Posted By : manager

Posted : February 26, 2022

By: Rick Hatcher

As Christmas drew near in 1862, a ball was given at Fort Sumter by the garrison – the First South Carolina Artillery Regiment Regulars. One of the unit’s officers, Lieut. William H. Grimball, in a December 15 letter to his brother, Harry, from the Fort, wrote about the joyous event:

“We had as you heard quite a ball at the Fort. I sup-pose over a hundred guests of all sorts and sizes, too many by far for the small space we had to entertain them in.

The day opened at two o’clock with the firing [of] a salute of ten guns in honor of the arrival of Gen[.] Beauregard and staff, accompanied by a large number of ladies. The Bat-talion was then reviewed, passing Gen[.] Beauregard stood surrounded by a team, with his head uncovered, in quick time, and double-quick. The men did well, and everyone was loud in their praises of the regiment, which of course, pleased the officers highly.

They then adjourned to the dancing rooms, the officer’s rooms on the upper gallery, with everything in the shape of furniture removed. The band commenced playing, and the ball was opened. Fancy dancing was most in vogue. The chief female performers were Mrs. Sam Ferguson, a short, lively-looking girl, tolerably pretty, but perfectly didn’t care about her style and manners. I think she must be considered the belle of the evening. At one time, her hair tumbled down. She did not mend it but went galloping around with locks streaming behind her. Also, Miss Helen Singleton, a showy, handsome woman, and Miss Roper, who is nice & clean looking, Miss Huguenin [Hugnenin], who was very flashily dressed, Miss Fan-ny Ferguson, who was very flashily dressed I suppose you know. 

I tried the fancy dances & got on tolerably well with Miss Roper and Mrs. Blake Heyward. About eight o’clock the supper-room was opened which was adorned with flags, and everybody made a rush for something to eat, and I am afraid many were disappointed, for not expect-ing so many people the Committee had only prepared a moderate supper, which was very soon gobbled up by the crowd. Then, at nine, everybody left, and the Fort was left to its usual occupants, and everything assumed the quiet and dignity suitable to an armed fortress of the Confederate states. There will be another ball in the Fort on Christmas, but this will be given by the men, who will be allowed that as a holiday, with more liberty than usual.” 

This letter is from the Grimball Family Papers (Collection No. 980) in the Southern Historical Collection, Manuscripts Department, Wilson Library at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

William was one of John and Meta Grimball’s ten children, of which nine were alive during the war. The Grimballs owned The Grove, a rice plantation in Colleton County’s St. Paul’s Parish. The house, now called Grove Plantation House, is part of the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge. In addition to The Grove, they also owned a home on Lamboll St. in Charleston.

The six boys served in the Confederate military of the nine surviving children. Berkley was a private in the Marion Artillery, and Lewis was an assistant surgeon in the 1st SC Inf. Regt. John, a midshipman at the US Naval Academy when South Carolina seceded, resigned from the Academy, was commissioned a lieutenant in the US Navy, and served on the CSS Shenandoah. Arthur first joined the Marion Artillery then transferred to the CS Signal Corps. Harry, the youngest, was a Citadel cadet during the war. William served until his death from typhoid on July 27, 1864.

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