01-04-09-the-ruins

Located not far from Beaufort (one of my favorite places) is the ruins of the Church of Prince William’s Parish known as Sheldon.  Originally built between 1745 and 1755, it was burned by the British Army in 1779 and rebuilt in 1826.  The Colonial Dames monument at the site notes that it was burned again by the Federal Army in 1865.  The www.SCIway.com website relates the following story…

   The Old Sheldon Church, formerly known as the Prince William Parish Church, has had a tumultuous and eventful history. From its first service in 1757 to its present peaceful setting, the church has followed the travails of our region’s history.

   Originally organized and funded in the 1740s and 50s by William Bull, whose plantation bordered the church grounds, the church was set on fire during the Revolutionary War. It was then rebuilt from the remaining walls in 1826.

   Common knowledge states that on January 14, 1865, Sherman’s troops burned the church a second time, as part of the “March to the Sea” campaign. While the walls still refused to fall, it was never to be built again.

   However, an alternative fate has come to light. In a letter dated February 3rd, 1866, after the end of the civil war, Milton Leverett wrote that “Sheldon Church not burn’t. Just torn up in the inside, but can be repaired.” The inside of the church was apparently gutted by the whites and blacks who needed the materials to rebuild their homes burnt by Sherman’s army. This information was sourced from “The Leverett Letters,” published by the University of South Carolina Press. It was found on Pages 403 and 405.

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