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Had the weekly Port Royal Palmetto Herald, a Republican newspaper, been published anywhere else in South Carolina besides Beaufort County during the Civil War, it would have been an oddity. As it happened, however, the Palmetto Herald was the third occupation newspaper published in South Carolina. Beaufort came under the control of the Union Navy early in the Civil War, and occupation newspapers quickly sprang up to serve the Northern missionaries and soldiers stationed in the area. The Port Royal New South appeared first, in March 1862; the Beaufort Free South  followed in January 1863.

On March 3, 1864, Samuel W. Mason, a former correspondent for the Boston Herald, established the Palmetto Herald. Mason described the Herald simply as "a journal of notable events in the [United States Army] Department of the South" and acknowledged that soldiers and their families were its primary audience. The Herald consisted primarily of dispatches from the Union-occupied ports in Florida, gleanings from other newspapers, and reports of shipping news, the latter of which were carried by newspapers as remote from Port Royal, South Carolina, as the Burlington Vermont Free Press and Columbus Daily Ohio Statesman.

In September 1864, advertisements appeared for the Palmetto Herald Store, which offered books, magazines, stationary, and sundry dry goods. Samuel Mason's involvement, however, proved short-lived; on October 13th, he announced he was selling his share in the business to Otis T. Simonds, Clifford Saville, and Orlando Leach. In December, Mason informed his readers that he would be moving his operations to Savannah, Georgia. There, he combined the Palmetto Herald with the Savannah Daily Morning News and launched the Savannah Daily Herald. The last issue of the Palmetto Herald appeared on December 29, 1864.

Provided by: University of South Carolina; Columbia, SC