The War for Independence in the Southern Colonies was of a different flavor from the war being waged in the north. This war was primarily characterized by partisan bands, swearing allegiance to either the Patriot or British cause, sweeping through the backcountry; burning and pillaging any they believed to be their enemies.
Organized military action did not come to south until the British capture of Savannah, Georgia in December, 1778. The presence of British regulars in the region prompted the surrounding states, particularly South Carolina, to augment their existing Continental forces with regiments of civilian militia. These forces would be used to hastily oppose any British incursions; whether they come in the form of coastal raids by the Royal Navy, or Loyalist/Indian attacks on the frontier.
Enter the 2nd Spartan Regiment. This militia unit would serve in multiple engagements across the Southern Theatre of war from its inception in 1779, until the end of the war in 1783. The 2nd Spartan Regiment took park in the defeat of Major Patrick Ferguson’s Loyalist army at King’s Mountain. They formed part of the second line of defense used by Daniel Morgan to win the Battle of Cowpens. They also fought at Ninety-Six, Eutaw Springs, and Stono Ferry among other battles; all the while protecting their homes and loved ones from unprovoked attacks by Indian war parties and Loyalist partisan groups.
The two main symbols on this flag are the “Spartan dog” and the rattlesnake. While their intended meaning together on this flag is still subject to interpretation by historians, separately they have their own distinct meanings. The Spartan dog is a Shakespearean reference to a bloodthirsty man; as mentioned in Othello. The rattlesnake, on the other hand, was a traditional symbol across the colonies for defense against tyranny.
It’s safe to say that the men of the 2nd Spartan Regiment were telling those that faced them that they intended to not only oppose tyranny, but fight it tooth and nail. If their record in battle is any indication, this they did with great success.