Sunday, May 12, 2013
Savannah to Charleston
Hilton Head, S.C.
At Hilton Head Island we took some time out to visit with the Nagle girls. Daragh's sisters Mary and Caroline, and niece Jennifer, flew in from Ireland, and New York City, for a brief interlude of relaxation, and to share 'the craic' as they say in the old country. Hilton Head is one of those new style planned communities where everything is cookie-cutter perfect. The harbour was lovely complete with lighthouse and meandering bike trails, draped with deep green foliage.
We made a side trip to Savannah, as the weather went from bad to worse. We still had a good time and joked that our new theme song was ' Rainy Night in Georgia'. As Chantey V docked at Beaufort, our final day together, the gloom finally lifted and rays of sun appeared for a brief few hours before the girls were whisked away at sunset by Phil the taxi driver homeward bound.
Charleston, South Carolina
We arrived at Charleston, where the Civil War began on April 12th, 1861. After months of sabre-rattling and threats of secession from the Union, Confederate soldiers opened fire on federal forces at Fort Sumter. Four years later, after the Siege of Charleston, Union forces marched in to take the city. Like Montreal and St. Augustine, remnants of the old walled city are still visible. Over 150 years later, stately neo-classical homes surround Shady Oak and Palmetto trees. Sumptuous restaurants line the narrow cobbled streets, and the Civil War is a distant memory.
Many statues and mementos of those tumultuous days line the parks and walkways. We read of one remarkable fellow named Robert Smalls, an enslaved pilot on the steamer 'Planter' in 1862.
The courageous Smalls conceived a plan to take control of the ship when the officers were ashore, with a small band of slaves and their families. They sailed it to Fort Sumter where the Unionists were staked out. When they arrived they joined the Union army and they eventually took Charleston, and became freed men. Later Smalls would become an activist in the Equal Rights Movement and a U.S. Senator. This brave and strategic deed was instrumental in Lincolns decision to allow slaves join the Union army as regular soldiers.