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American History
Scottish-American Military Society


The Scottish American Military Society was founded and chartered in North Carolina April 12, 1981, as a non-profit organization with the following purpose:

To preserve and promote Scottish and American Armed Forces customs, traditions and heritage by:

  • Providing a forum for exchange of military history and genealogical information,
  • Conducting public education programs,
  • Presenting military student honor awards,
  • Supporting Scottish activities at Highland Games,
  • Making contributions to qualified scholarship funds or institutions,
  • Making appropriate charitable contributions,
  • Providing a fraternal atmosphere for members.

Beginning in 1984, an engraved dirk has been given annually to a military history student selected from candidates in a college level ROTC program.

Membership is open to honorably discharged veterans or active duty or reserve military persons who have served or are serving with any branch of the U-S. Armed Forces. Member- ship is open to war veterans (persons who served honorably in the Armed Forces of the U-S- during the following periods:

  • 21 April 1898 - 4 July 1902
  • 6 April 1917 - 11 November 1918
  • 7 December 1941 - 31 December 1946
  • 27 June 1950 - 31 January 1955
  • 5 August 1964 - 7 May 1975
  • 24 August 1982 - 31 July 1984
  • 20 December 1989 - 31 January 1990
  • 2 August 1990 - To Be Determined
  • Present or former members of the U-S- Armed Forces,
  • Armed Service Academy and college level ROTC Cadets,
  • Spouses, widows, or widowers of any of the above categories,and
  • Members of the British Commonwealth Armed Forces.

Honorary life memberships are awarded to members who have been awarded the Medal of Honor or the Victoria Cross.

The SAMS Emblem

The Society was founded as a veterans' organization with the membership composed primarily of veterans of Scottish ancestry who have served, or are serving in the Armed Forces of the United States and the Commonwealth.

The Scottish belt is a symbol of allegiance to the Chief's Crest which it surrounds. On the SAMS emblem, it signifies allegiance to the principle that liberty was won and has been preserved by the armed force.

The centerpiece of the Society emblem is the back-country rifleman, wearing the hunting shin, armed with his flintlock rifle and belt axe.

Kings Mountain is recognized as one of the decisive battles and a major tuming point in the Revolutionary War. An unusually high percentage of the men who fought on both sides at Kings Mountain were of Scottish and Scots-Irish bloodlines. Scots-Irish Colonel William Campbell was commander of the Patriot forces and the Loyalists were led by Lt. Col. Patrick Ferguson, a Highland Scot. As was so often the case in Scottish history, the fight was between those who opposed the Crown and those who supported it.

SAMS is recognized by the Lord Lyon as a "Society Noble in the Noblesse of Scotland" and has it's own Coat of Arms.

The Patriots wore a twist of white paper in their hat bands for "friend or foe" recognition. The Loyalists wore a twig of evergreen for the same purpose. The evergreen twig probably had Scottish origins.

For years, prior to Culloden, the bayonet was not effective against the large, broadsword, and Claymore. The Loyalists tried the bayonet as the decisive weapon at Kings Mountain but it was no match for the rifle, backed by the belt axe and hunting knife.

As early as 1644, the MacDonalds, who were supporting Charles I, were sent to "ravage the territory around Loch Etive with fire and sword." The words were used as challenge and response by the Patriots before the battle of Cowpens: challenge-"with fire", response-"and sword." The battle of Kings Mountain resulted directly from Col. Ferguson's threat to destroy the over-mountain settlements "with fire and sword."

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