“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Hilton Head Island in Beaufort County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)

Black Troops on Hilton Head

Black Troops on Hilton Head Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brandon D Cross, June 12, 2017
1. Black Troops on Hilton Head Marker
Inscription. The first black troops in the Union Army enlisted on Hilton Head Island in May 1862. Initially, men who escaped plantations and slavery were reluctant to join the army. They did not want to leave their families and new financial opportunities and capture by Confederates meant a return to slavery or death. Also, many Union troops were openly hostile to escaped slaves on Hilton Head Island. To encourage recruits Gen. Hunter issued a pass to those who joined the army: Now, be it known to all from all that, agreeable to the laws, I declare the said person free and forever absolved from all claims to his services. Both he and his wife and his children have full right to go North, South, East, West, as they may decide. D. Hunter, Major General Commanding. April, 19, 1862.

The unit was disbanded a few months later. Congress did not allow black men to serve until 1863 when the unit was officially organized as the First South Carolina Regiment. The men in the unit were primarily former slaves from South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Hilton Head Island and Beaufort remained focal points for organizing and stationing of freedom fighters throughout the Civil War.

Fort Howell

In the fall of 1864, troops in the 32nd United States Colored Infantry and the 144th New York Infantry constructed Fort Howell.
Mitchelville Freedom Park Pavilion image. Click for full size.
By Brandon D Cross, June 12, 2017
2. Mitchelville Freedom Park Pavilion
This sophisticated earthwork fort was located just southwest of Mitchelville and was constructed to protect the village. Despite 150 years of erosion, the fort is still easily discernible; a testament to its engineer, Captain Charles R. Suter, and the men who labored to build it. After building the fort, the 32nd U.S. Colored Infantry participated in the Battle of Honey Hill on November 30, 1864, where they sustained fifty-one casualties. The freedom fighters of the 32nd U.S. Colored Infantry were among the 179,000 colored men in the Union Army and another 20,000 in the Navy who fought for freedom and an end to slavery during the Civil War.

(top) The First South Carolina Volunteers on dress parade. Taken in Beaufort, S.C., 1862. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

(left) Image of Fort Howell. Image courtesy of the South Carolina Department of History and Archives.

(right) Thomas W. Higginson, c. 1910. Commander of First South Carolina Regiment. A staunch abolitionist who helped self-liberated African slaves to freedom before the war, Higginson wrote that his appointment as commander was “a position of great importance; as many persons have said, the first man who organizes & commands a successful black regiment will perform the most important service in the history of the War,” Image courtesy of the Library
View of Mitchelville Freedom Park Historical Markers image. Click for full size.
By Brandon D Cross, June 12, 2017
3. View of Mitchelville Freedom Park Historical Markers
of Congress.
Erected by the Mitchelville Preservation Project and Concerned Individuals and Organizations.
Location. 32° 14.199′ N, 80° 41.216′ W. Marker is in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, in Beaufort County. Marker can be reached from Beach City Road 0.4 miles north of Dillon Road, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker located within walking distance of entrance, and inside Fish Haul Creek Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 226 Beach City Rd, Hilton Head Island SC 29926, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Dawn of Freedom: Mitchelville (here, next to this marker); The Battle of Port Royal/William Fitzhugh and Black Sailors in the Union Navy (here, next to this marker); Mitchelville Building Sites (within shouting distance of this marker); Mitchelville and Abolitionists (within shouting distance of this marker); Religion in Mitchelville/School in Mitchelville (within shouting distance of this marker); Working for Wages/Freedmen’s Bureau (within shouting distance of this marker); Reconnecting with Family (within shouting distance of this marker); Cherry Hill School (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hilton Head Island.
Regarding Black Troops on Hilton Head. Mitchelville Freedom Park is the “brain trust” of a dedicated group of volunteers organized as the Mitchelville Preservation Project. Their mission, as quoted from its website, is to: “offer visitors a multi-dimensional freedom celebration that includes historical, cultural, social, political, economic and spiritual components. Parts of the original Town of Mitchelville will be recreated, and the Freedom Park will feature a series of ever changing learning opportunities in the form of revolving exhibits, lectures, forums, tours and cultural programs”.
Located within Fish Haul Creek Park, the site currently consist of a free standing pavilion and numerous markers depicting historical events related to Mitchelville.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. They are related to the Mitchelville Freedom Park Preservation Project.
Also see . . .  Mitchelville Preservation Project. (Submitted on July 12, 2017.)
Categories. African AmericansWar, US Civil
Credits. This page was last revised on July 16, 2017. This page originally submitted on July 10, 2017, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. This page has been viewed 154 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 10, 2017, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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