A Glimpse into the History of Sullivan’s Island

A Glimpse into the History of Sullivan’s Island

sullivans island lighthouseSeen in a distance from our Charleston harbor cruises and Charleston sailing tours, Sullivan’s Island is one of the Charleston area’s most charming and beautiful islands. To many people’s surprise, Sullivan’s Island is steeped with fascinating history that dates back to the early 1600s when colonists first stepped on the island.

The island, named after Captain Florence O’Sullivan (who later was elected to South Carolina’s First Provincial Parliament in 1672), used Sullivan’s Island for signaling Charles Towne (known as Charleston today) that ships were entering the Charleston harbor. Specifically, Sullivan’s Island would fire a cannon if there were ships spotted offshore to signal a possible threat was approaching. Sullivan’s Island held this important role in signaling Charles Towne / Charleston all the way up until World War II.

One of the most interesting aspects of Sullivan’s Island’s past was in 1707 when a legislative act required pest houses to be built on the island to house diseased individuals (these pest houses were also referred to as a lazarettoes). Both free and enslaved individuals were quarantined in the pest houses, if they were believed to be carrying communicable diseases.

Sullivan’s Island is also famous for its role in the Revolutionary War as the site for The Battle of Sullivan’s Island. In an effort to defend Charleston against the British, Colonel William Moultrie, a former militiman and Indian fighter, along with his second South Carolina Regiment began the construction of Fort Sullivan on the island in 1776.

When the British began their attack on Sullivan’s Island on June 18, 1776, Fort Sullivan had not yet been complete and the Americans in South Carolina were low on ammunition. And, although the odds were not in the Americans’ favor, they were still victorious in the Battle of Sullivan’s Island and marked the start to even more Revolutionary battles on American soil with the British. 

Images below were taken during a recent trip to Fort Moultrie! 

sullivans island fort

fort multrie

fort moultrie sullivans

sullivans island

Stay tuned for following blog posts focusing on more of Sullivan’s Island rich history. 

To see Sullivan’s Island from the water, hop aboard our 90-minute historic Charleston Harbor Tours on The Carolina Belle! Click here for ticket and tour details.

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