Tour Locations | A Stroll through the Heart of Savannah’s Historical District
You are now in Madison Square. Stop here for a few minutes while I tell you about the history.
In 1776, America declared its independence from the British, but we did not have our independence until after the American Revolution in 1783. In 1779, the British had control of Savannah. The Continental Army wanted it, and the French had come to assist the Continental Army. Here in Madison Square, is where the Siege of Savannah took place on October 9, 1779.
The Siege of Savannah was one of the bloodiest battles during the American Revolution, it was a blood bath. Hundreds of soldiers lost their lives that day and it happened here, where you are standing.
Madison Square was out in the woods back then, this square was not developed until about 60 years later. At the time, the colony of Savannah consisted of only 6 squares, all of them were north of Oglethorpe Avenue today. That is less than a 5 minute walk from Madison Square, how terrifying it must have been for those colonists during this time.
The monument in the center of the square honors Sergeant William Jasper, a soldier with the 2nd Continental Regiment of South Carolina. During this timeframe, the flag was their communication system. As long as the flag was flying, the enemy knew there was still a battle raging. In 1776, three years prior to the Siege of Savannah, Sgt. Jasper was at the Battle of Sullivan's Island in South Carolina, where they were under heavy attack from the British. A British cannonball sheared the American flagpole in half. Sgt. Jasper retrieved the flag and using a cannon sponge he raised the flag again, letting the British Army know, they had not won yet. Through his brave actions and courage, he inspired the other soldiers in his regime to keep up the fight. This lead the way for the Continental Army win the battle at Sullivan's Island. Because of his heroism, Governor Rutledge of South Carolina awarded Jasper with one of his personal swords. Here at the Siege of Savannah, in 1779, William Jasper again, under heavy attack and gunfire, tries to replace a fallen flag, only this time he is mortally wounded and loses his life.
If you are standing directly in front of his monument, you will notice the flag he is raising high is filled with bullet holes. He has a sword in his right hand and clutching his right side, this is where he was shot, causing him to lose his life. We still honor him today. Each year a few days before St. Patricks Day, there is a special ceremony that begins in Johnson Square and ends here in Madison Square with the placing of 3 wreaths at the foot of his monument.
Let's get going.
If you are facing the front of the monument, go to your right, crossing the street to the house with the large porch and iron fence around the courtyard.