Many people assume that Union Army Col. Robert Gould Shaw was the one who burned Darien, especially since the Hollywood movie "Glory" came out. Matthew Broderick played the white Shaw in the 1989 movie about the otherwise all-black 54th Massachusetts Regiment.
But it was Shaw's superior officer, Col. James Montgomery of the 2nd South Carolina Volunteers, who ordered the attack, Sullivan tells The Jacksonville Times-Union (http://bit.ly/10Pzwz9).
"Shaw reluctantly carried out the raid under threat of court-martial," Sullivan said.
Shaw wrote his mother, Sarah Blake Shaw, and wife, Anna Haggerty Shaw, after the raid, expressing his remorse for an operation he considered unnecessary, Sullivan said. Shaw's survivors set about restoring his reputation after his death.
"The great irony is Shaw lost his life about a month later leading his troops in the assault of Fort Wagner near Charleston," Sullivan said.
Sarah Blake Shaw, an Episcopalian, helped fund the rebuilding of St. Andrews Episcopal Church, which was burned in the raid, Sullivan said.
But her efforts to restore her son's reputation failed, Sullivan said.
"I remember growing up in McIntosh County and hearing older people refer to the burning of Darien," he said. "It was the low point in Darien history and Shaw was always thought of as the villain."
The burning took place on June 11, 1863, and Darien will commemorate it with a town festival on June 15.
The festival will feature a living history encampment by the 54th Massachusetts re-enactment group out of Charleston, S.C., as well as the usual festival food and arts and crafts vendors, Fort King George Historic Site Park Ranger Jason Baker said.
The re-enactors will simulate camp life as it was during the war, Baker said.
"They'll be sitting around in their uniforms with their muskets, talking soldier talk," he said. "It will be like a day in the life of a Union soldier."
Information from: The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.