Magnolia Cemetery was small prior to the US Civil War. Charleston CSA troops camped here as part of the defense of Charleston.
There were large numbers of military dead to be buried, that started this as a military cemetery. It was just called the ‘Soldiers Ground’.
My friend Norma comes from one of the ‘old’ Charleston families and is a well known historian. She knew I was photographing and documenting some of the cemetery and she kindly wrote me some notes. The following came from one of them.
“Just before the Civil War, Amarinthia Snowden and her ladies raised thousands and thousands of $ to build a statue to John C. Calhoun. When Sherman’s troops came to Chas., she and her sister fled to Columbia. Sherman then went to Columbia and Amarinthia went to him and asked if she and her sister could ask for his protection. It seems that some 3 or 4 years before the war, Sherman was in Chas. for a friends wedding and he and Amarinthia had both stood as witnesses for the bride and groom. Sherman said yes to her request to board with him and told her to come the following day. This as Columbia was burning all around them. Amarinthia and her sister stayed up most of the night sewing the thousands she had in bonds in to the layers of her petticoats. She survived the end of the war and returned to Chas. when Sherman headed North and the bonds were safe. A very legal document had been drawn up as to the use of the money for a statue and try as she would, Amarinthia could not break the document as she wanted to use the money to travel to other states to pick up the bodies of Confederate soldiers and return them to Chas. for burial. She had to raise more money to do this of course with her ladies group. It is my understanding that she personally accompanied the wagons on these trips and they were able to return 900 dead soldiers to a Southern burial ground. ” (Norma Armstrong, 2014)
Later on the graves of Charleston soldiers killed in the Battle Of Gettysburg were also re-interred here.
The area here is still referred to as ‘Soldiers Ground’.
A little further into Magnolia Cemetery there are grave sites from all US wars after our Civil War. On May 1, 1865, in Charleston, South Carolina, recently freed African-Americans held a parade of 10,000 people to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers, whose remains they had reburied from a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. They may be here also.