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)
The Mills House on Meeting Street was a popular hotel before the Civil War. It survived both the Great Fire of 1861 and the Union bombardment. Gen. Robert E. Lee was in residence in that December when the Great Fire erupted simultaneously in several locations around Charleston. The fire was so intense that its flames could be seen by Federal ships blockading the Port of Charleston six miles out at sea. Although the fire cut across the city, the Mills House was saved by its staff, which covered the roof and walls with wet blankets. The building stood at that spot until 1968, when it was demolished and replaced by a near replica (it was two inches taller).