Charleston's Civil War legacy lies hidden, for now

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Standing outside the First Bank of Charleston, it's hard to picture exactly where Col. Joseph Andrew Jackson Lightburn dug in his log breastworks and aimed his cannons across the Elk and Kanawha rivers to slow the advancing Confederate army.

"My guess is it was over there, in the bank's parking lot," says John Bullock, an engineer, member of the Charleston Land Trust and, on this day, amateur historian and Civil War buff. After walking around a bit, Bullock decides the fortifications might have been placed a block or two away.

Though Bullock has a map, hand-drawn by a participant of the Sept. 13, 1862, Battle of Charleston, it's no match for the grid of city streets that overlays the West Side 146 years later. The map shows several rivers and streams and one road (Point Pleasant & Charleston Road, now Washington Street). Small symbols indicate gun placements, a handful of homes and graveyards.

But the crude map is not to scale, leaving modern-day observers to make educated guesses. Where was that cornfield near downtown - at the site of Charleston Town Center or a bit farther east?
Since he first learned a couple of years ago that Charleston was the site of a Civil War battle, Bullock has been on a mission to not only educate others but to create a lasting reminder - perhaps in the form of a historical trail.

Virginia markets its history well, he says. "It's hard to drive in Virginia without seeing one of those brown signs that indicate a federal or historical site." Why not bring some of those brown signs to Charleston?

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