts » Today In Charleston History: February 18 – Charleston Firsts

Today In Charleston History: February 18 – Charleston Firsts

1735 – Charleston Firsts

The first public presentation of an opera in the colonies is performed at Broad and Church – Shepherd’s Tavern. The opera was titled Flora or Hob In The Well.  Local musicians provided the musical accompaniment on organ and fiddle.

1820 – Execution

 John and Lavinia Fisher were executed. Contrary to what everyone seems to believe (due to lazy tour guides and myth-perpetuating web pages)  they were NOT convicted of murder. Their crime was highway robbery. And also contrary to what everyone seems to believe, she was NOT hanged in her wedding dress. Also, contrary to what everyone seems to believe, she was NOT the first female serial killer. Enough said, let’s move on. 

For more accurate info, refer to my book, Wicked Charleston: The Dark Side of the Holy City (pg. 77-84), or James Caskey’s Charleston Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City, (pg. 37-44) or Six Miles From Charleston by Bruce Orr.  


James Petigru’s wife, Adele, attempted suicide by chloroform.

1865 – Civil War

Early in the morning, the Northeastern Railroad Depot accidently blew up, killing and wounding hundreds of evacuating civilians.The Confederates had stored a large quantity of gunpowder there prior to abandoning the city. Children playing with a candle ignited the powder, and over 150 people died in the explosion. Fires started by the rain of flaming debris destroyed more buildings.

railroad depot

Ruins of the depot

Later that morning Union Lt. Col. Augustus Bennett landed at Mills Wharf (East Bay and Broad Streets) with a small party of twenty-two men. They raised a regimental flag over the post office (Old Exchange Building) – the first U.S. flag to fly over Charleston since 1860 on the same pole on which the first secession flag was raised on December 1860.

At 10 o’clock, Bennett’s troops were supplemented by the Fifty-second Pennsylvania and the Third Rhode Island artillery. They moved through the city and established headquarters at the Citadel building on Marion Square. He immediately dispatched troops “with instructions to impress negroes whereever found and to make them work the fire apparatus until all fires were extinguished.”

Bennett secured the arsenal and guarded the largest stores of cotton, tobacco, rice and other foodstuffs in the city.  Later that day Gen. Gillmore wired Army chief of staff Halleck in Washington, D.C.:

The city of Charleston and its defenses came into our possession this morning, with over 200 pieces of good artillery and a supply of fine ammunition. The enemy commenced evacuating all the works last night, and Mayor MacBeth surrendered the city to the troops of Gen. Schimmelfenneg at 9 o’clock this morning, at which time it was occupied by our forces … Nearly all the inhabitants remaining in the city belong to the poorer classes.

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