Morris Island
Morris Island is an 840 acre (3.4 km²) uninhabited island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 in Charleston Harbor
Charleston Harbor
The Charleston Harbor is an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean at Charleston, South Carolina. The inlet is formed by the junction of Ashley and Cooper rivers at . Morris and Sullivan's Island, shelter the entrance...

 in South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, accessible only by boat. The island lies in the outer reaches of the harbor and was thus a strategic location in the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...



Morris Island was heavily fortified to defend Charleston harbor, with the fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

s centered on Fort Wagner
Fort Wagner
Fort Wagner was a beachhead fortification on Morris Island, South Carolina, that covered the southern approach to Charleston harbor...

. It was the scene of heavy fighting during the Union Army
Union Army
The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...

's campaign to capture Charleston
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was made the county seat of Charleston County in 1901 when Charleston County was founded. The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location from a location on the west bank of the...

, and is perhaps best known today as the scene of the ill-fated assault by the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
The 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was an infantry regiment that saw extensive service in the Union Army during the American Civil War. The regiment was one of the first official black units in the United States during the Civil War...

, an African-American regiment. The regiment and this assault, where it suffered over 50% casualties, was immortalized in the film Glory.

After the Confederates abandoned Morris Island in 1863, the Union occupied it and transferred 520 Confederate officers from Fort Delaware to Morris Island. They were used as Human Shield
Human shield
Human shield is a military and political term describing the deliberate placement of civilians in or around combat targets to deter an enemy from attacking those targets. It may also refer to the use of civilians to literally shield combatants during attacks, by forcing the civilians to march in...

s in an attempt to silence the Confederate artillery at Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter is a Third System masonry coastal fortification located in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. The fort is best known as the site upon which the shots initiating the American Civil War were fired, at the Battle of Fort Sumter.- Construction :...

 and soon became known in the South as the Immortal Six Hundred
Immortal Six Hundred
In 1864, the Confederate Army imprisoned 50 Union Army officers as human shields against federal artillery in the city of Charleston in an attempt to stop Union artillery from firing upon civilians in the city. In retaliation, United States Secretary of War Edwin M...

. This was done by the Union when it was learned that the Confederacy had a similar number of human shields in Charleston to deter Union ships from firing on the city. Land Erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

 has destroyed a great deal of the old fortifications on the island, including some parts of Fort Wagner.

Morris Island Light

Morris Island is also the site of the Morris Island Light
Morris Island Light
Morris Island Light is a lighthouse on Morris Island in South Carolina. The light stands on the southern side of the entrance to Charleston Harbor, north of the City of Folly Beach....

, a lighthouse that stands on the southern side of the entrance to Charleston Harbor, north of the town of Folly Beach.


Plans to commercially develop the 125 acres (506,000 m²) of high ground on the northern tip of Morris Island as a luxury residential area resulted in several groups fighting to have the island declared a national historical park or added to the Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter is a Third System masonry coastal fortification located in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. The fort is best known as the site upon which the shots initiating the American Civil War were fired, at the Battle of Fort Sumter.- Construction :...


In January 2005, Charleston developer Harry Huffman, listed the 125 acre (0.5058575 km²) for sale on eBay
eBay Inc. is an American internet consumer-to-consumer corporation that manages, an online auction and shopping website in which people and businesses buy and sell a broad variety of goods and services worldwide...

 for $12.5 million. Huffman was in negotiations to sell the island to a consortium of preservation groups, but claimed to have listed the island to see if there was any other interest. Charleston zoning regulations permit no more than 5 homes to be built on the island. Huffman had waged a number of battles with the local development agencies to change the zoning, but claimed to have grown tired of fighting and just wanted to sell. The island was last sold in the 1980s for $3 million.

On February 2, 2006, the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a non-profit private land conservation organization, announced the purchase of Morris Island for $4.5 million. Ginn Resorts had previously purchased the island for a reported $6.5 million. In May 2008, TPL and partners (including the South Carolina Conservation Bank, the South Carolina State Ports Authority, the Civil War Preservation Trust, and many private donors) purchased the island on behalf of the City of Charleston from Ginn Resorts for $3 million. According to TPL, the city and county are working "to complete a management plan to protect the island's nationally significant historical and natural resources."

External links

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