Monday, December 26, 2011

150-years-ago -- Natchitoches' Augustine Guards cavalry, infantry companies saluted

Melrose Plantation on Cane River 16 miles south of  Natchitoches was owned
by Henry and Hypolite Hertzog from 1847 to 1881. Henry Hertzog organized the
Augustine Guards, made up of "free men of color," in 1861 to defend their
homeland. Hypolite Hertzog served as a private in Company G, 3rd Louisiana
Cavalry. There was a Private H. Hertzog who served in Company G & F, 30th
Louisiana Infantry.  (Library of  Congress)

Natchitoches Union
December 26, 1861
(Excerpt from UT Texas Digital Archives)

Augustine Guards
(Translated from French)
    We had the pleasure of attending last Sunday the maneuvers performed by the cavalry squadron of Augustine Guards, and the company of infantry. These two military corps are exclusively composed of free men of color. As we said a few months ago, Mr. Henry Hertzog who took the initiative to organize people who can serve the country loyally and effectively.

     Meeting in the fields for their maneuvers, the two companies began their evolutions. The squadron of cavalry, so ably taught by Dr. Burdin was wonderful in overall accuracy. The firm and rhythmic command of the captain and officers, the intelligent zeal brought by the soldiers, and the excellent horses ridden by the squadron, all contributed to amaze the public who had come to attend these maneuvers. For us, who have often witnessed in Europe cavalry maneuvers, we admired how, in such a short time, these men were able to achieve this degree of perfection.
     The infantry company, formed well for the needs of the various drills, but we are convinced that before long, their maneuvers will run with as much precision as the cavalry.
      Let us hasten to add, before concluding, that cavalry and infantry patrols are excellent at the coast, and help to keep the peace. This fine military demonstration is enough to bring congratulations to both companies for their valuable organization.

Editorial on French Language
(same issue of Natchitoches Union)
      We have always regarded the provision of the Constitution for the publication of the laws of the State in  French as well as in English as wise and beneficent, nor do we consider it proper to dispense with the publication in both languages of those documents on which legislation is based.  It is well known that a large, influential and intelligent portion of the citizens of Louisiana speak and read French.  The publication of numerous journals in that language in Louisiana and its general and almost exclusive use by many thousands of our inhabitants, prove sufficiently the necessity and propriety of printing public documents as well as laws in their own cherished, beautiful and cultivated vernacular tongue.  When the French Creoles (then a majority) combined with other races in erecting what was once a French colony into a sovereign State, it was no part of the bargain that the language of their households, their churches and their schools should be proscribed and gradually extinguished.  Their baptismal benedictions are pronounced in French.  Their devotional services are uttered in French.  They have given their marriage vows in the tongue their mothers taught them in childhood and heard in that language the solemn burial service of parents and kindred.  It seems invidious, illiberal and unjust to compel them to read public documents, printed in part at their expense, in a language often difficult and oftener uncongenial.

It may have been in a field like this on Melrose Plantation that the Augustine
Guards held the maneuvers in December 1861. (Library of  Congress)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

150--Years-Ago ---------- Merry Christmas 1861

The Richmond Daily Dispatch
December 24, 1861

Christmas week

Christmas in the Sunny South.
(Library of Congress)
          The holiday season is about commencing, and the usual anticipations are indulged by the juveniles. The annual visit of Santa Claus, they argue, cannot be prevented by the blockade, for he comes by a route over which no Lincolnites has dominion, and where no Yankee ship can sail. Christmas this year may lack somewhat of its accustomed merriment. Indeed, there are some who affect to believe that there should be none at all; that Christmas day should be no happier or better than any other day; that there should be no roast beef, nor plum pudding, nor egg- nogg, nor good cheer of any description — and all because we are in the midst of a war, and some of our dear friends are away in the camp or the field, and cannot sit down with us at the festive board. We think such persons mistake themselves; or, if they do not, we are sorry for them. Surely we may have our pleasures at home as heretofore, relieved though they may be of excess. We can pledge the cup of kindness to the boys far away, who will be all the happier for the good wishes and tender thoughts around the family hearthstone, for which the busy whirl and work of life but seldom leaves a pause. It is pleasant to remember the times which have been, and to gather up all the kindly memories lying with them. It is pleasant, by some word or act, to remind our absent friends that they are not forgotten; and there is something in the great and general holiday that summons back the spirits of those we love, and makes them to be present with us. We can therefore afford to be happy in the Christmas time, and we would advise none to restrict their enjoyment except by the bounds of decency and reason. There is no more harm now than heretofore in extending the old English greeting--

I wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy new year;
A pocket full of money
And a cellar full of beer!

          In our perambulations about the city we have noticed evidences of extensive preparations for Christmas. Housekeepers were uncommonly solicitous at yesterday's market about the size of the turkeys and the soundness of the eggs; the confectioners have been busy with holiday "fixins" for a week past; and the boys are securing all the pop-crackers they can lay their hands on, in spite of the high prices. It looks very much like everybody was going in for a gay old time; and we have no doubt that all who choose to get tipsy will do so, although the man who keeps right side up will have the least to regret after it is all over.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

150-Year-Ago -- Col. B.F. Terry Killed in Skirmish at Woodsonville, Ky.

Col. Benjamin Franklin Terry
8th Texas Cavalry
      WOODSONVILLE, Ky. - Colonel  Benjamin Franklin Terry, commander of the 8th Texas Cavalry, better known as Terry's Texas Rangers, was killed in action this day, December 17, 1861, in a skirmish with the 32nd Indiana Infantry at Woodsonville, Kentucky.
     Ironically, Terry was killed in his native state, having been born in Russellville, Kentucky  on February 18, 1821. He moved with his family to Brazoria County, Texas in 1833 or 34. He married Mary Bingham in 1841 and the couple had three sons and three daughters. In 1851, Terry formed a partnership with William J. Kyle to build the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway from Harrisburg and Houston to the Brazos River. Terry was a member of the Texas Secession Convention in  1861 and was one of the senior officers that disarmed federal troops at Brazos Santiago in June of that year. His first service to the Confederate Army was as a volunteer aid to Brig. Gen. James Longstreet, with the rank of colonel, and took part in the First Battle of Manassas on 21 July 1861. Terry  and Thomas S. Lubbock were authorized by the War Department to raise a cavalry regiment in Texas and they formed the Rangers with 1,170 men in August of 1861.
     His men  were sworn into Confederate service in September and designated as the 8th Texas Cavalry in November. There was no uniformity of dress of the men at first. They wore clothing of red, blue, green and yellow, with sombreros, felt hats and caps. On their way to Virginia, they were diverted to Bowling Green, Kentucky where they joined Brigadier General Thomas Hindman's division of General Albert S. Johnston's army. The 8th Texas and Mississippi artillery were directed to destroy a bridge  over the Green River south of  Woodsonville. The Texans collided with the 32nd Indiana, a unit made up of German immigrants, and a sharp skirmish ensued. The Rangers charged three times before they were repulsed. Both sides withdrew from the battlefield. Colonel Terry was among the Confederate dead.
    The regiment changed it's name to Terry's Texas Rangers to honor their fallen commander. Terry's body was sent to Nashville, Tennessee where the legislature adjouned to excort the remains to the state capitol where it lay in state. Terry's remains also were given honors in New Orleans and Houston. The governor of Texas said of Terry, "no braver man ever lived-no truer patriot ever died." He was buried in Glenwood Cemetery  in Houston. Terry County was named in his honor.
     Terry's Texas Rangers went on to become one of the hardest fighting regiments in the war. It was assigned to Wheeler's, Wharton's and T. Harrison brigades. Its battle honors also include Shiloh, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga,  the Knoxville campaign, the Atlanta campaign. It also fought in defense of Savannah and the Carolinas toward the end of the war, and it surrendered with about 30 men on April 26, 1865.
     Other field officers of ther regiment included Colonels Gustave Cook, Thomas Harrison, Thomas S. Lubbock, and John A. Wharton; lieutenant colonels Samuel P. Christian, Marcus L. Evans, Stephen C. Ferrill and John G. Walker; majors William R. Jarmon and Leander M. Rayburn.

James Francis Miller was a veteran of
Terry's Texas Rangers when this photo
was taken while he was a Member of the
U.S. Congress from 1883-1887. He served
as private in Company I and was in all four
years of the war. He was born in 1830 in
South Carolina and practiced law in Gonzales, Texas.
He was the first president of the Texas Bankers' Association.
Miller died in 1902 and is buried in Masonic
Cemetery in Gonzales, Texas.
(Library of Congress)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

150-Years-Ago -- HOME FRONT NEWS

A Southern refugee family.

(Exceprts from UT-Tyler Digital Archives)

NATCHEZ DAILY COURIER, December 14, 1861, p. 1, c. 1
To Ladies of Adams County!
Can we withstand such an Appeal?
                                                                                                Nashville, Dec. 4, 1861.
My Dear Young Friend--I write to you to get your interest in sending us Hospital supplies.  I know how much you have done, and I know by experience that cotton planters have no money; but you have shirts, drawers, towels and handkerchiefs, and a thousand things that will be very acceptable.  At first, we thought we would only appeal to the people of Tennessee, but since Nashville has been made the great Hospital, we will be forced to ask aid of our friends in the other States.  We have sick men here from Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  In our Hospital there are at least 2000 sick; measles and the consequences and typhoid fever are the prevailing diseases.
You would not know my beautiful drawing rooms--mirrors and chandeliers in bags, furniture and carpets removed to the garret, and ten sick men lying there--four hovering between life and death.
           I have slept on a sofa in my library for four nights, with an alarm clock at my head to wake me every two hours.  Many other houses in the city are in the same situation."
           The above is an extract from a letter, received by a lady in this county, from one of the Vice Presidents of the Soldiers' Relief Society of Nashville, Tenn.  The recipient of this letter publishes it, hoping that the already liberal women of Adams county will send all the Hospital stores, such as mattresses, comforts, sheeting, pillows, whiskey, brandy, sage, &c., they can spare, to care of Mr. Jas. Carradine, Main street.  There they will be packed and sent by the first of January, to Nashville, in the name of the Ladies of Adams county.  Let us do all we can for our poor distressed soldiers--maybe we will be but helping our own. 

NATCHEZ DAILY COURIER, December 17, 1861, p. 1, c. 1
          Help One Another.  Every one connected with the printing business is laboring under the disagreeable trouble of procuring a sufficiency of paper.  Clean rags are scarce for the supply of paper-mills.  Now our planters can help us out, if they will but save and bale their refuse cotton.  We understand the paper-mills will pay three cts. per pound for this article, and that a market can be found at B. S. Tappan's, Vicksburg, Miss. at the same price.  Let our planters consider this matter, and help us to obtain more paper and of larger size and better quality. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

150-Years-Ago --- Rose Greenhow's Letter of Defiance from Jail

The Richmond Daily Dispatch
December 11, 1861

The cowardly Despotism at Washington.

[From the Richmond Whig, Dec. 3.]

     Through the instrumentality of one of Seward's confidential agents, we have come in possession of the following letter, addressed by a brave and noble woman, to Lincoln's vizier. We are given to understand, that the perusal of it was not without visible effect upon that impersonation of all human villainy. The twitchings of the muscles, and his agitated manner betrayed, not perhaps, any compunction, but a sense of personal insecurity at the hands of the avenging Nemesis.
     This letter is the most graphic sketch, yet given to the world, of the cruel and dastardly tyranny, which the Yankee Government has established at Washington. Russell, in one of his letters to the London Times, mentions the expedient of " arrest by telegraph," which has been introduced by Seward, as something new and appalling, and outstripping all the ingenious contrivances of all the despotisms that ever existed. But the incarceration and torture of helpless women and the outrages heaped upon them, as detailed in this letter, will more shock manly natures, and stamp the Lincoln dynasty everywhere with undying infamy.
     The letter tells its own tale, and may be relied on as a true copy of the original, in the hands of Wm. H. Seward:

Mrs. Rose Greenhow, Confederate Patriot
(Library of Congress)
Washington, Nov. 17, 1861, 398 16th st.
To the Hon. Wm. H. Seward, secretary of State:

     For nearly three months I have been confined, a close prisoner, shut out from air and exercise, and denied all communion with family and friends
     "Patience is said to be a great virtue," and I have practiced it, to my utmost capacity of endurance.
     I am told, sir, that upon your ipse dixit, the fate of citizens depends, and that the sign manual of the ministers of Louis the Fourteenth and Fifteenth, was not more potential in their day, than that of the Secretary of State in 1861.
     I, therefore, most respectfully submit, that on Friday, August 23d, without warrant or other show of authority, I was arrested by the Detective Police, and my house taken in charge by them: that all my private letters, and papers of a lifetime, were read and examined by them: that every law of decency was violated in the search of my house and person, and by the surveillance over me.
     We read in history, that the poor Maria Antoinette had a paper torn from her bosom by lawless hands, and that even a change of linen had to be effected in sight of her brutal captors. It is my sad experience to record even more revolting outrages than that, for during the first days of my imprisonment, whatever necessity forced me to seek my chamber, a detective stood sentinel at the open door. And thus for a period of seven days I, with my little child, was placed absolutely at the mercy of men without character or responsibility; that during the first evening, a portion of these men became brutally drunk, and boasted in my hearing of the "nice times" they expected to have with the female prisoners; and that rude violence was used towards a colored servant girl during that evening, the extent of which I have not been able to learn. For any show of decorum afterwards practiced towards me, I was indebted to the Detective called Captain Dennis.
     In the careful analysis of my papers I deny the existence of a line I had not a perfect right to have written, or to have received. Freedom of speech and of opinion is the birthright of Americans, guaranteed to us by our Charter of Liberty — the Constitution of the United States. I have exercised my prerogative, and have openly avowed my sentiments. During the political struggle, I opposed your Republican party with every instinct of self-preservation. I believed your success a virtual nullification of the Constitution, and that it would entail upon us all the direful consequences which have ensued. These sentiments have doubtless been found recorded among my papers, and I hold them as rather a proud record of my sagacity.
     I must be permitted to quote from a letter of yours, in regard to Russell, of the London Times, which you conclude with these admirable words: "Individual errors of opinion may be tolerated, so long as good sense is left to combat them." By way of illustrating theory and practice — here am I, a prisoner in sight of the Executive Mansion, in sight of the Capital, where the proud statesmen of our land have sung their pæans to the blessings of our free institutions. Comment is idle.--Freedom of speech, freedom of thought, every right pertaining to the citizen has been suspended by what, I suppose, the President calls a "military necessity." A blow has been struck, by this total disregard of all civil rights, against the present system of Government, far greater in its effects than the severance of the Southern States. Our people have been taught to condemn the supremacy of the law, to which all have hitherto bowed, and to look to the military power for protection against its decrees. A military spirit has been developed, which will only be subordinate to a Military Dictatorship. Read history, and you will find that the causes which bring about a revolution rarely predominate at its close, and no people have ever returned to the point from which they started. Even should the Southern States be subdued and forced back into the Union, (which I regard as impossible, with a full knowledge of their resources,) a different form of Government will be found needful to meet the new developments of national character. There is no class of society, no branch of industry, which this change has not reached, and the dull, plodding, methodical habits of the poor can never be resumed.
     You have held me sir, to a man's accountability, and I therefore claim the right to speak on subjects usually considered beyond a woman's ken, and which you may class as "errors of opinion." I offer no excuse for this long digression as a three months imprisonment, without formula of law, gives me authority for occupying even the precious moments of a Secretary of State.
     My object is to call your attention to the fact that, during this long imprisonment, I am yet ignorant of the causes of my arrest; that my house has been seized and converted into a prison by the Government; that the valuable furniture it contained has been abused and destroyed; that during some period of my imprisonment I have suffered greatly for want of proper and sufficient food. Also, I have to complain that, more recently, a woman of bad character, recognised as having been seen on the streets of Chicago as such by several of the guard, calling herself Mrs. Onderdonk, was placed here in my house, in a room adjoining mine.
     In making this exposition, I have no object of appeal to your sympathies. If the justice of my complaint, and a decent regard for the world's opinion do not move you, I should but waste time to claim your attention on any other score.
     I may, however, recall to your mind, that but a little while since, you were quite as much proscribed by public sentiment here for the opinions and principles you held, as I am now for mine.
     I could easily have escaped arrest, having had timely warning. I thought it possible that your statesmanship might present such a proclamation of weakness to the world, as even the fragment of a once great Government turning its arms against the breasts of women and children. You have the power, sir, and may still further abuse it. You may prostrate the physical strength, by confinement in close rooms, and insufficient food-- you may subject me to harsher, ruder treatment than I have already received, but you cannot imprison the soul. Every cause worthy of success has had its martyrs. The words of the heroine Corday are applicable here: "C'est le crime qui fait la houte et non pas l'echafaude." My sufferings will afford a significant lesson to the women of the South, that sex or condition is no bulwark against the surging billows of the "irrepressible conflict."
     The "iron heel of power" may keep down, but it cannot crush out, the spirit of resistance in a people armed for the defence of their rights; and I tell you now, sir, that you are standing over a crater whose smothered fires in a moment may burst forth.
     It is your boast that thirty-three bristling fortifications now surround Washington.--The fortifications of Paris did not protect Louis Philippe when his hour had come.
     In conclusion, I respectfully ask your attention to this my protest, and have the honor to be, &c., &c., &c.
Rose O. N. Greenhow.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Texas SCV Files Suit for Tag

Texas Sons Of Confederate Veterans
          Today, December 8th, 2011 a complaint is being filed in pursuant of 42 U.S.C. §1983 to vindicate the rights secured to the “Texas Division Sons of Confederate Veterans” by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.
          The Texas SCV is a non-profit organization that works diligently to preserve the memory and reputation of the Confederate soldiers, emphasizing the virtues of their fight for the preservation of liberty and freedom. Like many other non-profit organizations in Texas, the Texas SCV sought from the State of Texas, through the Department Motor Vehicles Board, approval of a specialty license plate, both to raise awareness of their endeavors and to raise additional money to fund their activities.
         This action is in regards to the recent denial by the of the specialty license application presented to the Department of Motor Vehicles Board by the Texas Division Sons of Confederate Veterans.
         Currently, the SCV has specialty automobile license plates available to vehicle drivers in Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, Maryland, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
         The Texas SCV initially applied for a specialty license plate in Texas with the Department of Transportation, the proper agency at the time, in August 2009. That application was denied by the Department of Transportation. In 2009, the Texas Legislature amended the Transportation Code to provide that the Department of Motor Vehicles, rather than the Department of Transportation, was charged with issuing specialty license plates. The license plate function moved to the new Department of Motor Vehicles on November 1, 2009. At the time the Texas SCV reapplied with the new governing department, to hopefully have a specialty plate in advance of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, April 12, 2011.
          The official public comments were heavily in favor of the Texas SCV’s application for a specialty plate. Following commentary by both proponents and opponents, the Board rejected the SCV plate at the hearing by an 8-0 vote without any discussion. At the same hearing, the Buffalo Soldiers plate, without any discussion, was approved by a 5-3 vote.
         Since the Department of Motor Vehicle Board has been charged with issuing specialty license plates, the Sons of the Confederate Veterans plate is the first, and only, to be rejected.Through the members of the Department of Motor Vehicles Board, the State of Texas has discriminated against the Texas SCV based on the ideas and message that the Texas SCV supports, in clear violation of the First Amendment.
         The Board seeks to bar the Texas SCV from expressing their viewpoint while allowing all other groups to express their viewpoint: this type of restriction is exactly the type which the First Amendment is designed to erase. The only guideline that the Transportation Code has to offer, which the Board referenced as its reason for rejecting the plate, is that the Board can reject a plate “if the design might be offensive to any member of the public…” This, however, cannot be the standard. It is vague and indeterminable. Essentially, it is no standard at all to say that the Board can discriminate based upon a viewpoint if such speech is offensive to anyone.
       The First Amendment clearly protects controversial speech. Additionally, even if simply being “offensive to any member of the public” was sufficient to allow for rejection, the State has approved numerous plates that are “offensive to any member of the public.” In fact, the plate approved the very same day as the Texas SCV plate was rejected – the Buffalo Soldier plate – is offensive to Native Americans because the all-black cavalry helped fight Native Americans in the Indian Wars from 1867-1888. Accordingly, the Texas SCV seeks appropriate injunctive relief, requiring the State of Texas to approve the Texas SCV’s application and implement the specialty plate.
Granvel J. Block
Commander Texas Division
Sons of Confederate Veterans

Saturday, December 3, 2011


NATCHITOCHES UNION, November 28, 1861

An  unidentified soldier (unit
unknown)  wearing
a Chasseurs à pied style uniform.
(Blog author's collection)
Presentation of a Flag
to the Chasseurs a Pied.

          NATCHITOCHES, La. - Last Friday at nine o'clock A. M. the "Chasseurs à pied" assembled in full uniform at their usual place of rendezvous. There was a threefold object in this military turn out—a flag presentation, a religious service and the benediction of the flag. The company was out in full force, and their appearance and bearing was quite martial.
           At a quarter past nine, the company took of the line of march, followed by a detachment of the Natchitoches Guards, and halted opposite the dwelling of Mad. Alexander Buard, which was the place selected for the presentation of the flag. On their arrival, Capt. J. B. Cloutier formed the "Chasseurs à pied", and "Natchitoches Guards" in line of battle, and Lieutenant J. C. Janin presented the flag, and pronounced from the balcony, the following address, which was much applauded.


          "I sincerely regret that Mad. Janin, to whose effects, we are principally indebted for our flag, has been deprived of the pleasure of presenting it to you in person. You will be kind enough, gentlemen, to excuse her; her mourning as a sister is too recent, and the wound that she has received with so much courage, is yet bleeding.
            "It was my duty to replace her and accept this service, of confiding to the bravery of the "Chasseurs à pied" of Natchitoches, the colors which symbolize the cause of right against force, that sacred cause, which we are all called on to protect, even to the shedding of blood.
          "Gentlemen, I am no orator, and know no rhetoric but that of the heart, which consists more in action than word; and with my whole heart I tell you, that all of us whether children of Louisiana by birth, or born on the soil of France, claim to have the same blood running in our veins, the French blood. It was the civilizing genius of France, which patiently conquered from barbarism, the soil which now bears us; it was the persevering industry of our fathers which rendered it fertile, and for those Frenchmen who ascend the Mississippi and the Red River, explored by their ancestors, Louisiana is still their country. Here, in Natchitoches, the oldest French colony in Louisiana, Frenchmen and Creoles are equally at home.
          "You understood this, gentlemen, when under creole officers, chosen by yourselves, as more immediately representing the local interests of the country, you spontaneously offered yourselves, to take a noble part in its defence, and to lend your aid, and devote yourselves to the success of a cause which is common to all.
          "Born protectors of our wives, our children, our servants and our property, armed by the State against invasion from abroad, we will even, Gentlemen, if circumstances require it, follow our leaders, and bear our flag with honor to any point of our territory where our independence may be threatened, for this, we will defend everywhere against every assault, and at any price, even to the pouring out of our blood."

Mr. Ernest Le Gendre, selected by the company to answer, expressed himself as follows:

           "Selected by the company of "Chasseurs à Pied" to answer your address at the presentation of this flag, I feel that my mission is almost useless, after the noble and generous words which you have just addressed to us. What more, indeed, can I say, than to retrace those so truly french and patriotic sentiments which you have invoked.
          "In seeing these noble colors which are to serve as our standard, they recall to us the tricolored standards which our fathers and yours rendered illustrious on the battle fields of Europe. History tell us, that wherever those colors were displayed, they marshaled to the combat, the defenders of just and civilizing causes.
          "If we have spontaneously taken arms for the defence of our domestic hearths, it is because here, everything recalls to us the memories of our absent country, and our sympathy for Louisiana is that which exists among the members of the same family.
          "If we applaud the successes of Manassas and of Oak Hill, it is because the colors of Austerlitz and Magenta have found twin sisters on the soil of the American Confederation.
         "Thank you, for your good words, which we rarely hear—when you said in invoking the testimony of history; that Frenchmen and Creoles were at home here. We will not forget these words. But the "Chasseurs à Pied" have no other ambition than that of receiving the hospitality of their creole brethren, and rendering themselves worthy of it.
          "We regret, sincerely, that Mad. Janin was not able to present this flag in person, but we know that this symbol of her country in recalling a victory to her mind, would also caused her sadly to remember the fate of a beloved brother who fell on the field of glory and of victory.
           "We comprehend well the delicate duty confided to us, of protecting our and your own wives, children, servants and property. To this mission, we will not be recreant, and if—but God forbid it—the danger should increase, and the soil of Louisiana be desecrated by the Legions of the North, we will under the aegis of these noble colors serve as a rampart to those whose safety has been confided to us."
           After these two addresses, Mr. Joseph Janin was militarily recognized, as 1st Lieutenant of the company of Chasseurs à Pied, and Mr. Jegon du Laz as Corporal.
          At ten o'clock, the Chasseurs à Pied marched to the Cathedral Church of Natchitoches, where a military Mass was celebrated. At the moment when the host was elevated, the command, on your knees, was given, and executed with complete precision, which was rendered still more impressive, by the blue uniform and shining bayonets.
           Bishop Martin then spoke, and at the conclusion of his address, thanked the "Chasseurs à pied," for the noble initiative they had taken in the defence of our domestic hearths. Then followed the benediction of the flag. This is a ceremony, the institution of which, dates as far back as the ninth century. Formerly it took place amid a demonstration of every species of military pomp. In our day it still preserves a character truly religious, for the flag is and always will be the symbol of our country.
           The company then left the church and marched through several streets of the town, with the flag of the Confederation in the centre. The flag was then conveyed to the dwelling of the Captain where it was placed under a true guard of honor, as it was placed under the protecting aegis of the ladies. Let us not forget to mention, that Major Johnson the presumptive heir of the epaulets of Captain J. B. Cloutier, swore from the balcony that he also, would protect the colors under which he was born.
           About three o'clock, the ranks were broken and the soldier again became a citizen.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mencken on Lincoln

Editors Note:
     Below is H. L. Mencken's very insightful essay bursting some of the Lincoln myths that have been told to generations of school children in the United States. Mencken was born in 1880 in Baltimore, Maryland and died there in 1956.  He  was one of the most influential American journalists, authors, columnists and essayists of the first half of the 20th Century and was famous for his iconoclastic viewpoints, one of which was challenging the Lincoln legend. In don't agree with many of his views on other subjects, particularly his anti-religious views, but I think he was right on target with his views about Lincoln. I especially like his take on The Gettysburg Address, contained in the last two paragraphs. This essay was first printed, in part, in the Smart Set, May, 1920, and then "Five Men at Random," Prejudices: Third Series, 1922.

H.L. Mencken
H.L. Mencken on Abraham Lincoln

Some time ago a publisher told me that there are four kinds of  books that seldom, if ever, lose money in the United States—first, murder stories; secondly, novels in which the heroine is forcibly overcome by the hero; thirdly, volumes on spiritualism, occultism and other such claptrap, and fourthly, books on Lincoln. But despite all the vast mass of Lincolniana and the constant discussion of old Abe in other ways, even so elemental a problem as that of his religious ideas—surely an important matter in any competent biography—is yet but half solved. Was he a Christian? Did he believe in the Divinity of Jesus? I am left in doubt. He was very polite about it, and very cautious, as befitted a politician in need of Christian votes, but how much genuine conviction was in that politeness? And if his occasional references to Jesus were thus open to question, what of his rather vague avowals of belief in a personal God and in the immortality of the soul? Herndon and some of his other early friends always maintained that he was an atheist, but the Rev. Willian E. Barton, one of the best of later Lincolnologists, argues that this atheism was simply disbelief in the idiotic Methodist and Baptist dogmas of his time—that nine Christian churches out of ten, if he were live today, would admit him to their high privileges and prerogatives without anything worse than a few warning coughs.
As for me, I still wonder.

Lincoln becomes the American solar myth, the chief butt of American credulity and sentimentality. Washington, of late years, has been perceptibly humanized; every schoolboy now knows that he used to swear a good deal, and was a sharp trader, and had a quick eye for a pretty ankle. But meanwhile the varnishers and veneerers have been busily converting Abe into a plaster saint, thus marking him fit for adoration in the Y.M.C.A.’s. All the popular pictures of him show him in his robes of state, and wearing an expression fit for a man about to be hanged. There is, so far as I know, not a single portrait of him showing him smiling—and yet he must have cackled a good deal, first and last: who ever heard of a storyteller who didn’t? Worse, there is an obvious effort to pump all his human weaknesses out of him, an obvious effort to pump all his human weaknesses out of him, and so leave him a mere moral apparition, a sort of amalgam of John Wesley and the Holy Ghost. What could be more absurd? Lincoln, in point of fact, was a practical politician of long experience and high talents, and by no means cursed with idealistic superstitions. Until he emerged from Illinois they always put the women, children and clergy to bed when he got a few gourds of corn aboard, and it is a matter of unescapable record that his career in the State Legislature was indistinguishable from that of a Tammany Nietzsche. Even his handling of the slavery question was that of a politician, not that of a messiah. Nothing alarmed him more than the suspicion that he was an Abolitionist, and Barton tells of an occasion when he actually fled town to avoid meeting the issue squarely. An Abolitionist would have published the Emancipation Proclamation the day after the first battle of Bull Run. But Lincoln waited until the time was more favorable—until Lee had been hurled out of Pennsylvania, and more important still, until the political currents were safely funning his way. Even so, he freed the slaves in only a part of the country: all the rest continued to clank their chains until he himself was an angel in Heaven.

Like William Jennings Bryan, he was a dark horse made suddenly formidable by fortunate rhetoric. The Douglas debate launched him, and the Cooper Union Speech got him the Presidency. His talent for emotional utterance was an accomplishment of late growth. His early speeches were mere empty fire-works—the hollow rodomontades of the era. But in the middle life he purged his style of ornament and it became almost badly simple—and it is for that simplicity that he is remembered today. The Gettysburg speech is at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history. Put beside it, all the whoopings of the Websters, Sumners and Everetts seem gaudy and silly, it is eloquence brought to a pellucid and almost gem-like perfection—the highest emotion reduced to a few poetical phrases. Nothing else precisely like it is to be found in the whole range of oratory. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached
it. It is genuinely stupendous.

But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination—"that government of the people, by the people, for the people," should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the States, i.e., of the people of the States? The Confederates went into battle free; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision and veto of the rest of the country—and for nearly twenty years that veto was so effective that they enjoyed scarcely more liberty, in the political sense, than so many convicts in the penitentiary. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

150-years-ago Remarkable escape from Lincolndom.

Union troops beat Confederate prisoners of  war in Washington D. C.
(Library of  Congress)
The Richmond Dispatch
November 30, 1861
     The Petersburg Express, of Thursday, publishes the following interesting account of the escape from Yankee land of two of North Carolina's brave and gallant sons:
     William H. Parvin and William B. Willis, of the Washington "Grays," Captain Thomas Sparrow, from Washington, North Carolina, passed through Petersburg evening before last, on their return home, after a long imprisonment at the North Their escape from further confinement, and their subsequent avoidance of detection and arrest, are remarkable — almost miraculous. They were taken prisoners in company with many other gallant North Carolinians at Fort Hatteras. We are all acquainted with the circumstances of the surrender. From Hatteras they were taken to Fort Lafayette--the Bastile of New York. Here they were kept in close confinement until the latter part of October, when they were all put aboard a steamer and taken to Fort Warren, near Boston.
     On their way to Fort Warren, Parvin and Willis formed some plan of escape, and announced their intention to attempt it to Captain Sparrow, who told them they must do it at their risk. If they failed, heavy irons and close confinement for the balance of the war would be their lot. But they possessed brave hearts and were confident of success. They supplied themselves with bread and water, a candle, matches, &c. On their arrival at Boston, the men were marched ashore in companies, as their names were called. Immediately before the name of the Washington Grays was called, Parvin and Willis left their company, descended from the deck, and found their way into the extra coal room of the steamer. Here they concealed themselves, and in a little while had built up a wall of coal around them so that any person entering the room would not discover them. Their late companions in arms were gone, and they were now alone in the dark, unwholesome coal-bunk of an enemy's steamer, not knowing what a day or an hour might bring forth. In this condition they remained for a day, or probably a day and a night, when a large number of sailors were brought aboard the steamer to be shipped to New York.
     On the 1st of November the vessel left Boston, and landed her load at the Brooklyn Navy-Yard. In the bustle and confusion consequent upon their embarkation, our heroes thought they might leave their place of concealment and make their escape. They gained the deck, and went unobserved on shore with the crowd of sailors. But they soon saw that their time for escape had not yet come. All around the Navy-Yard were stationed sentinels, whom it would be impossible to pass. They therefore resolved to return to the steamer and await yet longer. They now concealed themselves in the private apartment of the boat, and remained thus for two days, when finally, as if providentially, in one of her trips the steamer ran afoul of a schooner in the river, and was reported so much damaged as to cause her to make for Jersey City with all possible speed Great excitement was produced among her passengers, and everything and everybody were in the utmost confusion.
     A most favorable opportunity now for the prisoners to escape, and they took advantage of it. They left their hiding place again, and as soon as the Jersey City landing was reached, they rushed ashore. They then took passage on a ferry boat for New York. In this great city they found a friend, who took them in and kindly cared for them. He advised what they should do, and furnished them with money to complete their plans. They took passage to Baltimore as Union sailors-- anti Southern Seceders of the deepest dye. In the noble Monumental City they had not far to go before meeting with friends of the South and her defenders. Clothes are given to them, and they are aided in getting employment on a wood schooner bound for some point on the lower Maryland shore. For sixteen days they worked like heavers, and by their unusual industrious habits and good behavior they gained the unbounded confidence of the Captain. His every wish was law, and every act was done with pleasure; but the proud Captain was soon to be deprived of his prides.
    It was the night for Parvin to keep watch, and the Captain had retired, and Willis had pretended to do so. But hands were busy as eyes. Sails for the small boat attached to the schooner were made and fitted. The proper hour had come; the sign was given, and the two men set forth upon the dark waters. It was all a venture with them, for they knew not whether they might land, among friends or enemies. After long hours of suspense and weary travel, they landed on the Virginia side of the Potomac, below Aquia Creek.--Here they were taken in custody and sent to General Holmes' headquarters, where they were joyfully recognized by old acquaintances from North Carolina They were furnished with free passes over the railroads home.
Is not this a strange and romantic tale, reader? But it is nevertheless true, and puts fiction to the blush.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Was the Confederate Congress Really So Bad?

Hon. Rep. John Goode of Virginia
Confederate Congress. (Library of Congress)

     The Confederate Congress got a lot of bad press and complaints from generals, but was it really so bad?
     General Robert E. Lee made this famous quote about the Confederate Congress: "I have been up to see the Congress and they do not seem to be able to do anything except to eat peanuts and chew tobacco, while my army is starving."
     However, one of the most distinguished historians of the mid-20th Century, Bell I. Wiley of Emory University, said at a 1961 conference at Gettysburg College that the Congress' bad reputation was the result of bad press and its excessive secrecy.
     Wiley was quoted by the press at the time as saying, "Nearly all important business was conducted behind closed doors. Newspapermen resented their exclusion and in their resentment they gave the legislators an unfavorable press -- representing them as as ineffectual and mediocre."

    But in fairness, the historian noted "some of the problems which they (the congressmen) were condemned for not solving were by their very nature impossible of solution.The Confederate Congress appeared in worse light than most legislative bodies because it represented a 'nation with nothing,' so to speak, involved in a great modern war with a country whose resources were practically unlimited.
     "And, after all, it did on April 16, 1862, it did on April 16, 1862, pass the first national draft act in American history and it adopted other measures which according to the ideas of the time, bordered on the revolutionary, including impressment of private property for military use, suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, and the levying of taxes on profits, income and farm produce.
    "In light of the enormous difficulties with which it had to content, its accomplishments appear more impressive than its shortcomings," Wiley said at the Gettysburg College conference.
     Wiley, born in 1906 and died in 1980, was a native of Tennessee, received his BA degrees from Asbury College in 1928 and a PhD. degree from Yale University in 1933. Besides Emory, Wiley also taught at the University of Mississippi and Louisiana State University.  Among his many outstanding books is The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy, (1943), which is a classic and still in print from Louisiana State University Press.

Monday, November 7, 2011

150-Years-Ago -- The Militia and the Foreigners

Patrick Cleburne was the  highest ranking
foreign born general in the  Confederate Army.
(Library of Congress)
Natchitoches, Louisiana
November 7, 1861

 The Militia and the Foreigners
The duties and obligations of the Militia, in relation to foreign residents in Louisiana, have never been defined in a clear and precise manner, and on the part of the high authorities of one State, contradictions and conflicts appear every day. Some examples will suffice to edify our readers.

The Natchitoches Chronicle of the 2d November publishes a letter addressed to Capt Wm. Payne, as follows:

Attorney General's Office, }
New Orleans, Oct. 17, 1861.}

Captain Wm. Payne, Natchitoches:

Sir—Yours of 11th received. Foreigners residing in the state sixty days are bound to defend the country, and are subject to militia duty. The Governor has no power to exempt any one from militia duty; his proclamation has nothing to do with the matter.

Thos. J. Semmes

Here then we have the orders and proclamations of the Governor, destroyed by a letter, which may have the merit of being very laconic, but which is not very clear. What does the Attorney General mean by the word country? Is it the place, the Parish or the States inhabited by the unnaturalized foreigners? Or is it the whole confederation? According to the tenor of the letter addressed to Capt. William Payne, we should be tempted to believe that we should not consider the proclamations of the Governor as serious, unless approved by the Attorney General.

Amidst this conflict between those high functionaries of our State comes the opinion of Count Mejean, French Consul at New Orleans, an opinion which, on such a subject is not without importance. It is expressed in the following letter communicated to us, for the purpose of enlightening the French Residents of Louisiana.

French Consulate }
New Orleans }
New Orleans 16, October, 1861.


I received your letter of the 11th and hasten to answer it. The Militia Law, in the State of Louisiana, and probably in the other Southern States, is clear. All male white inhabitants from 18 to 45 years, are obliged to submit to it. The only concession made by the Governor of this State in favor of Foreigners is, to accept for the protection of the Towns and Parishes which they inhabit, and without being require to serve beyond them, all bodies or companies of men composed entirely of foreigners not naturalized. From this Law, foreigners have no way of escaping or could only do so by leaving the Country. But as in doing this, they would be obliged to abandon their interests and the property acquired here on the faith of treaties I think that by remaining and submitting forcibly to the Laws, they do not violate, in any manner, the neutrality commanded by the Government of the Emperor.

Receive, sir, the assurance of my distinguished consideration,

Count Mejan,

French Consul.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

150-years-ago -- General J.B. Maguder impresses visitor

The Richmond Daily Dispatch
November 2, 1861

Gen. John  B.  Magruder cut an
impressive figure in his uniform.
(Cdv, blog author's collection)
Yorktown, Oct. 28, 1861.
     Editors Dispatch:--I reached here two days ago, and immediately repaired to the office of Col. Colquitt, the commander of the post, to get my permit endorsed. I sat in his office for one hour, and observed him in the midst of business, giving his ear and attention to a multitude of details and an infinite variety of applications. No man I have met has impressed me more favorably. He is polite and intelligent,-- --comprehends readily the questions submitted to him, and disposes of them with facility. Simple and unaffected in his manners, he is wholly free from that grave and mysterious air of consequence, with which men devoid of merit seek to impose upon the world. I would trust my fortune to his good sense and discretion in any emergency.
     If there is one error more than any other into which our military leaders have fallen, it is the mistaken and contemptible idea that an abrupt manner and a curt reply are the evidences of their fitness for power and authority.
     I passed from the office of Col. Colquitt to the headquarters of General Magruder. Here, too, all was stir and talk. General Magruder stood in the midst, a proud and commanding form, bowing to one, listening to another, and giving directions to a third. He is impulsive in manner, and one would think, up on the first blush, impatient and harsh, yet there is a fund of good nature in him. A scene occurred in my presence which illustrates it. A man with a sabre steps in and hands him a paper. "What's this?""Application for a furlough, sir.""Furlough! Don't you know my order, sir; don't you know my order?""Yes, General; but I [ hav'nt ] been home in four months; left hurriedly; business mixed up; wife at home by herself; furlough short.""How long?"--"Ten days.""Ten days! Where do you live?" "New Kent.""New Kent! Two days to go--two to return--five days is enough, sir; any man can attend to business in one day. Five days is enough." He takes his pen and, relaxing in his feelings, writes, "Grant him ten days furlough." He has enough to make him impatient and to keep him so, and I should hardly blame him if he were to swear a little. He is untiring in his exertions, and is now bending his energies to a more perfect defence of the Peninsula. The present state of preparation I am not allowed to refer to; but it is enough to say that while much remains to be done, the troops here would be glad to meet the enemy now or at any time. More anon. Accomac.

Monday, October 17, 2011

150-Years-Ago The Battle of Santa Rosa Island

Confederates attacked the Union camp on October 9, 1861 on Santa Rosa
Island in Pensacola, Florida. (Library of Congress)

The Richmond Daily Dispatch

October 17, 1861

The fight at Santa Rosa Island. further particulars.

     The Pensacola Observer brings us the following further particulars in relation to the fight at Santa Rosa Island:
     We are enabled this evening to give a fuller account of the engagement of Tuesday night last on Santa Rosa Island, between the Confederates and the Yankee troops. There are many rumors afloat in regard to the matter, but we have endeavored to obtain the most reliable. Although it was a serious and bloody fight, there were many amusing incidents in the engagement, which we shall publish from time to time. There was some $500 in gold, and a watch, taken by the soldier from the tents of the officers, besides other valuables. Many of Wilson's Zouaves were bayonetted while in their tents, and it must have been amusing to see the scamps escaping from the back part of their tents, and our boys after them.
     We were shown a letter taken from the pocket of one of the Zouaves. The envelope had on it a representation of a soldier holding in his hand the United States flag — his foot placed upon an anchor, with the inscription underneath, "Long may it wave." The letter was from an affectionate sister in N. York to her brother — the one from whom it was taken. We understand that the person who took and read the letter could not help feeling for the sister, for it seemed that her whole affections were upon that brother, who now lies cold in the arms of death.
     Captain Mangham fully displayed the bravery and coolness for which he is every where characterized. He arrested three prisoners alone and unaided and marched them to the guard; and we would feel like doing injustice to a brave and noble man, did we not mention that Adjutant Black, of the Fifth Georgia Regiment, arrested a sergeant who was at the time sergeant of the guard, and had with him his report, and used the very gun he took from his prisoner in making one or two more Yankees bite the dust.
     Taking into consideration the disparity of our forces, being but about 1,100, and the enemy over 2,000, we are proud to say that we gained a most complete victory. We attacked them in their very dens — whipped them out, and destroyed their property.--Their loss, it is estimated, will quadruple ours.
     The enemy everywhere is feeling our power; when they ask themselves, Can we subjugate the South? the thousands of Yankee ghosts from the plains of Manassas answer — the groans of hundreds of wounded soldiers in their hospitals answer — the millions of orphans and widows wailing over the death of their fathers and husbands, and begging for bread in the Northern streets, answer! When the South asks herself can we stand against the whole North? the glorious victory of Manassas and routs of the enemy at other places, answer — the whipping and routing from their very homes Billy Wilson and his pirates, together with the regulars of Santa Rosa Island, answer.
     Then, Southerners, take courage. Go to battle with renewed energy and courage, and ere long the last armed foe will be swept from Southern soil, and made to seek hiding places in Northern climes. But, in all candor, we believe the enemy himself acknowledges the complete overthrow of his forces on Tuesdaynight, and this is only the beginning of the end.
     Below, we give the following official list of killed, wounded, and missing of the different companies, as far as received:
Clench Rifles.--Killed, F. J. Cook, J. H. Adams; wounded, W. H. Smith, Newton Rice — both slightly.
Sealey Guards.--None killed, wounded, or missing.
Georgia Grays.--Killed, one; wounded, two slightly.
Irish Volunteers.--Company C.--Killed, John Stanton; wounded, EdmundFlyn missing, Thomas O'Conner.
Dauson Volunteers.--Killed, none; wounded, R. J. Hayes, badly; Thomas Caldwell received a shot in the left arm, making amputation necessary.
Company A, 7th Alabama Regiment.--Killed, 2; wounded, 6; missing, 1. Two members of the Madison Rifles attached to this company were killed.
Capt. Peake's Company, 10th Mississippi Reg't. --Killed, none; wounded, J. W. Kincaid, badly.
Company G, 10th Mississippi Reg't.--5th Sergeant J. P. Barksdale, wounded — supposed mortally.
McDuffie Rifles, (Georgia Reg't.)--Killed, Lieut. Nelms, Sergeant Bedeau. Wounded and missing, not yet handed in.
Continentals.--Corporal Juggle, wounded. Private Burgiss missing — supposed to be killed.
      This list is not yet complete, but we will continue to publish as fast as the reports are handed in. There are not many more, we believe.
     From a communication received this morning, it seems as though several tents were fired at the same time, and it is hard to tell who fired the first tent. The communication say, "Captain Hull, of the Irish Volunteers, fired the first tent, and that private Cheatham set fire to Col. Wilson's quarters."
     We have some nine killed and twenty-seven wounded. We also have over here two wounded Yankees. The wounded are all well cared for, and attended to with all the kindness as if at home. They are treated by skillful physicians, and we hope they may recover.
     We learn from a reliable source that Lieut. Slaughter went over under a flag of truce and brought back the dead of our side, who will be either decently interred here or sent to their friends.
      We cannot conclude this notice without referring to the indefatigable exertions of our ladies in behalf of the wounded soldiers. All day yesterday and night long did they watch by the couches of the wounded soldiers, administering everything that could be obtained for their comfort. This speaks volumes for our patriotic ladies, than whom there are none more willing or ready to do all they can for the Southern soldier.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

14th Louisiana Infantry Battleflag Recovered

         RICHMOND, Virginia  -- The stolen battleflag of the 14th Louisiana Infantry has been returned to Confederate Memorial Hall in New Orleans. The Confederate battleflag was recovered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after receiving a tip that it was in Virginia.

        Stolen in the 1980s by a former volunteer at Confederate Memorial Hall, it was returned to board members of the New Orleans museum in a ceremony at the Museum of the Confederacy Wednesday.It was expected to be back in New Orleans by last Friday.
       The investigation revealed that a collector had purchased it in 2004 without knowledge it had been stolen. The collector voluntarily turned it over to the FBI.
         According to a spokesman for the museum, the flag was stolen in the mid 1980s by a former museum volunteer (now deceased) and efforts made by the museum for its return were unsuccessful until last week when the FBI's National Art Crime Team received a tip that the item may have been at a home in Caroline County, Va. The flag was in the possession of a collector who purchased the flag in 2004 without knowing that it was stolen. He cooperated with the FBI and immediately turned over the flag.
           The flag was issued to the unit in the spring of 1862. It is known as a first bunting flag of the Army of Northern Virginia pattern. This was the first "battle flag" carried by the regiment. It saw action at the Battle of Gaines Mill on June 27, 1862, near Richmond. Two color bearers were killed while carrying it and the entire Color Guard became casualties of that battle, the spokesman said.
          The flag remained in service until the color bearer, Frederick Sontag, was captured with the flag at Gettysburg. Rather than surrender the flag, Sontag concealed it under his clothing. Sontag kept his secret until he was released from prison and he returned to the regiment with the flag, the spokesman said.
          In the meantime, the regiment, thinking its flag has been captured, acquired a new one. The old flag was placed in storage where it remained until the final surrender at Appomattox. The flag was given to a young lady for safe-keeping. She kept the flag until January, 1889, when she returned it to the former commanding officer of the 14th Louisiana, Col. David Zable, who presented the flag to the Army of Northern Virginia Association, a veterans organization located in New Orleans. It was then donated to Memorial Hall.
       The flag draped the coffin of Jefferson Davis and was said to be the last Confederate flag he ever touched, the spokesman said.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

First Battle of Manassas Reenactment

Luke Jones, Louisiana Tiger Rifles Reenactor,
waves the Louisiana Independence Flag. The
Tiger Rifles played a critical part in the
FirstBattle of Manassas 21 July 1861,
(Photo by Mike Jones)
Louisiana’s Civil War past comes alive at Audubon State Historic Site for a Civil War program on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 15-16.
Civil War reenactors dressed in authentic reproduction costumes of the armies of both North and South will be on hand to present a look at life in Civil War Louisiana. The day’s demonstrations, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Sunday, will include drills, black powder weapon demonstrations, open hearth cooking, costume talks, camp life, and more.

There will be a small scale reenactment of a Civil War battle at 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. This year will mark the involvement of the Louisiana troops at the Battle of 1st Manassas in Virginia. Visitors will see the fight at Matthews Hill, where Louisiana Tigers drew the first blood in one of the most epic battles of the Civil War.

"This program starts the commemoration of the Civil War Sesquicentennial in Louisiana, a nationwide event marking the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War . We encourage those visiting to learn the rest of the story of the Civil War in the Felicianas by visiting Port Hudson State Historic Site, only a few miles south of Audubon. “ said John House, site manager.

Audubon SHS is the setting for the 200-year-old Oakley House, temporary home and inspiration to John James Audubon in the 1800s. The park includes a museum, picnic areas, Historic buildings, pavilion, and nature trail. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, Oakley House and its lush natural settings are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.

The $4 adult admission to Audubon SHS includes the site video history presentation, the plantation house tour and all special programs. Children (12 and under) and senior citizens (62 and older) are admitted free. Audubon SHS is located 30 minutes north of Baton Rouge near St. Francisville on La. 965 in West Feliciana Parish. For more information, call 1-888-677-2838 toll free or 635-3739 in the St. Francisville area.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sabine Pass Reenactment 2011

Instant fog is made when a Confederate field piece opens up
at the Battle of Sabine Pass reenactment Sept. 10, 2011.
(Photo by  Mike Jones)


          SABINE PASS, Texas -- The stunning Confederate victory  of the Battle of Sabine Pass on September 8, 1863, was remembered with memorial services and a reenactment of the battle on September 10 and 11 at Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site.
        Among the activities on Saturday were the court martial and execution of  Lt. Elijah P. Allen for desertion. The memorial service and battle reenactment.
Ed Cotham, left, gave the memorial address. (Photo by Mike Jones)
        Ed Cotham, author of Sabine Pass: The Confederacy's Thermopylae (University of Texas Press, 2004), was the guest speaker. He noted in his speech that the small garrison of Fort Griffin, about 41 men, voted unanimously to stay and fight against the Union invasion fleet and troops in spite of the odds against them. He also  commended the bravery  of the Union Navy which was so badly beaten n the battle.
       Ladies from the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Order of the Confederate Rose laid the memorial weaths at the Dick Dowling Monument. The memorial service was hosted by hte Jefferson County Historical  Commission.
      The master of ceremonies was Ron Ellington, past chairman of  the Jefferson County Historical Commission. The invocation was given by Sid Holt, chaplain of Col. Philip  A. Work Camp 1790, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Woodville
     Chris Elliot, site manager gave the welcoming address. The color guard was provided by members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Among the supporters of the event were Dick Dowling Camp 1295, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and Edward Lea Camp 2, Sons of Union Veterans.
     Here are some photo highlights of the reenactment (all photos by  Mike Jones).

Confederate gunners.

Confederates defending Texas from invaders.

Confederate troops ready for battle.

Friday, September 9, 2011

150-Years-Ago -- Qualities of President Davis Given

President Jefferson Davis
(Library of Congress)
The Richmond Daily Dispatch
September 10, 1861

President Davis.

--The New York Herald's late funeral oration upon President Davis contains some of the few truths which have ever been uttered by that most mendacious journal in the world. Whilst it is as absurd as usual, in imagining President Davis is the only man in the South capable of guiding the helm of the new Republic in the present emergency, it is beyond a doubt that there are in Davis"the very qualities which, of all others, are most needful to enable him to give force and authority to his position as President of the Confederate States," and that, "considering his extraordinary labors, anxieties and exhausting excitements of the last five months, it is somewhat remarkable that he was not carried off three or four months ago.""Combining the practical training and knowledge and popularity of the regular soldier, with a very large experience as a fire-eating politician, legislator and executive civil officer, State and Federal, Davis was the very man required," &c "Thus we can account for the wonderful military energy, activity and resources brought into the field by the rebel States. They have been called into requisition by Davis," &c. "In connexion with the late disasters to the rebels in the field (Bethel ? Bull Run ? Manassas ? Springfield ?) and the manifest hopelessness of their sinking cause, the loss of Davis, among many of his followers, would be accepted as a judgment of Providence," which ought to have no weight with Bennett, as he has no more faith in God than man.
     Making due allowances for the politic purposes of our enemies to exaggerate every loss which the South may suffer, and which Bennett alleges, in the alleged death of Davis, is as great as a Manassas defeat, no Executive of ordinary merit could command such universal respect as Jefferson Davis does, after his merits have been thoroughly tried in the seven times heated furnace of this unparalleled war. That he has administrative qualities of a character rarely exercised in the old Government of the United States since its primitive days, and that he has devoted himself to the public service with a degree of energy and fidelity never surpassed, if equalled, by the head of any Government, is beyond all doubt. Taking into view the perfect unpreparedness of the South for war, and for war on such a gigantic scale, the military operations and results of his administration, to say nothing of the Herculean labors attending the organizing of a new civil Government, in all its vast and perplexing details, are little short of miraculous.
     It would be absurd to claim for this new Government perfection in every bureau and in all its ramifications; to expect that its heads of departments should be infallible, especially in their appointments; to suppose that the Commissariat and hospitals of the army are unexceptionable, and are under the direct management of Jeff. Davis. The new and immense, machine of such a Government cannot be so completely adjusted at first as to work with a faultless precision, which even chronic croakers and critics will be pleased to applaud. All that we contend for is, that on the whole, the new Government is a grand success, that it is the grandest success of the present age, and that the President of this new Confederacy, in his contributions to that end, has eminently deserved from the whole South the approving verdict "Well done, good and faithful servant !"
     Heaven preserve his honored life ! Heaven inspire for many a long year his dauntless spirit ! After months of such extraordinary labor and anxieties that the Herald is surprised he did not long ago perish under the over-burden of toil and anxiety, her roused himself at the sound of the battle trumpet of Manassas, as the war horse when he hears the shout of the conflict, and rushed to the field of arms with the promptness and alacrity of a lover to a bridal feast. Heaven protect the noble gentleman and true cavalier, merciful as he is brave, who, instead of exulting over a fallen foe, proclaimed to his people, "Never be haughty to the humble, nor humble to the haughty." Heaven defend the hero-President, whose firmness, sagacity, wisdom and patriotism have proved a tower of strength and glory to the Southern Confederacy, and who, if he is spared to continue as he has begun, will be the deliverer of the South from the most galling and the vilest despotism under the sun, and entitle himself to go down to history on the same page with that other illustrious rebel, George Washington.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

150-Years-Ago -- The Gentleman's War after First Manassas

Col. James Cameron, KIA, at First
Manassas. (Library of Congress)
The New Orleans Daily Delta
September 8, 1861

     The Remains of Col. Cameron - The northern papers publish the following correspondence between Gen. McCunn, of the U.S. army, and Col. Stewart [J.E.B. Stuart] of the Confederate army, on the subject of delivering up the remains of the late Col. Cameron, of the N.Y. Seventy-ninth regiment:

Gen. M'Cunn's Letter
Brigade Headquarters
Three miles from Alexandria, Aug. 3, 1861
To Col. Stewart, commanding 1st Virginia Cavalry:
    My Dear Sir - The bearer, Lieut. Jones, of the Thirty-seventh New York volunteers, will hand you this. My object in sending to you is this: Col. Cameron, a warm personal friend of mine, fell in the battle of  Bull Run. His lady and family are in great distress about his body. May I not appeal to you, as a soldier, asking you for the moment to throw away all ceremony, and allow the colonel's orderly, who was with him when he fell in the field, to search for the body of his lamented commander? I make thus free with you because your Lieut. Hanger and his men gave me a most generous description of  your kindness of heart and your good soldierly qualities. I have the honor to remain, my dear colonel, yours most respectfully,
John H. McCunn,
     Commanding Brigade.

Brig. Gen. John H. McCunn, U.S. Army
(Library of Congress)

Reply of Col. Stewart.
Headquarters Fairfax Court-House.
August 4, 1861
Dear General - Your communication of yesterday was duly received under a flag of truce. As the subject matter of your letter belongs properly to higher authority, and had in fact already been the occasion of communication which have been referred to Gen. J.E. Johnston, Confederate States army, my commander. I had no power to act, but felt bound to refer it to the general commanding the Confederate forces, of which my command is part. His endorsement is as follows:
     Military usage has established the mode of communication between belligerents. Whenever the military authorities of the United States make such a request as that perferred, and in the manner establish by military custom, it shall be complied with promptly. As there is an established mode of communication, none other consistently with the dignity of the position in which Gen. Johnston has been placed by the Confederate States, can be agreed to.
     I will add that Gen. McDowell, and also  three citizens sent by  the secretary of war of the United States on a  similar mission, have been informed to the same purport as above. I notice you address me as Colonel  First Virginia Cavalry. The regiment I have the honor to command belongs to the army of the Confederate States. In thank you for the flattering utterances to the universal appreciation of the warm-hearted sons of your native land, of  whom I have no doubt you are an honorable type. Allow me to add, that our president has given the official assurance, and our gallant general is too well known to the authorities of the United States for them  to doubt, that no effort to lessen the horrors of war and to confine it to the strictest civilized usages will be spared. Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
      J.E.B. Stewart,
Col. First Cavlary C.S.A. Com'g.
      To. J.H. McCunn, commanding brigade U.S. forces.

Colonel James Ewell Brown Stuart,
First Virginia Cavalry, C.S.A.
(Library of  Congress)
General M'Cunn to Captain Jones.
Brigade Headquarters, Near Alexandria, Va.,
August 13, 1861.
To Captain Jones, First Virginia Cavlary:
     Dear Sir - I am perhaps overstepping military  custom and usages in thus communicating with you. The holy mission in which I am engaged is my only apology. Col. Cameron was a warm personal friend of mine, and for the sake of his family, and to learn  the spot where his bones were laid, I would do anything in honor and fairness. I do not wish to compromise yourself in the slightest degree, or do anything that a gallant soldier would not deem it his duty to perform. I do not want any favor that your generous Col. (Stewart) would not grant  at once. I simply ask you the great favor to mark the spot where a brave man has fallen, thus to enable his bereaved family to uncover, at the end of this unnatural strife, the ashes of a fond and devoted father, a good and brave man. Capt. Johnston says that you were kind enough to mention to him that you found the body of one of our officers, with the likeness on his person of our secretary of war and his lady and other articles of jewelry, which led you to suspect it was Col.Cameron's remains. Do, my dear captain, do a duty you owe a brave and generous foe, and do an everlasting favor to me. If we cannot have his remains, mark the spot where his body is buried; and if your gallant colonel will send the likenesses by a flag of truce, I will deem it such a favor as only a brave and generous enemy could bestow. Hoping I have not overstepped the duties of a soldier in thus addressing you, I have the honor to remain, my dear sir, yours, truly,
John H. McCunn.

      The above letter was conveyed to Capt. Johnston, of the Thirty-seventh regiment, who returned the following letter to Gen. McCunn, and with it the correspondence ended:
Alexandria, Va., August 14, 1861.
To Gen. McCunn:
     Dear Sir-I have the honor to report that I delivered your letter, as required to Capt. Jones; that Capt. Jones blindfolded me and took me to Fairfax Court-house, where I saw Col. Stewart, of the First Virginia cavalry. Col. Stewart informed me that the likenesses and other things found on Col. Cameron's body were in the possession of one of his officers now in Richmond; that the same would be at once obtained and forwarded to you, and you alone, as Col. Stewart considered that it would not, under any circumstances, render any favor to the secretary of war or any other member of the government. Captain Jones further says that he has marked the spot where the remains of the lamented Col. Cameron are buried, and will remain till the time comes when they will be most willingly given up to his family. All of which I have the honor most respectfully to report.
James W. Johnston,
Captain Co. K, 37th regiment, N.Y.S.V.