South Carolina is rich in history, especially military history. For a small state, South Carolina played an outsized role in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. If you have a kid who loves military history, check out these two suggested weekend itineraries, one for the Revolution and the other for Civil War. You can get adventure, a little beauty and a whole lot of history into one short weekend in South Carolina.
Revolutionary War Itinerary
Walnut Grove Plantation was founded in 1767 at what was once the frontier of South Carolina. A visit to this beautiful and well-preserved plantation and conversation with their incredibly knowledgeable tour guides sets the stage for what life was like for both free and enslaved people when war broke out.
Saturday, all day:
Plan to spend the whole day at this incredible living history museum. Dozen of re-enactors who dress in period clothing and work hard at 18th-century tasks bring this place to life. More than 30 historical buildings keep it rooted in its Revolutionary past. It’s simply a beautiful place to spend the day.
The Battle of Huck’s Defeat, a key Revolutionary battle, occurred here. Be sure to walk the battlefield trail and watch the documentary explaining what happened.
What’s a military itinerary without some battlefields?
Cowpens National Battlefield and Kings Mountain National Military Park were both the sites of important Revolutionary War battles. In fact, Thomas Jefferson said that Battle of Kings Mountain was “the turn of the tide to success.” If you have the time before you head home, see both.
Civil War Itinerary
For a Civil War history weekend, base your family in Charleston, where the War between the States began. A family-friendly hotel downtown on the peninsula, like the Hampton Inn Historic District would be a great spot to decamp for the weekend.
The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, was founded in 1842. In January 1861, cadets from the Citadel fired shots on the Star of the West, a civilian steamship that was bringing supplies to the Union soldiers stationed at Fort Sumter. These were the very first shots of the war.
Citadel cadets still parade almost every Friday afternoon. It’s a spectacle worth getting to Charleston early to see.
This is it—the place where the Civil War began. Fort Sumter National Monument is one of the most important places in all American history, and it alone is reason enough to visit Charleston. The fort, on a tiny island in the harbor, is accessible by a beautiful ferry ride through the harbor. Make sure you give yourself ample time to explore the Visitor’s Center on Gadsden Wharf before boarding the ferry out to the island.
Find tips on making the most of your visit here.
Fort Sumter is only accessible by ferry. Ferry tickets often sell out on weekends, so buy your tickets in advance.
After lunch downtown (perhaps at the East Bay Deli, an easy walk from the ferry dock at Gadsden Wharf), head to the archaeology laboratory where the H.L. Hunley, a submarine used by the Confederates, is being conserved. The story of the sub, the man who invented it, and its fate, is one of the quirkiest bits of Civil War history you’ll ever hear.
Before you head home, be sure to walk down the Battery, the beautiful promenade along the water, to White Point Garden. This stretch of sea wall was once lined with cannons during the Civil War. Look out across Charleston Harbor and you will see Fort Sumter, barely a speck in the harbor. Once in lovely and shady White Point Garden, look for the stacks of cannon balls still awaiting battle.