Best known as Robber’s Row, Sutler’s Row served as a popular stopping point and recreational destination for Union soldiers during the Civil War, located near union outposts Fort Walker on Hilton Head Island.
In 1891, an estimated 30,000 enlisted personnel were stationed in the area, charged with defending Port Royal Sound against Confederate troops and enforcing a naval blockade along the South Atlantic coast. Boats brought soldiers ashore on Hilton Head Island, creating an instant town with its own merchants, newspaper and tradesmen.
The Port Royal House served meals and a provided a comfortable place to stay. Cuban cigars, gin, rum and whiskey served as popular items among soldiers. Robbers’s Row also had thriving blacksmith, carpentry and ice house businesses, as well as a baseball diamond and a theater that could seat between 800 and 1,000.
The land that once housed Robber’s Row is now located in Port Royal Plantation, with little evidence remaining of its historical heyday. However, historical markers provide information about this thriving period in island history.