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 Surrender of Norfolk - Entering the city May 10, 1862



General Viele sets to work at once, and prepares for his arduous and responsible duties.  His first public act is to issue the following proclamation:


Norfolk, VA, May 10 1862 – The occupation of the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth is for the purpose of the protection of the public property and the maintenance of the public laws of the United States.  Private avocations and domestic quiet will not be disturbed, but violations of order and disrespect to the Government will be followed by immediate arrest of the offenders.

Those who have left their homes under the anticipation of any acts of vandalism may be assured that the Government allows no man the honor of serving in its armies who forgets the duties of a citizen in discharging those of a soldier, and that no individual right will be interfered with.  The sale of liquor is prohibited.

The office of the Military Governor and Provost Marshal are at the Custom House.

Egbert L. Viele

Some five thousand or more of the populace are now assembled around City Hall.  It is a motley crowd, composed of white men, white women, white children, negroes of all classes, ages, and shades of color, half breeds, and hosts of small picaninnies.  The Mayor observes that they are very much excited, and evidently desirous of knowing what has been done.  He steps forward and speaks to the people.


He tells them that the Confederates have evacuated the city; that Major General Huger has advised them to surrender to the national forces; that they have been left without any protection whatever; he tells them that their port is blockaded and their business crippled, and that all seems to him chaos and dissatisfaction.  The national forces had approached, and virtually taken possession of the city.  He had met their commanding general at the outskirts of the town, and was most cordially received by Gen. Wool, who had acted in the most gentle-manly, kind, and soldier like manner towards him and the Committee of Councils.  A treaty had been made between the civil and national officers to the effect that the city should be delivered over to the charge of the latter.  Gen. Wool had promised protection to the people, and issued a fair and honorable proclamation, setting forth the designs of the Government, declaring that everybody would be allowed to carry on their business as usual, with all the rights and privileges due to quiet and peace-abiding citizens.  In conclusion, Mayor Lamb, with tears streaming from his eyes, remarked that he had done all that he could for his beloved native city, in this her hour of trial.  He hoped that what he had done would be acceptable to the people.  He thought he had done what was right.

The Mayor was frequently interrupted with applause, and at the conclusion of his remarks was saluted with three times three by the people.


General Viele then came forward to a second story window, and looked down upon the populace.  The cheering had not quite ceased when a man discharged a pistol, aimed apparently at his head.  The man, however, afterwards came up and apologized for what he had done, saying that he meant no harm, did not aim the pistol at the general, and that it was not loaded with ball.  He was one of Mayor Lamb’s policemen, and had only discharged the weapon in a moment of enthusiastic excitement.  General Viele dismissed him with some good and wholesome advice.

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Surrender of Nofolk Continued

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Source of Information

The Press, Philadelphia, PA Newspaper, Tuesday, May 13, 1862.

Image from Harper's Weekly May 24, 1862.