Beaufort South Carolina (pronounced bew-fort) not to be confused with Beaufort North Carolina (pronounced bo-fort) is a exceptional place. Definitely one of our favourites so far. Great anchorages, free dinghy docks. Immediately after coming ashore we hopped on a horse drawn carriage tour. The inspiring natural beauty of old tress draped in spanish moss combined with the unique architecture and remarkable history made this visit a highlight.
While Charleston had the country's biggest slave market most customers must have come from Beaufort; here the black slave to white citizen ratio was a record 11:1 ! The white population of Charleston stood at only one thousand versus eleven thousand slaves! The going rate of the day for a slave was the equivalent of about $43,000 in today's dollars which made slave ownership, as an asset, the second driver of wealth after cotton. Beaufort cotton is apparently very special, a specific strain called Sea Island Cotton whose feel is very silky. Sea Island Cotton was worth about five times as much as normal cotton.
During the War of Northern Aggression Beaufort fell, without a shot, to Union troops as the whites fled. General Sherman made Beaufort a military hospital where injured Union soldiers from the front came, likely to meet the surgeon's blade. Tombstones were expropriated for use as operating tables. It subsequently took a group of women 12 years to replace them on the correct graves.
I love trees. Believe that trees, especially old trees, possess a magical power to make people healthier, happier and wiser. Maybe this is why I had such a sense of well being in Beaufort. Old old trees everywhere, dripping in haunting spanish moss. I've admired spanish moss in films and was particularly looking forwarded to seeing it in the south but this surpassed all of my expectations. Pervasive. Slow. Serene. During the carriage tour we learned from Todd, our guide, that spanish moss derives its nutrients from the air, is transplanted by birds from tree-to-tree, from branch-to-branch by gravity and is part of the pineapple family. Who knew?
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