Today In Charleston History: April 23


King Charles II bestowed upon Anthony Ashley Cooper the titles, Earl of Shaftesbury and Baron Cooper of Paulet.  

1780-The Siege of Charlestown.
Siege of Charlestown

Siege of Charlestown

The British were close enough to “easily throw a stone” into the American line trenches north of Boundary Street.  Rifle fire was added to siege, in addition to the artillery barrage. 


Capt. Joseph Vesey returned to Haiti with another cargo of slaves. He was informed that his former “pet”, Telemaque, was suffering from “epileptic fits” and a doctor had “certified that the lad was unwell.” His sale was “thereupon cancelled,” meaning that Vesey was forced to repurchase the boy, and was surprised to find that within a few months, the boy had become proficient in the French language.

Vesey put Telemaque back to work again as his cabin boy and miraculously, the epileptic fits ceased as soon as they sailed from Haiti. Vesey must have seen this as more proof of the boy’s intelligence and cleverness, and decided he would be more valuable as his personal servant.

1840 – Marriage

Mary Boykin Miller married James Chesnut, Jr., who was from one of the wealthiest families in the South. The Chesnut family owned 448 slaves and plantations totaling nearly five square miles.


Today In Charleston History: April 6

17th century frigate

17th century frigate, similar to the Carolina.

“Early in April” (the only date recorded, but upon investigation of related documents, letters etc … April 6-7 seems to accurate) the Carolina sailed into what is now Charleston harbor, navigated past something called “Oyster Point” (a spit of sandy land which at low tide was covered with shells) and sailed up the Kiawha (Ashley) River. About three miles inland they landed on the west bank. They named the settlement Albemarle Point (named after George Monck, Duke of Albermarle, one of the Lords Proprietor.) Albermarle Point is currently the site of Charles Town Landing, a state park. It became the third English colony in North America (Virginia, 1607 and Massachusetts, 1620).

They chose a nine-acre site on what is now called Town Creek, making the settlement invisible to vessels sailing into the harbor until they sailed more than three miles inland around the curve of the Ashley River. Security from the Spanish was always a major consideration.

The cargo of the Carolina included:

  • 15 tons of beer
  • 30 gallons of brandy
  • 59 bushels of flour
  • 12 suits of armor
  • 100 beds and pillows
  • 1200 grubbing hoes
  • 100,000 four penny nails
  • 756 fishing hooks

The passengers include: 29 “Masters” (men of property) and “free” persons; 63 indentured white servants; and 1 black slave. One of the servant girls, Affra Harleston, married the first mate of the Carolina, John Coming.


Pres. Lincoln notified Governor Francis Pickens and Gen.P.G.T. Beauregard that he had sent a naval expedition to resupply Fort Sumter, including 200 reinforcements. Pres. Jefferson Davis ordered Beauregard to prevent those provisions from being delivered.

Mary Chesnut, wife of Col. James Chesnut, second in command to Beauregard, wrote on April 6:

The plot thickens, the air is red hot with rumors … In spite of all, Tom Huger came for us and we went on the Planter to take a look at Morris Island …

A reporter for the New York Times wrote about the attitude among Charleston’s city’s elite. He suggested that a doctor be sent to the city to “give us a proper analysis of them.” He reported:

The more I see of the men of Charleston, the more convinced I am that very many of them act, talk and behave like perfect children … Charleston is a sublime mystery not measured by any of the common-sense rules that govern one in their intercourse with ordinary people.


Top: Pres. Lincoln & Gen. Beauregard Bottom: Gov. Pickens & Mary Chesnut