When the Union fleet blockaded ports in Charleston and Wilmington, it fell on remote outposts like Horry County to help keep Confederate supplies lines open.

Throughout the Civil War, daring blockade runners chose to evade Union ships by seeking shelter in the many inlets running up and down the Atlantic Coast.

To offer protection to the blockade runners in Horry County, Confederate commanders set up small forts in Little River and in Murrells Inlet.

The remnants of one of them, Fort Randall, can still be seen by alert boaters traversing the Intracoastal Waterway near Little River.

Historical records cited in the Vol. 36, No. 4 edition of the Independent Republic Quarterly, reveal that a surprise attack on Fort Randall ended with a rout of Confederate defenders by a small party of Union troops.

Fort Randall is named for Capt. Thomas Randall, a large landowner who lived on the eastern end of Little River Neck.

At the outset of the war, recognizing the importance of protecting the inlet and the village of Little River, Confederate strategists ordered the construction of an earthen fort on Randall’s land overlooking the inlet.

The battery consisted of a moat approximately 10 feet wide and five feet deep. It had a parapet and a blockhouse from which defenders could fire without being exposed.

Capt. Thomas Dagget, commander of the Waccamaw Light Artillery, installed two six-inch cannons at Fort Randall. (He also commanded Fort Ward, believed to have been in Murrells Inlet.)

According to federal naval records, there was considerable blockade running activities in the Little River inlet during the war.

The blockade runners brought in valuable war supplies and left with locally-produced cargo such as resin, turpentine, cotton and lumber.

In January, 1863, Union officer Lt. William Barker Cushing made a daring raid on Fort Randall.

“At 8 o’clock at night I crossed the bar with three cutters and 25 men and proceeded up the river. My object was to look for pilots, and also to find some schooners supposed to be inside,” reporter Cushing.

After meeting light resistance, Cushing beached the boat and formed his men about 200 yards from Fort Randall.

“Knowing that the enemy was ignorant of our numbers, I charged with the bayonet and captured their works, going over one side as they escaped over the other,” he wrote.

In the abandoned camp, Cushing’s men found a blockhouse pierced for musketry but no cannons. Apparently, they had been taken to more strategic forts.

“The enemy left in such haste that their stores, clothing, ammunition and a portion of their arms were captured. I destroyed all that I could not bring away,” wrote Cushing. “I went a short distance farther up the river; had another skirmish; did not see the schooners; got out of ammunition and returned with the loss of but one man shot in the leg.”

The fleeing Confederates returned to Fort Randall after the raid.

About a month after Cushing’s attack, Fort Randall was mentioned in another report filed by James Gibney and George Smith, both acting ensigns aboard the USS Maratanza.

The two men led a reconnaissance up Little River to see if any blockade runners were in the area.

They encountered a boat with five men in it and ordered it to stop and be searched. Instead, the men in the boat beached it and ran into the woods

The Union officers found weapons and supplies meant for the soldiers at Fort Randall.

All that remains of Fort Randall today is a clearly defined footprint of the fortification, according to the IRQ. It commands a spectacular


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