Letter Describes Excitement of Louisiana Confederates
The Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, with the firing of the first mortar at 4:30 on the morning of April 12, 1861, began the Civil War. Major Robert Anderson’s Union garrison in the embattled fort surrendered the next day, and men in both the North and South rushed forward to volunteer for military service. Enthusiasm was certainly not lacking in Louisiana, as the following letter shows. It was published by the Daily Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana) on the front page of its April 19, 1861, issue:
Departure of the Shreveport Grays from Shreveport
Interesting Incidents—Chivalry of the North Louisianians—Enthusiasm and Patriotism of the Ladies, &c.
Steamer Louis d’Or, April 18, 1861.
To the Editors of the Picayune:
This splendid passenger packet has just arrived, bringing the Shreveport Grays. The first gun of Fort Sumter aroused the patriotism of that young city. Before a call had issued from the Governor, or it was certain that their services would be accepted, this splendid company, consisting of 117 privates, under Capt. Beard, were already on their way to respond to the call of their country.
It was our fortune to witness their departure and accompany them to the city. Our infant neighbor, Shreveport, was in a blaze of excitement and enthusiasm. The whole population turned out to witness the departure of this company. Never have we seen a more affecting sight than the wharf of that city presented on this occasion. Not one of the assembled thousands but exhibited profound emotion; hundreds of eyes unused to weep were heavy with tears, and strong manhood forgot its stoicism in an unresistable sympathy with the occasion.
Shreveport is in a flame of military patriotism. The Grays are all ready here, without a summons, craving employment. The Grand Duke follows, with the Caddo Rifles, under Capt. W. R. Shivers. Over two hundred men from so small a city—numbering less than twenty-five hundred population—gives token of public sentiment there. It is usual to characterize volunteers by the most flattering epithets, but the character of the material of the Grays is beyond all praise. The best citizens, the very best men of Shreveport—its gentlemen—make up the file of this company. Capt. James H. Beard is worthy of his command, and will make his mark, or nature made a mistake when she marked the man. If the war lasts, we shall hear from James H. Beard, now captain. The three lieutenants are Geo. Williamson, Leon D. Mark and B. L. Hodge, late delegates from Caddo to the State convention. These gentlemen are too well known to the public to need any comment from us.
As a further evidence of the enthusiasm of the community, eight or ten of the patriotic ladies of Shreveport, together with the amiable wife of Capt. Johnson, of the steamer Louis d’Or, with their sewing machines, accompanied this gallant corps to the city and worked almost day and night in uniforming the late recruits. The ladies were assisted in their kind office by Wm. P. Winans, of Shreveport, who volunteered his services to see these patriotic women safely returned home. This gentleman’s talents and worth entitle him to the high position he holds at the Shreveport bar and in the affections of the people of Caddo. He is an honorary member of the Grays and will always receive honorable mention at their hands.
At Alexandria this band of fair and heroic women was increased by the acquisition of the most estimable wife of our excellent Gov. Moore, who endeared herself to all by her easy elegance and unassuming manners. The Grays will not soon forget the uniform she honored with her ready handicraft.
One word more, and New Orleans may know beyond doubt that the right spirit prevails on Red River and in North Louisiana.
Capt. Johnson, of the Louis d’Or, with his characteristic magnificence and big-hearted liberality, tendered his boat to the Grays free of charge. The Confederate Government may rely upon every young man in North Louisiana, and half of the married men, if needed. God protect our country!
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