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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/10

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% Southern Historical Society Papers.

THE WASHINGTON LIGHT INFANTRY, 1807-1861.

The ante-bellum history of " old Charleston's loyal sons" was so continuously prominent in the annals of Charleston, for more than half a century, that it is only in order to refer very briefly to it here.

Founded by William Lownes in 1807, upon receiving the news of the " Leopard and Chesapeake" affair, its roll of thirteen command- ers down to 1861, reveals the character of its membership Lowndes, Cross, Crafts, Simons, Miller, Gilchrist, Ravenel, Lee, Jervey, Por- ter, Walker, Hatch, Simonton.

The public observance of Washington's birthday, by an oratipn and social functions, on 22d February, was an annual feature of W. L. I. life, and the annual response from the community indicated the highest public favor. This observance was continued up to and in the war period, the last celebration taking place in Fort Sumter while the command was part of the garrison of the gateway of Charleston, on the 22d of February, 1862.

Referring to earlier annals, the W. L. I. was designated, with the " Fusileer Francaise," as the special guard of honor to Lafay- ette, upon his entrance in the city in 1825. Captain W. H. Miller, commanding the Escort Battalion, announced all his orders in French !

On the igth April, 1827, the venerable widow of Colonel William Washington, of the Revolution, delivered to Captain R. B. Gil- christ in front of her residence, at South Bay and Church streets, her husband's crimson battle-flag, which had been identified with the battles of Cowpens, Guilford Court House, Hobkirk's Hill and Eutaxv Springs, in 1781. This great distinction has ever since had a marked influence on the life of the corps.

In the ante-bellum career of the corps there was maintained an esprit de corps, watchful and virile. "Success" was the rallying cry, and without a single failure, uniformly crowned all company ef- forts. Witness the great parade of 4th July, 1846, under Captain W. D. Porter, with one hundred and forty-six members in line; and, fourteen years later, on 4th July, 1860, under Captain C. H. Simon- ton, with one hundred and forty-four members in line; both parades decisive tests of company pride and strength. Further mention of notable events is not possible in this necessarily brief narrative.

The recognized eminence, military and social, of the W. L. I., was shown at the opening of the great struggle of 1860-65. Tne first military order issued in all the Southland, in anticipation of that