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Today in Georgia History
is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.

June 11

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Burning of Darien

June 11, 1863 - Darien
The burning of Darien, Georgia, depicted in the Civil War movie, Glory, was one of the most controversial acts of the War.

Situated on the Atlantic coast, Darien thrived during the antebellum period as the shipping point for cotton, rice, and lumber. In June 1863, most of Darien’s 500 residents had already fled inland when U.S. troops stationed on St. Simon’s Island looted and burned the undefended town. Those troops -- the 2nd South Carolina Volunteers -- were mostly freed slaves. The unit, despite its South Carolina name, was part of the U.S. Army. Another African-American unit, the famous 54th Massachusetts Volunteers under the command of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw reluctantly assisted in the raid. Shaw later called the destruction of Darien a “Satanic action.”

The "hard hand of war," as Sherman called it, battered Georgia over a year before his famous March to the Sea when Darien was burned to the ground on June 11, 1863, Today in Georgia History.

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Colonel Robert Shaw's family sent Darien funds to rebuild after the war, as Shaw -- who was killed in the War -- expressed regret about the destruction.