“Big Red” completed its 150-year and 1,203-mile journey home to The Citadel on Friday, March 19, 2010 and has become a symbol of pride and spirit for The Citadel.
Discovered in storage in an Iowa museum, the Civil War-era red palmetto flag is through extensive historical research believed to be a design of Charleston flag maker Hugh Vincent and the actual flag that flew over Morris Island when Citadel cadets fired on the supply ship The Star of the West in 1861. Private Willard Baker, a Civil War veteran from Iowa, donated the flag to his state in 1919 as he wanted it to be used to educate people about history. After its discovery, the flag was in 2010 graciously provided on loan from the State Historical Society of Iowa through the efforts of Citadel alumni. Big Red “has been embedded into the tradition and history of the Corps of Cadets ever since, with every aspect a part of each cadet’s life forever,” according to South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster and the hope is that it will remain at The Citadel in perpetuity.
The Citadel Alumni Association also believes that Big Red should stand on its own and not require funds drawn from the Association, which would dilute our support of The Citadel, the South Carolina Corps of Cadets and our alumni. It was through the generosity of our Alumni that brought our flag to its home and we ask that you help us by visiting The Citadel Foundation online or by contacting The Citadel Alumni Association to contribute towards the continued display, maintenance and permanent return of the original “Big Red” on display in the John Monroe J. Holliday Alumni Center.