Thursday, January 2, 2020

Booknotes: The Civil War in the South Carolina Lowcountry

New Arrival:
The Civil War in the South Carolina Lowcountry: How a Confederate Artillery Battery and a Black Union Regiment Defined the War by Ron Roth (McFarland, 2020).

In the Civil War publishing world, dual unit studies (of allies or enemies) are probably even less common than dual biographies. Among other things, behind this particular dual history is a desire to explore the many contrasts between two combat units of shared geographical background but polar opposite purposes (to put it mildly).

From the description: "Some of the most dramatic and consequential events of the Civil War era took place in the South Carolina Lowcountry between Charleston and Savannah." Ron Roth's The Civil War in the South Carolina Lowcountry: How a Confederate Artillery Battery and a Black Union Regiment Defined the War "tells the story through the experiences of two radically different military units--the Confederate Beaufort Volunteer Artillery and the U.S. 1st South Carolina Regiment, the first black Union regiment to fight in the war--both organized in Beaufort, the heart of the Lowcountry."

The book's parallel narratives begin decades before the Civil War and end with an epilogue discussion of the Reconstruction period. Military event coverage includes raiding operations back and forth across the Union-occupied sea islands and the Confederate-held mainland (ex. the 1862 Battle of Pocotaligo), the burning of Bluffton, the 1864 Battle of Honey Hill, and the 1865 Battle of Averasboro fought in neighboring North Carolina. Among some other supplementary materials, name-list rosters of both units can be found in the appendix section.


  1. Drew,

    Your post on the Beaufort Artillery and the 1st SC got me thinking. The 1st SC is pretty well covered in Saucer's An We Ob Jubliee and Ash's Firebrand of Liberty. Both of which I have. But probably not surprising not much is written of the Confederate defenders from SC that fought and stayed in SC defending the coast. I bought the book mainly for the coverage of the Beaufort Artillery which got me to digging on the internet. Always interesting what turns up. Have you ever heard of a book by Chris Phelps - Charlestonians at War : The Charleston Battalion? Picked up a copy looks interesting. Tells the story of Johnson's Hagood's 1st South Carolina - which fought at Pocotaligo, Defense of Fort Wagner, and overall defense of Charleston before evacuating North with Johnston in the closing days of the war. Also some fascinating material on all of the Charleston militia companies that participated in bombarding Ft. Sumter and later coalesced into the foundation of the regiment. Curt T

    1. That's what interested me the most about it, too. I'm not sure it's as detailed a treatment as I was hoping for, but that's just my thought after quickly glancing through it.

      I thumbed through the Phelps book at a bookstore once right after it came out, but didn't end up buying it. That SC unit series that Broadfoot is publishing has some coverage of units that stayed in the state. I bought a copy of the big book on the Stono Scouts, but still haven't read it yet.

      It's hard to believe that no one has written a book on the Battle of Honey Hill after all this time.

  2. Thanks Drew! I will check out that SC Broadfoot series. Did not even know it existed. Curt T


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