Celebrate 234th Carolina Day
Saturday, June 26, 2010
On Monday, June 28, South Carolinians will celebrate the 234th Carolina Day, commemorating the Battle of Sullivan's Island. On June 28, 1776, Col. William Moultrie and a small force of Carolinians (South Carolinians, North Carolinians and Native Americans) defending Breach Inlet and Fort Sullivan, a partially completed palmetto fort, stoutly repelled an assault by combined British naval and military forces intent on seizing Charles Town.
This spectacular victory, the first in the American War for Independence over a combined British Army and Royal Navy operation, dampened British hopes for quickly subduing the rebellion in the Southern colonies and greatly strengthened patriot resolve.
The Carolina Day celebration was born of this great victory, and the Battle of Sullivan's Island had a lasting impact on the imagery that defines our state.
South Carolina's official state flag, which will celebrate its 150th anniversary of design and approval on Jan. 28, 2011, originated from the regimental colors of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment, which flew over Fort Sullivan on the day of the battle.
This precursor to our state flag featured a blue field with a white crescent in the upper corner closest to the staff. The blue matched the color of the 2nd South Carolina's uniforms, and the crescent was a symbol that appeared on its soldiers' caps.
The palmetto tree that so prominently appears on the state flag also is a symbol drawn from the Battle of Sullivan's Island. Fort Sullivan was constructed of palmetto logs and sand. During the naval bombardment on June 28, the palmetto log walls absorbed much of the impact of incoming shot and in doing so protected the fort's garrison.
Over 84 years after the battle, when South Carolina seceded from the Union on Dec. 20, 1860, it needed a national flag. A number of designs were submitted to the General Assembly, but on Jan. 28, 1861, South Carolina adopted a flag that added a white palmetto tree to Moultrie's original design, officially creating the Palmetto flag as we know it today. This event will be celebrated early next year on South Carolina's first official State Flag Day.
On June 28 we urge South Carolinians and visitors to our state to come to the Battery and witness a traditional celebration, which is in many ways similar to the first Carolina Day in 1777. At noon church bells will sound in Charleston and on Sullivan's Island.
At 1 p.m., a service of thanksgiving followed by the dedication of a monument to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney will take place at St. Michael's Church. Pinckney was not only one of the signers of the U.S. Constitution, but also a leader of the Patriot cause in the War for Independence. Following a reception at St. Michael's parish hall, organizations will gather at Washington Park, and at 3:30 p.m. they will proceed down Meeting Street to the Sgt. Jasper monument at the Battery for a wreath-laying ceremony, followed by the rededication of the newly restored Bandstand (which was originally dedicated on Carolina Day in 1907).
The Rt. Rev. C. FitzSimons Allison, retired Bishop of South Carolina, will give the annual address, followed by a concert by the Charleston Community Band. At Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island there will be a re-enactor encampment, events throughout the day, and a 7 p.m. ceremony and concert by the 246th Army Band.
We hope that you will join us on June 28 in celebrating this important chapter in our state's rich past.
Samuel W. Howell IV