Homer's Travels: The Great Getting Out Of The House Southeast USA Vacation Of 2021 - Day 5 And Part Of Day 6

Friday, June 25, 2021

The Great Getting Out Of The House Southeast USA Vacation Of 2021 - Day 5 And Part Of Day 6

On day five we drove into Charleston, SC.  We were spending three nights here exploring history mostly.  We stopped at our hotel, dropped off out bags since we were too early to check in, and headed to Liberty Square where we would catch our boat ride to Fort Sumter.

Fort Sumter where the Civil War started.
The first thing we noticed after getting out of our car was the humidity.  Neither of us expected it to be so hot and humid in June.  I thought this was more July and August weather.  We went to the Fort Sumter park headquarters, bought our tickets, and explored the small museum as we waited to get on our boat.

You can see the red mark on the flagpole that marks
the height of the walls before bombardment.
The boat ride was short one providing views of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier (now a museum).  As we approached the fort we were given a brief historical lecture about what happened on the island.  A red mark on the flagpole was pointed out.  This mark was the original height of the fort walls. The pounding the fort received first from the Confederates and then by the Union forces had reduced much of the fort to rubble.

An unexploded shell embedded in the inside wall of the fort.
We got off our boat and explored the fort seeing the canons, the shells embedded in the walls and the fingerprints of the enslaved people who made the bricks the fort was made of.  Seeing these things helped make the Civil War more real.

The three indentations are fingerprints of enslaved workers who made the brick.
After touring the fort the boat returned us to the mainland.  It was lunchtime and our plans were to leave the car where we'd parked it and walk to a place for lunch before heading in search of a walking tour of Charleston.  It didn't take long for us to discover the issue with that plan.  In the four to five blocks we walked to the restaurant we were drenched in sweat and very hot.  It was obvious that a walking tour was no longer in the plan.  We sat in the bar and ordered food while we cooled off.

We finished our lunch and headed south to where the walking tours started.  We never got there as the heat and humidity reasserted itself.  Instead we walked through the historic Charleston City Market.  We both came to the conclusion that the market was … underwhelming.  We saw nothing worth buying and things were overpriced.  We left the market and headed … slowly … stopping frequently … back to our car.  Our hotel picked by the Wife was in the perfect place to walk to everything.  In the end, we walked nowhere.

The USS Hunley submerged in water to help preserve the wreckage.
On day six, after a breakfast at our first Waffle House, we headed to north Charleston to visit the USS Hunley exhibit.  The Hunley, a civil war era Confederate submarine, was the first to ever sink a ship.  The Hunley disappeared after it sunk the ship and was not found until 1995 by a group financed by Clive Cussler, the author.  This was a very well put together presentation given by an enthusiastic docent and I would have to say the Hunley was one of the highlights of this trip.  The tours are held on the weekends so that archeologist can work on the submarine during the week.  During the weekend the wreckage is submerged in water and other chemicals to help leach out the salt and slow the degradation of the submarine.

Lt Dixon's coin recovered from the Hunley.
One story that has been confirmed by the archaeologist is the story of Lieutenant George E. Dixon who commanded the final voyage of the Hunley.  It was said he carried a gold coin given to him by a young lady.  During an earlier battle he was hit and the coin, bent by the ball, saved his leg and possibly his life.  While examining the ruins of the ship the coin was found and the story was confirmed.

The final resting place for the last crew of the Hunley.
(The only appropriate place for the Confederate flag in my opinion.)
No one knows for sure how the crew on the Hunley were killed.  The one I think is most likely is that the shockwave of the torpedo (actually an explosive attached to the end of a pole connected to the front of the submarine) killed the crew instantly.  In the end the Hunley's successful sinking of a ship was a suicide mission.  The remains of all eight who died that day were recovered and, in 2004, given a burial with honors and a four mile long precession.  After visiting the Hunley we visited their graves.

This afternoon we would see one side of Charleston's history.

Photos can be found in my 2021-06 Southeast USA Google Photos album.

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