From the Richmond Dispatch, 10/12/1889, p. 1, c. 5

History of the First Stars and Stripes the Union Troops Saw Upon Entering Richmond.

Mr. C. F. Gunther, the Chicago millionaire, and owner of all the war relics in Libby-Prison Museum of that city, was in Richmond Thursday. He was with the Chicago Knights in Washington and came here to purchase a piece of gray cassimere one yard square. The object of his visit was successfully carried out, and he gave the very modest sum of $200 for a piece of moth-eaten cloth little larger than a towel.


The history of the cassimere in question is in its way rather interesting.

In the year 1856 Miss Rachael Semon (now Madame L. Louis) prepare a piece of embroidery for a fair that was held in the Old-Market Hall. The design, which was executed in colored silks, represented General Washington mounted. In his right hand he held aloft the American flag of thirteen stars and stripes, with the other he waved his hat, while his horse trod under the foot of the British flag. The design was also touched up with paint in order to perfect it, and was about two and a half feet square.

The embroidery was exhibited at several subsequent fairs, taking a premium at each, and was after a time consigned to a resting-place behind the bureau in the room of its maker.


Evacuation-day, April 3, 1865, found the Federal troops entering Richmond after a four-years’ trial.

The first troops to pass up Main street was a detachment of the Fourth Massachusetts cavalry under the command of Major Arthur H. Stephens. Mr. Semon’s residence was at 1322 Main street, near Fourteenth, lately occupied by Andrew Evensen as a saloon and dwelling. All the morning rioting and pillage had been going on, participated in by the scum of the city’s population.


Seeing the cavalrymen approaching in the midst of all this disorder the citizens knew not what next to expect, and between grief and fear were nearly wild. Every mind was strained to conjure up some means of safety for themselves and family. Suddenly Miss Semon bethought herself of the old embroidery on which was the miniature American flag. Jerking it from its dusty hiding-place where it had lain for several years she waved it out of the window, a signal of distress so to speak – an appeal for protection.

The soldiers at this time were just abreast the house, and seeing the Stars and Stripes flaunting to the breeze in the capital of the Southern Confederacy gave an involuntary cheer.

Major Stephens gave the command to halt and the troop was drawn up in a semicircle and saluted the flag. A guard was left to protect the inmates of the house.


Several weeks ago Madame Louis wrote to Mr. Gunther giving the history of the flag (?) and offering to sell it to him for his war museum.

Mr. Gunther at once replied and offered to pay $100, which was refused.

Madame Louis then put the matter in the hands of her counsel, Mr. William Flegenheimer, who again wrote Mr. Gunther.

On last Thursday morning Mr. Flegenheimer received a telegram from Mr. Gunther to the effect that he would be in Richmond that afternoon, and that he would like to see the flag and owner.


At the appointed hour Mr. Gunther met Madame Louis and Mr. Flegenheimer in the office of the latter. He looked at the flag, which was yellow with age, full of moth-holes, and apparently worthless, and at once said he would take it at the price asked - $200.

He took the affidavit of Madame Louis as to the truth of the above narrative and genuineness of the flag, and in less time than it takes to read this was ready to leave for home, which he did that evening.


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