The Battle of Secessionville (or the First Battle of James Island) on June 16, 1862, was the defeat of the only Union attempt to capture Charleston, South Carolina, by land during the American Civil War.
Battle[edit | edit source]
In early June 1862, Maj. Gen. David Hunter transported the Union divisions of Brig. Gens. Horatio G. Wright and Isaac I. Stevens, under the immediate direction of Brig. Gen. Henry Benham, to James Island, where they entrenched at Grimball's Landing near the southern flank of the Confederate defenses. Benham landed 6,500 men from the 3rd New Hampshire, 8th Michigan, 7th Connecticut, 28th Massachusetts, and 79th New York "Highlanders" on the southeastern end of James Island, and marched toward Charleston. However, Brig. Gen. Nathan "Shanks" Evans, who commanded less than half that number of Confederate forces, made up of troops from South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, met the Northern troops at a fort at Secessionville commanded by Colonel T. G. Lamar and routed them.
Aftermath[edit | edit source]
The Union suffered 683 casualties (107 dead), compared to 204 (52 dead) by the Confederates. Although the battle was minor, it served as a powerful propaganda victory, increasing morale particularly in Charleston and offsetting recent Confederate losses in the Western Theater.
Benham had acted against orders in attempting to take James Island, and he was subject to a court martial after the loss. Although the numbers involved were small, the stakes were high. The Union would continue to attempt to starve and attack Charleston for the rest of the war, and, had they succeeded, the "Fort Lamar" at Secessionville (which had been named not for the secession of South Carolina, but for an earlier attempt of some plantation owners to rebel) would have controlled the harbor.
References[edit | edit source]
- Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Fort Sumter to Perryville, Random House, 1958, ISBN 0-394-49517-9.
[edit | edit source]
- Secessionville Battlefield Page: Battle maps, photos, history articles, and battlefield news (CWPT)
- The South Carolina Historical Society page on the battle
- A history of the battle
- Re-enactment of the Battle of Secessionville