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Six Miles from Charleston, Five Minutes to Hell (Paperback)

The Battle of Seccessionville, June 16, 1862

Military > Pre-WWI > American History > American Civil War

Imprint: Savas Beatie
Series: Emerging Civil War Series
Pages: 192
Illustrations: 150 images, 10 maps
ISBN: 9781611216011
Published: 12th October 2022



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The small, curiously named village of Secessionville, just outside of Charleston, South Carolina was the site of an early war skirmish, the consequences of which might have been enormous had the outcome been different. It quickly would be forgotten, however, as the Seven Days battles, fought shortly afterward and far to the north, attracted the attention of Americans on both sides of the conflict.


The battle at Secessionville was as bloody and hard fought as any similar sized encounter during the war. But it was poorly planned and poorly led by the Union commanders whose behavior did not do justice to the courage of their men. That courage was acknowledged by Confederate Lt. Iredell Jones who wrote, "let us never again disparage our enemy and call them cowards, for nothing was ever more glorious than their three charges in the face of a raking fire of grape and canister."


For the Federals, the campaign on James Island was a joint Army-Navy operation which suffered from inter-service rivalries and no small amount of mutual contempt. Brig. Gen. David Hunter, the overall Union commander, lost interest in the campaign and turned effective control over to his subordinate Brig. Gen. Henry Benham whose ego and abrasive personality was a significant problem for the officers who served directly under him. On the Confederate side were men like John C. Pemberton, oddly enough a West Point classmate of Benham, who never gained the respect of his subordinates either. The civilian authorities diligently worked behind his back to have him relieved and replaced. He did, however, oversee the construction of a formidable line of defensive works which proved strong enough in the end to save Charleston for much of the war.


In Six Miles from Charleston, Five Minutes to Hell, historian Jim Morgan examines the lead up to the James Island campaign as well as the skirmish itself on June 16, 1862 and its aftermath. By including several original sources not previously explored, he takes a fresh look at this small, but potentially game-changing fight, and shows that it was of much more than merely local interest at the time.

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