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The Battle of Bloody Bridge

Posted on Friday, May 12, 2017 at 12:53 pm

During the War Between the States, there were over 10,000 battles and countless skirmishes.  The low country of South Carolina was not exempt to the conflicts.  Since Charleston was the location where the first “star burst” shot was fired, it began a primary target of the federal government.  On April 12, 1861, Company C of the South Carolina Battalion was stationed at the Beach Battery.  Colonel James Chesnut gave the order to Lieutenant Henry Saxon Farley to ready the round.  Lt. Farley prepared the 10 inch seacoast mortar and waited for the signal with lanyard in hand.  At 4:30 A. M., Captain James gave the order and Lt. Farley fired the star burst, which exploded directly above Fort Sumter.  The signal was answered by a barrage of artillery from James Island, Cummings Point, Mount Pleasant, and Sullivan’s Island.  The War Between the States began.

So, the seat of secession was the focal point of the north.  It became a matter of pride for the government of Washington City.  It was also an act of revenge, and retaliation against the city. So began many conflicts, skirmishes, and all out attacks.  One of the most noted was the Battle of Burdens Causeway (Battle of Bloody Bridge) on John’s Island.

The three-day battle was the largest battle on Johns Island.  On July 2, 1864, Brigadier John P. Hatch landed on Seabrook Island with a large contingency of Federal soldiers.  Other troops landed at Legareville and Rockville.  They joined forces with Brigadier General Rufus Saxton and began destroying the rails of the Charleston and Savannah lines.  The 8,000 plus Union force marched four miles to Haulover Cut.  There they found the main bridge had been burnt.  In order to cross into Johns Island, another bridge had to be constructed.  This gave ample time for the defense of Johns Island to be formulated.

On July 3, 1864, they continued to march but the soldiers were not accustomed to the heat, mosquitoes, gnats (can’t see’ems), marsh, sandy soil, and maneuvering across causeways.  It took the Federal army three days to get to a place known as Burden’s Causeway.   On July 6, 1864, they encountered approximately 2,000 Confederate troops holding the high ground, commanded by Brigadier General B. H. Robertson.  The contingency of Southern troops comprised of civilian militia defending their homeland, and Confederate soldiers.

The battle began at a small bridge on the main road.  Intense fighting occurred.  The Confederates repositioned themselves at Waterloo plantation.  On July 7, 1864, the rifle pits were attacked.  The battle continued with casualties on both sides.  Finally the Confederates recaptured the breast works.

On July 8, 1864, the Confederate artillery opened fire on the Union camps but no casualties were reported in the official after action report.  Unbeknownst to either side, reinforcements came for both warring parties that evening.  An intense fight would begin early in the morning of July 9, 1864.  Under the cover of darkness, the Confederate forces deployed a skirmish line and drove the pickets back.  The Confederates were repulsed but reformed and attacked.  The smoke from the weapons entwined with the morning fog creating an eerie mist that engulfed the battlefield.  The battle continued into the day.

On July 10, 1864, the Confederate forces readied themselves for another assault but soon discovered the Federal forces had abandoned their position.  The Union attempted to burn the bridge along with a commissary, while loading their ships.  They sent three fire-rafts up the Stono in hopes of burning the bridge but through the gallantry of Lt. Dozier, the plan was thwarted.  The battle ended in a Confederate victory.  James Island and Charleston were spared.

On April 7-9, 2017, the battle was recreated on the Legare Farms, owned by the same family since 1725.  The schedule included school days with a pirate encampment and demonstrations, Revolutionary War representations, Civil War with Citadel Cadets, World War II, Korean War era historians and General Lee addressing the students, chaperones and teachers.

Saturday witnessed medical demonstrations, candle making, Civil War camps open to the public, demonstrations of pirate’s life, ladies social, a fabulous medical demonstration via the 27th SCVI Medical Department, a Civil War battle, World War II combat, flamethrower demonstration, and Korean Conflict program by Marines of Parris Island.   A delicious dinner was served and a grand ball was given in honor of those participating in the spectator three-day events.

Sunday was privy to a moving church service, Civil War skirmish, World War II battle, and Korean War event/demonstration of flame thrower.

The 13th Annual Battle of Charleston Military Timeline was a complete success and gave all those in attendance a glimpse into our military history.  It was hosted by the 7th South Carolina and 4th New Hampshire.  Special thanks to the Legare family (Lind, Helen, Thomas, Sarah) for their hard work and sacrifices in making this event so special.  Thanks to Major Buddy Jarrells, the Charles Towne Few, Able Company, 1st Battalion, 16th Regiment, Parris Island Living History Detachment, Citadel Cadets, reenactors, living historians, musicians, staff and volunteers that made the event so special.  For more information about NEXT year’s events, contact via email, info@legarefarms.com, phone:  (843)559-0788, and/or website @ http:/legarefarms.com/.

-By David Chaltas, (The Old General)