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The First Flag of Truce from Fort Walker, following the Battle of Port Royal, Hilton Head, South Carolina

Object Number: 
7 November 1861
Graphite on paper
Overall: 6 5/8 x 9 7/8 in. ( 16.8 x 25.1 cm ) mat: 11 x 14 in. ( 27.9 x 35.6 cm )
Inscribed at lower center in graphite: "The first flag of truce from Ft Walker"; at lower right, indicating lower truce flag: "white handkerchief on an oar"; verso inscribed at upper center: "The first flag of truce from Fort Walker -- from a sketch by Lieut Magner & Dr Bacon --"
Civil War Drawings Collection. Early on 7 November, the Union fleet off Port Royal was drawn up in two columns and moved to the attack. The main body consisted of nine ships, with five gunboats forming the flanking column. The fight started when a gun in Fort Walker fired on the approaching fleet. Other shots followed, the fleet replied by firing on both forts, and the action became general. The ships proceeded according to orders through the first turn, but then the plan fell apart. First to leave was the third ship in the main column, Mohican, those following him were confused, so they also dropped out to bombard the Fort from a safe position. The battle continued in this way into the afternoon. Ashore, Fort Walker was suffering, and at around 1400, the men began to leave the fort, explaining that they were almost out of powder for the guns, and had therefore abandoned their position. The departure of the soldiers from the fort was noticed by sailors in the fleet, and signal was soon passed to cease fire. A boat crew led by Commander John Rodgers went ashore under a flag of truce and found the fort abandoned. Rodgers therefore raised the Union flag. No effort was made to further press the men who had just left the fort, so the entire surviving Confederate force was permitted to escape to the mainland.
Credit Line: 
James B. Wilbur Fund
John T. Kavanaugh Collection, Rutherford, New Jersey, 1945
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group