"June 4, 1863. . . As the sun began to set below the horizon across the May River estuary, smoke clouds still billowed from the burning homes and buildings of the town; when it rose on the morning of June 5, it was evident that Bluffton's antebellum way of life had vanished forever. Perhaps in an omen of what was to come for the South, the burning of Bluffton, South Carolina, in 1863 was a prelude to the farewell of the Southern plantation era and of the institution of slavery. In the years leading up to the Civil War, Bluffton had gained national prominence as a hotbed of secessionist activity. The Bluffton Movement was sparked during a fiery political gathering held under a sprawling and magnificent live oak now referred to as the Secession Oak. The movement generated a dangerous whirlwind of political rhetoric that only war and devastation would silence. About The Author Jeff Fulgham has served in operations Noble Eagle, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan."