The St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee pays tribute to the military by hosting the Sgt. William Jasper Memorial Ceremony each year on the eve of the Parade. The ceremony is named after the famed Revolutionary War hero, who lost his life while rescuing his regiment’s colors during the Siege of Savannah in 1779.
Recruited by Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion, William Jasper enlisted in the 2nd South Carolina Regiment in 1775 and was quickly promoted to the rank of sergeant. Jasper first distinguished himself during the Battle of Sullivan’s Island in 1776. Jasper recovered the South Carolina flag after a shell from a British warship shot away the flagstaff. He raised it on a temporary staff and held it under fire until a new staff was installed. In recognition of his bravery, South Carolina Governor John Rutledge gave his sword to Jasper.
Jasper’s heroism at Charleston and subsequent death at Savannah are immortalized by a monument, unveiled in 1888, in Madison Square. The bronze statue was designed by Alexander Doyle, one of the nation’s most prominent sculptors of that era, and includes bas relief panels depicting Jasper’s military service.
Believed to be of Irish descent, Jasper served as an inspiration to the Irish immigrants of Savannah during the period before the Civil War. Many of these men banded together in 1842 to form the Irish Jasper Greens militia and fought in the Mexican-American War in 1846 and, later, the Civil War.
The 2018 Sgt. William Jasper Memorial Ceremony will take place on Friday, March 16th at 5:00 PM in Madison Square. Prior to the ceremony, a procession will march from Johnson Square, up Bull Street, to the Jasper Monument in Madison Square.