one of the Sea Islands on the Atlantic coast, in Port Royal Sound, just south of Port Royal Island, in Beaufort county, southern South Carolina, U.S. Spanish Franciscans and Jesuits came there in the 1520s and attempted to establish missions among the Native Americans. In 1562 the French built Charlesfort on the southern tip of the island. It was abandoned less than a year later, and its ruins became the site of the Spanish fort San Felipe in 1566. The fort guarded Santa Elena, the capital of Spanish Florida, which was established during the same period. The 5.5-mile- (9-km-) long island was used as a coaling station by Union forces during the American Civil War. In 1889 it was made a naval station and named for Colonel Alexander Parris, public treasurer of South Carolina in the early 18th century. Since 1915 it has been a U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot, where thousands of marines are now trained annually. Pop. (1990) 7,172; (2000) 4,841.
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