Thursday, November 4, 2010

Beaufort, South Carolina

Several years back John and I toured Charleston, South Carolina so this time around we by-passed that town and instead opted to tour Beaufort. In 1865 Beaufort was most fortunate to be one of the few towns which escaped the heavy destruction and burning by the Union Army. Ironically our first stop of the day was at a church, located 15 miles outside of  Beaufort, which was burned by the Federal Army in 1865.  Sheldon Prince Williams Parish Church was built in 1746, burned during the Revolutionary War, rebuilt in 1826 and again burned during the Civil War. I found the old brick columns quite awesome, equally striking was the sight of the many old graves lying around the ruins; graves from the 1700s as well as from the 1800s.
 Beaufort is a very picturesque port town, as New Bern, and also the second oldest town in the state of South Carolina. Out first stop in the town was at Beaufort National Cemetery. It was established by Abraham Lincoln and contains graves of 7,500 civil war soldiers, including 4,019 unknown and 117 Confederate Soldiers. That also was a sobering sight.
I have one more cemetery scene and then I promise I will leave this sad subject. Located in Beaufort is St. Helena's Episcopal Church, built in 1724. Presently it is a large active church served by six priests. On its grounds are buried two British Generals from the Revolutionary War. This church is also surrounded by many old tombstones. During the Civil War surgeons used those graves as operating tables.
I have always been a bit curious about the faith lives of the African slaves when they first came to this country. They seemed to have embraced Christianity very sincerely and were eager to attend services, even if their master would only allow them to stand outside the windows of a church or, if they were fortunate, sit in the balcony of a house of worship. Below is a picture of the first African Baptist church built by freed slaves in Beaufort in 1865, and given to other freed slaves. The existence of this building is amazing to me, and the fact that it was erected during the turbulent times at the end of the civil war by former slaves speaks a lot to me of the faith held by a group of people who had experienced much degradation and fear from the moment they first stepped onto America soil. I have many pictures of pre-Revolutionary War and antebellum homes of Beaufort, so will save them for my next posting.

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