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[15]

While this struggle was going on, some of the artillerists of the city woke up on St. Barbe's day. They resolved to do special honor to his festival. The Orleans battalion of artillery attended high mass at the Cathedral; marched afterward through the streets and sat down, as a finish, to the anniversary dinner. Major Theard, commanding the battalion, said amid hurrahs and clinking of glasses: ‘Gentlemen, the time for talking has passed; the time for action has come. Let one word be sufficient. The Orleans artillery is ready.’ This was the spirit of the militia of 1860—a spirit which, since November 6th, had become changed into resolve touched with gaiete de coeur. With this gayety they had read that in fifteen Southern States the entire Lincoln ticket had received only 27,175 votes. Laughingly, they had noted that a Republican vote had been found in some numbers in five border States; while, with faces growing stern, they had made sure that not one abolition vote had soiled the ballot-boxes of Louisiana.

Thus cheerily and with strengthened resolve did the preparations of the State militia go on. It was no passing enthusiasm for the drill. It was less an idle caprice for a kepi and brass buttons. It was a steadfast purpose, showing itself in a systematic organization of independent companies and battalions. To the progress of this work the news of December 21st, which bore with it the secession of South Carolina, proved neither an impetus nor a check. No words were quite so commonly heard on the streets as ‘drilling,’ ‘organizing,’ ‘election of officers,’ the ‘convention,’ ‘secession!’

Apropos, on the score of separate action, some of the parishes were at odds. Among others, the parishes of Claiborne, St. Helena and Jackson declared in favor of united Southern action. On the other hand, Plaquemine pronounced in favor of separate secession. It looked as though, on the score of State action, Louisiana had, by its preliminary announcement, decided against going out alone.

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