William Moultrie (//; November 23, 1730 – September 27, 1805) was a South Carolina planter and politician who became a general in the American Revolutionary War. As colonel leading a state militia, in 1776 he prevented the British from taking Charleston, and Fort Moultrie was named in his honor.
After independence, Moultrie advanced as a politician; he was elected by the legislature twice within a decade as Governor of South Carolina (1785–87, 1792–94), serving two terms. (The state constitution kept power in the hands of the legislature and prohibited governors from serving two terms in succession.)
In 1775, Moultrie was commissioned as colonel of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment in the state militia. In December of that year, he led a raid on an encampment of runaway slaves on Sullivan's Island, killing 50 and capturing the rest. The island had served as the main landing point for African slaves imported to Charleston; an estimated 40% of the total estimated 400,000 Africans brought to the United States as slaves were landed here.
In 1776, Moultrie's defense of a small fort on Sullivan's Island (later named Fort Moultrie in his honor) prevented Sir Henry Clinton and Sir Peter Parker from taking Charleston. The Continental Congress passed a resolution thanking Moultrie. He was promoted to brigadier general and his regiment was taken into the Continental Army.
Moultrie's skill failed to prevent the fall of Savannah, Georgia to the British in 1778. They occupied the city for the remainder of the war. He was captured in 1780. Thousands of slaves in the South escaped to join British lines in this city and elsewhere, as the Crown had promised them freedom if they left rebels. When the British evacuated from Charleston, they also took many freedmen, resettling them in their colonies in the Caribbean and Nova Scotia, where they were known as Black Loyalists.
Moultrie was exchanged for British prisoners. In the last year of the war, he was promoted to major general in 1782, the last man appointed by Congress to that rank.
After the war he was elected by the new state legislature as 35th Governor of South Carolina (1785–87). The state constitution prohibited men from serving two successive terms as governor, an effort to keep power in the hands of the legislature. Moultrie was re-elected by the legislature in 1792, serving into 1794.
In his later years, he returned to manage his plantation. He wrote Memoirs of the Revolution as far as it Related to the States of North and South Carolina (1802).
After the war, the fort he had defended was renamed Fort Moultrie in his honor. It operated as a pivotal defense point until supplanted by Fort Sumter. Fort Moultrie was used as an active post of the United States Army from 1798 until the end of World War Two.
During his notable defense of the fort in 1776, a flag of Moultrie's own design was flown: a field of blue bearing a white crescent with the word LIBERTY on it. The flag was shot down during the fight. Sergeant William Jasper held it up to rally the troops, and the story became widely known. The flag became an icon of the Revolution in the South. It was called the Moultrie, or the Liberty Flag. The new state of South Carolina incorporated its design into its state flag.
- Bragg, C.L. Crescent Moon Over Carolina: William Moultrie and American Liberty (University of South Carolina Press; 2013) 336 pages
- SCIway Biography of William Moultrie
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. .
| Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina
| Governor of South Carolina
| Governor of South Carolina