inhabited by Native Americans.
This site, once occupied by Native Americans, was a major ceremonialcenter for the surrounding area. The Santee Indian mound is typical ofpyramidal, flat-topped mounds that are widely distributed throughoutthe eastern United States. The mound served as an earthernplatform for a temple constructed of upright posts and woven sticks,then plastered with mud. Roofs were thatched with straw.
The temples were usually the central features of ceremonial centers that may have included smaller but similar mounds with secondarytemples or mortuary houses and round burial mounds. Historical documents and archaeological investigations indicate that these ceremonial centers often served as major religious and political centers, with villages and farmsteads spreading many miles from the center.Through archeological digs, evidence indicates that the mound wasalso used for burials.
Archaeologists suspect construction of this ceremonial center on theSantee River was begun sometime between 1200 AD and 1400 AD, andthat it represents the eastern extension of the mound building culture.
The importance of this ceremonial center is greater than just one site. The mound complex, the largest ceremonial center yet discovered onthe coastal plain, represents a hub of late prehistoric activity in the area.Through research here and at other sites, we may be able to one day outline the features of an entire culture.
[ Included 2 - 16th Century John White Native American Drawings]
...outpost for the British.
Fort Watson was a small British outpost strategically located near theSantee River and the overland roads connecting the coast to the interiorof the state. The location provided protection for British supply routesfrom Charleston to their fortifications at Camden. Built on top of theIndian mound, the fort was constructed by British Colonel John W.T.Watson and occupied between December, 1780 and April, 1781.
The American General Francis Marion, [ Picture included] the famous"Swamp Fox, and Colonel "Light Horse" Harry Lee were directed to "occupy all the passes of the rivers" and take control of the Britishsupply lines. The American patriots arrived at Fort Watson on April 15, 1781,and immediately cut off the fort from in-coming supplies. The British,caught off guard, had more than one hundred twenty men trapped in the small fort without provisions.
With neither the Americans nor the British having artillery power, thebattle was a stalemate for several days. Frustrated at attempts to forcethe ememy to surrender, Major Hezekiah Maham of Marion's forcessuggested a log tower to be constructed from which riflemen couldfire down into the fort and force British soldiers to abandon their positions.
Construction of "Maham's Tower" was begun on April 21 and completed in two days. At this point in the battle the fort wasvulnerable to the concentrated attack by the Americans at any time.With their defenses breached and on the verge of being stormed by theenemy, the British Garrison Commander, Lieutenant James McKay,surrendered on the afternoon of April 23, ending the eight day siege.
[Included picture: Harry "Lighthorse Harry" Lee]
Even though the action at Fort Watson lasted only eight days, it was however, an important American victory. The loss of this post madethe already tenuous British supply lines to the upcountry lessdefensible. The fall of Fort Watson was an important link in the chain ofevents that made the British authorities abandon the back countryof South Carolina.
... dedicated to wildness.
The Santee National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1942 and islocated in Clarendon County, South Carolina. This 15,000 acre refugelies within the Atlantic Coastal Plain and consists of mixed hardwoods,mixed pine-hardwoods, pine plantations, marsh, croplands, old fields, ponds and open water. This tremendous diversity of habitat supportsmany kinds of wildlife. The four management units of the refuge stretchover 18 miles along the northern side of Santee Cooper's Lake Marion.
A myriad of wildlife species inhabit the varied landscape of Santee. During the winter months, the bald eagle and occasionally theendangered peregrine falcon can be seen. From November throughFebruary migrating waterfowl such as mallards, pintails, teal, wood ducks and Canada geeese [sketch included] may be seen.Throughoutthe year red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks can be viewed soaring overhead, as can a variety of songbirds in the trees.
The refuge provides a home for white-tailed deer and other woodlandcreatures such as raccoons,squirrels and bobcats. The ponds andmarches are haven for alligators plus a number of other reptiles andamphibians.
Santee offers a variety of outdoor activities for the refuge visitor.Information on activities may be obtained from the Santee VisitorCenter. The Center provides an excellent opportunity for the visitorto become acquainted with the refuge before venturing out.
Santee National Wildlife Refuge is one of over 500 refuges in theNational Wildlife Refuge System. The mission of the system is topreserve a national network of lands and waters for the conservationand management of fish, wildlife and plant resources of the UnitedStates for the benefit of present and future generations. The Refuge System encompasses over 92 million acres administeredby the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior.