In Memorial Days past, when we lived close to family we’ve located family graves and given proper respect to generations come before. Including a picnic to keep the younger kids happy of course. In recent years we haven’t lived near family or forefathers, instead choosing to spend the day researching local National Cemeteries. This year we thought living in South Carolina we could locate a Civil War Battlefield & Cemetery within driving distance… we were wrong! But we found a hidden gem in Hartsville, SC instead.
Very Few Civil War Battles were Fought in South Carolina
This came as a surprise since, ahem, didn’t the Civil War begin in South Carolina??
My short research shows at the very end of the war as Sherman marched across the South sparing little (except allegedly Savannah, Georgia, which one report asserts he spared the port town as a birthday present to President Lincoln, go figure?**)
As Sherman’s Army burned their way through the South they ended near the Southern tip of South Carolina, only fighting 2 small battles in the Southern portion of the state just before the final peace in 1865.
These three main battle sites in South Carolina were all a bit far away for our quick Memorial Day Trip. We are saving them for a longer weekend drive!
- Honey Hill – 30 miles north of Savannah, GA and 130 miles south of Columbia, SC
- Rivers’ Bridge – 85 miles north of Savannah, GA and 90 miles south of Columbia, SC
- Areas Surrounding Charleston, SC early in the war and final Peace settlements in 1865
Instead while researching a National Cemetery in Florence, SC closer to home, we came across a cute little town called Hartsville, SC. Obsessed with finding original Plantation homes I quickly Googled up the local Plantation appropriately built by the namesake of the town: Thomas Hart.
The surrounding acreage while vastly reduced in size since the 1800s has been turned into what is now Kalmia Gardens, with a biking path and marked natural plants and trees throughout. We jumped in the car and began our drive avoiding larger roads and enjoyed the scenic farming lands between Charlotte and Hartsville.
A Photo Journey of Kalmia Gardens in Hartsville, SC for Memorial Day.
The stately home of Thomas Hart has seen many owners over the years, currently the gardens are open to the public and the grounds are popular for weddings and events.
There is a bike path and several walking paths within the gardens. And many of the trees and plants are marked and labeled. See the Full Photo Journal on GoodNCrazy.com.
While enjoying Hartsville’s quintessential main street (image at top of post) plus our time spent at Kalmia Gardens, we ran out of time to locate the Florence National Cemetery… but I’m told there is a grave marker for a woman who famously impersonated a man in order to fight in the Civil War.
If you stop for lunch in Hartsville: try Groucho’s Café—and trust the staff when they suggest the STP Dipper Hot Sandwich. Wow. Seriously THAT good! I just realized there’s a Groucho’s near us in Charlotte, YAY! And if you stay in Hartsville for dinner the menu at Midnight Rooster is filled with modern dining surprises.
Hartsville is about 90 miles South-East of Charlotte and the perfect stopping point off the beaten path if you are headed to the any of South Carolina’s amazing beaches. (For example: Hartsville is 90 minutes from Myrtle Beach.) Which means we still have time to find that missing cemetery marker we missed on our next GoodNCrazy trip to the ocean!
Keeping South Carolina Weird
There are a couple other quirky South Carolina Gems not far from Hartsville and soon to be on my checked-off list. The Button Museum appropriately curated by “The Button King” and The Topiary Gardens run by a lovely gentleman named Pearl Fryer; both located in Bishopville a 20 minute drive from Hartsville. Possibly the perfect return trip stop-off from a beachy weekend?
**Additional possible historical reasons Savannah was saved during the Civil War: http://savannahnow.com/accent/2014-05-23/time-travel-why-did-sherman-spare-savannah