Some 150 years after Union forces created the first community in the US specifically for freed slaves, the area once known as Mitchelville is again being debated by the powers that be.
A proposal under consideration by the S.C. Senate includes $200,000 for the Mitchelville Preservation Project on Hilton Head Island.
The nonprofit group seeking to preserve Mitchelville officially formed two years ago, on the eve of the Civil War sesquicentennial. Plans are to buy plots adjoining a 33-acre beachfront town park toward the nonprofit’s long-term goal of recreating parts of the original town, according to The Associated Press.
The former community at the northern end of Hilton Head Island was formed after invading Union Army and Navy troops established headquarters at nearby Port Royal in fall 1861, just a few months after the beginning of the Civil War.
Federal forces created a safe haven for slaves left behind by plantation owners who fled inland and for slaves fleeing from plantations on nearby islands.
What was created was a village of between 1,500 and 2,000, named after Union Gen. Ormsby Mitchel.
It included homes built on half-acre parcels, town elections and mandatory schooling. Residents of the self-governing community dispersed after Union troops left in 1868, according to the wire service.