|An unidentified soldier (unit|
a Chasseurs à pied style uniform.
(Blog author's collection)
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.