Jasper, William

?–October 9, 1779

Jasper became a national hero as a character in the historical novel by Mason L. Weems, The Life of Gen. Francis Marion (1809).

Soldier. Little is known of Jasper’s origins. Traditionally he has been identified as Irish, but others have argued that he was of German ancestry.

On July 7, 1775, in Halifax District, Georgia, William Jasper enlisted in the elite grenadier company of the Second South Carolina Continental Regiment. On June 28, 1776, as a sergeant, he won lasting fame during the British attack on Sullivan’s Island, near Charleston. When an enemy shot brought down the fort’s flag, Jasper restored the banner while under enemy fire. In 1779 he led dangerous guerrilla raids against British pickets and patrols. At least once, he passed through enemy lines by posing as a deserter. During the Franco-American attack on the British lines around Savannah on October 9, 1779, Jasper received a mortal wound while rescuing one of his regiment’s flags. He had placed another flag on a British entrenchment, which is now preserved in the Smithsonian Institution. Jasper left a widow and at least two children, although apparently no descendants are living today.

Jasper became a national hero as a character in the historical novel by Mason L. Weems, The Life of Gen. Francis Marion (1809). Weems based this work loosely on a manuscript by Peter Horry. Although Horry dismissed Weems’s book, he and other Revolutionary War veterans confirmed Jasper’s great personal courage. Eight counties (including Jasper County, South Carolina), numerous towns, and thousands of Americans were named for the man described as “the Brave Sergt. Jasper.”

Gamble, Thomas. “The Story of Sergeant William Jasper, Hero of the Revolution: 1775 to 1779.” Scrapbook. Georgia Department of Archives and History, Morrow, Georgia.

 

Jones, George Fenwick. “Sergeant Johann Wilhelm Jasper.” Georgia Historical Quarterly 65 (spring 1981): 7–15.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Jasper, William
  • Coverage ?–October 9, 1779
  • Author
  • Keywords Soldier, elite grenadier company of the Second South Carolina Continental Regiment, national hero
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date October 18, 2021
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update November 1, 2016
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