Fort Washington, erected in late 1814 at the east end of the "The Lines" of Charleston.

Fort Washington, erected in late 1814 at the east end of the “The Lines” of Charleston.

Technically speaking, the mission of the Mayor’s Walled City Task Force is to raise awareness about the colonial-era fortifications erected in urban Charleston. But I’ll go out on a limb for a moment and guess that readers of this blog might also be interested in learning about some of Charleston’s post-colonial fortifications. Shortly after Britain and France declared war on each other in 1793, the South Carolina government began erecting new fortifications (such as Fort Mechanic in 1794 and Fort Pinckney in 1798) to protect Charleston against possible incursions of either of these dueling nations. As the United States drifted towards war with Britain in the early nineteenth century, local leaders took further steps to defend our port city. Besides improving Charleston’s existing harbor defenses (consisting of forts Johnson, Moultrie, and Pinckney), our intrepid citizens erected in 1814 a significant line of earthwork and brick fortifications across the “neck” of the peninsula, connecting the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. This half-mile-long, zig-zag entrenchment and moat was intended to defend the city against any hostile attempts to attack the city from the north, as the British army had done in the spring of 1780.

This September we commemorate the 200th anniversary of that forgotten line of fortifications. No trace of “The Lines,” as they were commonly called, survives above the surface of modern Charleston, but our modern Line Street marks the site of this once-formidable barrier. I’ve written a few more words about the history of these War of 1812 fortifications at my other blog, The Charleston Time Machine, and I’ll be presenting an overview of the construction of “The Lines” next week. If you’d like to learn more about this little-known fortification episode in the history of our fair city, please join me for an illustrated program titled:

“The Bicentennial of Charleston’s

Line Street, 1814–2014″

Time: Wednesday, September 10th 2014 at 6:00 p.m.

Place: Second Floor Classroom, Charleston County Public Library, 68 Calhoun St., 29401.