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Last Updated: Nov 17, 2015     Views: 52

A red flag with a white palmetto and crescent, believed to have been flown by The Citadel cadets who fired on the Star of the West on January 9, 1861. The flag--also called The Citadel Spirit Flag--is flown on the Parade Ground and is carried by cadets at football games and on other occasions.

(Sources: Scott Dinkins, "Big Red; Facts Behind the Flags, Brigadier, October 13, 1989, pp. 1,3; Oliver J. Bond, The Story of The Citadel, p. 5. U430 .C5 S57 1989; Gary R. Baker, Cadets in Gray,p. 20. E 470.65 .B3 1989)

Some believe, however, that the flag that was actually flown by cadets in January 1861 was an unofficial South Carolina flag nicknamed the "Sovereignty flag." This was a red flag with a white palmetto and crescent in the upper left quadrant. "Across the flag was a cross of blue with fifteen white stars to represent the slaveholding States, the central star for South Carolina being the largest." (Source: Whitney Smith, The Flag Book of the United States, p. 199 and plate XLIV. REF CR101 .S63 1975)

South Carolina students raised this flag over Alumni Hall at Yale University on January 20, 1861. Some argue that those who described seeing a "red palmetto flag" flying on the Morris Island battery on January 9, 1861, actually saw the Sovereignty flag, perhaps partially wrapped around the flagpole (Source: Wylma A. Wates, A Flag Worthy of Your State and People: The History of the South Carolina State Flag, pp. 5-7. REF CR114 .S6W38 1996)

On February 1, 1861, a flag first flew over Castle Pinckney in Charleston Harbor that is now known as the Wagener, or Fort Walker Flag. This flag had fifteen horizontal stripes, alternating blue and white. A canton, or smaller field in the upper left of the flag, was red with fifteen white stars arching above a pair of white palmetto trees forming a "V." Between the two trees was a white crescent. The significance of the two trees is not known with certainty, but it is theorized that the palmettoes stood for South Carolina's two revolutions, in 1776 and 1860. This flag was captured by Union troops, was taken north, and for years was held by the Massachusetts Historical Society; but it was returned to this state, and now resides at the South Carolina Historical Society. (Sources: Robert Behre, "143-Year-Old Flag Returns to Charleston," Post and Courier, March 24, 2004, pp. 1A, 11A; information furnished by Dr. Nic Butler, Archivist, South Carolina Historical Society)

On July 18, 1861, a red flag charged with only a white palmetto and crescent was presented to the Hampton Legion in a ceremony in Richmond, Virginia (Source: Glenn Dedmondt, The Flags of Civil War South Carolina, pp. 57-58. REF CR114 .S6D43 2000)

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