Battlefield Visits, Epic Man Trip Edition – Part 3: Fort Sumter and Patriot’s Point

From my travels, June 26, 2023.

We got packed up and checked out of the hotel with plenty of time. We were easily able to make it over to Patriot’s Point for our 10:30am ferry ride to…

Fort Sumter

The Civil War began here at Fort Sumter as the Confederates opened fire on the Federal garrison on April 12, 1861.

This is my second visit (I came here on a family vacation when I was in high school), and the first for the boys. Coming out here takes us (roughly) to the site of four Civil War battlefields, and it’s the best place to view two others:

A note on my battlefield numbering here – since I had visited the site when I was younger and not as much of a Civil War nerd, I consider that to be my visit for tracking purposes for the actions involving Fort Sumter. The two battles that took place on Morris Island were unknown to me at the time, and the area where they took place is now, sadly, under the Atlantic Ocean. This is as close as I’m reasonably able to get to them.

It’s a really pleasant and smooth 35-minute boat ride out from Patriot’s Point, and the hour we spent on the island felt like about 5 minutes. It’s an awesome place.

The boys were able to earn their Junior Ranger badges for Fort Sumter National Monument and had a ceremony to award them in front of some of the heavy artillery. The ranger suggested the site and I think it’s super cool!

USS Laffey (DD-724)

We started our visit at Patriot’s Point with the USS Laffey, an Allen M. Sumner-class, WWII-era destroyer, that is also known as “The Ship that Wouldn’t Die” as she took 4 bomb hits and 6 kamikaze attacks near Okinawa and – obviously – survived. She continued to serve into the Vietnam-era.

The Laffey as we approached to board her. - <i>Photo by the author</i>
The Laffey as we approached to board her. – Photo by the author

While John was really anxious to get on to that other ship here, both boys ended up having a good time. We spent about 45 minutes touring the Laffey. There are a number of interactive exhibits aboard, including a really cool Soviet submarine hunting simulation in the CIC. Isaac in particular wanted to do that experience over and over!

Tracking Soviets in the CIC. - <i>Photo by the author</i>
Tracking Soviets in the CIC. – Photo by the author

USS Yorktown (CV-10)

At last, it was time for the main event – the USS Yorktown, an Essex-class aircraft carrier from WWII that, like the Laffey, had a service that extended into the Vietnam-era. She was heavily modified in the years after WWII, and that is mostly how she is presented today. The most obvious upgrade is her angled flight deck.

We had a great view of the <i>Yorktown</i> from our ferry out to Fort Sumter. - <i>Photo by the author</i>
We had a great view of the Yorktown from our ferry out to Fort Sumter. – Photo by the author

John was extremely excited about this ship, and really wanted to get to the aircraft and the flight deck. He had to practice a little patience as we worked through all 4 tour routes that were offered. While we’re here we might as well see everything, right? It was a lot of fun for me to see the different aspects of the tour that excited the boys. I was a little surprised by this, but they really enjoyed all the aircraft models in the museum section of the ship.

As we were walking on the flight deck, John came close to tripping over one of the arresting cables. We had a bit of a laugh over that not being exactly the kind of landing he was looking for.

I took a ton of photos on the Yorktown – it was really hard to narrow down what to post here. This one is well worth the visit if you’re in the Charleston area.

The trip from Charleston to our next stop, Williamston, NC, took several hours and the boys slept most of the way. We got dinner once again at Buc-ee’s, and made it to our hotel just before midnight.

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