Charleston Civil War Tour

This page provides details of our free Charleston Civil War Walking Tour, including tips on directions, times and sights covered.

Tour Description

Known as the ‘Cradle of Secession’, Charleston was the epicenter of the break-up of the Union.  With the secession convention of 1860, South Carolina became the first state to remove itself from the union of united states.

Exerting its self-proclaimed state’s right to withdraw from a government it deemed tyrannical and overbearing, the new southern republic proclaimed its independence and its right to maintain that property it most coveted: slaves.

Join Free Tours by Foot as we bring to life the stories of Charlestonians who lived through four years of hellish conflict, from secession and the first shots fired until surrender, and examine the causes and consequences of this great national tragedy.

Charleston Civil War

Some of the sights and topics we cover on the Charleston Civil War Tour:

  • The beautiful Charleston Waterfront park, and its panoramic view of Ft. Sumter, and in the distance too the other forts that participated in the opening shots of April 12th 1861.
  • St. Andrew’s Hall, known as Secession Hall, where South Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession was debated and ratified.
  • The historic Dock Street Theatre, where John Wilkes Booth’s father performed Shakespeare to rave reviews before the war.
  • The law office of James Louis Petigru, noted barrister and a staunch unionist…..perhaps the only unionist in Charleston during the war!
  • St. Michael’s Church, a favorite target of Union artillery, and a valuable watchtower for Confederates.
  • The Mills House Hotel, home to General Robert E. Lee the night of the Great Fire of 1861.
  • The Old Slave Mart, the location of slave auctions from the late 1850 through the end of the period.
  • The German Fire Company Headquarters, whose member formed the famous German Artillery Company during the war.
  • the gravesite of John C. Calhoun, statesman and founder of the secessionist movement.
  • Charleston’s Old Exchange Building, which during the Civil War was the post office.
  • and much more!

Tour information

Reservations: REQUIRED. Click here to reserve. Groups of 6 or more should review our group booking policy.

Charleston city regulations allow only 20 participants (including children) per tour guide.  This is a hard cap.  Reservations are required and must be accurate number of persons, regardless of age.

Where:  Tour meets at the SE corner of Church Street and Linguard Street, next to Tommy Condon’s Restaurant.  MAP Look for your guide in orange!

Tour ends at the intersection of Broad and Meeting Streets (map).

Duration: Approximately 2 hours. Approximately 1.5 miles (2k) in distance.

When: View our Calendar

  • Saturdays at 1 pm (1300)

Cost: This tour is free to take, and you get to decide what, if anything, the tour was worth when it’s done. A name-your-own-price tour is a tour for anyone’s budget.

Though our tours work on a pay-what-you-like basis, we must charge $3 upfront cost per ticket to cover an admin fee and the tour tax that the City of Charleston imposes per participants on any tour within the city plus the administrative fees to handle.

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