Saturday, January 12, 2013

I Have Served Her Forty Years

William Conway the United States Quartermaster at the Pensacola Navy Yard refused on January 12th 1861 to lower the United States flag when the fort was take over.

William Conway was born about 1802 in Camden, Maine.

When a militia force from Florida and Alabama numbering about 600, took control of the Pensacola Navy Yard [sometimes called the Warrington Navy Yard] on January 12th 1861 Confederate Lieutenant Frederick B Kinshaw ordered Conway to strike the National flag.  Conway replied, "I have served under that flag for forty years, and I won't do it."  He was placed under arrest and put in irons.  After being released Conway was commended by the Union Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles.  He was also presented with a gold medal, made in his honor from the city of San Francisco, California.

Conway lived out the rest of his life in Brooklyn, New York, dying at the Brooklyn Navy Yard November 30th 1865.  His place of burial is unknown, but there is a monument to his honor in his home town of Camden, Maine, a granite boulder with a plaque.  It is located on Elm and School Street, and was dedicated August 30th 1906.  One of the speakers at the dedication was Union General Joshua L Chamberlain who said, "Now aloft on every topmost pinnacle runs for this token the reverenced, redeemed old flag; and the authority, the dignity, the majesty of the United States of America voices in the thunder of her guns of powder what she accounts the man who, alone, amidst the threatening, the fearing, the forsaking, the surrendering, stood for her honor.”

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