The 1711 Crisp map shows the location of the Watch House along East Bay.
Friday, August 03, 2018 Nic Butler, Ph.D.

South Carolina’s first police station was a brick “Watch House” constructed around 1701 at the intersection of Broad and East Bay Streets in Charleston. Built to shelter both the town’s nocturnal watchmen and the lawbreakers they caught on the streets at night, the Watch House was once a vital part of daily life in early Charleston. Three centuries later, however, it’s one of the most obscure public buildings in the city’s history. Today we’ll use the sparse documentary evidence relating to this important landmark as a time machine to help us visualize the form and function of the city’s first Watch House, its interior cage, and its noisome black hole.

The early manifestation of what we might recognize as a police force in urban Charleston was known in the colonial era as the “Night Watch,” or simply “the Watch.” In recent episodes, I’ve talked about the evolution of the town’s Night Watch from its beginnings in the early 1670s to the autumn of 1701. During those three decades, the nocturnal watchmen who guarded the town were required to walk the streets at regular intervals between sunset and sunrise, and to detain anyone—especially enslaved people—who could not “give [a] good and satisfactory account of his business.”[1] When they were not walking their rounds, however, we have little evidence of how the watchmen spent the rest of their nocturnal shift. They were apparently allowed to rest their feet as long as they remained vigilant and didn’t sleep or get drunk, but the surviving documentary records don’t tell us where they were resting, or where they confined the people who were arrested on the streets during the night.

The government records of late 17th-century South Carolina contain references to the construction of several “watch houses,” at White Point, Sullivan’s Island, and Port Royal, but these were all military outposts intended to accommodate soldiers keeping watch for the advance of enemy invaders.[2] The earliest reference to the construction of an urban watch house designed for police purposes appeared in November 1698, one month after the South Carolina General Assembly ratified an updated law to regulate Charleston’s night watch. At that time, the legislature ordered the construction of “a house of sixteene foot long and tenn foot broad cleare within ye walls, w[i]th a chimney & a partition for a watch house and cage,” using the “the stones already belonging to the publick.”[3] This order did not specify the proposed location of the new facility, but the intended site was most likely the east end of Broad Street, where the government had been dumping ballast stone since the spring of 1696 in order to transform the tidal mudflat into buildable land.[4] Beyond this brief legislative order, however, there is no further evidence to confirm that the watch house ordered in late 1698 was ever built. After ordering the construction of that building in November 1698, South Carolina’s provincial legislature did not reconvene until the end of October 1700. During that two-year hiatus, there is scarcely a trace of any government activity in Charleston, and it appears that the plan to build a small stone watch house was abandoned.

At the close of the 1690s, Charleston (or Charles Town, as it was then known) was the principal settlement in South Carolina, but there was still no officially-designated home or shelter for the watchmen who patrolled the small urban confines between sunset and sunrise. That situation changed in late August 1701, when the South Carolina legislature ratified another revision of the law regulating Charleston’s night watch that included a clause appointing commissioners “to build a brick watch house, capable of containing thirty men, with arms . . . for the better security of the watch.”[5] This building, which was probably completed in 1702, soon became one of the most important landmarks of urban Charleston. As the headquarters of the local police force, it was the physical manifestation of the rule of law, and, to a portion of the population, represented safety and security. To the town’s rapidly growing population of enslaved Africans and Native Americans, however, the new Watch House was a tangible reminder of a discriminatory legal system that actively endeavored to suppress and intimidate the non-European population. Despite the significance of this early building, the surviving records of this era are devoid of any substantial discussions of its form or its function. In order to re-imagine its appearance and the activities it hosted, we need to look very closely at the handful of 300-year-old clues that remain among the manuscript records of our colonial government.

The “Watch Act” of August 1701 did not specify the intended location of the proposed watch house, but the text of that law contains an important geographic clue. One paragraph of the statute noted the presence of a half-moon-shaped brick fortification at the east end of Broad Street, the construction of which had commenced about nine months earlier on a site previously reserved for a public boat landing. (This semicircular structure would become known as the Half-Moon Battery, an important landmark with its own fascinating story that I’ll save for a future program.) Rather than using the entire breadth of that site at the east end of Broad Street as a boat landing, however, the statute of August 1701 divided the public reservation into two separate landings, each twenty feet wide, to be located immediately to the north and to the south of the half-moon fortification. This change created a vacant public site at the east end of Broad Street, measuring sixty-six feet along the east side of East Bay Street, on which the Watch House was constructed. The earliest known reference that confirms the presence of a watch house at this location is found in the text of a law ratified by the South Carolina General Assembly in December 1703, which ordered a major expansion of Charleston’s urban fortifications. That law appropriated public funds for the construction of “such additional walls, gates and other conveniences” as might be required to strengthen any of the town’s defensive structures, including “the halfe moone at the watch-house.”[6]

Neither the dimensions nor the floorplan of the Watch House of 1701–2 are described in any surviving documents of that era, but later references suggest it was a simple, one-story, rectangular brick structure. The text of the 1701 law ordering its construction stated only that the proposed Watch House should be “capable of containing thirty men, with arms.” This requirement, which represents a larger number of men than usually kept watch during the night, was probably intended to ensure that the building could shelter a sufficient force of armed watchmen during an emergency. As I mentioned in a recent discussion of the “Watch Act” of 1701, at that moment the South Carolina legislature was convinced that French or Spanish forces were planning an attack on Charleston. To create sufficient space for a larger nocturnal patrol during this time of uncertainty, the building erected in 1701–2 was probably approximately twice as large as that ordered during the relatively peaceful days of 1698, the interior of which was proposed to measure just sixteen feet by ten feet.[7] A building measuring approximately thirty-two feet broad and twenty feet deep might seem insignificant by today’s standards, but keep in mind that the population of urban Charleston numbered just over 1,000 people at the turn of the eighteenth century.

Besides the aforementioned details, the “Watch Act” passed by the South Carolina legislature in 1701 contains an additional clue to help us re-imagine this long-lost building. Watchmen who refused or neglected to perform their duties in accordance with the letter of law were subject to a monetary fine or corporal punishment, depending on the severity of their offense. All monies arising from such fines and forfeitures, according to the statute, were to be collected and applied “towards the purchasing & buying of candles & firewood for the Watch House.” From this reference to firewood, which is echoed in several subsequent revisions of the “Watch Act,” we can deduce that the design of the Watch House included at least one fireplace and chimney, though I know of no additional clues that might help us determine its precise placement—that is, whether it was located on an end wall or in the center of the building, for example. Given the need for need for ventilation in our sub-tropical climate, we can also assume that the Watch House had at least one, perhaps two exterior doors and several operable windows—probably with hinged casement frames rather than the sliding sash frames that became common a bit later in the eighteenth century.

The map of Charleston published in 1711 by Edward Crisp of London includes the only known depiction of the Watch House constructed at the beginning of the eighteenth century. At the intersection of the town’s principal streets, Broad and East Bay, on this map, we see a small structure adjacent to a capital letter “W”, which the map’s legend or key identifies as “the Court of Guard.” That phrase, which is usually associated with military garrisons, must have been applied by someone with a grander notion of the building’s design and purpose. Having perused all of the surviving legislative records of colonial South Carolina, I have not found a single document that refers to this building as a “court of guard.” If you look closely at this 1711 depiction of the Watch House, as it was called consistently in the first half of the eighteenth century, you’ll see a small rectangle surmounted by an isosceles trapezoid for a roof.[8] Although rudimentary in the extreme, this illustration presents another useful clue to the construction of the Watch House. The trapezoidal shape of the roof can be interpreted as a hip or hipped design, in which all four sides of the roof are pitched towards the center of the building. To what degree this sparse illustration reflects the actual design and proportions of the early Watch House is a matter of conjecture, however, as no other depictions of this building are known to survive.

So far, we’ve talked about clues that help us re-imagine the overall shape and form of the Watch House, but now let’s turn our attention to its use and its interior arrangement. To begin this thread, we need to review the building’s intended purpose and function. The Watch House was the headquarters of the town watch, a nocturnal paramilitary police force that patrolled the urban confines of colonial Charleston. During their nightly rounds, the watchmen arrested disorderly and suspicious persons and anyone they found on the streets without sufficient reason for being abroad. Persons arrested during the night were held in the Watch House until morning, at which time they were arraigned before a magistrate (apparently within the Watch House). After hearing the circumstances of each arrest, the magistrate would then dispose of the offenders according to the nature of the evidence against them. Free white citizens and visiting sailors who had simply been disorderly in the streets or had committed minor offenses were usually fined and released. Enslaved people found on the streets without permission were given a certain number of “stripes” with a whip if their masters neglected or refused to pay the small fine associated with this common offense. Persons suspected of committing more serious crimes were remanded to the custody of the provost marshal, who was the general jailor for the entire province of South Carolina until the creation of district sheriffs in 1772. I’ll delve into the role of the provost marshal and the details of his jail in a future episode, but for the moment let’s stick to the Watch House.

From this brief review, we can see that the interior plan of the Watch House might have included at least three discrete spaces—one for the accommodation of the watchmen and their equipment when they were not walking their rounds, another for the overnight detention of suspects, and perhaps a third space for the magistrate’s morning review of the suspects arrested during the previous night. To create interior spaces, a building needs walls or partitions. Earlier in this program, I mentioned that in 1698 the South Carolina legislature ordered the construction of a small building with an interior partition “for a watch house and cage.” I don’t believe this building materialized until it was re-ordered in 1701, but I do think the 1698 reference to a partition and a cage can help us re-imagine the building’s interior. When it was finally constructed in 1701–2, the brick Watch House must have included some sort of interior partition that separated the watchmen and their arms and accoutrements from their prisoners. The partition probably consisted of a masonry wall, or several partial walls, that incorporated some arrangement of iron bars to create a cage-like enclosure within the larger interior space. I know of no surviving records that even hint at the size of this iron cage or cell inside the Watch House. Considering that it was intended to hold a relatively small number of people for a matter of hours, however, I believe it probably occupied a relatively small proportion of the building’s footprint.

While walking the streets of Charleston recently, I overheard a conversation about how the old Watch House at the intersection of Broad and East Bay Street functioned as a jail for the incarceration of serious criminals and pirates. The facts I’ve outlined in today’s program would appear to contradict that statement, however, and a further investigation of the role of the provost marshal would only strengthen that refutation. The town watch was strictly an urban phenomenon, and its watch house was used for the overnight incarceration of suspects. The provost marshal’s jurisdiction encompassed the entire province, and his jail or prison in Charleston held persons awaiting trial or awaiting the execution of a sentence of corporal punishment. In short, the Watch House and the jail were separate, not overlapping entities. But . . . you’re probably familiar with the phrase, “it’s the exception that proves the rule.” While perusing the legislative records of early South Carolina, I found an “exception” in 1704 that can help us understand the normal function of Charleston’s early Watch House.

In late April 1704, Colonel James Risbee, a member of the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly, recommended to his colleagues “that care might be taken to remove the prisoners from the Watch House in Charlestown to some other secure place.” This suggestion was predicated on complaints from the town’s night watchmen, said Risbee, who testified that “the noisesomeness [sic; that is, the stench] of the said prisoners” was “very offensive to the persons who keep Watch in the said House.” After a brief debate of the matter, the Assembly resolved to ask the governor, Nathaniel Johnson, and his privy council to order the removal of the prisoners from the Watch House to another location. Accordingly, on April 28th, 1704, the Commons House sent a message to Governor Johnson in the following words: “This House being informed that the keeping of the prisoners in the Watch House is very offensive to the Watch of Charlestowne [sic], we, therefore, request your honors to order the goaler [jailor, or provost marshal] to remove them from thence. That part of the Watch [House] [which] was designed for a goal [jail] being only for the security of condemned prisoners, and such as were refractory [that is, unruly] and committed for hainous [heinous] crimes.”[9]

This 1704 discussion is at once illuminating and confusing. It provides no information about the identity or number of the prisoners, the nature of their crimes, or how long they had been incarcerated within the Watch House. They might have been suspected felons awaiting trial, but I strongly suspect they were Spaniards captured during Colonel James Moore’s early 1704 raid across northern Florida and who were waiting to be ransomed.[10] Regardless of their precise identity, however, the legislative discussion of April 1704 provides several important clues about the purpose and use of the Watch House. First, we learn that “part” of that building “was designed for a goal [jail],” that is, some portion of the Watch House, separate from the “cage” for overnight visitors, was intentionally set aside to hold some prisoners for longer periods of time. Second, the 1704 complaint tells us that the portion of the Watch House reserved as a jail was intended to be used “only for the security of condemned prisoners,” that is, persons awaiting execution, “and such [prisoners] as were refractory [that is, unruly] and [prisoners] committed for hainous [heinous] crimes.” Third, we can deduce that the noisome prisoners in question did not fall into the aforementioned criminal categories, and their confinement in the Watch House was deemed improper. Fourth, we can conclude that the incarceration of multiple prisoners in the building for periods longer than overnight created an environment that was offensive to the watchmen. Conversely, we can also deduce that the presence of persons arrested on the streets at night and detained in the cage overnight was not especially offensive to the watchmen.

In other words, the Watch House constructed in Charleston at the beginning of the eighteenth century included some sort of discrete interior space designed for the temporary incarceration of the worst sort of convicts and suspects—those awaiting execution, those accused of heinous crimes, and those whose unruly behavior necessitated their removal from the normal place of long-term incarceration (the provost marshal’s jail). The unsavory character of these three classes of prisoners suggests that the space allotted for their detention was neither spacious nor comfortable. Given the inherent brutality of Anglo-American criminal law in the colonial era, we might imagine that their accommodations were in fact purposefully unpleasant, cramped, and unhealthy. Hmm, does this description ring any bells? The traditional English name for such a punitive place of confinement, frequently found in military barracks, jails, and dungeons, is a “black hole.” That term does occasionally appear in the records of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Charleston, and the reference to the “goal” or jail within the Watch House in 1704 matches later descriptions of local black holes.[11]

Regardless of the name of the jail space within the Watch House in the spring of 1704, we know that the prisoners confined there temporarily had become offensive to the men who worked in the Watch House each night, and they demanded a change. The members of the Commons House of Assembly asked Governor Johnson to order the provost marshal to remove the prisoners to another location, but the resolution of this matter is not recorded in any surviving documents. Nearly six months after the original complaint, however, Colonel James Risbee again returned to the subject of the jail space within the Watch House and the prisoners kept there. In the midst of a legislative review of Charleston’s preparations for the possibility of an enemy invasion in October 1704, Risbee suggested “that that part of the Watch House which is now made use of for a gaole [jail] be made a magazine for the gunner’s store”—that is, a place for the storage of valuable and necessary military supplies. The members of Commons House agreed with Risbee’s motion, and resolved “that that part of the said [Watch] House be a magazine [for military stores], and that the governor be requested to order John Collins [the provost marshal], forthwith, to take out all the prisoners.”[12] The surviving journals of the colonial legislature do not contain any explicit confirmation of the removal of these prisoners and the conversion of this “black hole” into military storage in late 1704, but neither do they contain any further references to the detention of long-term prisoners at the Watch House. Furthermore, several inventories of Charleston’s military stores recorded between 1707 and 1724 suggest that the Watch House held at least a small portion of the colony’s military supplies distributed among the town’s public buildings.[13]

If the Watch House constructed in 1701–2 included a sort of “black hole” for the incarceration of violent, unruly, and condemned criminals, and that space was converted into military storage in 1704, where was this space located within that relatively small building? In other military and law enforcement contexts, a black hole was customarily a space dug into the earth below the floorboards of an interior room and covered with a hinged door in the floor. Considering this precedent, we have to wonder if the “goal” or “black hole” within Charleston’s early Watch House was located below that building’s floorboards. My inclination is to say that it was not an excavated hole. Consider first the physical site of the Watch House, which was adjacent to the Cooper River. The precise distance between the Watch House and the river’s high water mark three centuries ago is unclear, but a number of archaeological digs and construction projects in this vicinity over the past several generations have encountered water after digging between two and four feet below the surface. It is possible that our colonial government did drop condemned, unruly, and heinous prisoners into a wet, shallow hole below the floor of the Watch House, but it seems unlikely. Consider, also, the damage this damp environment would cause to military stores such as muskets and pistols if they were lodged in such a hole, even if it were lined with bricks like a well. It seems unlikely that the legislature would have approved the plan to convert a hole in the ground into a “magazine” for valuable and necessary equipment. Rather, I think this “black hole” was probably located in a small, secure room within the body of the Watch House, or perhaps in the attic or garret space under the roof. In fact, there’s one later clue that points to the hot, dry, dark space in the attic.

In the early months of 1724, the South Carolina legislature heard several committee reports about the state of Charleston’s fortifications and its cache of military supplies. Approximately 900 muskets were distributed among several public buildings in the town, along with large numbers of pistols, flints, cartridge boxes, cutlasses, and related items. In an effort to create a central repository for the storage of these valuable materials, the legislature considered “whether a proper place can be built over the Watch [House] in the Half Moon to keep the Arms in.” In other words, I believe their plan was to expand the existing magazine of warlike stores located in the attic space of the Watch House. After an investigation into the proposal, the Commons House agreed “that if a story was raised over the Watch House in Charles Town for that purpose it would be a verry [sic] convenient place” for an armory. Funds were immediately appropriated for this expansion and workmen hired, but the project never commenced. In the late spring of 1725, the legislature reconsidered the matter and adopted a revised plan that called for the construction of a completely new, two-and-a-half-story building to serve as the Watch House, Council Chamber, and public Armory. The colorful history of that important replacement structure, which was built in the late 1720s and then demolished in 1768 to make room for the new Exchange building that opened in 1771, we’ll save for a future program.

Looking back from the distance of three centuries, we can view the 1725 decision to replace Charleston’s twenty-four-year-old Watch House as both a sign of the town’s maturing civic aspirations and a commentary on the fabric of that early building. The Watch House of 1701 was evidently a utilitarian building, devoid of pretension and ultimately insufficient (structurally and aesthetically) to justify the headache of transforming it into a larger and grander edifice. In its day, however, the first headquarters of Charleston’s colonial police force was an important landmark in the life of the city, and deserves to be remembered. For those of you writing historical novels or pirate tales set in early Charleston, I hope you find this material helpful. Picking through the details found among scattered documents is hard work, but it’s the closest thing we have to a proper time machine.



[1] Act No. 162: “An Act for settling a Watch in Charles Town, and for preventing of Fires,” ratified on 8 October 1698, in David J. McCord, ed., Statutes at Large of South Carolina, volume 7 (Columbia, S.C.: A. S. Johnston, 1840), 7–12.

[2] In late 1685, the South Carolina’s Grand Council ordered the construction of a “tight small . . . watch house upon the South point of the mouth of the Ashley river,” but that structure was built within or near the present boundaries of White Point Garden—a site located about a quarter of a mile south of the town at that time. See Act No. 27, “An Act for the better security of that parte of the Province of Carolina, that lyeth Southward and Westward of Cape Feare, against any hostile invasions and attempts by Sea or Land, which the neighbouring Spaniard or other enemy may make upon the same,” ratified on 23 November 1685, in Thomas Cooper, ed., Statutes at Large of South Carolina, volume 2 (Columbia, S.C.: A. S. Johnston, 1837), 9–13. That watch house was apparently destroyed in the hurricane of September 1700 and replaced in 1702 or 1703. See David Ramsay, The History of South Carolina, volume 2 (Charleston, S.C.: David Longworth, 1809): 176–77; A. S. Salley, Jr., ed., Journals of the Commons House of Assembly of South Carolina For 1702 (Columbia: The State Company for the Historical Commission of South Carolina, 1932), 70, 104; A. S. Salley Jr., ed., Journals of the Commons House of Assembly of South Carolina for 1703 (Columbia: The State Company for the Historical Commission of South Carolina, 1934), 90. The so-called “Crisp Map” of Charleston, published in 1711, depicts a small “watchouse” at this location.

[3] Both the upper and lower houses of assembly agreed to this plan on 19 November 1698. The transcription of this text in A. S. Salley, Jr., ed., Journals of the Commons House of Assembly of South Carolina For the Two Sessions of 1698 (Columbia: The State Company for the Historical Commission of South Carolina, 1914), 33, is slightly defective; I have followed the spelling found in Green's manuscript copy of the original Journal of the Commons House of Assembly, 1692–1702, page 212, at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History (hereafter SCDAH).

[4] See Act No. 133, “An Act to Appropriate the Moneys Raised and to be Raised by an Imposition on Liquors, &c. Imported into, and Skinns and ffurrs Exported out of this Part of this Province to a ffortification in Charles Town,” ratified on 16 March 1695/6. Statutes at Large, volume 7: 6–7, says sections 1–4 of Act No. 133 (that is, the really interesting bits) were “not to be found,” but the complete text is found among the engrossed acts of the General Assembly at SCDAH), in a volume known as “Governor Archdale’s Lawes,” pp. 84–87.

[5] See Act No. 190, “An Act for Settling a Watch in Charlestown, and for preventing of Fires and Nusances [sic] in the same, and for the securing twenty foot on each side the Halfe-moon, for publick landing places,” ratified on 28 August 1701, in Statutes at Large, 7: 17–22. I discussed this act in Episode No. 70. The commissioners appointed to oversee this project were Thomas Smith, John Croskeys, William Smith, Robert Fenwick, and Alexander Parris.

[6] See section 9 of Act No. 219, “An Additional Act to an Act entituled [sic] ‘An Act to prevent the Sea’s further encroachment upon the Wharfe at Charles Town’; and for the repairing and building more Batterys and Flankers on the said Wall to be built on the said Wharfe; and also for the fortifying the remaining parts of Charles Town by Intrenchments, Flankers and Pallisadoes, and appointing a Garrison to the Southward,” ratified on 23 December 1703, in Statutes at Large, 7: 28–33.

[7] Doubling the size of the 1698 proposed Watch House would yield a structure 32 feet broad and 20 feet deep, which size corresponds to a building mentioned on 7 May 1703, when the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly ordered the commissioners of fortifications in Charleston to “cause a brick Watch House of thirty foott Long & eighteene foot wide with a chimney to be built in Such place in sd: towne as by he & they shall be thought fitt.” This building was related the contemporary plan to construct an entrenchment at White Point, the southernmost point of the peninsula, “for ye defence & safty of soldiers when comanded to oppose ye landing of an enemy in that place,” but there is insufficient evidence to determine whether or not it was ever constructed. See A. S. Salley, ed., Journals of the Commons House of Assembly of South Carolina for 1703 (Columbia: The State Company for the Historical Commission of South Carolina, 1934), 90. Similarly, a 1712 statute to build a powder magazine in Charleston specified the construction of a building thirty-two feet by eighteen feet, but the footprint of the resulting building (completed in 1713 on what is now the south side of Cumberland Street) is square rather than rectangular. See “An Additional Act to an Additional Act to an Act entitled an Act for repairing and Expeditious finishing of the Fortifications of Charles Town, and Johnson's Fort, and for putting the said Fortifications in Repair and good order, and Sustaining the Same; and for Building a Publick Magazin [sic] in Charles Town, and for appointing a Powder Receiver and Gunner," ratified on 7 June 1712, SCDAH, Nicholas Trott’s manuscript “New Collection,” Part 2, pages 47–51.

[8] The full title of the map is “A compleat description of the province of Carolina in 3 parts: 1st, the improved part from the surveys of Maurice Mathews & Mr. John Love: 2ly, the west part by Capt. Tho. Nairn: 3ly, a chart of the coast from Virginia to Cape Florida. Published by Edward Crisp; engraved by John Harris.” A high-resolution scan of this “Crisp Map” can be found on the website of the Library of Congress. Note that the James Akin’s 1809 version of the “Crisp Map,” published with David Ramsay’s History of South Carolina (1809), depicts the Watch House with greater detail, but this detail was the product of Akin’s imagination.

[9] SCDAH, Journal of the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly, 1702–6 (Green’s transcription), 28 April 1704, page 235.

[10] In January 1704, former governor James Moore led a band of South Carolina soldiers in a raid across northern Florida, where they burned a number of Indian villages and Spanish missions. Moore and his troops returned to Charleston some weeks later with a large number of Native Americans, who were sold into slavery, and a small contingent of Spanish prisoners of war. The surviving Commons House journal of 1704 contains several references to the disposition of prisoners, but the details relating to their identities, places of incarceration, and disposition are lacking.

[11] See, for example, SCDAH, Journal of His Majesty’s Council for South Carolina, No. 17, part 2, p. 481 (9 June 1749), and Charleston City Council, Statement of Receipts and Expenditures by the City Council of Charleston, from the 1st Sept. 1850, to 1st Sept. 1851 (Charleston, S.C.: A. E. Miller, 1851), 127 (June 1851).

[12] See SCDAH, Journal of the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly, 1702–6 (Green’s transcription), 10 October 1704, page 260.

[13] The surviving 1707 journal of South Carolina’s Commons House of Assembly contains two references to the storage of military supplies within “the Guard House” in Charleston, but the precise identity of this facility is unclear. See SCDAH, Journal of the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly, 1706–11 (Green’s copy), 31 March 1707, page 134; 12 April 1707, page 151. Following the legislature’s 1704 resolution to use part of the Watch House for the storage of military stores, it would seem logical to conclude that the facility in question was that paramilitary structure at the east end of Broad Street. Alternatively, however, these reference might relate to another storage facility of unknown description located within Granville Bastion, a brick fortification constructed in the late 1690s at the south end of East Bay Street. Explicit references to these two storage facilities are exceedingly sparse in the legislative records of that era, and such references do not always provide clarification. For example, the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly used the generic phrase “guard house” in December 1723 in a specific reference to the storage facility within Granville Bastion, but two months later used the same phrase to describe the Watch House at the east end of Broad Street. See SCDAH, Journal of the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly, 1722–24 (Green’s copy), 5 December 1723, page 324; and Act No. 480, “An Act for the keeping and Maintaining a Watch and Good Orders in Charles Town,” ratified on 15 February 1723/4. The title of the latter act is mentioned in Thomas Cooper, ed., The Statutes at Large of South Carolina, volume 3 (Columbia, S.C.: A. S. Johnston, 1838), 214, but the editors of that publication could not find a copy of its text. A contemporary copy of the engrossed manuscript was sent to England, however, and a facsimile of this document can be found at SCDAH on microfilm reel GR 040: Certified Copies of South Carolina Manuscript Acts, CO5/412.


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