The Jasper Monument
Savannah, GA

Sergeant William Jasper
 Brother of Nicholas Jasper

William Jasper is the 5th great grand uncle of the Molloys.

The hail of British shot and the hot sun pounded defenders of Sullivan's Island on that June day of 1776. As the 271 guns poured shells into the fort, one shot took down the flag post bearing a blue flag with a white crescent. All day it had waved defiantly at the onslaught and let observers watching from the roofs in Charleston know that their men still held the English at bay. When it fell, so also did the hopes of a multitude of citizens.

One man was not to let it lie on the hot sand for long. William Jasper was recruited to serve with the Second South Carolina Regiment by Francis Marion. Jasper was quickly advanced to sergeant by superiors who recognized in him a character well-adapted for a martial career. Well-respected by his men, he was proving himself a hard fighter when the flag pole was shot down. "Colonel, don't let us fight without our flag!" shouted Jasper. "How can you help it? The staff is gone," Moultrie replied. Without another word, the sergeant then jumped out of the fort in the face of deadly fire, walked the entire length in full view of the British, and then cut the flag from its pole. Climbing the wall, he called for a sponge-staff to which he fastened the flag and planted it in the wall. Turning to his enemy he then gave three cheers and returned to his gun.

For this feat, President John Rutledge presented Jasper with his dress sword at a review held soon after the battle and offered him a commission. Jasper turned this down, instead preferring to serve as a scout for the American forces. General Moultrie described Jasper as a "brave, active, stout, strong, enterprising man and a very great partizan" who was a master of disguise. Jasper made several trips into enemy lines, always returning with valuable information. Tragically, Jasper died at Savannah in 1779 while planting the colors of the Second South Carolina Regiment on the British lines. He was buried somewhere near the scene of the battle in a mass grave with many of his comrades.

Later a statue was erected in his memory in one of the squares of Savannah, where it still stands today, near where he lies in an unmarked grave. Eight counties and seven cities and towns throughout the nation are named for this great hero. In Charleston, Jasper, grasping a spong-staff with the blue flag draped about his shoulders, stands atop a monument erected to the defenders of Sullivan's Island. His eyes are fixed on the harbor he helped defend and beneath him are inscribed his words, "We shall not fight without our flag."

Jasper County received its name from the Revolutionary Hero, William Jasper, Sergeant of the Grenadiers. The writer is indebted to the late A. S. Salley, state historian for much of the information given below.) Sergeant William Jasper was a member of the Grenadier Company of the Second South Carolina Regiment. This was one of six regiments furnished by the state, at the call for troops by the Continental Congress. Barnard Elliott, captain of the company, recruited young Jasper on July 7, 1775, in Halifax County, Georgia, now Burke County, and just across the Savannah River from South Carolina’s present Barnwell County. The story of Jasper’s brave deed at the fort, later called Fort Moultrie, is told thus in Captain Elliott’s dairy: "This Jasper was enlisted by Capt. Elliott of the Grenadiers of the Second Regiment, in Halifax County, Georgia, as a common soldier, but his extraordinary sobriety, his punctuality and readiness in obeying all orders while a private recommended him to his captain as a proper man for a sergeant; accordingly he appointed him to that office in October last, while he had the command of the battery at Fort Johnson. On the day of the engagement between the King of England’s fleet and Fort Sullivan’s, where he is with the company and the regiment he belongs to, he signalized himself in the following manner, viz: The flag being shot down and the staff falling to the ground in the heat of the action, Jasper called to his Colonel, Moultrie, ‘Colonel, don’t let us fight without our colour.’ ‘How can you help it,’ replied the Colonel, ‘the staff is gone!' 'Then I will replace it,' said Jasper, upon which he leaped over the wall, took the flag and tied it to a sponge staff and stuck it upon the merlon of the bastion near the enemy, gave three huzzas in the dangerous place he stood, and retired to his gun where he fought with his gallant company to the end of the battle. The President, John Rutledge, this day returning his thanks to the Sullivan's Island Garrison for their gallant conduct, and behavior in defense of the fortress, and taking his own sword from his side, presented it to Sergeant Jasper, and no doubt will soon compliment him with a commission." A short while before the siege of Savannah, Sergeant Jasper and a private soldier named Newton were out scouting in Georgia. Some women came to them in great distress, reporting that their husbands and relatives had been seized and carried away by the enemy. The two young soldiers followed, and as the British troops rested beside a spring, their arms stacked, Jasper and Newton charged in and took them prisoners. The noted Charleston artist, John Blake White, depicted this scene in his painting called "The Rescue." Two counties in Georgia today bear the names "Jasper" and "Newton." After the battle of Fort Moultrie, Captain Elliott's wife had presented the regiment with a pair of colors. During the siege of Savannah, the Second Regiment was in the thick of the fight. Sergeant Jasper held one of the colors. When he fell, mortally wounded, he handed the flag to Lieutenant Bush. The lieutenant was killed immediately and fell into the ditch at the Spring Hill redoubt, the colors wrapped about his body. The enemy took the line a few minutes afterward, and this flag was later carried to London, where it was placed in the trophy room of the King's Royal Rifles. The other flag was carried safely away by the South Carolinians in their retreat. Tradition has it that Sergeant Jasper was once encamped at Purrysburg with his regiment. No one can say with certainty where he was buried, but historians believe it likely that his final resting place was beneath raw earth at the Spring Hill fortification (near the present Central of Georgia station), along with many of his comrades. Impressive monuments to him have been erected, both in Charleston and in Savannah.

The Jasper Monument in Madison Square

The Jasper Monument is located in the center of Madison Square. The monument, erected in 1888, is fifteen and one-half feet high and consists of a heroic scale bronze statue of wounded Sgt. Jasper, with sword in hand, raising the flag aloft; the bronze is mounted on a granite stepped pedestal. It has four bas relief bronze plaques. The entire monument is elevated on an earthwork of unknown composition which is surrounded by benches. The monument is in memory of Sergeant William Jasper of the Second South Carolina Regiment, who was killed at the Siege of Savannah on 9 October 1779.

October 9, 1779 - William Jasper dies, Savannah, Georgia

Few non-commissioned officers rise to the level of fame that William Jasper did during the American Revolution. This Georgia hero, who was born in South Carolina in 1750, was recruited by Francis "Swamp Fox" Marion to serve in the 2nd South Carolina Regiment, displayed his courage during the Battle of Sullivan's Island (now sometimes called the Battle of Fort Moultrie), June 28, 1776. During the battle the staff holding the colors was sheared off and the colors lay on an outside wall of the fort. Jasper rose from a protected position, called for a rammer (the pole used to compress a ball into the cannon), and planted it on the wall in full view of the British fleet while the fort was under fire.

During the Battle of Savannah Jasper once again tried to plant the colors in a move similar to the earlier event at Fort Moultrie, only he lost his life. It is generally believed that the Sergeant is buried in a common grave somewhere in the vicinity of Savannah.

Jasper County, Georgia is named in his honor.

The colors (flag) that Sgt. Jasper rescued is today called the Moultrie Flag for the commander of the troops at the time. The flag features a crescent moon and the word Liberty on a blue background.

 

Interesting fact: Moultrie was not the ranking officer. General Charles Lee would have been in charge, but his orders specifically called his assignment one of "observation."

Savannah Morning News

 

Savannah, a campaign fought during September and October of 1779

A French force of 22 warships and 10 troopships landed at Tybee Island on Sept. 8, 1779, and off loaded 4,000 French troops. They were joined by some 1,400 colonial soldiers led by General Benjamin Lincoln. The British forces numbered some 1,800 and were led by Gen. Augustin Prevost. On Oct. 9, after a siege proved unsuccessful, an allied force of 3,500 French troops, 600 colonials and 350 militia attacked the British fort. The assault was brutally repulsed. The French lost 600, the Americans 400. British losses were only about 150. The area around the defenses, a British officer wrote, "was filled with mangled bodies, and the ditch filled with the dead." Several days later the French filed back aboard their ships and sailed away, leaving Savannah in British hands.

Source: "Angel in the Whirlwind: The Triumph of the American Revolution," by Benson Bobrick

Honoring Sgt. Jasper

Military celebrates its Irish heritage in annual ceremony.

By Noelle Phillips

Savannah Morning News

A Patriot. A Hero. A Soldier. An Irishman.

Savannah's military and its Irish gathered Friday afternoon in Madison Square beneath a tarnished statue of the Revolutionary War hero, Sgt. William Jasper.

"We memorialize Sgt. Jasper for his Revolutionary War heroics, but we also memorialize him for the ideals he stood for and the valor he displayed," said Col. Joseph Schmitt, commander of the Savannah District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The 3rd Infantry Division color guard and band, the West Point pipe band, the Irish Air Corps pipe band and the Virginia Tech band marched along Bull Street from Johnson Square to start the ceremony. A stage full of military brass also gathered for the 90-minute ceremony.

Jasper earned his legend during the Revolutionary War after twice saving his units' flags from the British and for helping fellow soldiers escape from British hands.

Jasper died on Oct. 9, 1779 in Savannah as he took the flag from a dying lieutenant. Jasper was 29.

Since then, Savannah's Irish have adopted him as their own, even though Germans also claim Jasper. Savannah honors his war heroics every St. Patrick's Day.

Tucker Coughlen, a retired Navy captain from Baytown, Texas, wandered across the ceremony Friday afternoon. With his military service and Irish heritage, Coughlen had discovered the ideal St. Patrick's Day ceremony.

"I love military parades," Coughlen said. 'I had no idea this city was like this with all of the squares. I also had no idea it was the second largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the country."

Jasper Spring State Historical Marker

Located on Augusta Ave. at I-516 in Savannah, Ga.

 

ATTACK ON BRITISH LINES

On this spot, according to long and persistent tradition, occurred one of Sergeant William Jasper's most famous exploits during the American Revolution. Here, in 1779, at the spring then located along the road to Augusta, Sergeant Jasper and Sergeant John Newton ambushed a detachment of ten British soldiers and liberated several Patriot prisoners who were being taken to Savannah.

While no contemporary confirmation of jasper's feat exists (it was first publicized by Parson Weems in 1809 in his Life of Gen. Francis Marion), the exploit was in every way characteristic of the immortal sergeant. An illustration of his courage and resourcefulness if found in the following item published in the VIRGINIA GAZETTE (Williamsburg), May 15, 1779: "The brave sergeant Jasper . . . has lately given a new proof of his courage and address: He, with another sergeant, a few days ago, crossed the Savannah river, took, and brought to Major General Lincoln's headquarters, two Captains, named Scott and Young, of the British troops in Georgia."

Sergeant Jasper was mortally wounded, Oct. 9, 1779, while heroically bearing the colors of the 2nd South Carolina Continental Regiment in the assault on the British entrenchments at Savannah.