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Sale 1054 Lot 585 Sold for $29,375
LT. COMMANDER JAMES PARKER'S FLAG FROM THE SECOND BATTLE OF FORT FISHER. Handsewn with thirty-four applique stars, signed "James Parker" on the fly. Approximately 8 1/2' by 16 1/2'. Also included in this lot is a handsewn naval pennant with thirteen embroidered stars, approximately 25'l., as well as Parker's appointment to lieutenant (signed by President Pierce), a photograph of Parker in uniform, a May 1865 document related to Parker's capture of six Confederate officers, an April 1881 letter to Parker from Secretary of the Navy Hunt, and a 1911 typewritten draft of a letter from Parker to the United States Naval Academy asking to be appointed to their board.
By the end of 1864, Fort Fisher, just outside of Wilmington, North Carolina, stood as the South's last major seaport. In December of that year, the Union Army and Navy attempted to capture the fort, but the effort ended in failure. A couple of weeks later, on January 15, 1865, the Army, under Major General Alfred Terry, and Navy, under Rear Admiral David Porter, embarked on a second attempt to take the fort, this time with over 8,000 troops and 60 boats. After a brutal battle, the Union finally captured the fort and a month later dealt a major blow to the Confederacy by capturing Wilmington.
James Parker was born in Newark, Ohio, and graduated from the US Naval Academy. He served in the Navy until 1856 when he began studying law under Salmon P. Chase. According to the typewritten document included in this lot, Parker "immediately on the morning of the 13th of April, 1861, volunteered to resume [his] old place in the Navy to defend the Union." He took command of the USS Maumee
and was in charge of the 3rd Division of Fleet Captain Kidder Breese's landing part at Fort Fisher.
Parker was commended for his actions during the capture of Fort Fisher. Most notably, during the landing, he realized that he outranked Breese, but as Breese was acting under the direct command of Admiral Porter, Parker relinquished control saying, "I won't dispute about command, but will waive my rank and go into this fight at the head of my men leaving it to you to make the situation just as little disagreeable as possible."
Parker's actions that day were later complimented by Confederate Colonel William Lamb, who was in command at Fort Fisher during the attack. He wrote to Parker in 1879, "I particularly noticed in the assault an officer who seemed to lead the column and who was almost recklessly brave... When we afterwards met on board the Steamer California
...you had come to see if you could be of any service to me in my wounded condition you can imagine my surprise...to learn that you were he and the pleasure it gave me to know that so brave and gallant foe had escaped."
According to tradition, the present flag was raised at Fort Fisher upon its capture by the Union Army and Navy. The US flag gained its 35th star in 1863 with the admission of West Virginia, so it must be assumed that the flag had been owned by Parker for at least two years prior to the seige of the fort.
The flag, pennant, and the documents have remained in the possession of descendants until consigned to this auction. Estimate $ 25,000-30,000
Documents with some toning and minor damage; photograph missing two corners.
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