Letter Reveals Southern ‘War Spirit’ as Civil War Begins
Patriotic fervor was high in both the North and South when the Civil War began, as reflected in many of the letters both soldiers and civilians wrote at the beginning of the war. Two weeks after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter began the hostilities, young men on both sides were volunteering to fight, and their communities and families were doing all they could to support them. The following letter, written on April 28, 1861, is from Greensburg, the seat of St. Helena Parish in Louisiana. It was published by the Daily Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana) on May 1, 1861:
War Spirit in St. Helena!
Greensburg, April 28, 1861.
Eds. Pic. [i.e., Editors of the Picayune]—The war spirit is fairly aroused in Old St. Helena; women, men and children are all fairly imbued with it.
At a late day last week it was made known that our gallant company of St. Helena Riflemen would leave us this evening to take the 8 o’clock train for your city. Many of the members who had but recently joined the company were not prepared with uniforms, and a considerable number of them were not able to provide for themselves. In this emergency our patriotic fellow citizen, Clerk of our District Court, and late representative from this parish in the State Convention, went to your city in person and bought all the material necessary to equip with uniforms those of the company who were unprovided. The citizens of Greensburg and the surrounding country will, of course, reimburse him, but great praise is certainly due him for his prompt, energetic, and patriotic conduct in so timely providing for the wants of the company.
The material being on hand, a tailor was employed in cutting out and fitting the different uniforms for members of the company, and our ladies, God bless them! assembled in town, bringing with them their sewing machines, &c., bravely set to work and in two days including today, Sunday as it is, have turned out uniforms for thirty men. Many of the ladies engaged in this work were the mothers and sisters of a goodly number of the company. While this work was going on I frequently visited the ladies; all seemed serious and duly impressed with the solemnity of the occasion, but there was no semblance of despondency.
Knowing that our company was soon to leave, we thought as an expression of our approbation for their patriotic course, and to afford us all an opportunity of telling them goodbye, we would prepare for them at Greensburg a barbecue; preparations were accordingly made, a general invitation given, and Col. James O. Fuqua, late representative in the State Convention from East Feliciana, was invited to address the company.
When the day arrived, the town was thronged with citizens from different portions of the parish. According to previous arrangement, the company of St. Helena Riflemen paraded at the hour of 11 o’clock, to the right of the speaker’s stand, when a beautiful flag, prepared for the occasion, was presented by Miss Louisiana Carter, of this parish, who at the same time delivered a most beautiful and touching address to the company, to which Capt. J. B. Taylor, commanding the company, made a gallant and appropriate reply, thanking the fair donor and those young ladies who appeared with her for the flattering compliment.
Col. Fuqua was then introduced to the audience, and in one of his happiest efforts made a thrilling speech, which seemed to touch every heart present. I saw many, old and young, of both sexes, shed tears.
I would write more, but the boys are going, and I must be with them awhile before they start. I send you a list of the officers and privates of the company. I hope you will see them when they come down. A more gallant set of fellows, I venture to say, you have not seen lately.
Officers: Captain, J. B. Taylor; First Lieutenant, H. M. Carter; Second Lieutenant, not yet elected; Orderly Sergeant, P. R. Brewer; Second Sergeant, W. N. Hyde; Third Sergeant, J. M. Blow*, Fourth Sergeant, J. B. Corkern.
Privates: B. W. Thompson*, E. S. Endy, J. W. Easly, H. T. Amacker*, R. J. Carter*, J. Wright*, J. A. Addison*, W. F. Warnock, E. Goodman, J. G. Parker, S. C. Corkern, D. A. Morsan, A. A. Brewer, J. L. Belew, John Furlow, B. C. Quinn, S. P. Hutchinson*, Simpson Kemp*, John Allen, B. F. Crittenden, J. M. Nettles, H. L. Travis, A. P. Richards, Tom Spillar, M. C. Williams, W. T. Spencer, C. E. Kennon, Charlie Edwards, J. H. Crittenden, Abner Womack, John H. Womack, T. H. Allen, W. H. Ramser, T. G. Watson, A. C. Deane*, J. H. Pipes, J. T. Youngblood, Joseph Lamberth, James M. Taylor, John Birch, B. F. Mitchell, J. K. Womack, James M. Mayfield, Reuben Jackson, J. L. Watson, W. B. Self, James Webb, J. R. Gyles, G. W. Glasscock, W. B. Youngblood, T. W. Hurst, H. A. Saunders*, J. M. Staples, A. M. G. Chapman, Wm. J. Pierson, A. O. Jones, Thomas G. Brewer, John S. Blekham.
Those marked with a star are students who volunteered from the Greensburg Masonic Male Academy.
Another company, commanded by Capt. James H. Wingfield, leaves Tangipahoa this evening, on the excursion train, for the city.
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