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[152]

The First Federal to enter Richmond. [from the Richmond Dispatch, February 10, 1893.]


Who was entitled to this Distinction?—Major A. H. Stevens.

In reference to an article in your paper of recent date, ‘The First to Enter Richmond,’ I would say much has been written from time to time on this point, and I would herewith quote from the Century Magazine for June, 1890:

Major Atherton H. Stevens, Jr., of the Fourth Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry, raised the first national flag over the State-House in Richmond on the occasion referred to. Major Stevens was provost-marshal of the Twenty-fifth Corps, commanded by General Weitzel. Major Stevens was that morning in command of the most advanced party of the Union army. It was to him the Mayor surrendered the city. After receiving the surrender, Major Stevens galloped into town at the head of a “small detachment,” and, ascending to the roof of the State-House, hoisted two small national flags—in fact, the guidons of the squadron of the Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry, which he commanded.

It was several hours after that before Lieutenant de P. came on the ground, in company with Weitzel's staff. This officer (Lieutenant de P.), accompanied by myself, went to the roof to hoist the flag brought by him. We found the guidons at the masthead; these we lowered and replaced them with this flag, which was, by the way, I believe, the same one that had been first hoisted at Mobile on the capture of that city.

There was no personal risk whatever in raising the second flag, but at the time when the small detachment galloped in, the streets were filled with disorderly characters, and the chances were thought to be many of a collision with them, or a shot from an ambushed enemy. Therefore, whatever credit may be due to the officer who first raised the national flag over Richmond should be given him [153] ungrudgingly. That officer was Major Atherton H. Stevens, Jr., of the Fourth Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry.

Loomis L. Langdon, Colonel First United States Artillery, Late Chief of Artillery, Twenty-fifth Corps, San Francisco.

The following is from Greeley's The American Conflict:

Major A. H. Stevens, Fourth Massachusetts, and E. Graves, of Weitzel's staff, had already hoisted two cavalry guidons over the imposing Capitol of Virginia, wherein the Confederate Congress had, since July, 1861, held its meetings; but these, being scarcely visible from beneath, were now supplanted by a real American flag, etc.

Yours respectfully,


(The above confirms the recollection of a Richmond lady, who witnessed the hauling down of the Confederate flag and the running up of the Stars and Stripes from the western slope of Strecker's hill on the day the Federal troops came into Richmond. This very subject was under discussion by the writer with the lady a few nights ago, and she insisted that the flag was a small one, and to her it looked like a yellow flag. I tried to convince her that the distance made the flag look small and that the color was not yellow. She backed down as to the color, and remarked that the smoke and flames of the burning city may have made the flag look yellow, but stuck to her recollection that the flag was a small one. The above account seems to confirm the lady's recollection, and as the command was cavalry, it may be that the company's guidon was yellow, or trimmed with yellow, thus agreeing with her account entirely.)

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