History is about people. History is about understanding people. Well military history is about understanding people under
stress and what’s interesting in looking at,
you know the traditions carrying forward and people
having similar experiences but in different environments. The
the things that stayed the same. The human stresses and factors
that stay the same. While all the technology and the environment change. We are the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. We are a museum that was
founded in the mid eighteen nineties and we are South
Carolina’s Military History Museum.
And it’s our job to preserve and teach the military history
of South Carolina. You know, there’s
an awful lot to be learned as you get into this history
and the museum can be a good place to build a connection.
And that’s what’s really vital. People come here for different
reasons in many ways were very old school museum in that,
we don’t have as many interactive exhibits as we do
genuine artifacts. We have a terrific collection of original
artifacts and this is the place to get close to them and
examine them in person. We have one of General Beauregard’s
teeth may be the strangest things we have. But an artifact is an object to learn from. And these are artifacts. A relic might be the same
object but it’s something that gives you a feeling of
connection and that connection we have patrons who
come here on pilgrimage. They want to see a particular flag
that perhaps an ancestor served on. They want to see an
item related with members of their family but the truth is
all this history belongs to all Americans and frankly belongs
to anyone who’s eager to learn from it. So to build that
connection, to be right next to the objects, to be able to
examine them for yourself. I think is just as a very
effective way to build connection with history, as well
as, what we can work from. One thing that sometimes we
have youngsters do in the gallery is count the palmetto’s.
That palmetto symbol running through South Carolina state
history. If you look at that as a motif in here on
items, it turns very interesting because the
palmetto begins to appear on the state’s militia flags very
early in honor of a battle in the American revolution. Where
the fort was made upon palmetto logs down in Charleston harbor.
One thing I like about the earlier more personal flags, when the ladies of one town would create a flag for the soldiers from their towns company, usually about a hundred men. The front of that flag would have a palmetto in the name of the
unit maybe a slogan but the back was a free speech zone.
And we often had to choose how we’re gonna show the front of
the flag or the back where there’s a personalized message.
And to see those on display and that’s interesting from a
social and artistic even religious point of view. Since
they often chose a Bible verse or something along those lines.
A blessing to put on the back of the flag.
Oddly enough the oldest artifact on display in the
relic room is in our World War two case. And you think, you know we have things going back to the American revolution. Yes, we also have a sword that was captured
on Hiroshima. A Japanese officer carried this sword up
a hill and a South Carolina sergeant carried it down. That
katana turned out to be more than four hundred year old
blade. We have examples of how things
from the original palmetto armory of South Carolina. When weapons were manufactured here in the state for the use
of the state’s forces. Muskets, pistols, Sabres, as well as, a
handmade flintlock rifle made over in Lexington county.
And just there’s a lot here for the history fan
but another artifact that kind of affecting to me there’s a
beautiful big quilt, more than a hundred and fifty years old. Made for a soldier and I tell the kids groups it’s not just a
blanket, it’s a giant get well card. The quilt has the initials in the middle of it J.
James Adam Reichardt. Turns out he was a wounded soldier in the
hospital and the people at home determined to make him and send
him this beautiful warm blanket and they signed it. So if you’re
get in close to it, you can see there signatures of different
well wishers all over it. Perhaps it helped
because we know he came home and we know he would live into
his seventies, beating the odds. South Carolina in eighteen
sixty according to the census we had sixty thousand Freeman
of military age in the whole state.
Over the next four years of war we would lose more than twenty
one thousand dead in service. That’s more than one in three
of the whole eligible population. So that would
leave a permanent mark on our society
and this would this would be why the Relic Room, when
originally found is, it was more place of remembrance right
away then education. They always thought of that is a place
where education would be done but the first years of visitors
coming in were people coming to remember the dead. More than
anything else. What we learned from the past
is something for us to use. We really study history to
understand leadership, responsibility, decision making,
the effects of decisions, and you know it doesn’t matter
in some ways what kind of history you study. It’s all
relevant but military history tends to give us a real tight
focus on people in really rough circumstances. Making decisions
in real time with limited information and a lot at stake.
And we want to learn things from them rather than
learning the hard way. Military history regularly
draws more attention than the other sort
and how there’s probably a lot of reasons deep in our brains
for that. I think we we really value
those who will put their lives on the line. We Marvel at how
people perform highly in danger and stress. We like the stories of adventure and triumph. I think there’s something in us
that we have a need to understand this. And we know we have a need to understand this and were drawn to it.