Museum curator to speak Jan. 25 on ‘Stolen Charleston: The Spoils of War’

Portrait of Francis deLiesseline

COLUMBIA, SC – In collecting artifacts for an exhibit on church silver, Chief Curator Grahame Long of The Charleston Museum kept running into the same obstacle.

One church after another would tell him, “Well, we used to have that, but we don’t have it anymore. The British took it.”

Sometimes it was “the Yankees.”

This phenomenon led Long to write a book published in 2014, Stolen Charleston: The Spoils of War. On Friday, Jan. 25, at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, Long will deliver a free noon lecture on the subject, as part of the Columbia museum’s Lunch and Learn series. The program is open to the public.

He’ll talk about “things that were lost, things that were recovered, and things we’re still looking for,” telling such stories as these:

• The portraits of a couple, Ann and Francis deLiesseline, who were congregants at the Huguenot Church. Federal troops burned their home in 1864, and it was assumed the paintings were lost. Then, in 1886, Peter James Guilliard – a former Confederate officer and also a congregant at their church – saw the paintings in the window of an antique shop in Boston. He walked right in and bought them, and they were restored to the family.

• Then there was the very spunky Amy Legare Baker. In about 1780, Hessian troops – German mercenaries serving the British – barged into her plantation home and blithely took several items, including an elegant Chinese porcelain pitcher that she particularly prized. Incensed and undaunted, she marched to the Hessian encampment and confronted the commanding officer, demanding that her pitcher be returned. The officer allowed her to search the barracks, where her pitcher was found and returned to her.

• The communion service from Strawberry Chapel was buried in 1865 to keep it from the Yankees. It wasn’t found until 1946. Today, it’s on exhibit at The Charleston Museum.

Long stresses that the British and Union troops weren’t the only ones to blame for historical thievery in Charleston. He says the crime rate during Reconstruction, for instance, was huge. His lecture will cover the whole range.

The public is welcome to attend.

About the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum

Founded in 1896, the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum is an accredited museum focusing on South Carolina’s distinguished martial tradition through the Revolutionary War, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the War on Terror, and other American conflicts. It serves as the state’s military history museum by collecting, preserving, and exhibiting South Carolina’s military heritage from the colonial era to the present, and by providing superior educational experiences and programming. It is located at 301 Gervais St. in Columbia, sharing the Columbia Mills building with the State Museum. For more information, go to https://crr.sc.gov/.