On this day June 7, 1862 – Gen Benjamin F. Butler of Lowell, Massachusetts and the military governor of New Orleans ordered William Mumford hanged after he removed, desecrated and destroyed the US flag on display over the New Orleans Mint. Of the event – Butler himself wrote, “I thought I should be in utmost danger if I did not have him executed, for the question was now to be determined whether I commanded the city or whether the mob commanded it.”
From “A Day in the Life of the Civil War”:
North Carolina native William Bruce Mumford was hung in New Orleans, Louisiana June 7th 1862 for desecrating a United States flag.
On April 26th 1862 Union Captain Henry W Morris of the USS Pocahontas sent Marines ashore in New Orleans, Louisiana to raise a United State flag over the mint. As they raised the flag, angry New Orleans locals gathered around them. Seven of the onlooker including William Bruce Mumford decided they would remove the flag. The USS Pocahontas fired on the men and Mumford was hit with a piece of brick. Mumford took the flag carrying it to City Hall to give to the Mayor. Amid cheers from the crowd, he walked with it, all the while onlookers ripped pieces of the flag, so that Mumford deliver a tatter.
Union Major General Benjamin Butler who was in command of New Orleans arrested Mumford May 1st 1862. Mumford was charged with “high crimes and misdemeanors against the laws of the United States, and the peace and dignity thereof and the Law Martial”. He was brought before a military tribunal on May 30th 1862 and found guilty of treason. Butler issued an order to have Mumford executed. On June 7th 1862 just before noon Mumford was brought to the mint to be hung. He was given a chance to say some final words. Mumford spoke of his patriotism for the Confederacy, and his respect for the United States flag which he had fought under during the Mexican – American War.
For more see “All ABout A Flag” here at “A Day in the Life of the Civil War.”