A small railroad town at the outbreak of the war, Florence remained out of the way until the fall of 1864 when thousands of Union prisoners were moved to town following the evacuation of the infamous Andersonville prison camp in Georgia. In the few months of its existence (September 1864–February 1865) more than 2,800 of an estimated 15,000-18,000 prisoners died. Burials, which began during the war, became the genesis of the current National Cemetery.
War Between the States Museum
107 S Guerry St, Florence SC
Collection of artifacts and other items related to the Florence area and its wartime experience. Emphasis is on the Florence Prison Stockade. Items from the camp and a model are displayed. $2 adults. Open Wednesdays and Saturdays 10 am–5 pm.
Florence National Cemetery and the Florence Stockade
803 E National Cemetery Road
The Florence Stockade was established in September 1864 to house Union prisoners who had been moved from Andersonville in Georgia to avoid Gen. William T. Sherman's campaigns there. By most accounts, conditions in Florence were little better than at the infamous Georgia camp and an estimated 2,800 prisoners (of approximately 15,000–18,000) died here. Most of the dead are buried in the National Cemetery established nearby. The Florence Stockade was closed in February 1865. A 1.9-mile walking trail at the historic prison site covers important features of the stockade. A kiosk at the beginning of the trail (at the end of Stockade Road, south of the cemetery) features markers explaining the site's history and the life of prisoners and guards.
Old Bank Building on Court Square
Abbeville bills itself as "The Birthplace and the Deathbed of the Confederacy." Well, sort of. One of the first large meetings to discuss South Carolina's secession was held Nov. 22, 1860, "beneath large oaks" on Magazine Hill, now known as Secession Hill. And Jefferson Davis did hold one of his last councils of war May 2, 1865, at the Burt-Stark Mansion. Pretty good bookends in one place.
Pick up a walking tour brochure and view historical paintings at the welcome center. Many antebellum buildings and churches are described in the tours, including the 1860 Trinity Church, which features a stained glass window said to have made it past the Charleston blockade in 1863.
Intersection of North Main and Greenville streets
Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his dwindling party arrived here May 2, 1865, exactly a month after the fall of Richmond and the evacuation of the Confederate government. He met with the group of officers still with him and was told, essentially, that any hope of organizing any resistance or reviving any military force was now impossible. A disappointed Davis continued his flight that night after a brief rest here. He was captured eight days later in Georgia. Some original furnishings are left in this circ. 1850 home. Somewhat muddled guided tours offered. $10/adult. Open Fridays and Saturdays 1–5 pm.
Secession and Cherry streets
Featured on the Abbeville walking tour, this place is worth the short walk. The hill, now the site of a private home, was the spot where resolutions supporting secession were adopted on Nov. 22, 1860. It was one of the first such meetings. Secession was adopted officially about a month later in Charleston. Interpretive markers at Secession and Magazine streets.
South Carolina Confederate Museum
15 Boyce Ave, Greenville SC
Collection includes nicely displayed artifacts and memorabilia, military and civilian, with emphasis on state, local material. Operated by the 16th South Carolina Volunteers, Sons of Confederate Veterans. Closed Tuesday and Thursday; call for hours. Free, donations welcome.
Links to the websites of these sites.