A crescent moon and the state of South Carolina go together like shrimp and grits, due to its placement on our state flag above the palmetto tree against a rich blue background. But while this emblem for all intents and purposes visually functions as a moon, the crescent on the state flag actually has nothing to do with the Earth’s satellite.
Gen. William Moultrie designed the flag colors after the blue uniforms his men wore defending a Charleston fort in the Revolutionary War, adding the white crescent symbol worn on the hats of the fort’s patriot guards. There is also a theory that the emblem on the caps represents a gorget used by soldiers to protect their throats in battle and worn as adornments by the American Indians.
Moultrie changed the direction of the crescent on the flag to signal the battle status and direction of attack from the British army. The original fort, now named Fort Moultrie, was constructed of palmetto tree logs, which deflected and absorbed the cannon fire from the British. It wasn’t until 1861 that the palmetto tree was added to the flag. The blue background represents indigo as a critical cash crop for the state at the time, first introduced by Eliza Lucas Pinckney.
Since the first major redesign in 1861, the symbolism of the flag’s design has slowly evolved into a more modern interpretation to look like a moon in the sky with a palmetto tree in the foreground. So, even though the crescent on our flag is technically not the moon, the image on our flag nonetheless has served to associate South Carolina with a beautiful crescent moon.