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 of provincial troops. In December of that year, he led a raid on an encampment of runaway slaves on Sullivan's Island. 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 successfully led a repulsive of the British at Port Royal in February 1779. That spring when Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln took the bulk of the American force towards Augusta, Georgia, Moultrie was stationed at Black Swamp with a small contingent to watch the British on the other side of the Savannah River. When the British suddenly crossed the Savannah en mass and tried to move on Charleston, Moultrie managed a skillful tactical retreat across the Coosawhatchie and the Tullifiny Rivers and all the way back to Charleston where he held off a short siege. He refused to surrender at a time when the civilian authorities in Charleston felt somewhat abandoned by the Continental Congress and were almost ready to give up.
Moultrie was captured when Charleston surrendered to the British in 1780. He was left in command of the American POWs which required all of the patience and skill of a diplomat when advocating for his men against the harsh British commandant, Lt. Col. Nisbet Balfour. The British also attempted to lure him to their side, and he was absolutely indignant when he was approached by Charles Greville Montague. Moultrie was eventually exchanged for British prisoners and 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 1802 he published his Memoirs of the Revolution as far as it Related to the States of North and South Carolina.
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.
- Fort Moultrie Centennial, Part I. Charleston, SC: Walker, Evans & Cogswell. 1876. p. 8. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
- Eastman, Margaret Middleton Rivers (2018). The Huguenot Church in Charleston. Charleston, SC. p. 32. ISBN 978-1625859211. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
- C. L. Bragg, Crescent Moon Over Carolina: William Moultrie and American Liberty (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2013, 219–25.
- Hellmann, Paul T. (February 14, 2006). Historical Gazetteer of the United States. Routledge. ISBN 1135948593.
- Bragg, C.L. Crescent Moon Over Carolina: William Moultrie and American Liberty. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2013 (336 pages).
- SCIway Biography of William Moultrie
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. .
- The Society of the Cincinnati
| Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina
| Governor of South Carolina
| Governor of South Carolina