City of Charleston, SC | Jun 16, 1862
In early June 1862, the Union divisions of Brig. Gens. Horatio G. Wright and Isaac I. Stevens, under the overall command of Brig. Gen. Henry Benham, landed on James Island just southwest of Charleston, South Carolina. Benham entrenched at Grimball's Landing near the southern end of the Confederate defensive line around the city. On June 16th, Benham's 6,500 men from the 3rd New Hampshire, 8th Michigan, 7th Connecticut, 28th Massachusetts, and 79th New York "Highlanders" infantry regiments advanced toward Charleston. Confederate Brig. Gen. Nathan "Shanks" Evans, in command of the 3,000 Confederate defenders of James Island for only two days, quickly ordered the defense of the island. The Union regiments attacked the Confederate fort at the small village of Secessionville where Col. Thomas G. Lamar commanded about 500 men with well-placed heavy artillery. After an intense battle, the fort's defenders, augmented during the fight by approximately 1,000 men from nearby units, ultimately prevailed. Although the battle was minor, it was the only attempt to capture Charleston by land during the war. Later Union efforts to capture the city would focus on the outer forts defending the harbor. The Confederate victory provided useful propaganda, increased morale in Charleston, and offset recent Confederate losses elsewhere.