When you look around Ninety Six, South Carolina, the Star symbol is everywhere. But how many people know the history of Ninety Six’s famous Star Fort? In December 1780 the Loyalists started building the Star Fort, but it was not finished until early 1781. A Star design for a fort was not popular, it was hard to build, and it could not hold many troops. Legend has it that one British engineer decided an 8-point Star fort would be better for the site than a tradition square fort. During the Siege of Ninety Six May 22-June 18, 1781, the Star Fort was 14 feet high. When you visit the historic site Park today you see the original Star Fort. It’s a little bit worn and weathered, but it hasn’t been reconstructed or altered in any way through all these years.
On the night of June 13, 1781, the troops decided to try a new tactic and built a tower. While the replica that stands on the site today is only 10 feet tall, the original was 30 feet tall. Sharpshooters could go up into the tower and fire into the Star Fort. To stop this the Loyalists tried to burn the tower down, but it was built from green wood and would not burn. They also added sandbags to the top of the Star Fort’s walls.
Another tactic that the Patriots tried was to build a mine. From the 3rd parallel they dug down 6 feet then started digging toward the Star Fort. The idea was to dig the mine under the Star fort, pack it with gunpowder, and blow a hole in the Star’s walls to allow the Patriots to attack inside. The mine was not completed and still exists today. It is sealed off to preserve it, but the park has pictures from inside where you can still see shovel and picks marks that were made 225th years ago. Today, the town of Ninety Six continues to be filled with stars!
For more information about the regional tourism organization that promotes the five counties of Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens and McCormick counties, visit SC Travel Old 96, named after the old judicial district that served these 5 counties.