Pair of Post-War Army of Northern Va. Flags from Hickory Hill Plantation
Pair of Post-War Army of Northern Va. Flags from Hickory Hill Plantation – This pair of ANV, printed cotton flags were discovered, along with 4 other flags by John G. Wickham, Great-Great Grandson of Gen. Williams Carter Wickham (1820 – 1888), at Gen. Wickham’s ancestral home, Hickory Hill, in Hanover County, Virginia. The flags were discovered in the back of a small storage closet under the stairway leading to the third floor of the manor house, at Hickory Hill, around 1987. The flags remained in the uninterrupted care of Mr. Wickham until 2006. Both flags are still attached to their original light wood staffs, with turned, pointed tops on both staffs. Both of the staffs are broken, just beneath the slotted attachment area of the bottom part of each flag. The flags are attached to the staffs through a long, narrow slot in the wood, then, the staff slots were joined, clamping the flag fabric, via three long iron staple-like devices. These iron staples are not of the 20th century variety. The flags are in reasonably good, albeit somewhat faded and soiled condition, still exhibiting strong color. One of the flags has about a 4” to 5” tear, in the lower point of attachment area to the staff – this could readily be repaired when the flag was mounted. These flags appear to date from the latter quarter of the 19th century and may very well have been the possessions of Gen. Wickham. The buyer of the flags will be provided with a notarized letter of provenance, signed by Gen. Wickham’s Great-Great Grandson. Both flags measure as follows: Width – 34” Height -25.5”
Williams Carter Wickham was the son of William Fanning Wickham and Anne Butler (née Carter) Wickham. His paternal grandfather was John Wickham, the famed constitutional lawyer. Wickham was born in Richmond, Virginia, but spent much of his youth on his father’s 3,200-acre plantation, Hickory Hill, which is located about 20 miles north of Richmond and 5 miles east of Ashland, in Hanover County, Va. Hickory Hill was long an outlying appendage to Shirley Plantation, with much of the property having come into possession of the Carter family by a deed dated March 2, 1734.
Williams Wickham was graduated from the University of Virginia and was admitted to the bar, in 1842. He married Lucy Penn Taylor and had several children. He became a justice and was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1849. In 1858, Wickham was commissioned captain of a Virginia volunteer militia cavalry unit, and in 1861 he was elected, by the people of Henrico County, to the state convention, as a Unionist, where he voted against the articles of secession.
In September 1861, at the onset of the Civil War, Wickham was commissioned, by Governor John Letcher of Virginia, as a lieutenant colonel of the Fourth Virginia Cavalry. On May 4, 1862, he incurred a severe saber wound during a cavalry charge, at the Battle of Williamsburg. Because of the severity of his injury, Wickham was captured, but was quickly paroled. In August 1862, he was commissioned Colonel of the Fourth Virginia Cavalry. At the Battle of Sharpsburg, he was wounded again, this time in the neck, by a shell fragment. He would recover to participate in the battles of Chancellorsville, Brandy Station and Gettysburg.
Wickham was commissioned brigadier general on September 9, 1863, and put in command of Wickham’s brigade, of Fitzhugh Lee‘s division. On May 11, 1864, he fought at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, where Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart was mortally wounded. During this engagement, Stuart’s final order was: “Order Wickham to dismount his brigade and attack.”
Wickham resigned his commission on October 5, 1864, and took his seat in the Second Confederate Congress, to which he had been elected, while in the field. Gen. Wickham soon realized that the Confederacy was near its demise, so he participated in the Hampton Roads Conference, in an attempt to bring an early end to the war.
Throughout the years after the Civil War, while developing railroads, Wickham also maintained an active political life. He maintained his offices in Richmond and at his residence in Hanover County. He was elected chairman of the Hanover County, Virginia Board of Supervisors in 1871 and a Senator, in the upper house of the Virginia General Assembly, in 1883. Wickham was an officer of the C&O, holding all of the aforementioned, at the time of his death, on July 23, 1888, at his office in Richmond. Wickham was interred in Hickory Hill Cemetery near Ashland, Virginia. A statue of Williams Carter Wickham was donated to the City of Richmond, by the general’s comrades and employees of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, in 1891 and was placed in Monroe Park, a city park in Richmond. ON HOLD