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Timeline of Colonial South Carolina

Sep 07 1804 - Feb 23 1865

Sep 07 1804

Hurricane of 1804 strikes.


Charlestonians build the first bridge over the Ashley River. It is large enough for two carriages to pass, and has sidewalks on each side for foot traffic.


Samuel F. Morse, inventor of the telegraph, arrives in Charleston to begin a printing business.


Population of Charleston to be 24,790 (United States Census).


The first native-born architect in America, Robert Mills, designs the first fireproof building in America (corner of Chalmers and Meeting Streets). A native Charlestonian, Mills also designed the First Baptist Church and the Washington Monument in the U.S. capital.

Jul 02 1822

Denmark Vesey and 5 of his associates hanged as the ring leaders in the attempted slave uprising "to overthrow the constituted civil authority." In all 34 hanged & 35 exiled.


The Medical Society of South Carolina establishes the Medical College


A group of members of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim form the Reform Society of Israelites. Beth Elohim is the recognized birthplace of Reform Judaism in the United States.

Mar 14 1825

Geneeral Lafayette visits, welcomed with a grand procession.

Nov 1827

Edgar Allen Poe arrives to serve at Fort Moultrie in November and stays for 13 months. During his stay he gathers material for a number of his works, the most popular being The Gold Bug which is set on Sullivan's Island and incorporates coastal Carolina pirate lore.


"The Best Friend," the first locomotive built in America and used in regular passenger service, becomes operational. It runs on the longest railroad in the world, 136 miles from Charleston to Hamburg, S.C., reaching speeds of 21 mph.

Oct 1831

John James Audubon arrives in Charleston to work on his Birds of America.

Nov 28 1831

The steam locomotive "The Best Friend" transports the US Mail, becoming the first railroad in the country to do so.

Feb 14 1835

Fire! St. Philip's Church is destroyed and 60 residents are killed.

Jan 30 1838

Osceola, Chief of the Seminoles, dies while in prison at Ft. Moultrie.

May 03 1838

The first services held in the rebuilt St. Philips's Church at 146 Church St.


Fire destroys much of Ansonborough.

Mar 20 1843

The Citadel opens for its first class of cadets.

Nov 20 1846

The Citadel hold its first graduation ceremonies, six cadets receive diplomas.

Apr 25 1850

The funeral cortege of John C. Calhoun parades through the streets of Charleston to City Hall. The body lies in state until the next day. Thousands pay their respects to the "Great Nullifier."


Renowned scientist Dr. Louis Agassiz comes to Charleston to teach at the Medical College of S.C. A seaside laboratory is established on Sullivan's Island to study the flora and fauna of the Atlantic Ocean.

Sep 22 1858

Another yellow fever epidemic which lasts until November. Some 700 people die in this episode of the dreaded disease.


Charleston's population estimated to be 40,500.

Nov 07 1860

Abraham Lincoln's election prompts the resignation of federal officials in South Carolina.

Nov 15 1860

Major Robert Anderson takes command of Ft. Moultrie, his father had fought at Ft. Moultrie as a Patriot during the Revolution..

Dec 20 1860

Ordinance of Secession ratified in Institute Hall in Charleston, proclaiming South Carolina "an independent commonwealth."

Apr 12 1861

Confederate forces open fire upon Ft. Sumter, the first shots of the Civil War.

May 27 1861

General Beauregard relieved of his duties in Charleston & assigned to Virginia. Colonel Richard H. Anderson assumes command.

Oct 12 1861

Confederate envoys depart Charleston on an aid-seeking mission to England. The Union seizure of these envoys on the open sea from a British ship causes a crisis between the Union and Great Britain.

Nov 14 1861

The Beauregard Light Infantry receives a new white silk banner from the ladies of the city in ceremonies held at the race grounds.

Dec 19 1861

Federal forces sink stone-laden whale ships, "The Stone Fleet," in the main channel of the harbor to interrupt shipping, the beginning of the blockade of Charleston harbor.

May 13 1862

Confederate river pilot and slave Robert Smalls leads a small group that seizes the steamer Planter <> and sails it through Confederate line to the safety of the Union blockade of Charleston.

Jun 16 1862

The Battle of Secessionville rages at Battery Lamar on James Island. Confederates win this battle, inflicting some 700 casualties while suffering only 200.

Jun 21 1862

Battle of Simmons Bluff.

Jan 31 1863

Confederate ironclads Palmetto & Chicora engage the Federal fleet outside Charleston Harbor, bringing temporary relief from the blockade.

Apr 07 1863

Nine ironclads assault Fort Sumter. Results - Fort Sumter severely battered but still secured; 5 ironclads seriously disabled with the Keokuk sinking the next morning.

Jul 18 1863

The Union assault upon Battery Wagner on Morris Island is lead by the 54th Massachusetts, an all black unit.

Aug 22 1863

The 587 day Federal bombardment of downtown Charleston begins with the explosion of a shell on Pinckney Street.

Sep 08 1863

Union forces attempt an amphibious assault on Ft. Sumter. Confederate forces win this battle, inflicting 127 casualties while suffering none.

Nov 19 1863

Federal troops shell Charleston from Morris Island. One shell explodes at the door of St. Michael's Church during services.

Jan 18 1864

The 193rd day of the siege. The Union continues to shell the city. The past week alone brought over 1,000 shell hits.


The Confederate submarine CSS H. L. Hunley rams the Housatonic; the first submarine to sink a vessel in war.

Feb 23 1865

Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's troops reach Middleton Place Plantation, leaving it in ruins. Charlestonians fear imminent invasion, but Sherman's forces turn toward Columbia. The subsequent burning of Columbia destroys many records and valuables which Charlestonians had sent there for "safekeeping."

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