Flags of the Hawkins Zouaves
The following information is relating to the flags that were used by the Ninth (9th) New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment during its existence. Anyone wishing to submit additional information or resources regarding the regiment please contact the Webmaster.
On June 5th, 1861, as the regiment prepared to leave New York for Newport News, Virginia, the regiment left from its camp on Riker's Island and taking a steam tug landed at the foot of Thirteenth street along the East River, the regiment formed into line on Thirty-fourth street, and marched to the residence of the Honorable A.W. Griswold on Fifth Avenue. Here they were formed in line at the residence and received a handsome flag on behalf of Mrs. Alma W. Griswold. Reverend Dr. Gardiner Spring delivered the following address as he presented the flag to Colonel Hawkins:
”Colonel Hawkins, Officers and Soldiers of the Ninth Regiment New York Volunteers – I have been requested by Mrs. Griswold, now here, to present to you this splendid emblem of our nationality, and I desire to do this with a few introductory remarks. I, who for over fifty years have been enlisted under the banner of the Prince of Peace, find myself in exactly such a novel position as yourselves, who have enlisted in the noble cause of defending your country against a band of outlaws who, defying all law and righteousness, are striving to overthrow this, the happiest government on earth. Secession dates as far back as the days when the ten tribes of Israel were lost, and even further, for the devil himself was a secessionist. I look upon this controversy as the most wicked ever got up by man, and give you my blessing. The blessings and prayers of the whole civilized world are with you. I pledge myself that the blessings and prayers of the Brick church shall not be wanting. May the God of battles be with you, and in the house of danger hover over your heads. Accompanying this flag is a letter from Mrs. Griswold, which I will read for you, as follows:
No. 381 Fifth Avenue, June 5, 1861. Colonel Hawkins: Sir – I have the honor to present to you for your gallant regiment of Zouaves these colors. The Union, of which this flag is the emblem, was established by our fathers. Its cost was the price of blood. To their children they have confided the trust of guarding and upholding it. What obligations can be more sacredly binding upon them? For more than three quarters of a century this ensign has commanded the respect of every nation and people on land and sea. While thirty millions of people under its folds were enjoying life, liberty and pursuit of happiness was no other people ever did, traitors have raised their fratricidal hands against it. The government has called upon its loyal citizens to come to its defense. The alacrity and zeal with which you and others have responded to that call, awaken in our bosoms the liveliest emotions of gratitude. It is beyond our province to follow this standard to the field of battle, but we can and will follow with our prayers and blessings those who hear it, imploring Him who holds in His hand the destinies of nations to protect and preserve those who stand by their country's flag in its hour of peril, and that He will speedily restore reason and loyalty to that rash and misguided people who have assailed it. Accept for yourself and fellow officers and your noble regiment of Zouaves my kind wishes. - MARY ADELAIDE GRISWOLD.”
Taking the flag Colonel Hawkins thanked Mrs. Griswold for the gift on behalf of the men, at the same time promising, “never to surrender the banner except with his life. For his men he hazarded little in making a similar promise. He intended that the Stare and Stripes just presented to him should come out of the struggle without stain or blemish, and to this end he pledged his entire command.” The flag was then handed to the Color Sergeant and presented to the men, after which they marched off to receive their regimental colors just a short time later.
The flag itself was of the regulation size (at that time regulation flags were 6 ft. by 6 ft.) and was trimmed with gold, and having golden silk tassels. The flag staff bore a plaque of square plate silver with the following inscription: “PRESENTED BY MRS. ALMA W. GRISWOLD NINTH REGIMENT N. Y. V., JUNE 5, 1861. LEXINGTON, APRIL 19, 1776. BALTIMORE, APRIL 19, 1861. MEMORIA IN ETERNA.”
After being mustered out of service in May of 1863 the National Flag was among the flags that were kept by the regiment, and was deposited with the New York State Military Museum in Albany, New York, in April of 1899 along with the other flags of the regiment. The flag is currently in the collection of the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs, New York.
On June 5th, 1861, the regiment received this flag (following the presentation of the National Flag only a short time before) at the home of Mrs. William B. Moffatt at Fifth Avenue, where it was drawn up in line and a presentation made by the Reverend Frederick S. Wiley on behalf of Mrs. Moffatt who had obtained the flag for the regiment. Following a short speech by Rev. Wiley Colonel Hawkins made his reply in which he repeated his determination to never surrender the flag except with his life's blood, and the regiment was then pledged to stand by the colors at any cost, and bring them back from the war as unsullied as when they were presented. The flag was then handed to the Color Sergeant, at which time the men of the regiment got a first hand look, the flag was of double red silk, being six feet by eight feet in length, with gold fringe, painted on the flag on both sides was the inscription “NINTH REGIMENT, NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. TOUJOURS PRET.” Mounted on the staff was a silver plate with the inscription “Presented by Mrs. Wm. B. Moffatt, to the New York Zouaves, June 5, 1861," and on the spear surmounting the whole are the words, “Ninth Regiment, New York Volunteers, Colonel R. C. Hawkins.”
At the battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg), Maryland, on September 17th, 1862, as the regiment advanced against Confederate positions the National & Regimental colors were shot down. Lieutenant Matthew J. Graham of the regiment remembered looking up and finding that the regiments color guard had all fallen and that the flags were laying on the ground, a few men stepped forward to attempt to raise the flags however were hit before they could reach them, then Captain Adolphe Libaire of Company E dashed forward and picked up the fallen regimental flag, and raising the flag up he waved it over his head and hollered to his men “Up, damn you, and forward!” and then started forward on his own. The National flag was soon picked up by Captain Lawrence Leahy of Company I and Leahy and the other men of the regiment quickly followed behind Captain Libaire and drove the Confederates from their position. For this action in September of 1862 Captain Libaire would be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on April 2nd, 1898, the citation stating that “In the advance on the enemy and after his color bearer and the entire color guard of 8 men had been shot down, this officer seized the regimental flag and with conspicuous gallantry carried it to the extreme front, urging the line forward.”
After being mustered out of service in May of 1863 the Regimental Flag was among the flags that were kept by the regiment, and was deposited with the New York State Military Museum in Albany, New York, in April of 1899 along with the other flags of the regiment.
The regimental flag originally measured 6 ft. by 8 ft., however due to its use about 45% of the flags fly end has been lost, and it measures 63 1/2” on the hoist and 51” on the fly. It is made of red silk and is composed of two pieces with a gold metallic fringe; the painting on both sides of the flag is in gold paint. The flag was recently restored (2010) and is currently in the collection of the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs, New York.
During the War each regiment carried two “flank markers” which were in the care of the left and right general guides of the regiment, the purpose of these flags being to keep the alignment and direction of march of the regiment. These two flanks markers were among the flags kept by the regiment following the end of their service in May of 1863, and were deposited with the New York State Military Museum in Albany, New York, in April of 1899 along with the other flags of the regiment.
The two flags measure 28 3/4’ on the hoist and 29 3/4” on the fly and the second flag being 29 1/4” on the hoist and 29 3/4” on the fly, they are painted in gold paint on both the front and backs, with the inscription reading backwards on the reverse of each of the markers. They are currently in the collection of the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs, New York.
On June 3rd, 1861, at the regimental camp on Riker’s Island, New York, the men of Companies A, C, D, & G were formed and a set of colors were presented to the men of Company C by the ladies of Hoboken, New Jersey. The following article describing the presentation of the flag is taken from the “New York Times.”
“Yesterday afternoon a beautiful stand of colors was presented to Company C, Captain Parisen, of Hawkins' Zouaves, on the parade ground at Riker's Island, by the ladies of Hoboken. The lady of Captain Parisen also presented an elaborately finished set of colors to the officers of Companies A, C, D and G of the regiment. As it was generally understood that the Zouaves would leave this morning for the seat of war. Crowds of people visited the island yesterday for the purpose of exchanging parting greetings with the soldiers so that by three o'clock, the hour at which the ceremony of presentation took place, the whole island was thickly covered by the people, the fairer portion of humanity, of course, being fully represented. The presentation above alluded to, took place on a beautiful plain in the rear of the barracks, which had been used as a parade ground by the regiment, and the scene was one well calculated to inspire both military and patriotic ardor. The regiment, now numbering eight hundred men, was drawn up in line, and though they had had their muskets only three days, every man looked as if he had been perfectly familiar with his piece for as many years--so precise and admirable were the movements performed. The donors of both flags are all fair Hobokenites, and the work displayed on the glorious emblems on the union are well worthy of the delicate hands who performed it in the midst of "Elysian scenery," for which their little city is celebrated. The following are the names of some of the ladies who toiled at and assisted in the presentation of the flags: Mrs. C.E. Moss, Mrs. Hall, Mrs. Pierce, Mrs. Leager and Mrs. B.G. Campbell. After the presentation the regiment was put through a very rigid drill, in which they acquitted themselves remarkably well.”
The exact fate of these flags presented to Company C is unknown at this time.
When the regiment was mustered out of service in May of 1863 all regimental property was turned over to the proper United States and New York State authorities, excepting the flags of the regiment. By a unanimous vote of the members of the regiment at that time it was decided to retain these, and as such they were entrusted to the care of Colonel Rush C. Hawkins. As Matthew J. Graham (Companies A, F, & H) recorded in his 1900 history of the regiment “The ex-members of the regiment, both collectively and individually, felt that they had full proprietary rights in them, and these rights they wished to exercise…..When the survivors of the regiment formed the Hawkins’ Zouaves Association, it was formally decided by that body that their flags which had waved over them in the hour of victory, and under the folds of which so many of their comrades had given up their lives, would, under the then existing conditions, be safer in their own custody than in that of the State.”
As such the flags were kept safe in the care of the Colonel and other members of the regiment, and were only removed on occasions of importance, among the leading use of the flags after the war was their use to escort the remains of members of the regiment as they passed away, during these times the flag was unfurled as the bugler would play taps, at the conclusion of which they were once again furled. As the years passed and the flags became more and more frayed and worn and the members of the regiment decided that the flags needed to be placed where they could be care for and protected, in April of 1899 it was decided to deposit the flags with the State of New York. As such the following letter was sent to then Governor Theodore Roosevelt of New York:
"Headquarters, Hawkins’ Zouaves Association,No. 74 William Street, New York, April 17, 1899.Hon. Theodore Roosevelt, Governor State of New York. Dear Sir: - The Battle Flags of the Ninth New York Volunteers (Hawkins’ Zouaves) will be deposited in the Capital at Albany on Thursday, the 20th inst. It has always been a matter of pride to the relatives and friends of the regiment, as well as to its surviving members, that if any comrade should be taken away the old colors would accompany his remains to his last resting place. But time and former service have made sad havoc with the material of which they are made, and they can now no longer be unfurled with safety. We are, therefore, about to deposit the, in the place reserved for their perpetual care and protection. We deem it a special privilege to perform this patriotic duty during the term of your administration. You have shown your devotion to your country and its flag during the recent war with Spain, and we are sure you will be better able to appreciate our feelings in parting with our dear old colors. Should your public duties permit, it would afford the old veterans of the Ninth the greatest pleasure to have you present on this occasion with such members of your official staff as could be present to witness the ceremony. With the kindest regards and best wishes from all the comrades, I am, most respectfully yours, James H. Folan, Secretary.Official, James R. Whiting, President."
The date selected for the presentation of the colors to the state was April 20th, 1899, in Albany, New York, the date of the anniversary of the formation of the regiment in 1861, and at which time they would be holding the regimental reunion. On the day designated twenty-five members of the regiment boarded the train from New York City to Albany, New York, to present the colors to Governor Roosevelt; those members being Robert Bradley (Company H), Frank Burke (Company E), Charles Curie (Company C), George W. Debevoise (Companies A & C), Thomas Farley (Company K), Thomas Flockton (Companies D & F), James H. Folan (Company B), Matthew J. Graham (Companies A, F, & H), John Hassall (Company C), Frank Heckler (Company I), James B. Horner (Companies A, B, & D), Richard H. Jackson (Companies A, D, H, & I), John W. Jacobus (Company A), J.C. Julius Langbein (Company B), Louis Layman (Company D), George L. Loughlin (Company I), John T. Miller (Company B), George W. Rogers (Company B), William H. Rogers (Company D), Peter J.L. Searing (Company D), Valentine M.C. Silva (Company K), Thomas Stapleton (Company K), William H. Stevens (Company A), Samuel Tait (Company F), George Teller (Company G) and Daniel T. Van Duser (Company A). Upon arriving in Albany the veterans proceeded to the State House and were taken into the State Executive Chamber, for the purpose of placing the flags in the care of the State of New York Capital Museum. As Captain James R. Whiting, the President of the Hawkins Zouaves Association, was unable to be present Matthew J. Graham, then serving as Vice President of the Association, represented the organization in the ceremony. The ceremony begun with the sounding of assembly by Thomas Flockton who had served as the Chief Bugler of the regiment during the war, and was followed by an address by Graham in which he stated “Governor Roosevelt, we come to part for the last time with our old friends, our comrades, with whom we have fought in life but whom we cannot take with us in death. We leave them in your hands, to the care of the State.” This was followed by a brief address from Governor Roosevelt, a sketch of the regiment and the actions and men that the flags flew over by George Debevoise, and were closed with Bugler Flockton sounding taps as the flags were handed over to Adjutant General Andrews of New York who carried the flags to the museum where they were placed.
The flags while being deposited with the collection were still used occasionally by the members of the regiment after 1900, and made appearances at the funerals of its members as well as being carried several times in the 1920’s in parades and memorial services. An example of this may be found in the documentary “The Civil War” by Ken Burns in which actual footage of members of the regiment are shown with the Regimental flag while another veteran announces that “this is the flag of the Hawkins Zouaves.”