Rare, Never-Before-Displayed Revolutionary War Flag Now on View at the Museum of the American RevolutionJune 20, 2023
Flag is Featured as Part of a New Display that Sheds Light on the Lesser-Known Role of the Southern States in the Revolutionary War
After being hidden away for more than two centuries, a rare 18th-century flag is now on public display for the first time since the Revolutionary War at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. The blue silk flag served as the regimental emblem of South Carolina’s 2nd Spartan Regiment, marking its position on the battlefield.
The newly discovered flag is one of fewer than half a dozen surviving Revolutionary War flags from the South. It is now on view as part of a new display that explores the important, yet lesser-known role that soldiers from the Southern states played in securing American Independence.
“It is an incredible honor to be able to share this remarkable national treasure with the public for the first time,” said Dr. R. Scott Stephenson, President and CEO of the Museum, adding “there is nothing quite like standing in the presence of an object that witnessed our nation’s desperate struggles for liberty and independence. As we celebrate Independence Day, objects like this can and should inspire to reflect on what the American Revolution’s promises of liberty, equality, and self-governance mean for all of us today.”
The 2nd Spartan Regiment was led by Pennsylvania-born Colonel Thomas Brandon (1741-1802). His family reverently preserved the regimental flag in a small wooden chest that was inscribed with the names of each descendant who inherited it until the mid-20th century. The chest is also on view at the Museum alongside the flag, both of which are on loan from Nick Manganiello and Francine Carrick.
The new display includes:
- A gilt brass gorget made during the Revolutionary War as a symbol of rank for a South Carolina officer. The gorget is on loan from Nick Manganiello and Francine Carrick.
- A Congressional sword, ca. 1786, which was one of 15 swords commissioned by Congress as trophies for American war heroes after the Revolutionary War. This sword was awarded to General Andrew Pickens of South Carolina for his bravery in leading the militia at the Battle of Cowpens on January 17, 1781. The sword is on loan from Nick Manganiello and Francine Carrick.
- A gold medal, made by the Philadelphia Mint circa 1839 to replace the original, which was awarded by Congress to Daniel Morgan in 1789 for his service at the Battle of Cowpens but was stolen from a Pittsburgh bank. The medal is on loan from Brian and Barbara Hendelson.
- A copper button, made in England between 1775 and 1783, that adorned the coat of an officer of the 17th Light Dragoons, one of the British units that fought at Cowpens. The button is on loan from The New-York Historical Society.
- Two brass cartridge box badges, made in Great Britain between 1775 and1783, one worn by a member of the 71st Regiment of Foot and one worn by a member of the 7th Regiment of Foot. They are on loan from Nick Manganiello and Francine Carrick.
- A brass cross belt plate, made in Great Britain between 1775and 1783, that once decorated the shoulder belt of a soldier from the 4th Battalion, Royal Artillery. It is on loan from Nick Manganiello and Francine Carrick.
The 2nd Spartan Regiment of militia was created by South Carolina’s Revolutionary government in 1778 in order to increase protection for its population, as violence between Loyalist and Revolutionary forces increasingly targeted non-combatants and civilians.
The Regiment served in dozens of battles across the state from 1779 until the end of the war in 1783. Individual companies, battalions, or individual members of the regiment were present at Stono Ferry, Hanging Rock, Musgrove’s Mill, King’s Mountain, Ninety-Six, Eutaw Springs, and dozens of other engagements. Also known as the “Fair Forest Regiment,” its men experienced the brutality of a civil war among neighbors. Historians have identified several free men of African descent who served in the regiment alongside their European-descended comrades in arms.
Following the Revolutionary War, the regiment’s distinguished service inspired citizens to name the new South Carolina town of Spartanburg in its honor.
The new display will be on view through 2024 and is located in the Museum’s core gallery dedicated to the “War in the South,” which explores the military and social dynamics of the Southern war, particularly at the Battle of Cowpens — a pivotal American victory and decisive turning point in the Southern campaign. The display of the 2nd Spartan Regiment Flag has been supported by a grant from the Francis and Beverly DuBose Foundation of Atlanta, Georgia.
About Museum of the American Revolution
The Museum of the American Revolution uncovers and shares compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events that sparked America’s ongoing experiment in liberty, equality, and self-government. Through the Museum’s unmatched collection, immersive galleries, powerful theater experiences, and interactive elements, visitors gain a deeper appreciation for how this nation came to be and feel inspired to consider their role in ensuring that the promise of the American Revolution endures. Located just steps away from Independence Hall, the Museum serves as a portal to the region’s many Revolutionary sites, sparking interest, providing context, and encouraging exploration. The Museum, which opened on April 19, 2017, is a private, non-profit, and non-partisan organization. For more information, visit www.AmRevMuseum.org or call 877.740.1776.