SAMS and the Development of Its Coat of Arms
Al Ankrum National Commander Emeritus and SAMS Historian

    SAMS’ Incorporating Officers (including Randal Downey its Incorporating President/National Commander) established that two things that were part of their inspirations to develop SAMS would be commemorated by being recognized and honored by SAMS. First, the nearby Revolutionary War Battle of Kings Mountain, and secondly the patriotic rebels of Scottish ancestry in Tennessee and Virginia. The patriots had been threatened by the British Commander Patrick Ferguson to stay over the mountains, or he would come there and destroy them “with fire and sword”. The patriots would later become known as The Over Mountain Men who ignored the threat, and came over the mountains to defeat Ferguson at Kings Mountain.

    A military veterans organization such as SAMS needs insignia to identify itself. This led to early designs for a cloth shoulder patch and an enameled epaulet pin. Who, or what group, designed them is lost in SAMS’ history. The Patch utilized representations of the flags of the combatant countries at the Battle (note the star and stripe in its proper position - its own right - with the Scottish St. Andrews Cross following), the threat “with fire and sword” as used by Ferguson, and a “belted” patriot representing The Over Mountain Men with the words Scottish American Military Society. Other period accouterments were also included.

    The enameled epaulet pin emphasizes the words “with fire and sword” by picturing two swords crossed through a fire, enclosed in a Scottish type belted circle with the flag representations and the words “with fire and sword”. Since all the clans used cap badges to display the Crest of their clan chief’s Arms, SAMS developed its own signature cap badge. The cap badge highlighted the representation of one of The Over Mountain Men as used on the patch. These three insignia have served the test of time, and have remained unchanged throughout the existence of SAMS.

    There are no rules in America on who, or what can use and design a Coat of Arms. In SAMS’ case, Arms could be considered its corporate “logo”. For SAMS, it would be appropriate for its Arms to follow the pattern established for Scottish arms. With the help of fellow clan and SAMS member Randal Carr (an expert on heraldry), I drafted what might be an acceptable version of a Coat of Arms for SAMS. The drafted format included all the various components of a Scottish Coat

of Arms. It included a shield with flag representations with crossed swords and fire, a crest adding the representation of The Over Mountain Men, and a helmet. Underneath, but not a part of the Coat of Arms, were the words Kings Mountain and Scottish American Military Society. Representations of a Colonial solder and a Scottish highlander were added, but later dropped.

    For the “motto”, the words “with fire and sword” did not seem to identify the overall purpose of the US Military. The Declaration of Arbroath (c. 1320) was a document sent by the Scottish Royalty to the Pope containing a declaration of their purpose in having a military fighting the English. Their identified purpose can be highlighted in the included phrase “…for freedom for that alone…” Those words also seem to symbolize what the Revolutionary War was fought for, and the purpose the people had in mind in establishing our military. These words were therefore used as the SAMS “motto”. The words, “with fire and sword” could then be used as SAMS’ “war cry” following an established clan tradition.

    The drafted Coat of Arms was shown to some SAMS members, but was never proposed to the Board as a SAMS’ Coat of Arms, nor was it ever made official. Importantly, I was never intended that any Coat of Arms adopted by SAMS would modify the formats of the Patch, Pin, and Badge that had existed since the early inception of SAMS. Later, some SAMS members happened to meet the Scottish Lord Lyon who has authorities over Scottish Arms. The meeting took place at a Highland Game where the Lord Lyon was an Honored Guest. Included in the meeting was a later to be National Commander Tim Cooke, and SAMS’ Judge Advocate Bill Boswell.

    They asked the Lord Lyon if it would be possible for SAMS to receive a Scottish Coat of Arms. They noted for him that SAMS had many Scottish members including veterans, MPs, and other Scottish notables. He responded that it might be possible, and he would consider it. He then suggested they provide him with some background information on our Organization. They worked closely with the Lord Lyon over the coming months, providing necessary information and answering questions. Included with the information provided was a copy of the unofficial draft Coat of Arms discussed above. The formal submission they had prepared for the Lord Lyon requesting Arms was then approved and submitted by then National Commander Tim Lally.

    The Lord Lyon later issued an approved official Scottish Coat of Arms for SAMS. The Lord Lyon had made changes to the draft Arms by reversing the flag representations to place the St. Andrews Cross representation in its proper place of precedence as is correct for a “Scottish” Coat of Arms, he added a forward fac

facing helmet, and eliminated the words below the Coat of Arms and the Colonial soldier and Scottish Highlander. Other minor changes were also made. The issuance of the Official SAMS Arms by the Lord Lyon made the draft Arms obsolete and not acceptable for use or display. The receipt of the Arms also authorized SAMS to be known as a Society Noble in the Noblesse of Scotland.

    The SAMS Website (s-a-m-s.org/heraldry) identifies the rules for the use of the Official SAMS Coat of Arms. The format of the Coat of Arms may not be changed without the approval of the Lord Lyon. The Coat of Arms is registered and copyrighted by SAMS, and can only be used as specified on the Website. Any use not authorized as specified on the Website requires prior approval by National SAMS. The use of the Coat of Arms in conjunction with other materials also requires prior approval by National SAMS


Post 1775 Scotland Country Highland Games, Laurenburg, NC
Post 1842, Rolla Veteran Park 100 Years of Rememberance.





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