Relic – The Eutaw Flag

The Eutaw Flag



The Eutaw Flag, in possession of the Washington Light Infantry is one of the most famous battle flags in the United States, and probably the only battle flag extant that was in actual service in the War of Independence, known as “Tarleton’s Terror.”

The following is an authentic history of the flag:

On a bluff above a stream leading into Stono River, known as “Hyde’s Park,” or “Elliott’s Savannah,” in the 1776-83 period, stood the mansion of one of the Colonial families of Elliott. Here lived Miss Jane Eliot , the maker of the ‘Eutaw Flag,’ and who afterwards became the wife of Colonel William Washington was a frequent visitor at the Elliott mansion, and on one of these visits he mentioned the want of a flag for cavalry. Miss Elliott quickly cut a square of silk from the back of a chair, and binding same to a hickory pole, exclaimed: “Here is your Flag, Colonel!” This flag was carried in the battles of Cowpens and Eutaw Springs, besides numerous minor skirmishes with Tarleton’s Cavalry, and other forces around Stono River. It was here Tarleton receive his first decisive check. Miss Elliott was married to Colonel Washington near the close of the war, and within the borders of the Elliott family cemetery, on Live Oak Planation, near Rantowles Ferry, Stono River.

In 1858, the Washington Light Infantry erected in Magnolia Cemetery a marble monument to the hero and his wife.

Nearly a half century after the close of the war, the widow of Colonel Washington determined to give into the keeping of some military company of Charleston this famous flag, and the choice fell on the Washington Light Infantry, Captain Robert Budd Gilchrist, commanding. The presentation took place at the northwest corner of Church and South Bay Streets, in front of her house (which yet stands, over a century old) April 19th, 1827. Mrs. Washington, in presenting this priceless relic, referred to the Corps as a “band of citizen soldiers who would, on no occasion, suffer its honor or lustre to tarnish,” and the Corps made the pledge to consider it more precious than their lives, as dear as their sacred honor.

In the present constitution of the Company, special mention of this flag is made, and “it cannot be taken without the city limits, and can be exhibited only on very special occasions, and then only with a special detail of the Company, under command of a commissioned officer attending.”


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