Collections from South Carolina National Parks

National Park Service, Centennial One Object Exhibit

In celebration of the National Park Service Centennial in 2016, this exhibit showcases one object from every national park museum collection in South Carolina. We invite you to explore museum collections from Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, Congaree National Park, Cowpens National Battlefield, Fort Sumter National Monument, Kings Mountain National Military Park, and Ninety Six National Historic Site.

The Pinckney family owned the plantation Snee Farm from 1754 until 1817. Charles Pinckney, who was one of the principal drafters of the United States Constitution, inherited Snee Farm from his father in 1782. At 715 acres, it was Pinckney’s smallest plantation, and a favorite retreat from his Meeting Street House in downtown Charleston.

Very few of Pinckney’s personal papers exist today, as the bulk of them were destroyed by the 1861 Charleston fire. Because of this, archeology has played an important role in our understanding of Snee Farm and Charles Pinckney. Excavations in the core area of Snee Farm revealed the location of the original Pinckney farmhouse, well, kitchen, and slave dwellings.

This hand-painted delft charger was found in several pieces in three of the excavated sites. As more began to be uncovered, archeologists realized that they were once part of the same platter. When the excavations were completed, the fragments of the charger were reconstructed by NPS conservators. The portions which were not recovered are represented by plain white plaster.

Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, CHPI 23093

The remote and secluded bottomlands of the park served as a cover for clandestine activities such as the production of moonshine whiskey. This old whiskey still, evidenced by surface artifacts such as Mason jars, pails and rusted cans dating from the early 1900s to the 1960s, provides insight into historical uses of park lands.

Congaree National Park, CONG Resource Management Records Archival Collection

In less than an hour on January 17, 1781, resolute American soldiers wrested a crucial victory from the British at a well-known pasturing area called the Cow Pens. This epic victory was one of several crushing blows that led to the British surrender at Yorktown just nine months later. If this British canteen could talk, what stories would it tell?

During the American Revolution, soldiers made their canteens from tin, wood, gourds, and even glass bottles covered with leather. The British typically carried either crescent or kidney-shaped tin canteens. Although this crescent canteen, made of tinned iron, was not carried at the Battle of Cowpens, it is one of less than ten surviving examples of this type used by the British Regulars.
Despite the missing neck and cork, Cowpens National Battlefield, which has few objects in its collection, chose this one for its rarity.

Cowpens National Battlefield, COWP 32

After defending Fort Sumter during the 36 hour bombardment the was the first engagement of the American Civil War, US Major Robert Anderson evacuated the fort and turned it over to Confederate General Pierre G.T. Beauregard on April 14, 1861. Major Anderson and his troops boarded the steamship Baltic in Charleston, SC and arrived in New York City to a hero's welcome. Over 100,000 people gathered in Union Square to see Major Anderson and the two flags of Fort Sumter, which he had brought north with him. At the time, it was believed to be the largest mass demonstration in American history.

The city of New York designed a medal to be given to the Union participants of the Fort Sumter battle; Anderson's face in profile was the main image on the front. A private organization is believed to have designed this one, which shows the bombardment of Fort Sumter on the front. The text on the reverse reads: “To Maj. Robert Anderson, U.S.A. From the Citizens of New York City, as a Slight Tribute to his Patriotism.”

Fort Sumter National Monument, FOSU 11

Major Patrick Ferguson, the British commander of the loyalists at the battle of Kings Mountain, had improved and patented the design of a breechloading rifle in 1776. Inventors had designed other breechloaders previously, but the Ferguson rifle could shoot further, faster, and longer than those weapons that preceded it.

The Ferguson rifle could be loaded and fired six times a minute, double the firepower of the standard British Brown Bess musket. The rifle could also hit its target at up to 200 yards, more than double the range of the standard musket. There may have been a few Ferguson rifles at the battle of Kings Mountain. A patriot named David Witherspoon recalled that he saw one of Ferguson's red-coated Royal Provincials “prostrate on the ground, loading and firing in rapid succession.” This would have been difficult, if not impossible, to do with a muzzleloading musket or rifle. However, the patriots did not record any breechloading rifles among the weapons that they captured.

Kings Mountain National Military Park, KIMO 1786

This swivel gun tube shot a one-pound ball once mounted on a stationary base with a swivel mechanism.

Swivel guns, like this one, were small and mobile cannon. The tube was easily mounted on a stationary base using a mechanism that swiveled. Once mounted the gun could quickly be pointed in any direction, resulting in a clear field of fire. The projectile was typically a one or two-pound solid shot.

While this particular one-pound cannon was not found within park boundaries, swivel guns were very useful throughout the defense of Ninety Six. The loyalists confiscated 21 swivel guns from the patriots at Ninety Six during June, 1780, a year before the Siege of Ninety Six occurred.

Ninety Six National Historic Site, NISI 215

Credits: Story

Park museum staff from: Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, Congaree National Park, Cowpens National Battlefield, Fort Sumter National Monument, Kings Mountain National Military Park, and Ninety Six National Historic Site.

National Park Service, Museum Management Program Staff: Amber Dumler, Stephen Damm, Ron Wilson, and Joan Bacharach

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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