South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union over the issue of slavery.
After the fall of Ft. Sumter to Union forces, President Lincoln developed a plan to blockade all Southern ports to prevent the Confederate forces from supplying its troops. Hilton Head Island became a strategic target for this blockade.
On November 7, 1861, the largest Naval and amphibious forces ever mounted to date entered Port Royal Sound and devastatingly bombarded Ft. Walker (now in Port Royal Plantation) and killed off the Confederate defenders. Over 12,600 federal troops invaded Hilton Head and effectively ended the Era of the Great Plantations.
During the Civil War the population of Hilton Head Island soared to over 50,000 soldiers, carpetbaggers, and hangers-on, as well as merchants who operated barbershops, a theater, a hotel, two newspapers, and various shady enterprises in an area that became known as “Robbers Row” just outside the fort. Men passed the time in surprisingly contemporary ways. Hilton Head Island was even the site of a baseball game attended by approximately 50,000 spectators.
During this time there were few battles. The strength of this outpost discouraged Confederate troops from launching an attack.
ONE OF HILTON HEAD ISLAND’S EARLIEST RESTAURANTS LOCATED ON FAMED “ROBBER’S ROW”