Camp Saxton was established in 1862 near the Smith Plantation on Port Royal Island. It was home to the 1st South Carolina Infantry (later renamed the 33rd United States Colored Troops). On January 1, 1863, the Emanipation Proclamation was read to the men of the 1st South Carolina Infantry, along with hundreds of other formerly enslaved people, at the site of Camp Saxton in a stand of live oak trees.
The best way to explore Camp Saxton is by visiting the Beaufort County Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve. Fort Frederick was a small fortification built by the British in the 1730s. However, during the Civil War, the tabby ruins of Fort Frederick served as the foundation for the dock at Camp Saxton. Many of the participants in the Emancipation Day celebration came ashore at the ruins of Fort Frederick, and noted it as a landmark near Camp Saxton. The Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve is a county-managed passive park located at 601 Old Fort Road, Port Royal South Carolina. Please be respectful of nearby private property, as the property managed by the United States Navy. Please note that the traditional location of the Emancipation Oak and historical marker are located within the boundaries of the Naval Hospital Beaufort and are not accessible to the general public.
Park rangers periodically lead tours to Fort Frederick, exploring the Camp Saxton story. Visit our calendar for more information before you visit. In addition, the Town of Port Royal has recently rebuilt Pinckney-Porter's Chapel, a Reconstruction Era Freedman's Chapel. Pinckney-Porter's Chapel is located within the Naval Heritage Park just outside the entrance to Naval Hospital Beaufort. Park staff are working with community partners to develop interpretive exhibits within the space. On Saturday mornings during the Port Royal Farmers Market, there is usually a park ranger at Pinckney-Porter's Chapel available to answer questions about Camp Saxton.