Fort Moultrie commemorates 150th anniversary of Battle for Battery Wagner with free programs

  • Thursday, July 11, 2013

National Park Service rangers will portray members of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment July 18-21 as Fort Moultrie presents free activities to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle of Battery Wagner. PHOTO PROVIDED

Fort Sumter National Monument invites the public to a series of free programs at Fort Moultrie on July 18-21 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle of Battery Wagner.

Living history demonstrations by re-enactors, musket firings and music, lectures and luminaries are part of the multi-day event.

The event also includes special programs for children.

In 1863 Union forces descending on Morris Island encountered a Confederate obstacle that resisted Army and Navy assaults for two months.

That obstacle, Battery Wagner, was an earthwork that spanned the entire width of the island.

On July 18, 1863 the 54th Massachusetts, a newly formed regiment of African Americans, led a nighttime assault on the battery through heavy rifle and cannon fire.

The bravery of the 54th Massachusetts inspired the Union to recruit more African-American men into the Army and Navy.

By war’s end, almost 10 percent of the federal forces were Americans of African descent.

On July 18th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. re-enactors representing the 54th Massachusetts and the 7th South Carolina Battalion will conduct living history programs, including musket firings, heavy artillery drills and Civil War medicine.

Children ages 4-12 can participate in a special Junior Ranger program with a focus on the United States Colored Troops (USCT) as well as military enlistments and musket drills.

Scheduled history talks are:

10 a.m. Susie King Taylor by Ramona LaRoche

Noon African Americans and the Civil War by Prof. Donald West, Trident Tech

1 p.m. 54th Camp Scene with Ernest Parks

2 p.m. The Campaign for Morris Island by Dr. Russell Horres, NPS Volunteer

That evening from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., the 246th Army National Guard Band will present an outdoor concert of period music.

At 7:45 p.m. a commemorative program will commence at the same hour as the 1863 Assault on Battery Wagner began 150 years ago.

South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Glenn McConnell will deliver the keynote address.

Re-enactors representing the 54th Massachusetts, the 48th New York, 1st New York Engineers and the 7th South Carolina Battalion will fire muskets.

Two hundred and ninety four luminaries will be lit in the field in front of Fort Moultrie, overlooking Charleston Harbor, Fort Sumter and Morris Island.

The luminaries represent those Union and Confederate soldiers who died on Morris Island during the July 18 battle.

On Friday, July 19 through noon on Sunday, July 21 Union and Confederate re-enactors will conduct living history programs, medical programs, musket firings and heavy artillery drills.

Union re-enactors will have a camp outside Fort Moultrie and Confederate re-enactors will be inside the fort.

Fort Moultrie is administered by the National Park Service as a unit of Fort Sumter National Monument.

Located at 1214 Middle Street, Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, the fort and visitor center are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for New Year’s, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Days.

While the visitor center is free, an entrance fee of $3 per adult or $5 per family is charged to tour the fort.

For more information, visit the park service online at www.nps.gov/fosu or call 843-883-3123.

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