Civil War comes to life with a Living History Encampment at the Beaufort Arsenal

Beaufort History Museum will present its fifth annual Living History Encampment on Saturday, March 14, 2020 from 9 AM – 5 PM in the Arsenal courtyard.

Re-enactors coming to Beaufort from several states will portray Union troops from the Department of the South who were garrisoned in the Lowcountry and occupied the Beaufort Arsenal during the Civil War.

The re-enactors will set up camp in the walled Arsenal courtyard and provide a unique educational opportunity for visitors of all ages, who will be able to interact with the soldiers to learn firsthand how life was lived in Beaufort during the Civil War years. A Civil War-era cannon will be on display in the Arsenal courtyard on the day of the event.

The Museum is again partnering with the National Park Service (NPS) and its Reconstruction Era National Historical Park Visitors Center, located in the old Firehouse building on Craven Street across from the Arsenal, and with Beaufort County Library. The Museum’s highly acclaimed exhibit, Reconstruction Beaufort, is on display at NPS’ visitors center, which will be open the day of the Encampment.

Beaufort is the place where Reconstruction first began during the early years of the Civil War. The National Park Service plans special activities the day of the Encampment event for kids who want to earn their Junior Ranger badges and will have docents on hand at its visitor’s center.

Admission is free to the Encampment in the Arsenal courtyard (donations to support the Museum are much appreciated). On the day of the Encampment event, admission to the Museum’s Exhibition Hall on the second floor of the Arsenal will be specially priced at $6.00 per visitor ($5.00 for seniors). Museum members, children, and active military and their families are admitted to the Museum free of charge at all times. Admission is free to the National Park Service’s Reconstruction Era National Historical Park Visitors Center.

The 50th Pennsylvania Regiment, Union forces that occupied Beaufort in 1862 following the Battle of Port Royal (November 1861), is being brought to life by some 25 re-enactors who are staging an encampment in the courtyard all weekend long at the historic Beaufort Arsenal building on downtown’s Craven Street.

The re-enactors are camping out in the walled courtyard space, dividing into a “4 corners” focus, and displaying Brigade Headquarters, a commissary and army Sutlers (traveling tradesmen who supplied the troops); infantry life and equipment; Northern missionaries and abolitionists; Freedmen; and the First South Carolina Regiment, which was comprised of soldiers of African American descent.

Activities over the weekend include cooking over open fires, an infantry drill, class in session at a Freedmen school, a book signing by celebrated authors Stephen Wise and Lawrence Rowland, a march through town to Cannon Park, a visit to the National Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony and an oyster roast for the re-enactors.

Pay the camp a visit and get a peek at Beaufort’s living history.