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Freeman's Point Earthworks
James Island, SC
Image of the earthworks as they appear today.
The infantry breastworks found on the southwest corner of Freeman’s Point was the terminus of the “New Lines” and built to support Battery Number Five, a site now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They are part of a continuous defensive line on the southwestern side of James Island that extended 2 ¼ miles from Simpson Creek (today called Seaside Creek) to the west to the Stono River. Using slave labor to construct the earthworks, the New Lines were completed in 1863.
Today, only Battery Pringle, Battery Zero, Battery Number One (along Riverland Drive), and Battery Number Five of the “New Lines” survive. The infantry breastworks on the Freeman’s Point property and elsewhere in Seaside Plantation are rare reminders of the New Lines and the fortifications on James Island.
The Freeman’s Point property is was also involved in the 1862 Battle of Secessionville. During the fierce battle with Union troops suffering severe losses, by 5:15 am, the 3rd New Hampshire was ordered to attempt to flank the Confederate position. In doing so, they moved across Hills Plantation to the footprint of the Freedman’s Point property. As the Union troops moved to flank the Tower Battery, they found a creek twenty yards wide and four to five feet deep between them and the Confederate position. The mud, marsh, and creek were impassable so the 3rd New Hampshire fired across the creek onto the Confederate gunners from the rear. This necessitated the gun crews to turn their attention to this flanking attack, leaving the Tower Battery vulnerable.
Quickly, the 250 men from the 4th Louisiana Battalion, commanded by Lt. Colonel John McEnery, moved across a footbridge from Clark Plantation unknown to the Union troops to reinforce the Tower Battery. As they marched at the “double-quick,” McEnery urged his men forward with the cry, “Remember Butler,” referring to Union Major General Benjamin “Beast” Butler who had occupied New Orleans. Taking position in the rear of the battery, they poured fire on the 3rd New Hampshire.
At the same time, a two-gun battery and the Eutaw Battalion, advanced and opened fire on the 3rd New Hampshire from the northern portion of Hills Plantation. A second Confederate battery at Clark’s house to the northeast also opened fire into the rear of the 3rd New Hampshire. Lt. Colonel John Jackson, commanding the 3rd New Hampshire, later reported, “The enemy soon opened on me from a battery that was 200 yards in our rear, throwing grape [grapeshot shells] into the ranks, from which we suffered severely.” The 3rd New Hampshire suffered severe losses in the crossfire which forced them to retreat. This action on Freeman’s Point was a pivotal point in the Battle of Secessionville.
Freeman’s Point Developer’s granted a conservation easement on the Freeman’s Point earthworks to the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust in 2013.