Beaufort's 'unsurrendered flag' goes on exhibit; Beaufort artillery discussed at a dinner

SC Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum

To mark the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the Historic Beaufort Foundation is hosting a pair of events: An exhibit of a restored “unsurrendered” flag from the war and a lecture dinner on the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery.

The lecture dinner is September 26th and the exhibit start on the 16th. Details on both are below.

The "unsurrendered flag" exhibit

The "unsurrendered flag" carried by Beaufort's Civil War militia will be the showpiece of a new exhibit opening at the Verdier House, 801 Bay Street, that start on Friday, September 16th, in observation of Beaufort's tricentennial and the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

The exhibit, "The Beaufort Artillery: Guardians of the Lowcountry Since 1776," was developed by Historic Beaufort Foundation and curated by Ron Roth. Artifacts and memorabilia owned by HBF, the former Beaufort Museum and the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum will illustrate the history of the unit which was called to fight in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War and World Wars I and II. It was eventually absorbed into the S.C. National Guard and is the antecedent of the Beaufort unit.

The BVA flag which hasn't been seen in Beaufort for 115 years was badly damaged and deteriorated when it was given to the Relic Room in Columbia in 1896 by the unit's second Civil War captain, Dr. Henry Middleton Stuart. It has been in storage since then.

The flag, designed and sewn by the women of Beaufort, was presented to the local militia on George Washington's Birthday in 1858. War clouds were gathering and the women used the occasion to present the BVA with its "colors" for use in anticipated battles with the North.

Sacred to the troops, "colors" were carried as rallying points and inspiration to follow into battle. Seriously damaged during the Battle of Port Royal Sound, the flag was mended by BVA soldiers who carried it through the rest of the war. At the surrender of BVA troops in 1865, one of the soldiers wrapped himself with it instead of giving it to Union forces, thereby claiming it was unsurrendered.

Restoration of the flag was sponsored by HBF and Gen. Richard H. Anderson Camp #47 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Many of its members trace ancestral ties to the BVA. The Gen. Stephen Elliott Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and private individuals also contributed to the restoration.

Among numerous other items to be displayed are a presentation sword that honored Dr. Stuart's successful reorganization of the unit in 1878 and a portrait of Gen. Stephen Elliott that also left Beaufort to be housed at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, VA, until it was returned by Beaufort Museum volunteers in 1971.

The exhibit will be open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Admission is $10 per person and includes a tour of the Verdier House if desired. Admittance for schoolchildren is free. For additional information or to arrange a group tour, call 843-379-6335. 

Dinner, lecture, and a tour

A special lecture and gallery tour of a new permanent exhibit at the Verdier House, The Beaufort Volunteer Artillery: Guardians of the Lowcountry Since 1776 will be presented by Ron Roth, curator of the exhibit, Monday, September 26th as part of HBF's Dinner & A Lecture series.

Roth's talk, Undaunted Valor: Stephen Elliott and the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery, will examine the BVA's role in the Civil War under the leadership of its legendary captain, Elliott. Firsthand accounts of BVA soldiers and their combat experiences from the unit's first major engagement, the Battle of Port Royal, to its final battle at Averysboro, NC.

Roth was director and CEO of the Reading (PA) Public Museum and director of the Museum of Nebraska Art before moving to Bluffton. He has curated or co-curated over 30 exhibitions from the Patriotic Paintings of N.C. Wyeth to a major exhibition with international glass artist Dale Chihuly.

Roth was a seasonal historian for the Gettysburg National Military Park, and a licensed battlefield guide. More recently, as an independent curator and consultant he researched and wrote the script for the permanent exhibition area of the Central Pennsylvania African American Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania and its exhibit on the Underground Railroad in central Pennsylvania. He is currently vice president of the Civil War Roundtable of the Lowcountry.

Open to HBF members and non-members, the lecture series features a wine and hors d'oeuvres reception, 5:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. The program is 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. followed by audience questions. The author will sign copies of his books provided by
Bay Street Trading Co. following the lecture.

A three-course dinner at Saltus River Grill is offered at $19 per person for attendees at the lecture. Admission to the lecture is $15/$25 per member/member couple respectively, and $20/$30 per non-member/non-member couple respectively. Seating is limited; call 379-3331 to make reservations. Call Saltus River Grill directly to make dining reservations.