Saturday, January 30, 2010

Remembering Another Tree

Things had not been going well for the colonists up in New England. In Boston, there had been a massacre by the British. And shots had been heard 'round the world in Lexington and Concord. But in June 1776, a small flotilla of British warships arrived just outside Charles Town's harbor. Given that there were a good many folks here that were loyal to the crown, the Royal Navy had been given orders to enter the city and set up a headquarters here. However, it was low tide, and the ships ran aground on a sandbar that was at the entrance to the harbor. To make things worse for the British, there was a contingent of state militia encamped in a small fort on Sullivan's Island, a stone's throw (actually a cannonball's throw) away from where the ships sat. Their fort was made of logs from palmetto trees (a smaller version of the palm). Firing commenced from the ships into the fort, and vice versa. The fort proved to be indestructable, since the logs were a soft and spongy wood that was able to absorb the impact from the shelling rather than breaking apart the way other wooden forts might. When the tide turned (literally and figuratively), the ships left the area and the Patriots celebrated the first decisive victory in the war against the British. And the palmetto became the state tree of South Carolina!

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