Coosawhatchie, South Carolina

Coosawhatchie, South Carolina

Coordinates: 32°35.317′0″N 80°55.65′0″W / 32.588617°N 80.9275°W / 32.588617; -80.9275 Coosawhatchie (koos-uh-HATCH-ee) is an unincorporated community located in Jasper County, South Carolina at the northern head of the Broad River. It served as the headquarters for General Robert E. Lee during the early part of the American Civil War. It is accessible from Interstate 95 via Exit 28.



The area derived its name from its original inhabitants, the Coosaw group of Native Americans and their word for river, hatchie.[1] A sub-group of the Muskogees, they spoke a mixture of the Muskogee and Koasati languages. Located on the King's Highway that stretched from Boston to Charleston, Coosawhatchie was settled by trappers in the 1740s. The original town grew around a store owned by rice planter brothers, Henry and Daniel DeSaussure.[2] During the Revolutionary War in 1779 much of the town was burned by British troops. It became the seat of Beaufort District in 1788.

In 1810, the local court of equity was relocated to Coosawhatchie. Seven years later a new courthouse was constructed in town. Designed by British architect William Jay, the two story structure remained in use until 1840 when it was moved to nearby Gillisonville. After 1840 the town declined somewhat due to the perception that its marshy terrain was unhealthy.[3]

During the Civil War it was the site of several small battles. Robert E. Lee was headquartered in Coosawhatchie while he was fortifying the coastal defenses of South Carolina and Georgia during late 1861 and early 1862.[4] In order to protect the railroad bridge located in Coosawhatchie against Federal gunboats coming up the Broad River, Lee's troops dug massive earthworks along its banks. It was in Coosawhatchie that Lee bought and named his horse Traveller.[5]

In 1912, Coosawhatchie became part of the newly created Jasper County.[3]


According to the 2000 census, Coosawhatchie has a population of 11,407. It has 4,164 households with an average household income of $30,240. 44.47% of the population is White, 51.47% is African American, 3.8% is Hispanic, 0.33% is Asian and 0.35% is Native American. 54.4% of inhabitants are male while 45.6% are female.

Notable residents


  1. ^ Hoyt, William D. (1952). "To Coosawhatchie in December 1861". The South Carolina Historical Magazine 52 (1): 6–12. 
  2. ^ Migliazzo, Arlin C.; Lawrence S. Rowland (2007). To Make this Land Our Own: Community, Identity, and Cultural Adaptation in Purrysburg Township, South Carolina, 1732-1865. University of South Carolina Press. p. 295. ISBN 1570036829. 
  3. ^ a b Coleman Karesh Law Library. "Coosawhatchie Courthouse". University of South Carolina School of Law. Retrieved January 26, 2010. 
  4. ^ Stone, H. David (2008). Vital rails: the Charleston & Savannah Railroad and the Civil War in coastal South Carolina. University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 1570037167. 
  5. ^ Johnson, Clint (2001). In the footsteps of Robert E. Lee. John F. Blair. pp. 152–4. ISBN 0895872358. 
  6. ^ Pease, Jane H.; William Henry Pease (2002). James Louis Petigru: Southern conservative, Southern dissenter. University of South Carolina Press. p. 20. ISBN 1570034915. 

Coordinates: 32°25′40″N 81°00′31″W / 32.42778°N 81.00861°W / 32.42778; -81.00861

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