On June 11th 1863, the town of Darien lay deserted. Its inhabitants had fled weeks before in fear of Union Troops blockading and raiding the Coast. The all-black regiment, The 54th Massachusetts, had been sent to the Georgia coast earlier that spring to re-enforce the Union “Anaconda” strategy to choke the South into submission. Under their white commanders, they were to harass small southern settlements, destroy crops, free slaves and recruit them into service, and destroy any sources of economic activity. They had been here less than a month when their superior commander, Colonel James Montgomery of the 2nd SC Volunteers, ordered that Darien be pillaged for much needed supplies, and then burned entirely to the ground, churches and all. Members of the 54th complied, though their immediate commander, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, was vehemently against it and voiced his opposition to Montgomery. Nevertheless, rather than face Court Martial, Shaw carried out his orders. Only a few structures survived the burning. Shaw, in addition to many members of the 54th, bravely died a month later during their heroic Siege of Fort Wagner just outside Charleston, South Carolina.
After the war, the Shaw family spent a great deal of money and a great deal of ink in the press in efforts to exonerate their son’s reputation and honor throughout the South as many were erroneously led to believe Shaw ordered the burn.
The Burning of Darien was depicted in the 1989 Oscar-winning movie Glory.
|March 9th, 2013||10 AM- 4PM||Civil War Artifact Show at Fort King George
|May 19th, 2013||3PM||“The Rice Kingdom: Antebellum
Darien & McIntosh County, 1800-1861”
by McIntosh Historian Buddy Sullivan
First Presbyterian Church of Darien
|June 13th, 2013|| 6 PM
|| Showcase of the movie Glory at the McIntosh County Academy Auditorium. Actor Leon Watkins, the Flag Bearer in the movie Glory.
| June 9th, 2013
|| 3 PM
||“The Burning of Darien: We Know How ... But Why?”
by McIntosh Historian Buddy Sullivan Part 2
St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church
| June 11th, 2013
|| 6 PM
||Grand Opening of Burning of Darien Civil War Museum- Trailhead Center Darien
| June 20th, 2013
|| 7 PM
|| Sherman's March Lecture by Stephen Berry at Fort King George Historic Site
| June 15th, 2013
|| 10AM- 5PM
|| Town Festival and Living History Re-enactment
| June 23rd, 2013
|| 3 PM
|| Darien in the Reconstruction Period by Dr. Michael Benjamin at First African Baptist Church Darien