Howard Madaus along with the help of Peter Harsted, director, State Historical Society of Iowa, examined and cataloged the Confederate flags in the Iowa collections about 1970. A LSU alumni I believe. The large Iowa Palmetto flag in question of this debate was classified as a pre-war secession or states rights flag. There is a connection with this flag to Mobile but none with the former Citadel Cadets Culpepper’s Battery.
If you accept SAA & Andy’s theory then you are discounting the eyewitness reports of the Morris Island flag on which the theory is based to connect the flag with that, that flow over the small pox building (Marine Hospital Service Hospital) on Morris Island. Depending on your dagree of reliable sources, I think the report of Captain J.G. Foster to General Totten on January 21, 1861 (O.R. Ser., 1, vol. 1, page 146-148) is more reliable. Reporting on the condetion of the batteries around the harbor of Charleston. Captain Foster’s report states: “Morris Island battery.-This is the one that fired on the Star of the West...The troops for the service of the battery are quartered in the buildings constituting the small pox hospital, over one of which their flag is flying, a red field with a white palmetto tree upon it. The flag on Fort Johnson is similar, as is also the one on Castle Pinckney. That on Fort Moultrie is a white field with a green palmetto tree, and a red star in the corner.”
Captain Foster was able to point out the details of the Fort Moultire flag but makes no mention of other devices on the other tree flags he reported on. The other eyewitness do not mention other devices on the flags either. The wood engravings featuring the Citade Cadets on Morris Island, published by a London newspaper, the Harper’s Weekly and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated newspaper only show a dark penciled field with a white palmetto tree.
Considering the large number of former cadets going into State service and Confederate service which one if anyone could lay claim to the Morris Island flag? Why would former members of the Citadel be carrying this flag when active members of the Citadel also maned artillery in several battles in South Carolina. One could presume that the former cadets in Culpepper’s Battery had a copycat flag with the addition of the crescent but the size of the Iowa flag makes it unlikely this is the one. Considering not only the size but the crispness of the colors and detail of the devices on the field, it is unlikely the flag was used in battle, be it Morris Island or around Mobile.
A frigate is a large warship, too large to navigate the shallows need to evade the blockade of Union ships. Also too large and valuable to be used for the transport of merchandise. The C.S.S. Tennessee, I guess you can call it a frigate, if you want, was in Mobile Bay but I don’t think it would have carried a palmetto flag. A Confederate National is more likely as did the other gun ships in the bay. What I stated is that a merchant ship could have been carrying the palmetto flag. As per what survives of the Harbor masters reports is that there was several merchant ships, blockade runners in the bay. These low to the water steamers ran between Cuba, the Bahamans and other islands and the ports of the Confederacy. To run a blockade it would have been a necessity to carry port of call flags or be fired on by both the blockade ships and the forts that protected the harbor. Harpper’s Weekly, Frank Leslie and many other newspaper have illustrations and/or articles of ships in the Charleston harbor flying flags with a palmetto tree as the center device other devices are used as well.
I’m sorry Mike but when I got down halfway of what started out as a well thought out pice, I just had to laugh out loud. I can not accept your statement that you presented the Citadel with that evidence in 2007 or about, when I got copies of Frank Leslie’s newspaper from them in 93. I was around when the PC groupies did away with flying Confederate "battle" flag during ball games. The “Big Red” also known as “Turkey Red” was adopted as a protest to the PC groupies and was flown all over Charleston, some with my logo on them. The same Charleston spirit that must have been present in Charleston in the 1860’s with secession flags in all shapes and sizes flying from buildings throughout the city. Once you can present facts and not speculations I will take notice. I am just as interested as you in finding a fact based ID on this flag, You may find it in your direction and I may in mine. For further reading on the South Carolina flag try “A Flag Worthy of Your State and People” from the Department of Archives, South Carolina. The Charleston newspapers of the period have many articles on secession flags going back to 1830. Howard Madaus documented several palmetto flags in and around Charleston in his booklet “Rebel Flags Afloat”. The National Archives and State Archives will be helpful in your quest.