One of the coolest “off the beaten path” sites at Gettysburg is the First Shot marker, just outside of town along the Chambersburg Pike. (The American Battlefield Trust broadcast live from there yesterday on Facebook LIVE, which you can check out here.) There’s also the First Artillery Shot marker at the base of John Buford’s statue. (Kris White did a post about it in 2015, which you can read here.)
But during my visit to Charleston this week, I had the chance to visit the REAL “first shot” marker—the first shot of the entire war.
The monument, erected for the Civil War Centennial, stands at the far end of Ft. Johnson Road on James’s Island at the site of the former Ft. Johnson. Today, the Hollings Marine Laboratory occupies the site, although Civil War buffs looking for the monument are allowed on the grounds. The weeds growing around the base of the monument suggest few people visit or tend to the site.
Here’s the back of the monument:
The original fort—named after the governor of the Carolinas, Sir Nathaniel Johnson—was built in 1704, but the only remaining trace is the original the mossy-brick powder magazine that stands nearby.
Subsequent forts and fortifications have occupied the site over the past 250 years. A nature/history trail winds through some of the earthworks that still remain from some of those later efforts.
Meanwhile, a seaside trail offers a view of Ft. Sumter, and at low tide, one can actually walk to the fort (although you do get your feet wet).
You can read more about the history of Fort Johnson here.