The first shots of the Civil War were fired in Charleston, when the Confederates, incensed at a Federal fort sitting as an ‘alien presence’ in their harbour, shot at the Union ship, Star of the West, trying to resupply the fort. Little did they suspect that they had fired the starting guns of one of the bloodiest conflicts of the nineteenth century.
While the Confederates won an early victory here, ultimately they and the evil institution of slavery they supported were doomed. The North had too many men, too big an economy, and following Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, right on their side.
Now, the guns are silenced and the only people in Confederate uniforms are the horse and cart drivers. Charleston has become a beautiful, relaxed, little tourist trap. We wandered around the antebellum mansions with their double height porches, enjoyed the shade of magnolia trees, and ate ice cream in the sunshine while we watched a broken fire hydrant set off a spectacular impromptu fountain in the streets.