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Battery Pringle, South Carolina

Posted 2/20/2023

 

Finial Style: Iron Point, 2018.29, ARL 50104

Location Housed: The Charleston Museum, Charleston, South Carolina

Measurements: Pointed part 5"L X 1.6" W, 7" long to the shaft ring

Recovery Location: Battery Pringle

Finial Attribution: Unknown

Photograph Accreditation: Charleston Museum, Charleston, South Carolina

Additional Information: According to Martha Zierden, Curator of Archeological History at The Charleston Museum, this iron spike style flagstaff finial was recovered in 2018 on property owned by the Charleston Museum designated as the "Dill Sanctuary Fortifications" on the Stono River, James Island, South Carolina. The piece was recovered during a metal detector survey conducted by professional archaeologists to train other professional archaeologists. The piece displayed here was conserved by retired archaeologist Ron Anthony.

The fort or battery was constructed in 1863 under the orders of Confederate General P.G.T Beauregard who was left with the task of formulating a defense of Charleston, Charleston Harbor, and the river entrances that led to the city through James Island. With the battery, a portion of which, is believed to have already existed during British occupation of Charleston, General Beauregard wasted no time re-working the fort for use during the Civil War.  It is reported that accounts suggest that 4000 slaves were used to rebuild the fort which was reported to have taken 20 days. The fort was an earthen fort measuring 360 ' X 160' X 400' X 520', with walls ranging in height from 7 1/2' to 12 1/2'. 

In the official reports of Jonathan Lucas of Lucas's Artillery, the fort was defended by, among others, the 1st South Carolina Artillery, Company A, Lucus Artillery Battalion, the 5th and 47th Georgia, as well as Confederate Cavalry, just to name a few. The interior of the fort was armed with nine guns which included a 10-inch Columbiad, 8-inch Columbiad,  two eight-inch shell guns, two forty-two pounders, and two thirty-two pounder rifled guns. The fort also later received a Brooke gun.

According to Ancestry.com the fort or battery, once completed, was given the name Battery Pringle, being named after Confederate Captain Robert Pringle. Captain Pringle was a member of the 15th South Carolina Volunteer Artillery Battery, Company B, when he was killed in action at Battery Wagner on Morris Island, South Carolina on August 21, 1863, after being mortally wounded by a shell thrown from a federal iron-clad at Battery Wagner. 

Battery Pringle saw most action from July 2, 1864, through July 12, 1864, when Union gun boats and ground forces attempted to take the fort while attempting to take Charleston by way of the Stono River through the "back door" to Charleston. It is said that the fort took some of the heaviest Union bombardment delivered to the Charleston harbor area during the entire war. When the war ended, the fort still stood with its nine guns. 

It is unknown to which regiment or flag this iron flagstaff finial may have belonged. 

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Sources:

1. Martha Zierden, Curator of Historical Archaeology, The Charleston Museum

2. Jennifer McCormick, Chief of Collections/ Archivist, The Charleston Museum

3. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10396675/robert-pringle

4. Official report: Confederate Major Jonathan Lucus, Lucus Battery, July 13, 1864.

5. Official Report Confederate Col. A.D. Frederick, July 14, 1864

6. Tour of Highlight Battery Pringle's Role, Brian Hicks, Nov. 8, 2011.

7. North American Review. No. CCCLIV, May 1866, Defense of Charleston, South Carolina in 1862,1863,1864.

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