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)

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