A model of the daring ship, The South Carolina, built from scratch in 3/16-inch to 1-foot scale by Callawassie Island resident Bill Shultz, on display in the clubhouse of the Callawassie Island Club.
In the days of “wooden ships and iron men” The South Carolina was among those rare and intrepid vessels that challenged the Royal Navy as our nation fought for independence from Britain, according to a release.
Shultz wanted to contribute a project that is significant to South Carolina history, yet finding out what The South Carolina looked like took some detective work.
At last, in a five-volume 1888 French compendium titled “Souvenirs de Marine” by Edmund Paris, there it was – a single one-page illustration of The South Carolina.
Built in Amsterdam in 1777 as L’Indien, The South Carolina was a 40-gun frigate, a design intended to balance a substantial amount of firepower with greater speed than most heavily armed ships of the day.
Initially U.S. naval legend John Paul Jones tried to acquire the new ship, but British agents blocked his plans.
But a South Carolina man found a way to put the new ship on the side of the American colonists.
When Charleston merchant and politician Alexander Gillon was commissioned by the state to organize a navy to protect South Carolina ports, Gillon succeeded in acquiring the ship in Europe and sailing for America.
Unable to land in Charleston, already occupied by the British, Gillon took The South Carolina to Havana, allied with the Spanish fleet there, and joined them in capturing the Bahamas from the British in 1781.
From there Gillon sailed The South Carolina to Philadelphia to be refitted, provisioned and provided with a crew of Continental sailors. Departing Philadelphia in 1782, The South Carolina was pursued by blockading British vessels and captured.
The fate of The South Carolina in the Revolutionary War service unfolded in just under two years – less time than it took Bill Schultz to build his model of her.
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