South Carolina is widely acknowledged to have one of the most beautiful state flags in the country. The palmetto tree is obviously a beloved icon of the state. But what about that crescent shape in the corner? Many people call it a moon but is it really?
Historian Rodger Stroup says flag originated with Col. William Moultrie, who took the blue of his soldiers' coats and the crescent shape from their hats to fashion a signal to let the city of Charleston know if and when the British were coming during the Battle of Sullivan's Island prior to the Revolutionary War. He quotes Moultrie's diary, which says the design is simply a crescent, which is fellow historian Eric Emerson's view. But, as Stroup points out, a glance at the dictionary definition of "crescent" tells one that a crescent is a quarter, or three-quarter, moon.
People routinely call it a moon, which Emerson understands, but doesn’t technically agree with. Then there's the gorget argument. Stroup tells us that some people believe the crescent to be an homage to the gorget, a piece left over from the era when armor was in use. Both men say they don't mind if people call it a moon (as if they could stop it), but more important is the history the symbol represents.