Captain Robert Baker Pegram, CSA
1811 - 1894

Robert Baker Pegram, son of General John Pegram and Martha Ward Gregory, was born at "Bonneville", Dinwiddie County, Virginia, 10 December 1811 . He was a noted Naval hero, whose life accomplishments go beyond the scope of this brief biography. For those interested in further information, The Virginia Cavalcade  carried an article "Captain Robert Pegram: Hero Under Four Flags," which details some of his remarkable naval career. It contains a portrait of him and illustrations of some of the ships that he commanded. His sword of honor, bestowed upon him by a grateful State of Virginia, is now in the Confederate Museum in Richmond. Robert Baker Pegram entered the United States Navy as a midshipman 2 February 1829, and received regular and uninterrupted promotions. He served in the Mediterranean, Japan and East India Squadrons, and in the famous Wilkes Expedition. His most celebrated service was the capture of a piratical flotilla in the Sea of China. He took sixteen Junks, with one hundred cannons, inflicting a loss of one hundred men. He received recognition from the British Commander in the expedition, and her Majesty, Queen Victoria.

Robert Baker resigned from the United States Navy on 17 April 1861, and was made a Captain in the Confederate Navy. He was placed in command of the Norfolk Navy Yard. He disabled the steamer Harriet Lane by his batteries at Pigs Point. He commanded the steamer Nashville, and captured the Harvey Burch in the English Channel. He superintended the armament of the iron-clad Richmond. Funds were raised to purchase what was termed the volunteer navy of the State. He went to England for that purpose and had a vessel ready when Appomattox occurred

After the war Captain Pegram was able to join his family and engage in civilian pursuits. He was listed as a Vestryman of Bristol Parish in 1871. He was appointed Superintendent of the Petersburg Railroad. After three years he joined the new Life Insurance Company of Virginia, in 1871. In 1873 he was made General Agent at Norfolk. He was Vestryman at Saint Pauls Church there, when it was restored in 1892. Captain Pegram remained in Norfolk until his death on 24 October 1894. He was buried there in the old part of Elmwood Cemetery, known as Cedar Grove.

Robert Baker married Lucy Binns Cargill who was born 31 May 1814 and died 1 June 1870. She was the daughter of the Reverend John Cargill, Rector of St. Andrews Parish, Sussex County, Virginia, and Lucy Binns, daughter of Charles Binns of Sussex  Here you can find "Weiland", their family home. Their descendants are covered here in the Pegram family file.

The Richmond (Virginia) Dispatch in1861 carried the following article about Robert Baker Pegram:

"The London Illustrated News, of the 30th November last, contained a spirited woodcut of the capture and burning of the Harvey Burch by the Confederate Steamer Nashville, and thus speaks of the officers of the latter vessel.

Captain Pegram is an old officer of the United States Navy, and bore a conspicuous part in the Mexican War, in the Paraguay and Japan Expeditions, and during the war waged by the English and French in China. For his distinguished services, his native state, Virginia, voted him, by the unanimous voice of the General Assembly of the Legislature, a splendid sword, and Sir John Stilling, in his dispatches to the Admiralty, makes the following mention of him:

It is impossible to speak too highly of the American cooperating party engaged. They were with the Rattler, emulating each other, in the thickest of the attack; but my warmest thanks in particular, are due to Lieutenant Pegram, the American senior officer; his encuragemert of the men, and coolness under a heavy fire, and determined bravery, when surrounded by a persevering and revengeful foe, were conspicuous to all."

The following obituary appeared in the Norfolk Virginian:


Like many of his comrades, sailors and soldiers, officers and privates, Captain Pegram, who died yesterday, gave his sword and his service to Virginia, when the crisis was presented to him, without a moment's question or hesitation. In doing so he relinquished the certainty of that promotion which, attending upon the career of a gallant and able officer, in the old service, would have made him an Admiral in the Navy of the United States. He was as modest and gentle as a woman, as fearless as Julius Caesar, spotless in his private character, chivalrous in bearing, and without reproach in every relation of life. His memory will be ever a precious heritage to his friends, as his record will be a shining example to his fellow citizens of Norfolk. Peace be unto him.

Source:  Samuel W. Simmons: The Pegrams Of Virginia And Their Descendants; Atlanta Georgia, 1984

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