When South Carolina Was an Armed Camp: The Reconstruction Essays of Belton O’Neall Townsend


Edited by John Hammond Moore

ISBN: 978-09845580-6-3
6×9, 174 pages, paper

When South Carolina Was an Armed Camp: The Reconstruction Essays of Belton O’Neall Townsend is collection of essays from the 1870s about Reconstruction in S.C. Its author of essays was from Florence; the editor and author of introduction lives in Columbia. This is a very important book, especially for academic centers in S.C. and beyond.

In the 1870s, a series of articles in national publications described the brutal violence that was being directed against South Carolina African Americans and the outrageous corruption that had marked several Republican administrations. The author was Belton O’Neall Townsend, with cameo performances by Mark Twain and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

When South Carolina Was an Armed Camp contains all six of Townsend’s essays, which have often been quoted by historians but never before compiled in a book. In addition, this volume contains his epic poem, “Wild with All Regret: A Tale of Reconstruction” and a biographical introduction by noted historian John Hammond Moore who shows Townsend’s own life was as bizarre as that of any fictional character.



“The long awaited and sorely needed publication of these essays reopens the verdict on a story Americans have wanted to forget.  … Belton O’Neall Townsend pursued the truth about Reconstruction with a zest that won him few friends in his time and helped suppress his reputation in the decades that followed. A prose stylist with a knack for deep description, Townsend’s candor and doleful tone anticipate Walker Percy and Wilbur J. Cash, and he succeeds at times in reaching depths that neither of them reached.”

~ Theodore Rosengarten, author of All God’s Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw and Tombee: Portrait of a Cotton Planter