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Today In Charleston History: January 26

1776. Fortifications.

      The Council of Safety ordered Col. William Moultrie to develop new signals to be used for the lighthouse at Morris Island, at Ft. Sullivan and Ft. Johnson to warn of the approach of British naval vessels.

1862

As part of the defenses of the city,  a fleet of twenty ships were sunk in Maffit’s Channel off the Isle of Palms.

1893 

DoubledayoAbner Doubleday, who DID NOT invent baseball, died. However, Doubleday DID fire the first shot of the War in defense of the Union at Ft. Sumter, April 12, 1861.

The whole “invented baseball” thing is typical of lazy history. In 1908, fifteen years after his death, Doubleday was declared by the Mills Commission to have invented the game of baseball (a claim never made by Doubleday during his lifetime). While the modern rules of baseball were formulated in New York during the 1840s, it was the scattering of New Yorkers exposed to these rules throughout the country, that spread not only baseball, but also the “New York Rules”, thereby harmonizing the rules, and being a catalyst for its growth. Doubleday was a high-ranking officer, whose duties included seeing to provisions for the US Army fighting throughout the south and border states. For the morale of the men, he is said to have provisioned balls and bats for the men, hence his connection to spreading baseball across the country.

When I mention Doubleday’s connection to Ft. Sumter on tour, someone always says, “He invented baseball.” When I tell them, “No, he didn’t” you’d think I just insulted their mother. If they persist the argument I ask, “Do you also think George Washington never told a lie?”

1911. Hampton Memorial

Louisa Smythe wrote to Mayor Robert Goodwyn Rhett:

hamptonmonument-smEight years ago, it was decided by Daughters of the Confederacy to put up a memorial to Hampton – an ‘Egyptian obelisk of correct proportions’ on three low bases each about one foot high.

The Daughters raised $2000 for the monument, which was ultimately erected in Marion Square. 

Hampton, of course, is Wade Hampton III. Born in Charleston, into one of the most prominent families in South Carolina, Hampton became one of the wealthiest men in the South. When South Carolina seceded, Hampton formed his own calvary unit and served across the South throughout the War. After the War, near the end of the Reconstruction, he was elected 77th Governor of South Carolina, serving 1876-1879, and later was elected as a U.S. Senator.

640px-WadeHamptonp274cropHis election as governor was marked by extensive violence by the Red Shirts, a paramilitary group that served the Democratic Party to work to disrupt elections and suppress black voting in the state. They contributed to the Democrats regaining control of the state government.

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