RIDGELAND: Jasper County Civil War action was one of three largest battles in South Carolina.
By William H. Whitten
Special to the Carolina Morning News
The National Park Service has listed Jasper County’s Honey Hill Battlefield on the National Register of Historic Places.
More than 6,400 Union and Confederate soldiers clashed at the battle in November 1864, making it one of the largest Civil War encounters in South Carolina. Nearly 800 soldiers were killed or wounded, the vast majority of them Union forces.
Honey Hill also was one of the most notable Civil War engagements involving African-American troops. Union units involved in the battle included the 32nd and 35th U.S. Colored Troops.
The battlefield is part of the Good Hope Plantation, and now one of seven sites in Jasper County listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Battle of Honey Hill was launched in 1864 in response to General William T. Sherman’s march from Atlanta to the sea. Sherman requested that federal forces on Hilton Head Island and in Beaufort head to Grahamville to cut the railroad between Charleston and Savannah.
Officially called the Honey Hill/Boyd’s Neck Battlefield, the more than 5,600 acres in east central Jasper County stretch from near Grahamville east to the Union force’s landing site on Boyd’s Creek.
Jane Powell of Good Hope Plantation, which owns about 95 percent of the site, said residents and preservationists have long toiled to have the battlefield recognized.
"We have been working on this for four years," she said, adding that while members of the community have talked for years about the need to preserve the site "no one has ever talked to us (Good Hope) about it."
Other property owners involved are Harold and Helen Pittman with 263 acres and Anne E. Brown with 39 acres. The site is on private property, except for highway right of way, and remains closed to the public.
The site was officially listed on July 3.
Listing in the National Register honors a historic place by recognizing its importance to the community, state or nation. Under federal law, owners may continue to maintain, manage, or dispose of their property as they choose.
Owners have no obligation to open their properties to the public, to restore them or even to maintain them. But a listing shows the recognized historic value and provides a documented framework for future research.
National Park Service reports state that the "Honey Hill/Boyd’s Neck Battlefield is significant as the site of an important operation of the Civil War on the southeastern coast, one launched in direct support of Gen. William T. Sherman’s epic march from Atlanta to Savannah."
Honey Hill was also one of the last outright victories won by Confederate forces.
The Honey Hill site itself and a continuous landscape of associated areas running east to Boyd’s Landing are generally undeveloped and forested, and exhibit a "very high degree of integrity," the park service report states.
The battlefield proper is generally well preserved, although certain areas have been degraded by agriculture, forestry, 20th century highway improvements and, most recently, residential development.
The most serious impact to the site occurred when the original, dirt Grahamville Road was paved, becoming U.S. 278 (now S.C. 336), according to the park service.
"A large residential subdivision is presently under development north of S.C. 336 that precludes the inclusion of additional acreage … which would otherwise be considered part of the battlefield landscape," the park service said.
Two reenactments of the battle have taken place off-site, but none is planned for this fall, the 140th anniversary of the battle.
The Honey Hill/Boyd’s Neck Battlefield site is roughly nine square miles along S.C. Highways 336 and 462, between Grahamville and the Broad River, all in Jasper County.
One of more than 1,300 in S.C.
The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official inventory of historic structures and sites. Find more information on the Internet at www.cr.nps.gov/NR/
Historic attributes Here are some of the elements that contributed to the inclusion of the Honey Hill Civil War battle site on the National Register of Historic Places: Confederate earthen works, Honey Hill. Confederate earthen works, Partridge Hill.
Federal earthen works, east of Partridge Hill.
Federal earthen works at Boyd’s Landing (Salvesbarg Landing) and Boyd House site.
Boyd’s Landing Road (Salvesbarg Road).
Euhaw Road (S.C. 462).
Grahamville Road (S.C. 336).
Wood Road (a dirt road in the site’s interior).
Rice dike used as a defensive position during the battle.
Copyright 2004 Carolina Morning News.