Reference Items
Badges & Medals
1836 Charleston Servant Slave Hire Badge

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Slavery had been a part of the Charleston, South Carolina area since its founding in 1670. In fact, it is believed that a slave was one of the first inhabitants to live on the tongue of land that became Charleston.

Charleston began regulating slaves for hire in locations other than the property of their masters in the 1700s. Badges were issued to slaves who were away from their owner’s property, identifying them as a working slave with lawful reason to be at an outside location. The earliest such badges date from the year 1800. There were various categories of labor indicated on the badges, including servant, porter, mechanic, fruiterer and fisher. Many counterfeits exist but badges found to be authentic seem to have originated only from Charleston or Charleston Neck. These slave tags represent the only examples of institutionalized slavery extant.

This presented badge is a slightly convex diamond-shaped tag with clipped corners and a hole at the top for suspension, 65mm x 68mm. Manufactured by William Madison Rouse. The elements on the obverse are as follows (top to bottom): "*CHARLESTON*" in a crescent-shaped bar punch; "1836" bar punched; "SERVANT" in a rectangular punch ("S" weak) inside a dotted border; an incised "645" in individual punches. The appearance is very fine with a somewhat mottled surface; brown patina with red highlights likely from cleaning after being excavated. 1836 was the first year that Rouse, a silversmith, received the city's contract. He used a different and smaller typeface than his predecessors for the badges and dropped the "No" punch. It is estimated that there were 3707 badges manufactured for 1836. We recommend "Slave Badges and the Slave-Hire System in Charleston, South Carolina, 1783-1865” by Harlan Greene, Harry S. Hutchins, Jr. and Brian E. Hutchins.

Member - John Beckendorf
Item #: CIV-246

Gillmore Medal - Frank Casey 100th NY

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On 28 October 1863, Major General Quincy A. Gillmore awarded these rare medals to men of his command for meritorious conduct during recent operations in South Carolina. Four hundred examples were struck by Ball, Black & Co. of New York, and have since become known as Gillmore Medals.

Gillmore's General Order No. 94 stated in part, that "Medals of honor for gallant and meritorious conduct during the operations before Charleston will be awarded by the commanding general to a number of the enlisted men of this command, not exceeding 3 per cent of the present aggregate strength of those regiments, companies, and detachments that have been in action or on duty in the batteries or trenches."

Frank Casey of Company H of the 100th New York Volunteers was awarded his Gillmore Medal for his actions during the assault on Fort Wagner on the evening of July 18, 1863. The 100th NYV was part of Putnam's Brigade which followed Strong's Brigade, headed by the 54th Massachusetts and Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, in the assault.

Barnard Duggan, another member of Company H later wrote that Frank Casey "was a good soldier. He was given a badge of honor by General Gillmore for gallant conduct at Fort Wagner, S.C. [Casey] was hit several times, but I know of twice, the first time was July 18th 1863, at Fort Wagner, S.C. The bullet hit him on his pocket book and injured him in his right groin. He had a medallion of Gen McClellan in his pocket book and it was dented by the bullet. This was done in the charge during the night and I saw where he was hit the next day. It was swollen. I also saw the dented medallion and pocket book. It was generally known by the members of our company, and expressions of surprise at the lucky escape he had." This injury would continue to plague Casey for the balance of his life.

Member - John Beckendorf
Item #: CIV-186

Identification Disc - George A. Hunt, 76th N.Y.

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The Civil War version of today’s "dog tag,” these badges were privately purchased, often from local sutlers frequenting the camps of the armies. Usually made of brass, identification discs were stamped in the field with pertinent information such as the soldier’s name, regiment, company designation and hometown. The backs of these discs displayed a variety of patriotic motifs. In this case, a winged eagle stands over "United States", with "War of 1861" above. The disc is in fine, original and uncleaned condition.

The owner of this disc, Private George A. Hunt enlisted at the age of 18 with the 76th New York Infantry, mustering into company F. Leaving a rented farm where he worked with his parents, George also said goodbye to two younger sisters. In their first real action on August 28, 1862, the 76th saw hard fighting at Gainesville, Virginia, suffering 88 casualties in the battle. Private Hunt was among the wounded, having been shot through both knees. He lay on the field through the night of the 15th and on the following day, was taken captive from the battlefield by Confederate forces. He was paroled four days later, apparently in an effort to move him to where he could receive medical aid.

Private Hunt died as a result of his wounds in a Georgetown hospital the following week. At some point, likely after his untimely death, a loved one fastened a mourning ribbon through the suspension hole in his disc, which remains in place today. Time would prove that Hunt’s sacrifice was not entirely in vain. In 1867, his parents used their son's enlistment bounty and back pay to purchase their first homestead and farm.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-185