Carolina Golf Club was modelled after the famous Drayton Hall, in South Carolina and preserves the legacy of this great structure. Drayton Hall is widely recognized as America’s premier Georgian-Palladian building.
Following is a great story about Drayton Hall.
The Great Escape: How Drayton Hall Survived the Civil War
Eighteen Sixty Five was a disastrous year for the great plantations on the west bank of the Ashley River, when Middleton, The Oaks, Runnymede, Magnolia, and Pierpont were burned by Union troops. Seeing the smoke rising from the burning buildings upriver, William Izard Bull set fire to his own home, Ashley Hall, rather than have it suffer the indignities of vandalism and ultimate destruction at the hands of the enemy. Yet, in the midst of this devastation, Drayton Hall remained unscathed. According to an article published in Harper’s Monthly, December 1875, barely ten years later, a Negro prevented the destruction of Drayton Hall by aying it was owned by a “Union man.” Indeed, a Drayton was a “Union man.” A cousin, Percival Drayton, who was an officer in the U.S. Navy at the onset of the war, broke with his Southern family and remained passionately loyal to the Union.
During the battle of Port Royal he actually fought against his brother, Brigadier General Thomas Fenwick Drayton, commander of the Confederate Army at Hilton Head. Actually, Percival Drayton did not own or live in Drayton Hall nor was he descended from the branch of the family who did. In fact, his ancestors were from Magnolia Plantation, which fell to the Yankee torch. Drayton Hall’s remarkable escape gave rise to another, but more romantic and apocryphal, tale. It seems that some years previously General Sherman had met one of the Drayton girls. Remembering that brief encounter, he thoughtfully ordered that her home not be destroyed. However, during the critical month of February 1865, Sherman marched from Georgia to Columbia. With Columbia in flames and the occupation of Charleston delegated to Brigadier General Schimmelfennig, it seems unlikely that Sherman had pretty belles on his mind. This leaves us with the favorite smallpox story, one that often lends itself to flights of fancy.
The heroine of a recent novel deceived the Union troops by arriving at the gates in rags and a self-inflicted strawberry rash. In another novel, a slave ravaged by the disease was sent to the road to warn the horrified army away. The Drayton-Bowens version of the story has been handed down for generations. Receiving word that the Northern troops were in the area, Dr. John Drayton (1831-1912) sent the family away while he remained behind.
In one version, Dr. John stayed to nurse several house slaves who were ill with smallpox; in the other the slaves were not ill, but prepared to feign illness should the Yankees come close enough. In any case, quarantine signs were posted on the entrances to the river and the road. Rather than expose themselves to the highly contagious disease, the Union troops bypassed Drayton Hall. The smallpox story is grounded in the oral tradition of the two families intimately associated with Drayton Hall, and in the absence of written documentation, this story provides the most plausible theory for Drayton Hall’s survival. Perhaps much-needed research on Union troop movements in the Ashley River area will reveal the actual circumstances. Until then, that Drayton Hall was spared remains a kind of miracle, and it is the nature of miracles to defy explanation.