Friday, April 3, 2015

150 Years Ago: CSS Hampton's Flag is Captured

The following recollection was recorded on page 578 of Thirteenth Regiment of New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865: A Diary Covering Three Years and a Day by S. Millett Thompson, who believed Captain William J. Ladd to be the first Union soldier to enter Richmond, Virginia after its evacuation.  This was Ladd's recollection of his brief encounter with the gunboat Hampton on the morning of April 3, 1865:

The Confederate gunboat Hampton's flag as it appears today at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum after an extensive restoration.  It was taken by Captain William J. Ladd of the 13th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry Regiment just before explosives planted aboard the vessel detonated.

I was in the Capitol grounds as early as 5.30 a. m. I saw no flag on the Capitol at that time. After looking about the grounds and vicinity for a few minutes, and realizing that I was alone in the city, I rode back toward Rocketts, and when near there met a white Union cavalryman—the first Union soldier I had seen in Richmond that morning. We tied our horses, took a skiff and rowed out to a rebel war ship in the James, and captured the two Confederate flags then flying upon her. I pulled down the larger flag, the cavalryman the smaller one, and we rolled them up and tied them to our saddles.  These were the first and only flags of any kind—Federal or Confederate—that I saw in Richmond that morning... Soon after we secured these flags the vessel blew up.

A model of the Hampton-class gunboat Nansemond at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum.

1 comment:

Marcus Robbins said...

To have an actual surviving item with direct ties to the Confederate Gosport Navy Yard is indeed rare. This flag represents a little known story of the various small gunboats built at Gosport in 1862 after the CSS Virginia. The flag also documents the eventual fate of CSS Hampton at the fall of Richmond in 1865.