Star Fort- Ninety Six National Historic Site
When we found out we would be moving to South Carolina, I got really excited about all of the things we would now be able to see and do! Other than a couple of family vacations to New York City and Washington D.C. I haven’t had much experience on the East Coast. There are so many places I have dreamed of visiting and exploring, and now it’s so much more achievable.
Also, the HISTORY background of the eastern side of the country is amazing! This is where our nation was born and built! Just the idea that places and buildings have been around before Idaho was even a state is mind-blowing. So, since we are now settling down in the Southeast, it is one of my goals to visit as many historical areas as possible while I can.
To start off we decided to drive out to Ninety-Six and explore the National Historic Site and Star Fort. The original town of Ninety-Six was a major seat of power during the colonial times, and some of the best preserved earthworks of the American Revolutionary War can be found at Star Fort. This historic site is considered a Revolutionary War landmark, but this area is also where the Cherokee Indians hunted and early colonists and traders settled.
We started at the visitor center for a quick self-guided tour of the informative exhibits and artifacts. We learned about the early settlers, the Native American people that hunted in the area, and the war. In 1775, the first Southern land battle of the Revolutionary War was fought in Ninety-Six. Who knew!?
After reading, we ventured outside to begin our walking tour. The 1-mile, paved walking path starts next to the visitor’s center. The trail leads around the area where Star Fort once stood and the battle of Star Fort took place. Along the path are informative placards, detailing facts about the area and people or what took place in that particular spot.
Before heading into the open area where Star Fort used to stand, we crossed Island Ford Road. You can see where the old colonial trading route road use to wind through the trees. It was used by the Native American tribes for hunting and then later by traders, early settlers, and soldiers to travel through the backcountry. Because of it’s heavy use, erosion has caused the roadway to sink lower than the surrounding area. It was fun to imagine what it would have been like traveling on that road back then!
The kids took turns standing in a soldier’s footprints and pretended to scout out the area for bad guys!
As we continued on, we passed an original field cannon and rifle tower used by the Patriots while attempting to overtake Star Fort from the British.
We learned in 1781, the American Patriots attacked the British at Star Fort. For 28 days they fought, which is now known as the longest field siege of the war. The American troops built trenches (which you can still see outlines of) to use as they approached the fort to shield soldiers from fire and to transport goods and weapons. After their final attempt to breach the fort, the Patriots surrendered and left. The British abandoned Star Fort a month later, but not before destroying the fort and the settlement of Ninety-Six.
Because the British destroyed the fort before leaving the area, all that is left is the raised outline of where the fort once stood. As we walked inside of the grassy mounds, it gave us an idea of how big the fort was, which wasn’t big at all! The Hubs and I were shocked how small it would have actually been.
Within the fort was once a dug out well for soldiers to retrieve water.
After spending some time walking around the fort area, we continued to follow the path toward the place where the original settlement of Ninety-Six had been. The consensus of 1776 shows there were 79 males living in Ninety-Six, and records state there was a jail and a courthouse, making it a seat of power in the South Carolina backcountry. It also sat along many major roads traveled by colonists, traders, and hunters going back and forth from the coast to the mountains.
On the opposite side of Ninety-Six from Star Fort, the Patriots had built their own small fort in 1775 called Williamson’s Fort in preparation for their fight against the British which is considered the first Southern land battle of the Revolutionary War. For several days the two sides exchanged fire and many were injured before a truce was made. Only two soldiers died. One a loyalist and the other a Patriot, James Birmingham, known as the first Patriot killed in the South. He is buried near the fort.
The building here is a reconstruction of some of the original structures found at the fort. The fort was later used by the Loyalist forces. During the siege of Star Fort, part of the Patriot army overtook this small fort but had to leave when the American army retreated after failing to breach Star Fort.
At the end of our walk we arrived at the Logan Log House. This log house was built by Andrew Logan in the early 1700s and was originally in Greenwood, South Carolina. In 1966 it was found enclosed in an entirely different house (the house had been built around the log house). The Star Fort Historic Commission had it brought from Greenwood to the Ninety-Six Historic Site in 1968 and partially reconstructed. It depicts what colonial housing would have been like.
We learned a lot of really intriguing history while on our walk! If you are ever in the area, taking a pit-stop at the Ninety-Six National Historic Site and Star Fort is definitely worth your time. It’s an easy walk for little legs and an excellent opportunity to brush up on some history!