Oakley Park Museum - Edgefield, South Carolina
Oakley Park Museum - Edgefield, South Carolina
Oakley Park Museum
The beautiful old mansion in Edgefield, South
Carolina was built in 1835 and later became the
home of Confederate Gen. Martin Gary.
Oakley Park Museum
Now a museum in historic
Edgefield, South Carolina, the
mansion was the home of
Confederate Gen. Martin Gary.
Rockers on the Veranda
The rocking chairs on the
front veranda of Oakley Park
recall the old Southern way of
relaxing and enjoying the cool
of the evening.
Oakley Park Museum - Edgefield, South Carolina
Historic Oakley Park Mansion
Copyright 2013 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Updated: August 10, 2013
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Historic Homes in the South
Undying Devotion
A Confederate flag hangs in
front of Oakley Park Museum.
The home was restored by
the United Daughters of the
The Red Shirt Campaign
Gen. Gary gave an election
day address to 1,500 of the
"Red Shirts" from the balcony
of Oakley Park. His was the
creator of the movement that
ended Reconstruction in
South Carolina.
Built in the 1830s by a prosperous planter,
Oakley Park is now a museum and shrine in
the historic city of Edgefield, South Carolina.

Located at 300 Columbia Road, the historic
house is a fixture on the South Carolina
Heritage Corridor. Stretching from the Atlantic
Ocean to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the
corridor is a driving tour that connects dozens
of historic sites and landmarks.

Oakley Park was built in 1835 by Daniel Byrd
(or Bird), the house was symbolic of the
success of its original owner's plantation and
business ventures. In the heart of South
Carolina's famed Edgefield District, it
seemed destined to become a seat of power
and wealth for the Bird family for generations
to come, but tragedy was to intervene.

Bird's son was killed in a shooting incident at
the Edgefield County Courthouse just six
years after the house was completed.
Brokenhearted, he decided to sell Oakley
Park and relocate to Florida in an effort to
rebuild his life there.

The house passed to new owners and
survived the War Between the States (or Civil
War). In 1874 it was purchased by Maj. Gen.
Martin W. Gary, a noted Confederate officer.

Born on March 25, 1831 at Cokesbury in what
is now Greenwood County, South Carolina,
Gary attended South Carolina College
(today's University of South Carolina) before
graduating from Harvard in 1854. He was
admitted to the bar the following year and
practiced law in Edgefield.

Elected to the Palmetto State's House of
Representatives in 1860, Gary was a strong
supporter of secession. He entered the
military service of his state and the
Confederacy as a captain in Hampton's
Legion and served at First Manassas.

By the time the original Legion was broken
up in 1862, Gary had been promoted to the
rank of lieutenant colonel and was assigned
with the infantry to the command of Gen.
Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. His portion
of the original force, still known as
Hampton's Legion, became part of Gen.
John Bell Hood's Texas Brigade in June

Gary led his men in the Peninsula
Campaign, Second Manassas, Antietam and
during the Gettysburg Campaign. Sent with
Longstreet to Georgia in the fall of 1863, the
Legion served with distinction at the Battle of
Chickamauga. Returning to Virginia and the
Army of Northern Virginia it was converted to
mounted infantry and made part of Gen.
Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry brigade. It fought at the
Siege of Petersburg and during the long
retreat to Appomattox Court House.

Now a major general, Gary refused to
surrender with Lee at Appomattox and
instead led 200 of his men out through
Grant's encircling army. Driving south, he
linked up with President Jefferson Davis and
the Confederate Cabinet at Greensboro,
North Carolina.

Gary escorted Davis as far as his family
home in Cokesburg, where he handed over
his command and ended his personal war
against the Union. His fight, however, was far
from over.

Returning to Edgefield, Gary resumed his
law practice and took up cotton planting and
other business ventures. In 1874 he bought
Oakley Park which became his home for the
rest of his life.
A fierce opponent of the North's brutal
Reconstruction policies, Gary threw his
support behind his former commander,
Wade Hampton, when the latter individual
ran for Governor of South Carolina on the
Democrat ticket in 1876. Formulating what
became known as the Edgefield Plan, Gary
launched a campaign to built grassroots
support for Hampton.

A key part of the effort to elect Hampton was
Gary's organization of the Red Shirt
Campaign. Thousands of men put on red
shirts to symbolize their devotion to the
Democrat Party and opposition of the radical
rule of the Republican Party. By election day,
some estimates place the number of Red
Shirts active in the state at more than 85,000.

General Gary delivered a thundering speech
to 1,500 of his Red Shirts from the balcony of
Oakley Park on Election Day, 1876. The
movement was successful and Wade
Hampton shattered Republican rule to
become Governor of South Carolina.

Oakley Park today serves as a shrine to the
Red Shirt Campaign and a museum to
General Gary himself. One of the original red
shirts is on display inside.

Maj. Gen. Martin W. Gary died in Edgefield on
April 9, 1881, and was buried at Tabernacle
Cemetery in Cokesbury.

His family continued to own Oakley Park until
1941 when it was deeded to the Town of
Edgefield. Six years later it was turned over to
the Edgefield Chapter of the United
Daughters of the Confederacy who assure its
preservation and care to this day.

Oakley Park Museum is located at 300
Columbia Road in Edgefield South Carolina.
The house contains a remarkable collection
of Civil War and Reconstruction era artifacts
and is open to the public Thursday - Saturday
from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for

For more information on hours, tours and
special events, please call 803-637-4027.