Preliminary Chart of Port Royal Entrance Beaufort and Chechesse Rivers South Carolina


Nautical chart published during the famous Civil War-era Port Royal Experiment.

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This detailed navigational chart shows the approaches to Port Royal Island, South Carolina from the Atlantic Ocean. Depth soundings are provided with a mix of feet and fathoms and the composition of the seafloor is noted as hard, soft, or sticky (useful when anchoring). Breakers, shipwrecks, navigational buoys, and other landmarks are identified throughout the image. Of particular interest is the Martins Industry Lightship Station, first anchored in 1858 and in operation until 1920. Also present are a table of tides and a list of accompanying sailing directions that provides instructions for pilots entering through the two channels.

The map was published by the United States Coast Survey under the direction of A.D. Bache in 1863. Just a few years prior, the area was the site of an amphibious assault resulting in a Union victory at the Battle of Port Royal. In the months immediately following, thousands of freed slaves began to work the land of their former owners, selling surplus crops, cotton, and livestock to the U.S. Army.

With their earnings, African-Americans were first able to purchase portions of the land after an 1863 land redistribution policy was implemented by Abraham Lincoln. That same year (the year the map was published), the Emancipation Proclamation was publicly read aloud in Port Royal. Despite the broad success of the Port Royal Experiment, favor for the liberal policies waned after Lincoln’s assassination and, in 1865, President Andrew Johnson ordered the return of captured lands to their original white owners.

Source: Port Royal Experiment (VCU Libraries)

Map Details

Publication Date: 1863

Author: A.D. Bache

Sheet Width (in): 24.25

Sheet Height (in): 30.75

Condition: B

Condition Description: Moderate wear and discoloration along originally issued fold lines, including two offsetting damp stains on the left side and about 4" of separation that has been repaired with archival tape on the verso. Minor paper loss as a result of the damp stains, but otherwise the image is complete and in good condition overall.


1 in stock