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The Swamp Angel, a unique gun emplacement delivered Charleston's first Civil War bombardment
  as reported by
Bob Campbell in The Islander. 

A Federal gun platform, called an engineering feat since it was mounted in the James Island marsh mud, dropped the first artillery shells on the city of Charleston in 1863. Today, the location of the gun known in history as "The Swamp Angel" is preserved as a battleground site by the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust, according to Ted Banta, who recently stepped down as the trust's first executive director.

"The Swamp Angel  was actually our first preserved site," Banta says.  "I thought it was a very interesting site and needed to be preserved."

Although the Swamp Angel location is said to be difficult to approach and only by boat, it can be seen from the harbor.  The trust has erected a historical marker where the gun sat in 1863. According to a trust handout, Federal engineers built the gun platform floating in the muddy marshes between Morris Island and James Island.  The gun platform supported a 16,000 pound, eight-inch parrot rifle that fired 200 pound shells. Rounds delivered from the Swamp Angel delivered the first shells to reach the city of Charleston during the Civil War causing an outrage among the city's citizens and commanding general. According to Banta, General P.G.T. Beauregard, commander of the Charleston defenses, went berserk and called the bombardment "barbaric".

At the time of the war the civilian population had been left alone. "Nobody had fired on them," says Banta.  "Turns out the battery was a major engineering feat because of the way it was built on pluff mud." Pilings were driven down into the sand in a square, he says, and then a platform was set inside the pilings.  To counterweight the platform, "They put sandbags all around it, I think 4,000 sand bags. When it fired," he says, "the pluff mud would absorb the shock of the firing." Sand from these bags is still at the site he says, and the platform lies under about 4 feet of mud.

On the first night of the Charleston shelling, the gun's crew fired 15 rounds into the city.  But, after two more nights of bombardment and 36 rounds, the gun blew up from an overcharge of powder.  "The gun just wouldn't take it," Banta says.

The Swamp Angel site is one of four the trust has preserved in its seven years of battleground preservation efforts.  Others are Battery #5 on James island, Coles Island, Fort Palmetto on the Stone River near Folly, and Battery Cleaves on James Island.

The trust also worked closely with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources in the preservation of Fort Lamar on James Island. Fort Lamar, scene of a major 1862 land battle, is now owned by the Natural Resources Department's Heritage Trust and is open to the public.