South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust




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“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”

Marcus Tullius Cicero

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Once was lost, but now am found …


Ok, we borrowed the lyrics from Amazing Grace, but those words perfectly capture the emotion about a recent find by the SC Battleground Trust. You may be familiar with the story of the capture of the USS Isaac P. Smith on the Stono River in January 1863. If not, follow this link to brush up on your history.


The staff of the Battleground Trust is completing a two-year study of battles and fortifications in Charleston County. As part of that process, aerial LiDAR surveys were used to confirm the locations of extant earthwork batteries. This near infra-red light technology proves an excellent view of the raw topography of the land and is used by the Battleground Trust in battlefield reconnaissance.


In 1863, Lt. Colonel Joseph Yates located his four shoreline firing positions in a manner that placed the Isaac P. Smith in a box, vulnerable from all sides. The conventional wisdom from professional historians and hobbyists alike was that the three batteries that were constructed for this attack were all long since destroyed. The historic record confirms the placement of the lower battery on the western bank of the Stono River to be at Legare’s Point Place on John’s Island. However, in conversation with the Legare family, no one was aware of any extant battery on the property which is now Legare Farms.


Several months ago, however, an aerial LiDAR survey of the John’s Island shoreline on the Stono River revealed what looked to be an earthworks battery. Admittedly, even this aerial recon would take a trained technician to find it. Matt Luke, LiDAR technician with the Trust, excitedly thought, “Could this be one of the batteries that attacked the Isaac P. Smith?” He knew that experience has taught us that what looks to be a battery can often turn out to be a ditch line or a land dam, popular of John’s Island in the 19th century for marking property boundaries. Mike Yianopoulos, archaeology technician with the Battleground Trust, met with the Legare family and traveled to the site.


Our best hopes turned to reality. Mike and Thomas Legare were looking at a pair of small sunken batteries. Sunken batteries are easy to miss since the guns are placed in the hole and the parapet wall only needs to be a low-profile – perfect for avoiding detection by the Union lookouts while the battery was constructed. An archaeology survey of the site provided the necessary results to confirm the discovery.


The twin sunken batteries are positioned for their role in firing up-river to where the Union ship habitually anchored. Each battery is sized for one gun.


The Legare’s Point Place battery, commanded by Major J. Welsman Brown, “once was lost, but now am found.”


Linda Legare Berry, one of the three owners of Legare Farms, noted: "We were excited when the SC Battleground Trust approached us about locating the battery. Family stories had always said that troops on our property were instrumental in the capture of the Isaac P Smith. It was fabulous to have those stories validated. We accompanied the archeologist to the site and the battery was still there and intact. We look forward to working with the SC Battleground Trust to protect the site for the future."


The Legare family has been farming on John’s Island since 1725. Today, Legare Farms, owned by Linda Legare Berry, Helen Legare Floyd and Thomas Legare, raises beef cattle, pigs, and laying hens. They also offer a community supported agriculture program (CSA) allowing people to buy a subscription to their vegetable crops. They also operate Legare Farms Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2003, to educate the people of the Lowcountry about the food sources and the importance of agriculture in our lives. The foundation has an agri-tourism program that offers school field trips, summer camps, farm themed birthday parties, and a large pumpkin patch and maze each fall.


For more information about the work of the SC Battleground Trust call 843-743-8281 or email For more information about Legare Farms all 843-559-0788.


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