David Ritchie
The story of a young seaman from Montrose on Scotlands' North East Coast




David Ritchie


New Orleans, June 26, 1862.


DEAR SIR: I send this by the hand of David Ritchie, a young Scotch man, who, being a sailor on board the revenue-cutter McClelland, remained true and loyal. The enclosed copy of letter to General Dix and the affidavit will give the fact. I have sent him home as first officer on board the prize brig Harriet Ralli, seized by the collector. I think him worthy of promotion. Can you not give him some place on board a revenue boat?

I am, most truly, yours,


Major-General, Commanding.



Am a native of Montrose, in the north of Scotland; have lived in this country seven years;

have followed the sea as a profession since I left school. For two years prior to August, 1859, I was employed by Henry Mitchell, esq., in the U.S. Coast Survey Department. From this I enlisted on board the revenue-cutter Robert McClelland at the time she was put in commission in New York. Was at the New York station about a year, and then left for New Orleans, where the McClelland was to relieve the revenue-cutter Washington; arrived at New Orleans late in September.

After Mr. Jones, the special agent from Secretary Dix, arrived I heard Captain Hudgins, of the McClelland, say that Mr. Jones had read to them the famous order "Shoot the first man that attempts to haul down the American flag," in the cabin of the McClellan, and had placed Captain Breshwood in irons for disobedience of orders. About a week after this the revenue flag was taken down from the McClelland and placed in the signal-house. For about two weeks no flag was raised, then the secession flag was run up to the peak.

On the night of the 24th of April last the authorities here, learning that the Federal fleet had passed the forts, determined to burn the McClellan. She lay at dock in Algiers, and as they were removing such articles on her as they wished to save, I remarked to a friend that I was bound to get the old revenue flag and the secession one also. About half past 2 o'clock on the morning of the 25th April the McClelland dropped off and her anchor let go, and then was fired. Just before she dropped off I jumped aboard and went to the signal-house, where among various signal flags, I found the revenue and secession flags, and wrapped them up and carried them off, and have since kept them in my house in Algiers. I am perfectly certain and satisfied that this revenue flag is the identical one which elicited the noted order of General Dix, and that the other is the flag which had been flying from the McClellan since until the capture of the forts.


Subscribed and sworn to before me.


Provost Judge.

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