Burned By The Federal Army 1865
The Old Sheldon Church Ruins is a historic site located in northern Beaufort County, South Carolina, approximately 17 miles (30 km) north of Beaufort in the Sheldon area
nown also as the Sheldon Church or Old Sheldon Church, the building was originally known as Prince William's Parish Church. The church was built as a chapel of ease in the English Georgian style, using the Roman Tuscan or Doric order, between 1745 and 1753.
The traditional understanding is that Prince William's was burned by the British in 1779 during the Revolutionary War, rebuilt in 1826, and then burned again in 1865 during the Civil War by the Federal Army under General William T Sherman’s orders:
The official South Carolina report on the "Destruction of Churches and Church Property," after the War Between the States, described Sheldon's second burning: "All that was combustible was consumed ..., its massive walls survive the last as they did the former conflagration," Bishop Thomas wrote, "Exactly as it happened a hundred years before in 1779, when General Prevost, marching from Savannah into South Carolina burned the Church, so now in February 1865, General Sherman marching from Georgia into South Carolina, burned it a second time."
However, an alternative view has more recently come to light. In a letter dated February 3, 1866, Milton Leverett wrote that "Sheldon Church not burn't. Just torn up in the inside, but can be repaired." In this view, the inside of the church was apparently gutted to reuse materials to rebuild homes burnt by Sherman's army.
Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Sheldon Church has lain in ruin for more than 120 years. Its gable roof, pediment, windows, and interior have disappeared, but the classic simplicity of its design still remains. One of the first Greek-Revival structures built in the United States, Prince William's Parish Church, erected 1745-55, was once one of the most impressive churches in the Province. During the Revolution, the Patriots are believed to have stored gun powder in it. In 1779, when the British General Augustine Prevost invaded the Lowcountry, the church was burned by a detachment which according to tradition, was commanded by the flamboyant local Tory, Andrew Deveaux. Rebuilt in 1826, the church was again burned by Sherman's men in 1865. The ruins are nevertheless a picturesque site from which the visitor can visualize the grandeur of the pre-Revolutionary church.
August 23rd, 2019
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