The Destruction of Charleston in the Civil War
Visitors to the South Carolina city can still see signs of the pre-Civil War structures that were devastated by Union bombardment and a blazing fire devastated
- By Ray Gordon and Molly Roberts
- Smithsonian.com, March 23, 2011
(Library of Congress / Molly Roberts)
During the Civil War, the waterfront area was heavily shelled by artillery on the barrier islands in Charleston Harbor. The building on the left is where the first shell struck the city. Besieged, bombarded and blocked from commerce, Charleston suffered greatly in the war. Sidney Andrews, a Northern reporter in Charleston at war’s end described it as “a city of desolation, of vacant homes, of widowed women, of deserted warehouses, of weed wild gardens ... of miles of grass grown streets.” In 1990, the city completed renovating the area into Waterfront Park, where visitors can take in views of the harbor along a palmetto-tree-shaded walk.