From Anna’s side came such stories as that of a flag presentation to the Sumter, wherein she had taken some minor part; of seeing that slim terror glide down by Callender House for a safe escape through the blockading fleet to the high seas and a world-wide fame; of Flora’s towboat privateer sending in one large but empty prize whose sale did not pay expenses, and then being itself captured by the blockaders; of “Hamlet” given by amateurs at the St. Charles Theatre; of great distress among the poor, all sorts of gayeties for their benefit, bad money, bad management, a grand concert for the army in Arkansas, women in mourning as numerous as men in uniform, and both men and women breaking down in body and mind under the universal strain.
Historically valuable, you see. Yet through all this impersonal interchange love shone out to love like lamplight through the blinds of two opposite closed windows, and every heart-hiding letter bore enough interlinear revealment of mind and character to keep mutual admiration glowing and growing. We might very justly fancy either correspondent saying at any time in those ten months to impatient or compassionate Cupid what Hilary is reported to have said on one of the greatest days between Manassas and Shiloh, in the midst of a two-sided carnage: “Yes, General, hard hit, but please don’t put us out of action.”
A FREE-GIFT BAZAAR
Again it was February. The flag of Louisiana whose lone star and red and yellow stripes still hovered benignly over the Ionic marble porch of the city hall, was a year old. A new general, young and active, was in command of all the city’s forces, which again on the great Twenty-second paraded. Feebly, however; see letters to Irby and Mandeville under Brodnax in Tennessee, or to Kincaid’s Battery and its commander in Virginia. For a third time the regimental standards were of a new sort. They were the battle-flag now. Its need had been learned at Manassas; eleven stars on St. Andrew’s Cross, a field blood red, and the cross spanning all the field!
Again marched Continentals, Chasseurs, and so on. Yet not as before; all their ranks were of new men; the too old, the too frail, the too young, they of helpless families, and the “British subjects.” Natives of France made a whole separate “French Legion,” in red kepis, blue frocks, and trousers shaped like inverted tenpins, as though New Orleans were Paris itself. The whole aspect of things was alert, anxious, spent.
But it was only now this spent look had come. Until lately you might have seen entire brigades of stout-hearted men in camps near by: Camps Benjamin, Walker, Pulaski and, up in the low pine hills of Tangipahoa, Camp Moore. From Camp Lewis alone, in November, on that plain where Kincaid’s Battery had drilled before it was Kincaid’s, the Bienville, Crescent City and many similar “Guards,” Miles’ Artillery, the Orleans Light Horse, the Orleans Howitzers, the Orleans Guards, the Tirailleurs d’Orleans, etc., had passed in front of Governor Moore and half a dozen generals, twenty-four thousand strong.