The Mitchelville Freedom Park commemorates the nearly forgotten, historic town of Mitchelville, South Carolina. Two distinct phases qualified Mitchelville as an important Underground Railroad site. First, it was the site of mass-escapes from Hilton Head Island plantations when Union troops entered Port Royal Sound in November 1861. With the first shots fired, the enslaved island population seized their opportunity for freedom. Despite threats and deception by local plantation owners, freedom seekers bolted to the woods until Union troops occupied the area. Second, Mitchelville became the destination for waves of freedom seekers fleeing bondage in nearby confederate territories of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. It was the place where the newly emancipated would first experience freedom and emerge from enslaved victims into responsible citizens.
Mitchelville was the heart of "The Port Royal Experiments", termed a "rehearsal for reconstruction", the experiments were launched by the US government and proved to a skeptical American public that African-Americans would fight for freedom and country, work for wages within a free enterprise labor system, and live responsibly as independent citizens. Mitchelville was constructed, inhabited and governed exclusively by previously enslaved freedom seekers. Activities in this settlement were reported nationwide ultimately influencing national reconstruction policies.
Visitor Information: Currently open to public.
Location: Mitchelville Freedom Park, 227 Beach City Rd, Hilton Head Island, Beaufort, 29925
National Park Unit: No
Ownership: Town of Hilton Head Island
Location Type: Site
People/Organizations Associated with the site: John Chaplin (Owner)
Freedom Seekers: Sam Mitchell