Historic Markers Across South Carolina

Blockade Runners

Marker ID:  
Location: At Fort Sumter, Ft Sumter NP, Charleston, SC
County: Charleston
Coordinates: N 32° 45.139    W 079° 52.441
  32.75231666    -79.87401666


The Union blockaded Charleston Harbor from 1861-65, but blockade runners continued to slip in and out, carrying cargo crucial to the economic and military survival of the South. Using neutral ports like Bermuda and Nassau, blockade runners brought food, medicine, weapons, ammunition, and manufactured goods from Europe. The left primarily with cotton, but also carried diplomats, dispatches, and various products and valuables.
The rist of capture or sinking by Union warships was great, but so were the rewards. One voyage could bring a profit of $100,000. Despite the blockade, seventy-five percent of the runs were successful.

Mary Bowers (1864), a typical blockade runner, was powered by steam and sail. With a long, low profile and shallow draft, she could swiftly and quietly evade Union ships. Blockade runners were often painted grey to blend with the sea and fog. Rainy weather and dark, moonless nights were ideal for a run into port.

Union monitors approach a blockade runner trapped in shallow water near Charleston, 1865. Many ships were captured or sunk. The remains of the blockade runner Minho, sunk in 1862, lie near the red channel buoy visible ahead.


More information:
Wikipedia - South Carolina in the American Civil War
Wikipedia - Fort Sumter
Wikipedia - Fort Moultrie
Wikipedia - Charleston, South Carolina in the American Civil War