Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Columbia, South Carolina

On Monday we left Washington D.C. and continued our journey south.  Presently we are outside of Columbia, South Carolina.  It was interesting to watch the countryside change as we traveled more inland.  I got excited when we started seeing cotton fields, red clay, palm trees and tall pines.  Change is always good, which is why we chose the life style we have.  In D.C. nights were starting to get chilly, we even needed to turn on our heater in the early mornings.  Now we are turning on the air conditioner during the daytime hours!   On our route through North Carolina I noticed along the highway, which we were traveling on, historical markers noting that Major General William Sherman's armies had come through certain areas of the state in 1865.  Since we have been in South Carolina I have learned more about that history.  After burning Atlanta and capturing Savannah in December of 1864, General Sherman went north into the Carolinas in the spring of  1865.  He had his eye on destroying Columbia, South Carolina because the secession movement of the southern states started there.  We took a tour of the state house today and received a most wonderful history lesson of the state from our guide.  We learned that when General Sherman arrived in February of 1865 he burned the wooden state house and shot 6 cannon balls at the new state house, which at time was only in the early stages of construction.  The damage to the current state house can still be seen today.  Bronze stars mark where the artillery fire hit, and cracks in the stone from the damage are visible.
From 1867 to the mid 1880s little major work was done on the state house.  Much of the present interior work was completed from 1885 to 1895.  The copper dome and porticos were completed by 1907.  The main lobby is adorned with paintings, plaques, and statues that reflect the history of the state.  While explaining them our guide noted that the state had more battles within its borders during the Revolutionary War than any other colony on the east coast.  During the Civil War confrontations only happened at Fort Sumter and at Columbia.  Overlooking the main lobby is beautiful mosaic glass depicting the Seal of South Carolina.  The glass art can also be seen above the three entry doors shown below.
Across from the state house is Trinity Episcopal Church, built in 1812. Constructed in English Gothic, it was modeled after Britain's York Cathedral.  During the Civil War its iron spires were melted down to provide cannon balls for the Confederacy.  The sanctuary was not seriously damaged when Sherman burned the city.

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