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1869.] LETTER FROM CAPTAIN G. V. FOX. 135
A stated monthly meeting of the Society was held this day,
Thursday, the 12th of August ; Vice-President Aspinwall, in
the absence of the President, in the chair.
The Recording Secretary read the record of the last meeting.
In the absence of the Librarian, the donations for the past
month were announced by the Recording Secretary.
Among those especially noticed, was a copy of " The Official
Correspondence on the Claims of the United States in respect
to the ' Alabama,' " London, 1867, — presented by Mr. Adams.
In reference to this publication, Mr. Adams remarked that
it does not contain all the correspondence relating to the
" Alabama" in which he took part, as the date upon the title-
page of the volume would indicate. It was published by
Lord Russell in vindication of himself.
The thanks of the Society were presented to Mr. Adams
for the gift.
A copy of the original picture of the old house in Dock
Square, built in 1680, and a copy of Paul Revere's picture of
the Boston Massacre, were presented to the Society by Mr.
William H. Keith, of Charlestown, for which the thanks of
the Society were ordered.
Mr. Whitney read the following letter from Captain G. V.
Fox, lately the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, addressed to
Mr. Winthrop : —
Lowell, Mass., July 10th, 1869.
Hon. Robert C. Winthrop,
President Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Mass.
Sir, — Mr. H. A. Whitney, a member of your Society, is kind
enough to inform me that it will be agreeable to yourself and asso-
ciates to receive for preservation a number of rebel flags, which have
been saved from those acquired during the rebellion by the navy under
the administration of Mr. Welles.
136 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Aug.
Accordingly I have sent to him, for presentation to the Massachu-
setts Historical Society, eight flags, numbered and described as fol-
lows : —
No. 1. The flag of Fort Walker, Hilton Head, Port Royal, South Carolina.
Captured by the naval forces under the command of Rear- Admiral S. F. Dupont,
Nov. 7, 1861.
No. 2. A flag found amongst the property abandoned after the above action.
It is supposed to be the State flag of South Carolina.
No. 3. The flag of Fort Henry, Tennessee River. Captured by the naval
forces under the command of Rear- Admiral A. H. Foote, Feb. 6, 1862.
No. 4. The flag of Fort St. Philip, Mississippi River. Captured after the
memorable forcing of the defences to New Orleans by the navy, under Admiral
D. G. Farragut, April 24, 1862.
No. 5. The new flag adopted by the rebels in 1863. Captured by a naval
force under the command of Commodore John Rodgers, June 17, 1863. An in-
teresting letter from that distinguished officer, describing the capture of the iron-
clad " Atlanta," is enclosed.
No. 6. The flag of the iron-clad " Tennessee." Captured by a naval force under
the command of Admiral D. G. Farragut, on the day of his successful entrance
into Mobile Bay, Aug. 5, 1864.
No. 7. The admiral's flag of the rebel Buchanan, who commanded the " Ten-
nessee " in the above action.
No. 8. The flag of Fort Caswell, left flying upon the flagstaff of that fort,
after its evacuation, consequent upon the capture of the defences of Cape Fear
River by the United-States forces, under the command of Vice-Admiral D. D.
Porter and Major-General A. H. Terry.
These are truly the flags which were forwarded to Washington,
with the official reports announcing the victories which are enumerated.
They were placed at my disposal by the Department, because it was
deemed unadvisable to preserve at the National Capitol the evidences
of internecine strife.
Most respectfully your obedient servant,
G. V. Fox.
The letter of Commodore John Rodgers, referred to, de-
scribing the capture of one of these flags (No. 5), under his
command, here follows : —
U. S. Navy Yard, Boston,
Commandant's Office, June 14th, 1869.
Sie, — It gives me much pleasure to repeat the history of the
Confederate flag in your possession, captured on board the " Atlanta."
The history of the flag is so connected with the performance of the
15-inch guns, which you introduced into the service, that to tell the
one involves some account of the other.
1869.] LETTER OF COMMODORE JOHN RODGERS. 137
The previous flag of the Confederacy had been the stars and bars ;
but a strong current of adversity had set against the fortunes over
which it waved, and the rebel government chose a new ensign.
I was told that this new flag was first hoisted in action on board
the iron-clad " Atlanta."
The monitor " Weehawken," under my command, was sent to War-
saw Sound by Admiral Dupont, to prevent the rebel iron-clad " At-
lanta " from getting to sea from Savannah by that passage. Subse-
quently the monitor "Nahant," Commander John Downes, was sent
to the same place, to reinforce the " Weehawken."
On June 17, 1863, it was reported to me at daylight that the
" Atlanta " was coming down the Wilmington river. I was incredu-
lous, not believing that she would venture to attack two monitors ; but
a glance through a spy-glass convinced me that it was true.
We were riding to the flood-tide, heading towards the sea, without
room to turn.
As before decided upon, in case an attack should be made while
thus situated, we slipped the " Weehawken's " cable, and steamed down
to a part of the channel which I had sounded and buoyed, in which
the monitors could turn with a single sweep of the helm.
The "Nahant" commenced rapidly heaving up her anchor. The
" Weehawken " passed the " Nahant " in going down, turned, and
passed her in going up. The " Nahant " ran down necessarily to the
same widening of the channel, turned as we had done, and came gal-
lantly to our support. But her services were not needed. Captain
Downes withheld his fire until he should be close alongside, under the
impression that only then would, his shot be effective. Before he
reached the position he so zealously sought, the terrible 15-inch gun
of the " Weehawken " had compelled the " Atlanta " to surrender.
At about three hundred yards from the " Atlanta," the " Wee-
hawken " fired a 15-inch cored shot, weighing three hundred and forty
pounds, with a charge of thirty pounds of powder.
I saw this shot strike on the side, and I saw splinters fly into the
air. I learned, after the action, that it had driven about two barrels
full of splinters of wood and iron into the vessel, these wounding
every man of a gun's crew stationed opposite. It made a hole through
the side, very ragged, but averaging six inches wide by three feet
long ; and it knocked down, by the mere concussion, some forty men,
who lay upon the deck stunned, and as though dead.
The crew could not know that those insensible men were not killed.
138 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Aug.
Surprised at the novel effect of the huge shot employed against them,
they ran below.
The next discharge was of two guns, the 11 and the 15-inch. The
shot from one of these, I thought from the 15-inch, struck the top of
the pilot-house, in which were four men, two pilots and two helmsmen.
It crushed down the heavy wrought iron bars ; and the four men fell
stunned and helpless upon the floor, thus preventing the trap-door
leading into the pilot-house from being raised, and thus cutting off
access to the steering gear.
There remained no means of directing the course of the " Atlanta " ;
and the crew had deserted their quarters. She surrendered.
The first shot had taken away from the crew the wish to fight ;
the second had cut off the means of escape.
The flag in your possession, which had flown so confidently over the
"Atlanta," was now hauled down, but was soon replaced by a smaller
one, — a piece of white, hurriedly cut out of the lowered ensign.
This white symbol, seen through smoke, looked blue ; and its char-
acter thus misunderstood, two more guns were fired ; but they had no
effect upon the action, since its result had been reached already.
The new flag had not changed the fortunes of the Confederacy.
So quickly had the terrible ordnance done its work, that the " Nahant "
had no opportunity of firing a shot.
Very truly yours,
Hon. G. V. Fox.
The thanks of the Society were voted to Captain Fox for
this valuable gift. The flags were exhibited in the room
during the meeting.
The Chairman spoke of the decease, since the last meeting,
of our associate, the Hon. William Brigham, and presented
from the Standing Committee the following resolutions : —
Resolved, That this Society has heard with deep regret of the death
of the Hon. William Brigham, and would here record their sense of
the great loss which the Society has sustained thereby.
Resolved, That the President be requested to appoint one from our
number to write the memoir of our late associate, for the " Pro-
1869.] COMMUNICATION FROM HON. JOHN G. PALFREY. 139
Mr. Waterston paid a fitting tribute to the character of
Mr. Brigham, and the resolutions were unanimously adopted.
The Recording Secretary read the following letter from the
President, in which mention is made of the death of Mr.
Brigham, and also of the decease of our Corresponding Mem-
ber, Mr. William Winthrop, late Consul at Malta : —
Stockbeidgs, 9th August, 1869.
Charles Deane, Esq., Secretary Massachusetts Historical Society.
My dear Sir, — As I had previously intimated, I find it impossible
for me to be at our Monthly Meeting on Thursday next.
I trust that some one or more of our associates will be prepared to
pay a just tribute to our valued friend, William Brigham. I would
uame Dr. Robbins, his classmate, for the customary memoir, if the
selection is left to me.
It is fit that I should announce, in a single word, the death of oar
Corresponding Member, William Winthrop, Esq., the late United-States
Consul at Malta. His repeated and valuable contributions to our
Library, of which still another is on the way, and a handsome bequest
to our funds, which will come to us after the expiration of one or two
lives, entitle him to be remembered among our benefactors. But I
must postpone all detailed notice of him until some future meeting.
Robert C. Winthrop.
Henry Martyn Dexter, D.D., was elected a Resident Member.
Mr. Deane laid before the meeting the following communi-
cations from the Hon. John G. Palfrey: —
Cambridge, 1869, Aug. 3.
My dear Mr. Deane, — You know that after the discomfiture of
the Stamp project, the Sons of Liberty used to celebrate the anniversary
of the enforced resignation of the distributor (Hutch, iii. 201). Pos-
sibly some future antiquary may like to inform himself as to the com-
position of the company which met for that purpose just a century
ago, and which, it may be presumed, celebrated not less hilariously be-
cause within a fortnight they had seen the last of Governor Bernard.
By placing the accompanying paper, if you think fit, in the Collections
of the Historical Society, will you provide for the satisfaction of such
a curiosity, should it arise ?
Faithfully, dear sir, your friend and servant,
John G. Palfrey.
MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
An Alphabetical List of the Sons of Liberty who dined at Liberty Tree, Dorchestet
Aug. 14, 1769.*
Adams, John, Esq*
Avery, John, Esq.
Avery, John, Jr.
Austin, Benj., Esq.
Bradford, John, Capt.
Blake, John, Capt.
Bass, Moses Belcher
Boynton, Richard, Capt.
Bradford, Jos., Jr.
Brattle, Brig. General
Bowdoin, James, Hon.
Bowman, Rev. Dan.
Barrett, John, Esq.
Cushing, Mr. Speaker
Church, Benj'., Jr.
Cheever, Wm. Downe
Chardon, Peter, Esq.
Cazneau, Andrew, Esq.
Cattle, Win., Esq., Carolina.
Cheever, Ezek., Jr., Esq.
Dana, Richard, Esq.
Dickinson, Mr., Brother to
Dawes, Thomas, Capt.
Deshon, Moses, Esq.
Dalton, James, Capt.
Dalton, Peter Roe
Dean, John, Capt.
Danforth, Samuel, Dr.
Dorrington, John, Capt.
Doane, Elisha, Major
Erving, John, Hon.
Erving, George, Esq.
Eliot, Joseph, jr.
Freeman, Jon., Capt.
Gore, John, Capt,
Gore, John, Jr.
Gardner, Joseph, Dr.
Griflfen, Wm., Esq., of Vir-
Greene, Benj., Jr.
* This paper is in the handwriting of Col. William Palfrey, the grandfather of the
Hon. J. G. Palfrey. — Eds.
1869.] SONS OP LIBERTY WHO DINED AT DORCHESTER, 1769. 141
3win, Capt, Newbury.
Gardner, Thomas, Member
Hancock, John, Esq.
Henshaw, Joshua, Esq.
Hopkins, Caleb, Capt.
Heath, William, Capt.
Henshaw, Joshua, Jr.
Homer, John, Capt.
Holmes, Benj. Mulbury
Hichborn, Thomas, Jr.
Hill, John, Esq.
Homes, William, Esq.
Hunt, Mr., Schoolmaster.
Harris, Stephen, Jr.
Jackson, Joseph, Esq.
Jeffries, John, Dr.
Jarvis, Charles, Dr.
Jeffries, David, Esq.
Johonnot, Zechary, Esq.
Kent, Benj., Esq.
Langdon, John, Jr.
Leverett, John, Capt.
Marshall, Thomas, Colonel
Marston, John, Capt.
Malcom, Daniel, Capt.
Matchett, John, Capt.
Otis, James, The Hon. jr.
Otis, Samuel Allyne
Pemberton, Samuel, Esq.
Partridge, Samuel, Capt.
Pitts, James, The Hon.
Pitts, James Jr.
Prince, Job, Capt.
Perkins, James, Jr.
Peck, Thomas Handasyd
Pattin, William, Capt.
Pulling, John, Jr.
Price, Thos. Maurice, Capt.
Pecker, James, Dr.
Phillips, William, Esq.
Power, Mr., Carolina.
Pierce, Mr., Carolina.
Quincy, Samuel, Esq.
Ruddock, John, Esq.
Rand, Isaac, Dr.
Reid, Mr., Secretary to Gov.
Read, William, Esq.
Ratcliffe, Mr., Carolina.
Swift, Samuel, Esq.
Sweetser, John, Jr.
Symmes, Eb., Capt.
Sneiling, Jona., Major
Sprague, John, Dr.
Scollay, John, Esq.
MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Storey, Elisha, Dr.
Scott, James, Capt.
Tyler, Royal, Hon.
Tyler, Thomas, Esq.
Welles, Arnold, Esq.
Wendell, John Mico
Warren, Joseph, Dr.
Wyer, Robert, Capt.
Waters, Josiah, Capt.
Williams, Joseph, Colonel
White, William, Capt.
Young, Thomas, Dr.
355,— about 300 dined.
Mr. Waterston here introduced to the meeting Mr. William
H. Dall, who gave an interesting account of his explorations,
•at the head of a scientific corps, among the Eocky Mountains,
embracing the " Alaskan Eange." He exhibited and pre-
sented to the Society a map from a drawing made at the
United-States Coast Survey Office, under his direction, from
his own surveys, which had been photographed from the
The thanks of the Society were presented to Mr. Dall for
the map and for his interesting remarks.
Mr. Parkman exhibited copies from some interesting un-
published maps of the Mississippi, and the Western lakes and
rivers, made chiefly by the early Jesuit missionaries, recently
procured in Paris.
On motion of Mr. R. Frothingham, it was —
Voted, That Mr. Parkman be requested to prepare a paper
on these maps for the Society's " Proceedings."
Mr. Parkman stated that he should be quite willing to pre-
pare an account of these maps, with fac-similes of them as
suggested; but he was now engaged in publishing a work
which would embrace much of this material.
Mr. Waterston, as the chairman of a committee from the
Natural History Society, called the attention of the members
1869.] SEPTEMBER MEETING. 143
to the approaching celebration of the Centennial Anniversary
of the birth of Alexander von Humboldt, who was at the time
of his death an Honorary Member of the Society, and sug-
gested that those who thought of attending should secure seats
together at the Music Hall, where the address by Professor
Agassiz, was to be delivered.
A stated monthly meeting of the Society was held this day,
Thursday, September 9, at eleven o'clock, a.m. ; Vice-President
Aspinwall in the chair.
The record of the last meeting was read.
The Librarian read the list of donors to the Library for the
The Cabinet-keeper read a list of the donations to the
Cabinet for the past month. These included a pair of tongs
once owned by the family of Thomas Hutchinson ; also a war-
club from the Sandwich Islands, brought thence by Captain
"William Ballard, of Boston; given by his grandson, Mr.
William Ballard, of Brooklyn, N.Y., through Mr. John J. May,
The Corresponding Secretary read letters of acceptance
from M. Thiers, of Paris ; and from Mr. William S. Appleton
and the Rev. Henry M. Dexter, of Boston.
Mr. Davis spoke of the Montcalm letters which had been
the subject of a communication from Mr. Parkman at the
June meeting, in one of which appeared some remarkable
predictions of historical events in this country, of sufficient
importance to attract the attention of Mr. Carlyle in his
"History of Frederic the Great." Mr. Davis said that Car
lyle was mistaken in supposing, as he seemed to do, that