Beaufort, South Carolina Land's End

By Valerie Sayers

I was born in a beautiful place with a haunted past, and consequently I’ve spent most of my adult life homesick and geographically ambivalent.

I write these lines from Land’s End, Saint Helena Island, South Carolina. I’m staying at the same funky beach cottage I loved to visit as a child. Like so many Southern houses, it’s mostly porch, and I look out on a lush and watery landscape: live oaks, palmetto trees, a placid gray stretch of sea. Down on the beach, where the Beaufort River meets the Port Royal Sound, fiddler crabs scurry past an elegant egret. In November 1861, the island’s planters gathered at Land’s End to watch the Battle of Port Royal Sound. When it became clear that the Confederate cannons at Hilton Head couldn’t even reach most of the Union fleet, the white citizens of Saint Helena fled—but most of their slaves refused to go with them and stayed on, free at last.…

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