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Ninety Six in Greenwood County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Environmental Change From Forest to Park

 
 
Environmental Change From Forest to Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, May 13, 2010
1. Environmental Change From Forest to Park Marker
Inscription.
Once dense forest, this area was gradually cleared by people. Fire, storms, and the introduction of non-native plants and animal species also contributed to changing the landscape. If you lived here in the 1700s, you would have seen these woods give way to farmland.

By the time Patriot troops arrived to camp nearby in 1781, there were open fields dotted only by tree stumps. Loyalists in the town, hoping to keep the approaching enemy in view and deny them cover in the woods, had cut down trees for up to a mile in each direction.

Pre-settlement
This region is home to many American Indian groups, including the Saludas, Waterees, and Congarees, who hunt nearby.

Plants: Dense forests of oak, hickory, elm, locust, and poplar.

Animals: White-tailed deer, turkey, squirrel, rabbit, fox, raccoon, beaver, muskrat, bison, quail, wolves, and panthers.

1730s-1750s
The Cherokee predominate, but white traders, hunters, and trappers come into the area from Charleston. Early settlers include English, Irish, Scotch-Irish, French Huguenots, and Germans. Hostilities erupt between the Cherokee and white settlers.

Plants: Less dense, area burned and cleared for farming wheat, corn, indigo, and flax. Fields are used for grazing.

Animals: Ample wildlife,
Environmental Change From Forest to Park Marker -<br>Pre-settlement/1730s-1750s image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, May 13, 2010
2. Environmental Change From Forest to Park Marker -
Pre-settlement/1730s-1750s
including deer, rabbit, squirrel, fox. Small farms support cattle, hogs, and sheep.

1780s
Ninety Six is occupied by Loyalist troops. All land in and around the town is cleared. The town is burned and abandoned in 1781.

Plants: Indian corn, oats, hemp, cotton, flax, and indigo are planted in fields outside the town. Clusters of hickory, oak, and black walnut trees grow beyond the settlement.

Animals: Farm animals graze in pastures. Hunting grounds are sparse and more remote.

1850s-1960s
The land around Ninety Six is used for agriculture until the 1960s, when Greenwood County creates a historic site at Ninety Six.

Plants: Cotton is the dominant crop.

Animals: Farm animals graze in pastures and wooded areas are occupied by deer, raccoon, rabbit, and squirrel.

1970s-present
Extensive archaeological excavations of the battlefields are undertaken in the 1970s. The site becomes a national park in 1976. Native plants and animals are protected. There is a second growth of forest where land had been cleared in 1780.

Plants: Winged elm, black walnut, pine, red maple, redbud, poison ivy, and Virginia creeper.

Animals: Deer, raccoon, rabbit, and squirrel.
 
Erected 2009 by National Park Service.
 
Location.
Environmental Change From Forest to Park Marker -<br>1780s/1850s-1960s image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, May 13, 2010
3. Environmental Change From Forest to Park Marker -
1780s/1850s-1960s
34° 8.86′ N, 82° 1.193′ W. Marker is in Ninety Six, South Carolina, in Greenwood County. Marker can be reached from South Cambridge Street (State Highway 248). Click for map. Marker is located on the walking trail leading from the visitor's center to the battlefield. Marker is in this post office area: Ninety Six SC 29666, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. First Parallel (within shouting distance of this marker); Island Ford Road (within shouting distance of this marker); Trader with Pack Horse (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Patriot Force Arrives (about 300 feet away); Siege Trenches (about 400 feet away but has been reported missing); The British Fortifications (about 400 feet away); The Patriots Lay Siege to the Star Fort (about 400 feet away); The Artillery (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named The Patriots Lay Siege to the Star Fort (about 400 feet away); Patriot Soldier (about 400 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Ninety Six.
 
Also see . . .
1. Ninety Six National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service). Here settlers struggled against the harsh backcountry to survive, Cherokee Indians hunted and fought to keep their land, two towns and a trading post were formed and abandoned to the elements,
Environmental Change From Forest to Park Marker -<br>1970s-present image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, May 13, 2010
4. Environmental Change From Forest to Park Marker -
1970s-present
and two Revolutionary War battles that claimed over 100 lives took place here. (Submitted on July 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

2. Ninety Six National Historic Site. Ninety Six National Historic Site, also known as Old Ninety Six and Star Fort, is a United States National Historic Site located about 60 miles (96 kilometers) south of Greenville, South Carolina. (Submitted on July 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

3. National Historic Landmarks Program: Ninety Six and Star Fort. Ninety Six, South Carolina, County of Greenwood. 2 miles south of Ninety Six between S.C. Rts. 248 and 27. (Submitted on July 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

4. Ninety Six National Historic Site. The historic district of Ninety Six National Historic Site contains numerous historical features associated with the economic and social development of the colonial South Carolina back country. (Submitted on July 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

5. Archeology at Ninety Six. Many of the architectural details known about Ninety Six National Historic Site have been revealed through historical archeology. (Submitted on July 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

6. Saluda Indian Tribe History. Saluda: a small tribe formerly living on Saluda river, South Carolina. (Submitted on July 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
Environmental Change From Forest to Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, May 13, 2010
5. Environmental Change From Forest to Park Marker
 

7. Wateree Indian Tribe History. Wateree (perhaps from Catawba wateran, 'to float on the water.' Gatschet): one of the early tribes of the Carolinas, probably Siouan. (Submitted on July 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

8. Wateree People. The Wateree were one of the first groups of Native Americans in the interior of the East Coast to encounter Europeans. (Submitted on July 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

9. Congaree Indian Tribe History. Congaree: a small tribe, supposed to be Siouan, formerly living in South Carolina. (Submitted on July 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

10. Congaree. The Congaree were a group of Native Americans who lived in what is now central South Carolina of the United States, along the Congaree River. (Submitted on July 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

11. Cherokee. The Cherokee (ᏣᎳᎩ) are a Native American people historically settled in the Southeastern United States (principally Georgia, the Carolinas and Eastern Tennessee). (Submitted on July 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

12. Cherokee Nation. Official website of the Cherokee Nation. (Submitted on July 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

13. Nathanael Greene.
Environmental Change From Forest to Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, May 13, 2010
6. Environmental Change From Forest to Park Marker
Nathanael Greene (August 7, 1742 – June 19, 1786) was a major general of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War. (Submitted on July 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 
 
Additional comments.
1. Ninety Six Historic Site
In Greenwood County is the site of the once-flourishing Colonial village of Ninety Six, renamed Cambridge after the Revolution. Even before 1730, the fork lying 96 miles south of the Cherokee Indian town of Keowee was an important post and of Indian and Revolutionary War fortifications, Ninety Six was also a busy courthouse town, its gaol and courthouse described as brick buildings. It has also been described as a "snug little village of 15 or 20 houses and stores." As many as 17 stores were noted at one point...and the population included "4 merchants, as many lawyers, hotel keepers, tailor, blacksmith, carriage and harness shops, and three physicians...there was also belonging to the place a large and well-selected library, and a flourishing academy...there was a church there..."

In the early 1750s, Indian trader Robert Gouedy settled at Ninety Six, his land grant lying astride the Cherokee Path, which later ran through the center of town. Gouedy's store was supposedly the largest
Environmental Change From Forest to Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, May 13, 2010
7. Environmental Change From Forest to Park Marker
house the fall line. Extant from this period is the grave of Gouedy's son, James, in a wooded area south of Star Fort and perhaps near the site of the original Gouedy homeplace.

Gov. William Henry Lyttleton's 1759 expedition built a fort around Gouedy's barn, and this stockade, described as 90' square, provided protection of settlers from a wide surrounding area.

First of the town's Revolutionary fortifications was built in November 1775 at Colonel Savage's plantation, of Savage's Old Field. Separated from Ninety Six courthouse and gaol by a ravine and spring, this was a "temporary stockade fort of fence rails, straws, beeves' hides and other such materials...a square of about 185 yards...the curtains of defense extended from a barn and store to some outhouses; and at a distance of 250 yards from the gaol."

When the British occupied Ninety Six in 1780, they added fortifications to the existing stockade. Major defensive features was a redoubt on the southeast tip of the village. There was Star Fort and it was surrounded by a ditch. Three cannon on wheels strengthened by a stockade, and the gaol was fortified. Further strengthening was added by an embankment of earth surrounding the village and by abatis, a type of defense using felled trees with the branched ends stocking outward. Within the village, blockhouses were erected and covered ways built for
Historic Spring Branch Bridge -<br>Located Near the Environmental Change From Forest to Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, May 13, 2010
8. Historic Spring Branch Bridge -
Located Near the Environmental Change From Forest to Park Marker
safe communication. On the north side of the village a small stream supplied the garrison with water. A stockade fort with two blockhouses was built to defend the stream on the side opposite the village palisade. A covered way led to the stream between these two strong points. Added to the military engineering of the British was that of the besieging American forces: three parallels, two trenches, a mine reaching almost to the Star Fort ditch, two log towers for firing into the fort.

The 1964 National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings (Colonials and Patriots) describes Star Fort as "an earthwork with eight salients and eight reentrant angles, enclosing about one-half acre northeast of the village."

This same authority reports that "the Star Fort outlines are still readily discernible as earthwork embankments 4 or 5 feet high. Scattered brick fragments mark the location of the town, which was burned by the British, later rebuilt but lost its court in 1800 and declined in importance. Some identifiable remains include the knoll on which the 1775 siege occurred and on which stood the British stockade fort of 1781, the raving in which flowed the stream supplying water to the garrison, the jail site, the old Charleston Road, and some distance from the village site, the 1759 fortification.

Significance
One of the oldest English place
Ninety Six and Star Fort image. Click for full size.
By National Register Nomination Form
9. Ninety Six and Star Fort
This sketch of ninety Six and Star Fort was published in 1822 in Johnson's Life of Nathanael Green and has since been copied in several publications. Roberts said the design resembled a child's drawing of a seated cat, with the fort as the hear, the village as the body, and the covered passage to the small stockade as the tail.
names in upper South Carolina, one that is significant in South Carolina history and that had a bearing on U.S. history, Ninety Six was of prime importance in upcountry development of the state. Its early history reflects the activity, color, and romance of the typical frontier community of the Colonial era.

The importance of Ninety Six has three distinct phases:

(1) As a trading and meeting junction in colonial years, reflecting South Carolina's Indian and frontier period. On George Hunter's 1730 map of South Carolina's northwest frontier, "96" appears as a special designation on the Cherokee Path, well-traveled pack trail to and from Charleston before 1700. (The original of this map is in the Library of Congress.) Its importance as a trading post is indicated in the 1738 Journal of the House of Assembly. And Gov. James Glen recognized its strategic location be choosing it for his 1746 Indian conference. (This colorful meeting was attended by the S.C. emperor of the Cherokees and 60 of his headmen; accompanying the governor were 4 companies of troops and 200 additional gentlemen.)

(2) As the northwestern area's farthest English settlement from the coast, a thriving Colonial village from as early as 1740 and a busy courthouse town for huge Ninety Six District from 1768 until shortly after 1800. After the 1768 Commons House of Assembly
Ninety Six National Historic Site Visitor's Center image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, May 7, 2010
10. Ninety Six National Historic Site Visitor's Center
Bill establishing courts, building jails, appointing sheriffs, etc., the development of Ninety Six as a seat of government and justice was part of a significant South Carolina development -- the growing importance of the state overall. Reflected here is the back country struggle for recognition and representation that led to such significant milestones as the establishment of a new capital city in mid-state, beginning in 1786.

During the Colonial period, Ninety Six was a key location in a number of historic expeditions:

(a) Col. George Chicken's 1715 journey inland during the Yemassee War, his journal possible representing the first English account of a Carolina back country traveler and including the only mention of buffalo hereabouts ("we kill'd a boflow this day").

(b) Gov. Glen's 1746 expedition to confer with the Cherokee.

(c) Gov. Lyttleton's 1759 expedition which built, en route, a stockade at Ninety Six that protected area settlers during the 1759-61 Cherokee War. (In March 1760, the garrison withstood a 36-hour Cherokee attack.) Ninety Six also served as a supply center and base of operations for ranger and militia companies and from this time until the Revolution had numerous links with Fort Charlotte, built 1766 on the Savannah River.

(d) The 1775 mission to the back country by William Henry Drayton and the Rev. William Tennett,
Walking Path From Visitor's Center to Battlefield image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, September 5, 2008
11. Walking Path From Visitor's Center to Battlefield
sent from Charleston by the Council of Safety to explain the American-British disputes and to enlist patriot aid.

(3) As a Revolutionary War stronghold and also as a focal point of violent Patriot-Tory strife. Pre-Revolutionary activity included the raising of a Ranger troop in the Ninety Six area (June 1775) which made the first overt act of the Revolution in South Carolina -- the July 1775 seizure of Fort Charlotte from the British. Ranger commander was James Mayson, who lived near Ninety Six village. In August 1775, Ninety Six sent nine representatives to the Second Provincial Congress. One of these as Commander Mayson.

The Revolution's first land battle south of New England took place at Ninety Six, Nov. 19-12, 1775. Patriot forces, besieged inconclusively, finally defeated and dispersed the Tories in December. In this battle, James Birmingham was the first South Carolina Patriot to give up his life in the Revolution. Andrew Pickens, who later became one of South Carolina's three famous partisan generals, was a company commander in this action.

Old Ninety Six reached the peak of its fame in 1780-81 when it was a British garrison an scene of the siege of Star Fort, one of the most interesting and spectacular operations of the revolutionary's closing months.

In 1779, the British returned to their earlier plan of trying to roll up the
Cherokee Silhouette image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, May 13, 2010
12. Cherokee Silhouette
states from south to north, and after the 1780 capture of Charleston, ordered three expeditions to the interior to gain control of the state. Ninety Six became important as the most advanced British post, supporting the other two posts, at Augusta and Camden, also covering loyalist settlements and serving as a recruiting depot for Tory fighters.

The Star Fort, built at this time, continued as a British outpost, manned by regulars and Tories, until May-June 1781, when Gen. Nathanael Greene's American force invested and assaulted the fort. The siege was unsuccessful since the fort's star form gave the enemy complete command and exposed the attackers to close cross-fire. Advancing British reinforcements spurred American withdrawal. The British, however, evacuated the fort at the end of the 27-day siege. This relinquishment of the inland South Carolina foothold helped weaken the south-to-north British offensive and was a contributing factor to the war's outcome.

Associated with Old Ninety Six are such historically significant names as Patrick Calhoun (father of John C.), Andrew Pickens, and Sen. John Gervais, who was instrumental in changing the state capital from Charleston.

In post-Revolutionary years, Ninety Six achieved some importance as a college town. Site of one of three colleges authorized by the S.C. General assembly in March 1785, the town changed
Settler and Packhorse Silhouette image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, May 13, 2010
13. Settler and Packhorse Silhouette
its name to Cambridge in 1787 in honor of the college. The institution enjoyed no lasting success, however, and by the mid 1820s, the once-flourishing town had almost ceased to exist. (Source: National Register nomination form.)
    — Submitted July 8, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

 
Categories. AnimalsColonial EraForts, CastlesNative AmericansNatural ResourcesNotable PlacesSettlements & Settlers
 
Holmes' Fort Excavation (1971) image. Click for full size.
By National Park Service, 1971
14. Holmes' Fort Excavation (1971)
Note fire trucks in the background wetting down the site. Also note shaprned shovels in foregound used for "schnitting" (shovel shaving) the lcay subsoil to reveal features. (NPS)
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 674 times since then and 14 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on , by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   9. submitted on , by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   10. submitted on , by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   11, 12, 13, 14. submitted on , by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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